What is a Contested Divorce?

A Contested Divorce is the type of divorce a couple will get when they are unable to agree on issues such as the division of marital property, alimony, child custody and support. A Contested Divorce is generally the most costly type of divorce and it generally takes the longest amount of time. A Contested Divorce often ends up in court.

Different Kinds of Divorce

In the state of Florida, there are three different types of divorce proceedings:

  1. The Simplified Dissolution of Marriage also known as a Simple Divorce
  2. An Uncontested Divorce
  3. A Contested Divorce

How much will a Contested Divorce cost?

If the divorce is only semi-contested, that is, the parties agree on many issues and only disagree on how to resolve one or two, and if the parties can then work quickly to come to agreement on these issues, then the parties can save thousands of dollars and the legal fees might be limited to a few thousand dollars.

However, if the divorcing couple disagrees on many of the issues and the case has to go to trial to resolve those particular issues, the costs will be much more than the cost of an Uncontested Divorce or a Simple Divorce.

How long will a Contested Divorce take?

In Florida, a Contested Divorce can take from 4 months up to two years or even longer. The average Contested Divorce in Florida takes about one year.

Some of the factors that impact the time of a Contested Divorce are the identity of the judge, what county you are getting divorced in, and the ability of the parties to come to an agreement over the issues that are in dispute.

What is the process for getting a Contested Divorce in Florida?

The process of a Contested Divorce in Florida involves 7 steps:

1.     Preparing, Filing and Serving the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

First, you and your lawyer will work together to prepare, file and serve the petition for the dissolution of marriage/divorce. This document will state the reason for the dissolution of the marriage. As Florida is a no-fault divorce state, the stated reason for why one party is requesting a divorce is often simply irreconcilable differences. Your lawyer will arrange for the other party to be served with the petition by a professional process server.

2. Answer Period:

The other party must respond to the petition for dissolution of marriage within 20 days of having been served. Often, at this time, they will file a Counter-Petition at this time. If the other party does not respond within 20 days, the court will enter a default judgment in your favor. Please read our blog post: Served with Divorce Papers? Here’s what to do. on the importance of reacting quickly once you have been served with divorce papers.

3. Discovery – Financial disclosure

Documents and information are collected that provide more information about the marital assets, income, liabilities, etc. Information is collected directly from the other party and information can also be collected from third party sources through written interrogations, document requests and depositions.

4. Settlement Discussions and Mediation

During this period, negotiations between both sides during which lawyers try to come to an agreement on all unresolved issues. The judge may order the parties to go through mediation. Mediation is when a neutral third party appointed by the court will attempt to get the parties to come to an agreement on any issues that are still in dispute.

5. Trial

If the parties can’t come to a settlement, they will have to go to trial. Often in divorce cases, the parties can agree on some issues and will only go to trial on the unresolved issues. The trial process consists of many of the elements you are likely already familiar with: witnesses are called to testify and are cross-examined by the other party’s lawyers. Closing arguments are made and the judge delivers a ruling.

6. Post-trial motions and hearings

If the judge does not rule in your favor at trial, all is not lost, as there are still some options open. After the judge enters an Order, both parties have the right to file a post-trial motion for relief from the final judgment.

7. Appeals

An appeals court can reverse the judge’s order and send the case back to the trial court. If the decision by the trial court is affirmed by the appeal court, the case is then over and the decision of the trial court is final.

Divorce Attorney – Fort Myers, Florida

Our Fort Myers divorce attorneys can help you with your Contested Divorce.

We offer free consultations. GET THE HELP YOU NEED. CALL (239) 245-9911 NOW! This line is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We are serving Fort Myers and surrounding cities and counties in Southwest, Florida such as Cape Coral, Punta Gorda, Lehigh Acres, Sanibel Island, Captiva Island and Charlotte and Hendry counties.