What Does the Timeline of a Divorce Look Like?
If you are going through a divorce, it is helpful to know the timeline of the divorce process. The length of time that a divorce case takes depends upon different factors, but generally most divorces will follow the same timeline. If you are going through a divorce in Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, or Venice, Florida, then contact the Matthew Z. Martell to speak with a top-rated Sarasota divorce lawyer near you.
- Preparing the divorce petition
In order to commence the divorce process, you must file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. This is a legal document that sets forth your requests for the divorce. This includes a very general proposed division of property and debts, child custody (called “parental responsibility”), visitation (called “timesharing”), child support, alimony, and attorneys’ fees and costs. This divorce petition must comply with certain legal requirements. Therefore, it is important to ensure that everything is done correctly. Divorce attorneys in Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and Venice, Florida such as Matthew Z. Martell, Esq. can prepare the petition on your behalf and arrange for it to be filed with the court.
After the petition is filed with the court, it must be served on your spouse. The petition will be served with a summons. The summons will direct your spouse to file a response within a certain period of time. Specifically, he or she will get 20 days (excluding the day of service) to file his or her answer.
- Receiving and responding to the Answer
If your spouse does not file a response to the divorce complaint, then you can file for a default judgment and then later request the court to award you the relief requested in your divorce petition. If your spouse files an answer to the petition for dissolution of marriage, then your divorce case will proceed forward. Their answer will set forth the items of agreement and disagreement. It may also include a counterclaim called a counterpetition for dissolution of marriage where they set forth their own requests for this divorce.
- Mandatory Disclosure and Discovery
After the answer has been filed, then the parties will exchange and disclose certain information and documents. This is referred to as mandatory disclosure. Additionally, if you want further information and records that what is mandatory required under Florida law, then you can engage in discovery. The purpose of mandatory disclosure and discovery is to ensure that each party has full and complete information during the divorce process and to avoid surprises if the case goes to trial.
- Mediation dispute resolution
All divorce cases will result in the parties participating in settlement efforts through mediation. In mediation, the parties will meet with a third-party mediator who is trained in helping parties reach a resolution. If mediation is successful, then the legal agreement called a marital settlement agreement will be memorialized in writing and submitted to the court. If mediation is unsuccessful, then the divorce case will proceed to court hearings and eventually trial.
- Motion hearings
While the divorce case is pending, there may be hearings held to address various issues that arise. This may include issues related to temporary child support, temporary alimony, temporary parental responsibility and timesharing, temporary control of certain property such as the marital residence, protection of assets from being hidden or sold, and other conflicts that may result. If a court enters an order in response to a motion, then it is binding on the parties while the case is pending.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement and resolve the entire divorce case on their own, then a trial will be held. At trial, each party will present testimony, evidence and arguments in support of their position. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will issue a decision and enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage for your divorce case.
If either party disagrees with the court’s decision, then they may file an appeal. An appeal must be based upon some legal error committed by the court during the trial. Appeals are subject to certain rules and standards of review.
Divorce cases can be complicated and stressful. To ensure that your rights are protected, and your case is completed in a legal and efficient manner, you should contact one of the best divorce attorneys near you in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and Venice, Florida area. A top Sarasota divorce attorney such as Attorney Matthew Z. Martell can provide excellent representation and legal advice throughout all phases of your divorce case. Please contact us at (941) 556-7020 to consult with a highly-rated and experienced family law attorney in Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, FL. We look forward to helping you with your divorce.