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What are the steps involved in a contested divorce in Florida?

With any big life event, knowing what to expect can help reduce anxiety.  That’s why if a divorce is in your future, you are smart to be researching exactly what the process entails.

First, though, it’s important to point out that there are two different types of divorce in Florida: contested and uncontested. This post will focus on the contested divorce process. The uncontested divorce process, which applies when the parties agree on everything, involves far fewer steps.

The contested divorce process typically begins with one party filing a petition with the family law court. Once a petition has been filed, the court issues what are called “standing orders.” That means neither party can attempt to sell property, change their estate plans or stop paying bills. 

The petition and standing orders are then formally served on the other party, who has 20 days to file a formal answer to what the other party asked for in the petition.

Once the answer is filed, the parties have 45 days to complete financial disclosure, which is mandatory. During this process, the parties must provide sworn financial statements as well as bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns and other financial documents.

After financial disclosure takes place, the parties must attend mediation. Most cases settle during mediation, which involves negotiating over the issues of the divorce, including property division, alimony, parenting plans (child custody) and child support.

If there are minor children involved, the parties also have to take a mandatory parenting class, which can be completed online.

 If the case does not settle in mediation, then a trial in front of a judge is scheduled. At the trial, the judge will provide the final say over the issues that the parties cannot agree on.

An experienced family law attorney can provide you with even more information on both the contested and uncontested divorce processes in Florida. 

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