What to Know about Contested Divorce in Florida
A contested divorce is when you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your dissolution of marriage. The inability to agree is generally what leads to long, drawn out divorce proceedings. Compared to uncontested divorce, contested divorce can often lead to trial because the couple is incapable of coming to an agreement in mediation.
Going through a contested divorce without a divorce attorney can very quickly make things very expensive in the long run, so it’s a good idea to hire a Tampa divorce lawyer to help you navigate the confusing legal system.
5 Steps for Contested Divorce in Florida
1. Find a divorce attorney
Perhaps the most important step in a divorce is to find a divorce lawyer you can work with in a way that is best for you. Not all lawyers are the same. An attorney who worked for one of your friends may not be right for you. Make sure you do your research to find a Florida divorce attorney who can help you navigate the difficult legal system.
2. File a divorce petition
The spouse initiating the divorce will need to file for divorce with the court. After the paperwork is filed, the other spouse will be served the petition. You have 20 days from the date the paperwork is served to contest the divorce petition, or the filing spouse will get a default judgement of divorce.
3. Discovery process
This step can feel extremely invasive if you are unprepared, but it’s in the best interest of both spouses to make things as fair as possible. The point of discovery is to find concrete evidence to any contested topic throughout the divorce proceedings. This is an important part of the process to have a lawyer present for so they can help you defend yourself against any unfair requests.
4. Attend divorce mediation
It is mandatory to attend mediation in Florida when you’re going through a divorce. In many instances, this is all a couple needs to reach a divorce agreement. If they are unable to reach an agreement, it is necessary for them to move on to step five.
5. Go to trial
Unlike an uncontested divorce, contested divorces very often lead to multiple court appearances. When a couple cannot agree upon the divorce terms, whatever cannot be settled in mediation will end up in trial so the judge can decide upon the terms for you.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Contested Divorce in Florida?
While it’s not mandatory to have a divorce attorney, it is highly recommended to get legal guidance throughout your divorce to prevent a negative outcome.
The divorce lawyers at LaFrance Family Law have over 40 years of experience helping people like you work through divorce proceedings. Contact our divorce attorneys if you’re ready to learn more about how to make the best decisions for your future.