Compassionate Advocacy When You Need It Most
Individuals can feel overwhelmed when facing divorce, and the process can feel daunting. Several factors can impact how long divorce proceedings last, including the relationship between the parties, the complexity of the financial situation, and the type of Florida divorce lawyer that the spouses retain. If you are filing for divorce in Florida, our team of top family law attorneys and divorce lawyers in Fort Lauderdale can help you understand your unique situation.
Protect Yourself and Your Rights At All Stages
Divorce Lawyers Fort Lauderdale
ZAGERLAW, P.A. will give you confidence knowing you have an experienced Florida divorce lawyer by your side. Even in an uncontested divorce, having the assistance of a lawyer is vital. There is no such thing as a simple divorce. Divorce mediation can save time and money, and our dedicated divorce lawyers in Fort Lauderdale will ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.
Preparing for a Divorce
Whether you are facing an uncontested divorce or otherwise, the following is helpful when filing for divorce in Florida:
- Organize all your documents.
- Have a financial affidavit ready and filled out (see below).
- Make a list of all your personal property, both yours and the opposing side.
- Have a list of all the real property in which either one of you has an interest.
The Florida State Courts System’s Self-Help Center is available to help direct you through the documentation needed: www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Court-Improvement/Family-Courts/Family-Law-Self-Help-Information/Family-Law-Forms.
Advice From the Best Divorce Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale
In going through this ordeal, you will have emotional ups and downs. It is critical to stay organized with a checklist and document everything. If you are concerned that your spouse may flee with the children, note the address where you perceive they may go.
Once you have decided to file for divorce, in most instances, we advise our clients to inform the spouse of your intentions, either verbally or by other means. While this may cause strife initially, it is a better option than blindsiding your spouse with divorce papers, especially when children are involved. There are different perspectives on how to initiate a divorce. Our firm has analyzed this both legally and psychologically; being upfront right from the start lessens conflict when moving forward through the process of a divorce. The more contentious a divorce, the longer it takes to reach a settlement, which subsequently becomes more costly in attorney’s fees for both sides.
The Divorce Process
The divorce process begins when one of the parties to the marriage files a petition for dissolution of marriage. This petition must state that the party filing wants to divorce the other. The petition must also indicate the following:
- Name(s) of child(ren) if any.
- The party has been a continuous resident of the Florida county in which they are filing for at least six months.
- Declare the marriage has broken, irretrievably.
- Whether there is any property of the marriage, real or personal.
- Any other request to which the party may feel they are entitled.
- Request for child support or alimony if applicable.
The petition for dissolution of marriage is signed and notarized and typically filed along with the financial affidavit. If there are children, completing a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) affidavit is also necessary. The individual filing the petition must pay a filing fee and prepare a summons to be served along with the complaint. The process server will take this summons along with the complaint and present it to the opposing side.
The opposing side will have 20 days to file what is called an answer. This answer will state what the individual wants. After filing the answer, the parties will begin the process known as “discovery,” the process of gathering information from the other side. The following are instruments to compile that information.
- Request to produce.
Once the parties finish with discovery, either party can file a notice of trial — at which point the court will order both parties to mediate before trial through what is called a pretrial order. The order will most likely schedule a Case Management Conference and a date for the hearing.
The proceeding will be a bench trial. At the mediation, the parties will try to resolve some or all of the following issues:
- Custody of Children if applicable.
- Child Visitation.
- Division of real and personal property.
- Child Support.
- How to handle relocation or travel.
- Attorneys’ fees (who is going to pay).
- Any other issue applicable to particular facts.
Both parties will attempt to enter into a marital settlement agreement. If they can agree, both sides will provide signatures, and a date will be set for the judge to sign off on the settlement. One of the parties will establish a hearing before a judge; the judge can sign off on the divorce and verify that both parties entered the agreement freely and voluntarily. The judge will sign the final order, and the parties will be divorced. The settlement will outline:
- the division of the marital assets
- responsibilities to one another and the children
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case goes to trial, and the judge will decide all the issues for them. There is a much higher success rate when people can reach an agreement between themselves instead of involving a judge.
Contact An Experienced Florida Divorce Lawyer Today
No situation is too trying or complicated for our attorneys when it comes to a divorce scenario. Reach out to our divorce lawyers today to receive the best divorce representation in Fort Lauderdale.
We offer complimentary and confidential consultations and are here to help you get through this most difficult time. Our attorneys are experienced and compassionate. Our goal is to get you through the rough times, allowing you to move on to happier times more quickly and at a minimal cost.