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Understanding the Divorce Process in Plant City

Why I Practice Family Law

I understand how you feel going through a divorce. I divorced in November 2011 after an eight year marriage with two boys, ages 8 and 10.

My marriage was like a person on life support for a long time before I was officially divorced. My ex-wife and I both knew the end was coming; it was just a matter of time before we decided when to pull the plug. For others, I suppose the end of their marriage is more like a tragic accident. One day they're here, gone the next. No notice and you didn't see it coming.

Either way, once the reality sets in, you will go through a grieving process. My divorce was amicable, and we settled on everything prior to filing. Even so, I still went through a grieving process. It is an adjustment to not see your kids every day, even with having equal time-sharing.

But within a few months, I adjusted to it and started appreciating the time I had for myself. I took up scuba diving and love it. So I'm here to tell you there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a train. With that being said, you will go through some sort of grieving process no matter how amicable your divorce is. I've been practicing family law for seven years, and some people do it the easy way, and some do it the hard way. And that is not to say there aren't spouses who will try to make a divorce difficult. So it is not always one person's fault, but for the most part, it takes two to tango.

So here's the divorce process in Florida in a nutshell. For some it's easy, for others, not so much. You'd be surprised, however, to realize how much control you do have over how hard it is.

The Divorce Process in Florida

Florida is a "no fault" state when it comes to divorce. This means that you don't have to have any specific reason to request a divorce, you just have to attest to the fact (swear) that your marriage is irretrievably broken, and there is nothing the court could do (like order marriage counseling) that would make your marriage whole again. It doesn't matter if your spouse does not want a divorce (That just adds to the "difficulty" factor stated above).

Step One
A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed.

Step Two
The non-filing spouse is served with a "Summons". The summons directs the non-filing spouse to serve an Answer to the Petition within 20 days.

Step Three
The non-filing spouse files an Answer to the Petition, and in most cases, a Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

Step Four
The parties exchange discovery, which includes:

  • A Financial Affidavit
  • Last 3 years of income tax returns
  • Pay stubs for the last three months
  • 3 months of checking accounts, and 12 months of savings accounts.
  • Most recent statement from Retirement Account.
  • Last three months of all credit card bills, and other debts.

Please note, this is the bare minimum required by "Mandatory Disclosure", and this list isn't all inclusive, but it does hit the main documents required. You may be requested by your spouse's attorney to provide more.

Step Five
Attend Case Management Conference. Here, the judge will make sure both parties have submitted all the mandatory disclosure, and then order the parties to mediation.

Step Six
Mediation: You cannot have a trial without first attempting mediation within 6 months of the trial. Most cases settle in either mediation, or between the parties sometime prior to trial. In mediation, a neutral third party will meet with the parties and their attorneys. The Petitioner (the spouse who filed the case), will get to speak first and make their offer to settle the case. The Respondent (the non-filing spouse), will then give their side and counter-offer. The mediator is there to facilitate a settlement-to try to help you see some common ground. You do not have to settle the case at mediation. The mediator will not make any decisions or recommendations to the court. In fact, the mediation is confidential, and nothing said at the mediation can be used in court.

Step Seven
Case/Management or Pre/Trial. If the mediation reaches an "impasse" (meaning the parties could not come to an agreement), then the case needs to be set for a Trial. This may involve setting another case management conference. Prior to trial, there will be a pre-trial hearing. At the pre-trial, the parties will have submitted a Memorandum to the court, explaining the issues and each sides position, and desired outcome.

Step Eight
Trial: After pre-trial there will be a Final Hearing. After the hearing, the judge will make a findings of fact, and then the court will enter an Order as to Equitable Distribution, Time-Sharing, Alimony, Child Support, etc.

Looking for a Plant City divorce lawyer?

The above is only an overview of what happens in most divorce cases in Hillsborough County and statewide. To discuss your own case and find out what to expect, contact my office now for an initial consultation and to learn more about how I can be of service as your Plant City divorce attorney.

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Law Office of Keith Will Wynne, Esq. - Plant City Bankruptcy Lawyer

Plant City Office - 1001 E. Baker Street, Suite 101, Plant City, FL 33563. Phone: (813) 567-5894 | Local Phone: (813) 752-3100.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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