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What You Can Expect in the Divorce Process

Melbourne Divorce Attorney Assists Clients in All Stages of Divorce Proceedings

Florida family law firm advises spouses on what to expect

The idea of filing for divorce can be stressful. While you know that your marriage is no longer sustainable, ending the legal relationship with your spouse might be scary and confusing, especially if there are children involved. At the Law Office of Joan Berry Nassar, P.A., I am a Florida family law attorney who guides you through the divorce process from start to finish, keeping you well-informed every step of the way.

Understanding Florida’s requirements for divorce

In order to file for divorce in Florida, one of the two parties must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing. This requirement can be waived if you are in the military and are out of the state at the time you wish to file. When you file for divorce, it must be done so in the county where you or your spouse last resided as husband and wife.

Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that most divorces are granted because the marriage is irretrievably broken. You do not have to allege that your spouse committed adultery or any other type of misconduct.

Things you should ask in your consultation

The initial consultation with a divorce lawyer allows you the opportunity to ask questions and get a knowledgeable perspective on the marriage dissolution process. Some questions you might consider asking include the following:

  • How will you communicate with me regarding case developments?
  • What is your advance fee and hourly rate? Is the fee refundable?
  • What documents and information do you need from me?
  • What is the best process to use in my case?

Each situation is different, but learning the answers to these questions should give you a good overview of how a divorce attorney works.

The divorce process

Uncontested Florida divorces can be completed quickly, sometimes even in 30 days, depending on the court’s hearing schedule. However, divorces that go to trial can take anywhere from one year to 18 months or more. A litigated divorce might proceed as follows:

  • Filing of divorce petition and response within 20 days
  • Exchange of information through the discovery process
  • Settlement discussions and mediation
  • Trial (if necessary)

Every divorce has unique elements which will affect how long the legal proceeding will last.

Major factors that can affect a divorce

Whether or not you can obtain a quick resolution to a contested divorce depends on various factors. Spouses with children and/or high net worth marital estates might require more time. Cases where domestic violence is alleged might be difficult to settle outside of court. Divorces following long marriages are more prone to complex disputes over property division and alimony.

Should I hire an attorney or represent myself?

This is an important question where both options have pros and cons.

Pros: The divorce lawyer has spent years studying Florida law and procedure. In the courtroom, the attorney has experience and knows how to conduct himself/herself. You don’t. Do you know the evidence you need to present so that the judge has the facts needed to make a decision? Do you know how to introduce a document into evidence? Do you know how to make an effective legal argument?

Cons: The attorney will charge you a fee for the time spent rendering legal services. However, you should remember that most of the time when you seek legal advice AFTER you get an adverse ruling by representing yourself, the attorney cannot fix it.

What are your options?

  1. Seek a consultation with an attorney prior to filing an action with the court. It is worth a few hundred dollars to learn how the law applies to your case. You might find that the action you want the court to take cannot be done. You might also find that you are entitled to more than what you anticipated. After the consultation, you can make a decision as to whether you want to proceed with or without an attorney.
  2. Work with your spouse, if possible, to discuss settlement and the process you want to use to get a divorce. Reaching an agreement prior to filing for a divorce and/or going to trial costs less and can be completed in less time. THE AGREEMENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENT THAT WILL BE CREATED, SO IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING THIS DOCUMENT, even if you represent yourself through the remainder of the divorce.
  3. There are several processes you may use to discuss settlement of divorce terms:
    • Attorneys — You can negotiate through your attorneys or on your own to reach an agreement.
    • Mediation — Parties can also attend mediation, with or without attorneys.
    • Collaborative process — The collaborative process is a relatively new process which should be considered. In this framework, each party must have an attorney. However, the divorcing spouses create a “team” (which includes a financial expert and a facilitator) rather than acting as adverse parties. This process usually costs less and is completed in less time. The most important aspect of it is that you are in control of the process.

You can learn more about these processes on this website.

  1. Unbundled legal services — An attorney does not have to represent you for the entirety of your case. You can choose when and how you want the attorney to be a part of your case. This might include giving legal advice where needed while you draft documents and represent yourself to court. It mayinclude any combination of giving advice, drafting documents and/or making court appearances. Don’t hesitate to talk to an attorney about providing legal services only where you want them.

Contact an experienced Melbourne divorce attorney today

The Law Office of Joan Berry Nassar, P.A. in Melbourne represents Florida spouses in divorces and related proceedings. Please call 321-405-0042 or contact me online for a consultation.

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