Any given divorce in Florida can be classified as contested or uncontested. A contested divorce is one in which either spouse disagrees with the other on some divorce-related matter like alimony, time-sharing (physical child custody), parental responsibility (legal child custody), or asset and debt division. Disagreement on just one of these issues—even if the spouses agree on everything else—makes a Florida divorce a contested one.
Conversely, an uncontested divorce is one in which spouses agree on everything. This saves time because the court (a family law judge) does not have to intervene and decide on important matters for the couple. Doing so triggers formal discovery, which can take some time.
A Brief Overview of a Florida Uncontested Divorce
In a regular divorce, one spouse files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the appropriate circuit court. If you and your spouse didn’t agree on the divorce, the non-petitioning spouse would have 20 days to respond to the petition. However, an uncontested divorce allows the non-petitioning spouse to file an answer much quicker and, if desired, waive service of process altogether.
When both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, they can enter into a marital settlement agreement immediately after (or even before) filing the petition. Depending on a few factors, including the income of you and your spouse, a short-form or long-form financial affidavit will need to be filed. It’s best to have an attorney review your circumstances and advise you on the financial requirements.
After the settlement agreement has been written and agreed to, it’s probably ready for the judge’s approval. As long as the agreement is reasonable, fair, and adequately provides for your children’s best interests, the judge should quickly approve it. The marital settlement agreement is now a legally enforceable court order.
An Uncontested Divorce is Not the Same as a Simplified Divorce
The process we just described lays out the general steps for a regular dissolution of marriage in Florida. Some couples are eligible for a simplified dissolution of marriage. Couples who have no minor children, are not seeking alimony, agree the marriage is irretrievably broken, and waive financial affidavits are generally eligible for this simplified process. In a simplified divorce, the parties petition the court together and simultaneously file their Marital Settlement Agreement.
Uncontested Divorces Are Not Always Right
If you and your spouse simply cannot agree on one or more terms, there’s no reason to force it. Mediation can be an effective way to work through disagreements in family law matters. This saves you time and money—not to mention some stranger in a black robe making decisions that deeply affect you and your family.
Divorce cases involving alleged abuse or other crimes are best served by the formal process of a regular dissolution.
Uncontested divorces have plenty of benefits for spouses and their minor children. Besides saving time and money, it can lay the groundwork for a healthy post-divorce co-parenting arrangement. Spouses in an uncontested divorce should nevertheless be accompanied by competent legal counsel who can save them from unfair agreements or costly procedural errors.
Our team knows what it’s like to go through a divorce. We know the benefits of getting through the process as efficiently as possible. However, we also know that, sometimes, you must dig in your heels. Whatever you need, we’re here to help. Call us at (954)-447-2580 to set up a confidential consultation with our team today.