Despite the lovely surroundings in the Sunshine State, Floridians are no strangers to life’s challenges, including divorce. In fact, data from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey finds that five of Florida’s cities rank among the locations with the highest divorce rates.
Anyone facing a divorce rarely wants to prolong the process and likely wonders how quickly proceedings will take. The duration, it turns out, is not set in stone and depends on a range of factors, including whether a couple opts for a simplified, uncontested or contested divorce.
The simplified option tends to be the quickest route for those without children, no alimony plans and an existing agreement between both parties. The process can wrap up in about 30 days using the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, provided both have called Florida home for at least six months and are on the same page about the terms.
An uncontested divorce can also be a smooth process but may involve more details. Here, both parties still must see eye to eye on parenting plans, child support, asset division and alimony. The process can take up to three months, as the couple handles additional paperwork and legal requirements.
A contested divorce occurs when a couple has discord over assets, parenting or alimony. The process could last between nine months to three years. Complex cases can take even longer. For instance, one infamous divorce in Florida took an arduous six years and required multiple judges.
When handling a contested divorce, the general process involves:
- Filing the divorce petition and arranging for a process server or deputy sheriff to serve the papers
- Making financial disclosures and additional discovery
- Completing a parenting course if paternity action is necessary
- Negotiating terms and attending a mandatory mediation conference
- Attending the final hearing
Responses to divorce petitions must happen within 20 days, according to Florida Statutes. However, extensions are possible, especially under unique circumstances like military deployment.
The time it takes to untangle the knot of marriage in Florida is as diverse as the reasons that led to the separation. Each journey is unique and depends on the type of divorce and the specific circumstances.