Whether you and your spouse have started discussing divorce or you’ve recently filed for divorce, you might be wondering how long the process will take. Every case is different, and the exact timeframe of a divorce varies depending on the family and their unique circumstances. Some divorces can be finalized in a matter of weeks, while others take a year or more.
Are You Filing for a Contested, Uncontested, or Simplified Divorce?
One factor that will significantly impact how long your divorce takes is the type of divorce you file for. A simplified divorce will likely be the shortest process while a contested divorce will generally take the longest.
No matter which type of divorce you choose, you must meet Florida’s residency requirements before you can file for divorce. You or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing.
The Timeline for a Simplified Divorce
As you may guess from its name, a simplified divorce is the quickest and easiest divorce process. Only qualifying applicants will be approved for a simplified divorce.
To qualify for a simplified divorce, you and your spouse must:
- Not have children
- Both agree to the simplified divorce
- Agree that neither spouse will receive alimony
- Agree on how you will split marital property
To initiate a simplified divorce, you and your spouse must sign and submit a petition and financial affidavits. From there, the court will schedule a hearing no less than 20 days from the date you submit your petition. As long as everything was submitted properly and there are no issues with the divorce agreement, the court will dissolve your marriage at the hearing. As such, a simplified divorce will take about three weeks, plus the amount of time it takes to prepare your petition.
The Timeline for an Uncontested Divorce
Even if you do not qualify for a simplified divorce, you and your spouse can still file uncontested so long as you can agree on the terms of your separation.
An uncontested divorce may require you and your spouse to work through any disagreements and to reach favorable arrangements for your marital property, the custody of your children, alimony, and child support. Depending on how well you and your spouse can negotiate and compromise, you may need just one mediation session or several. This will influence how long your divorce takes overall.
Filing uncontested still mandates a 20-day waiting period between filing your petition and the hearing, so an uncontested divorce will still take at least three weeks. The average uncontested divorce can take a couple of months once you factor in the preparation and negotiation time.
The Timeline for a Contested Divorce
Contested divorces always take the longest because they require substantial court intervention – and you’ll have to work around the court’s busy schedule. If you and your spouse simply cannot agree no the terms of your divorce, you’ll have to file contested so that a judge can make decisions for you.
The contested divorce process usually looks something like this:
- Service of petition and summons: Though you can file for divorce instantly, your spouse must be served with divorce papers, which can take one to three weeks. You have the option to pay extra money to expedite getting the Petition and Summons served.
- Answer period: After being served, the spouse has 20 days to file a response.
- Discovery process: Each spouse will have to disclose their finances and provide substantial financial documentation. Mandatory Financial Disclosure documents have to be exchanged forty-five (45) days from the date of service.
- Mandatory mediation or parenting courses: Florida requires parents to complete a four-hour parenting course if they have children. The state also requires parties to attempt mediation before allowing litigation. Most divorces are resolved through mediation but may proceed to litigation.
- Final trial: Every case is different – your final trial may take four hours or several days. Preparing for trial, however, will take much longer – expect five months of preparation on average. More contentious or complex cases can take longer – sometimes a year or more.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law, PLLC for Help Today
Every divorce is different, so it’s impossible to say exactly how long yours will take. When you schedule a consultation with our divorce lawyers in Orlando, we can assess your unique situation and advise you on what you can expect moving forward.
Conti Moore Law, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803