Under Florida’s “no fault” divorce statute, a husband or wife may seek a divorce without proving any reason for it other than he or she no longer feels the marriage is capable of being saved (in legal terms, the spouse seeking a divorce simply needs to state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”). This avoids the need for the parties to talk about painful personal issues in court.
Naturally, a divorce is usually about much more than the legal termination (called a “dissolution”) of the marriage itself. Most divorcing couples will also need to deal with issues such as spousal support (alimony), division of marital property and child support and time sharing (visitation). In many cases, these issues can be the cause of much greater conflict than the fact of the divorce itself; the courts are called upon daily to settle differences between divorced or divorcing individuals.
However, it’s obvious that divorcing spouses know more about their personal circumstances, including finances and the best interests of their children, better than a Family Court Judge could possibly learn after a few hours of testimony. If you or your spouse is seeking a divorce and you both would rather resolve your differences privately than have a judge do it for you, you may be good candidates for an uncontested divorce.
Because the spouses and their lawyers work out the terms through negotiations outside of court, an uncontested divorce is usually less costly and stressful. Working together to reach an agreement can often be the first step toward a mutually respectful and cooperative relationship after the divorce, and may be less traumatic for the couple’s children. What’s more, Family Court dockets in South Florida counties are usually crowded, and getting a final decree in a contested divorce case often takes six months or more. By contrast, an uncontested divorce can often be completed in four of five weeks.
How an Uncontested Divorce Works
Once the spouses have agreed on the relevant issues, their attorneys will prepare a “marital settlement agreement” that becomes a written record of what has been agreed to. Although a court hearing is still required in order to finalize the agreement and grant the divorce, this usually is briefs, and it may not even be necessary for both spouses to appear.
Why Should I Consult a Divorce Lawyer?
You’ve seen – and may have been tempted by – the ads for online uncontested divorces or “do it yourself” divorce “kits”. Why do we believe you should approach these with caution? When it comes to settlements in uncontested divorce cases, as the saying goes “the devil is in the details”. Your marital settlement agreement will likely affect your, your spouse’s and your children’s lives for years to come. While you and your spouse may indeed be in agreement about who will receive what property, how much alimony is fair or how visitation with children will work, it’s unlikely that you’ve both considered all aspects of your post-divorce relationship. What if one of you becomes disabled? What will happen to your time sharing agreement if you decide to accept a dream job offer in California?
An experienced attorney will be sure that you consider these and many other “what if” issues that other couples have experienced and will be sure they are dealt with in clear and unambiguous language in your marital settlement agreement. He or she will also be able to explain possible tax or other consequences of particular decisions concerning property or support.
Having a capable and trusted divorce lawyer at your side will help ensure that your interests are protected throughout the uncontested divorce process.
With offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Orner Law, LLC serves clients throughout South Florida.
Contact a South Florida Uncontested Divorce Attorney at Orner Law, LLC today for an initial consultation regarding your case.