Depending on where you are in the state of Florida, the flow of a case could be different. For the purposes of this blog, the below will not be an exhaustive list of possibilities, however, if you are getting divorced in Lee/Collier/Charlotte County, the following is a general overview of what you may expect from a typical divorce case as you begin to embark down this road.
If you haven’t been served with papers, and you are considering being the one who files, then it will take at least a few days to discuss with you how you would like to initiate the proceedings. For some men, they have already spoken to their wife, and the parties are amicable with a clear understanding of exactly what they want out of a settlement. For those cases, depending on the amount of exchanged financial disclosure, it could be much quicker than a standard case. Either way, in this scenario, we will need at least signed, and notarized, financial affidavits from both parties before beginning to draft a proposal for settlement.
Depending on how quickly both parties can return signed, and notarized, financial affidavits, and whether you are comfortable with only that disclosure method, you may be farther ahead than most, as from that point all we would have to do is then organize your terms for settlement, draft a proposal, then possibly revise if needed before the document would be ready for signatures. All said and done, if a proposed marital settlement agreement is simple, without many changes to the draft, and the parties agree and sign, then the case could be wrapped up soon thereafter with some closing documents.
Please note however, that although obtaining an agreement in writing is likely the biggest feat here, one will not obtain an actual divorce until the judge signs off on a Final Judgment that adopts the aforementioned settlement agreement. Overall, if this is your situation, and everything goes smoothly, this process could take between a few weeks to a few months, depending on the circumstances. Considering some cases can last for years, this may not be a bad route if you and your wife can communicate about how to resolve everything.
On the other hand, if the parties are not amicable, and you are the one initiating the proceedings, then you must be prepared to be patient, as you will be subjected to the flow of the court system, which can be slow at best. If this is your situation, then you first must file your petition for dissolution with the court and serve it on the other party. It usually takes a few days, to a few weeks to finalize and file these documents, depending on how accessible you are and available you can be to communicate and sign the documents. Once filed, it usually takes a few days to obtain a summons from the clerk. From there, the papers will be sent out for service. If she is easy to find, service can be effectuated quite quickly. However, if she is difficult to find, this could take much longer, thereby stalling the process.
Once served, she will have twenty days to answer your petition. If she doesn’t file a counter petition, then the pleadings are then closed and you are simply looking at some financial disclosure and possibly a parenting class, if there are children involved, in order to complete your requirements before going to a case management. If she does file a counter petition, then you will have twenty days from that point to file an answer to same, thereby closing the pleadings at that point. Either way, both parties will have forty-five days to do financial affidavits, mandatory disclosure, and the parenting class. In Lee County, you will have a case management set at some point during this time. This meeting is an informal meeting with the judge’s case manager. He or she is assigned to your case to help keep the case moving forward and make certain that parties are hitting their deadlines. Charlotte County has a similar system, and Collier County generally sets such meetings before the judge or magistrate. Assuming no motions or petitions for domestic violence injunctions, etc. have been filed at, or before, that point, the next step no matter the county would likely be to go to mediation.
Mediation is a requirement, and so before you can have your day in court, you are required to attend mediation. If you settle at mediation, for all intents and purposes, the case is over, short of some finalizing documents. However if you impasse, then you will be looking forward to a trial. Once an impasse occurs, then it will take time to get the trial set on the judge’s calendar. In some cases, it could take months before parties are before a judge. In any event, during the in between time, in most cases, parties are going through additional trial discovery, such as depositions in anticipation for the final fight.
No matter what county you are in, divorce cases can go a multitude of ways, and it really depends on the parties. If you are amicable and communicate well with the other party, everything could be complete within a matter of months, or even weeks. If you are adverse to the other party, and you both will likely fight, then it could take months, if not years in some cases, to obtain a final judgment of divorce. If you, or someone you know, is about to embark on a divorce or has been served with papers, don’t hesitate, call Men’s Rights Law Firm today.