Basic Steps of the Florida Divorce Process

If you are about to get involved in a divorce, and especially if you’re paying a lawyer to handle it for you, you may find it helpful to find out the basic steps involved:

Preparation for divorce – I recommend spending more time with children and working on your self-actualization. More about that here.

Lawsuit is started (male version) – a man usually starts a lawsuit with their attorney preparing the initial documents and filing them in court, and then having the woman sign for it they agree.

Lawsuit is started (female version) – a woman starts a lawsuit by serving the man with a pendente lite motion asking for temporary alimony and exclusive possession of the marital residence

Answer – the spouse who is being sued answers the allegations in divorce papers. Not answering means letting the spouse who started the lawsuit get everything he or she is asking for, which is usually not the best idea because the demands in the complaint or pendente lite motion can get a bit exaggerated.

Preliminary requests – If not already demanded in the beginning of the lawsuit, this is the time one of the spouses usually requests immediate relief for things like child support and alimony to begin while the divorce is pending.

Preliminary Conferences – The first preliminary conference is usually scheduled within 45 days from the start of the case. Both parties and their attorneys have to appear before the judge to try to settle some issues and set a timeline for the progress of the case.

Discovery – discovery is the process of obtaining information from each other relating to issues in the case. Information is obtained through requests for documents, written questions, and oral examinations under oath (depositions)

Case Settlement – a divorce usually settles somewhere between exchanging paper documents and taking oral depositions under oath.

Pre-Trial Conferences – If full discovery is completed (and this can take a while) and the parties are still not able to settle the case, the first pre-trial conference is held, where the judge makes sure that discovery is indeed complete, and sets a schedule for pre-trial procedures. Most cases are settled by this time, but a few go on to a trial.

Pre-Trial Filings – Before trial, parties may submit documents and hold hearings regarding evidence and witnesses to be used at trial.

Trial – evidence and witnesses are presented, and a judge makes a determination over issues such as custody, visitation, and division of property. Some judges allow for only the select issues to go to trial and some to be settled, but most judges want either a full settlement or a full trial.

Post-Trial – Parties sometimes submit post-trial documents which explain their position during the trial.

Appeal – the party who did not agree with the court’s decision can appeal to a higher court to try and get the decision reversed.

If you need to discuss your divorce with a Florida attorney, give us a call.