The Contested Divorce Process in Orlando
Making the decision to file for divorce is in and of itself a hard decision. It is made all the more difficult when your spouse does not want to agree to a divorce. In all family law matters and in the case of an uncontested divorce, legal filings can become very complex, very quickly. Due to the latter, we recommend working with an experienced Orlando Divorce Attorney who can better assist you through the process and fight for your best interests.
Divorce cases in Orlando are handled at the Orange County Courthouse with the Orange County Clerk Circuit Court Family Law Division.
The divorce process formally begins when one spouse (the petitioner) files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where they reside. Orlando residents file at:
Orange County Circuit Court
425 North Orange Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
Phone: 407-836-2000 (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm)
The petition outlines what the petitioner is seeking in the divorce-related to the division of property, alimony, child custody, and child support. Also included in the filing are the following documents: Social Security Affidavit, Financial Affidavit, and Uniform Child Custody Justification and Enforcement Affidavit (if necessary.)
After the documents have been filed, the papers must be delivered to the other spouse (respondent) in-person through a sheriff or certified process server. The respondent has 20 days to file an answer to the terms proposed in the papers.
Your divorce isn’t finalized overnight. For this reason, you may need to ask the court to put temporary orders in place while the divorce is pending. A temporary order can decide who gets to stay in the marital home, who will pay the bills, where the children will reside, and if there will be temporary spousal or child support payments made. A temporary order can also be entered for a restraining order or to prevent your spouse from selling marital assets. A short hearing is held in front of a Judge to determine what orders are necessary. These orders will remain in effect until the case proceeds to trial or is settled.
Divorcing parents must complete a Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course approved by the Department of Children and Families. These courses are online and last approximately four hours. Our office will gladly assist you in signing up for this course.
The discovery phase of divorce entails exchanging information with your spouse as it relates to your respective income, assets, expenses, and liabilities. This is an opportunity for both of you to “put all your cards on the table” in order to get a more accurate picture of the other’s financial situation. This full financial disclosure serves as the basis for determining property division, alimony, and child support.
In every contested Orlando divorce case, couples are required to attend mediation before proceeding to trial. The mediation process is meant to provide an opportunity for you and your spouse to resolve your disputes with the help of a court-appointed impartial mediator. The end goal is to reach a mutually acceptable marital settlement agreement.
If mediation is unsuccessful, one party will request that the case be set for trial. Prior to trial, the court will hold a pretrial conference which is essentially a meeting between both parties, their attorneys, and the judge. The purpose of the conference is to identify the unresolved issues that need to be addressed at trial and set a court date. The judge may offer input as to how certain matters may be decided and may try to facilitate a settlement.
If mediation and negotiation methods fail to produce a settlement agreement, your case will proceed to trial. In Florida, a divorce trial is referred to as a contested final hearing. At the hearing, a judge and not a jury will hear both sides and enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage.
Call our office today to learn more about how we can help you with your Orlando divorce.