When I meet with new divorce clients in my Leesburg, Florida law office, after asking how much a divorce costs, people usually ask: "How long does a divorce take?"
The answer, of course, is, "It depends."
The length of time a divorce in Florida takes will depend on a number of factors, including how much the couple disagrees on, whether children are involved, and the complexity of the divorcing couple's financial situation.
Contentious Divorces Take Longer
The quickest divorce is the one with the fewest arguments. An Uncontested Divorce is one in which the divorcing couple agrees on the division of property and both parties promptly sign the divorce papers. An Uncontested Divorce can be completed in months.
If there are any areas of dispute, your divorce is not uncontested and will take more time. As always, there are ways to move the process along. If the parties waive service and promptly respond to requests for documents and other information, the attorneys will have less need to involve the court. Less court involvement makes the process go much more quickly.
If there are a handful of areas where the couple does not agree, the parties' attorneys may be able to work through these disagreements, find common ground, and finalize the divorce. Other times, it is helpful to involve a mediator to work through the remaining areas of disagreement.
Other times, the divorcing couple cannot agree on much of anything. These divorces may take a year or more to complete. In some divorces, people will not promptly respond to the Petition for Divorce or requests for documents, or will use the divorce to air every bit of dirty laundry about their spouse. When this happens, the attorneys need to prepare motions and other court filings, and involve the judge. In a very contentious divorce, the parties may end up going to trial. Trial is the longest, and most expensive solution to finalize a divorce. Simply put, the more you and your spouse disagree, the longer the divorce will take.
Understandably, child rearing and custody are a frequent source of dispute. At the Law Firm of Jody L. Fisher, I make a point of considering the needs of the divorcing couple's children and work to counsel my clients to make the best decisions possible regarding the welfare and care of their children.
If a couple is able to agree on child custody arrangements and a parenting plan, the divorce will go smoothly, more quickly, and with the least impact on the children.
Complicated Financial Situations Take More Time
The complexity of the divorce also impacts how long the process takes. For a couple with relatively few assets that agrees on how to divide their marital property, divorce could be completed within months. For a more complicated financial situation, or one in which one spouse has significantly greater earnings or a higher earning potential, divorce can take longer - a year or more.
A complicated financial situation takes longer because a Florida divorce attorney will need to carefully analyze the couple's assets. This analysis takes time. Depending on the situation, your lawyer may need to involve any number of experts to evaluate the your financial situation. A divorce attorney may need to hire accountants, business valuators, bankers, appraisers, financial planners, or insurance experts to accurately determine a couple's net worth before even beginning to work towards an equitable division of marital property.
Likewise, if one party earns significantly more than the other, or has a higher earning potential that the other, the couple's attorneys will need to analyze the employment prospects of the lower-earning spouse to determine alimony payments. The lawyers may need to involve experts or develop a plan for the other spouse to increase his or her ability to become financially self-sufficient.
Any time an expert is hired, he or she will will need time to analyze the details of your divorce to offer a well-thought-out opinion. Expert analysis takes time, but may be invaluable in achieving a fair and equitable division of property.
If you've made the decision to seek a divorce, you probably want it over as quickly as possible. Remember though, that the terms of your divorce may have ramifications for years to come. It is important to do it the right way, even if it takes extra time.
Questions? Contact The Law Firm of Jody L. Fisher Today
If you are considering divorce but have questions, contact the Law Firm of Jody L. Fisher today for a confidential initial consultation. Call (352) 503-4111, or complete our online information form.