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  • Getting Started in Divorce

    The divorce process starts when one party (the petitioner) files a Petition for Divorce (also known as a complaint). The Petition for Divorce states the grounds for divorce and formally requests a divorce. The petitioner must then serve the Petition for Divorce and its accompanying documents on the opposing party (the respondent). The respondent must now serve an Answer (a response to the Petition for Divorce) on the petitioner within 20 days of being served with the Petition for Divorce.

  • Discovery Overview

    Discovery is the process where each party to a law suit obtains evidence from the other party through the rules of civil procedure. In a Florida divorce, initial discovery must be exchanged at the beginning of the case (within 45 days of when the petition for divorce or complaint was served). This initial discovery is called Mandatory Discovery. After Mandatory Discovery, formal discovery may take place. Discovery may take the form of interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admission and depositions.

  • Alternatives to Trial Overview

    Once a divorce is filed, there are generally two ways for the divorce to become final. If the parties can agree on the terms of the divorce the parties may settle, sign a settlement agreement and ask the court to sign off on their agreement. If the parties cannot settle, the case will go to trial and the judge will decide the contested issues for the parties. It should be noted that there are alternatives to waiting for trial and the expenses that go along with trial preparation.

  • Trial Overview

    If the parties are unable to agree to the terms of their divorce despite negotiations and mediation, then trial (also known as the final hearing) is the last remaining option. Before trial, you will need to attend a pretrial conference that will set the ground rules for trial. 

Mediation

The most common type of alternative dispute resolution is Mediation. Mediation is a procedure where a neutral or impartial person, known as a mediator, facilitates settlement discussions between the parties. The mediator’s purpose is to help the parties take a step back from the particular items or clauses they are fighting over and focus their attention on their actual needs and interests in the current situation. The power is ultimately in the parties’ control to make an agreement and whether or not to agree to disagree with the opposing party's proposals. The mediator cannot a make a decision for you or impose an agreement upon you. They merely facilitate the negotiation. 

Filing for Divorce

  • Petition for Divorce

    Divorce begins with the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage. The petition for dissolution of marriage is also known as the petition for divorce or more commonly the complaint.
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  • Service

    After a party files pleadings, the other party must be served with a copy of the documents in order to have proper notice of any forthcoming actions and hearings.
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  • Answer

    The purpose of the answer is to respond to the plaintiff’s allegations and to assert any defenses or counterclaims the defendant may have against the plaintiff.
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