A frequently-asked-question of divorce lawyers nationwide is “how long is this going to take”? That is a normal, reasonable, question that has many different answers. First, there is the stock answer given by most attorneys: “It depends.” But if you can explain the facts of your situation, most attorneys can give a much better answer.
Some “how-long” questions are pointed toward uncontested divorces. An uncontested divorce is a case where everyone will sign everything without argument. If there is an argument over who gets the salt shakers, the case is not uncontested. But if there is complete agreement over the kids, house, money, debt, books, furniture, etc, then the case qualifies as an uncontested divorce. Most uncontested divorces take about ten days to prepare documents. After the case is filed with the court, the judge’s calendar determines the final hearing date – where the divorce is finalized. Every state, every county, and every judge has a different backlog. But if a generalization had to be made, most uncontested divorces take 60 days to complete.
The really BIG question on “how long” applies to contested divorces. Contested divorces are cases where the two sides fight over kids, money, debt, or assets. In Florida, most contested divorces end up as uncontested divorces. But to do that, they wind through the system, and undergo many steps on their way to a mediation conference. At that point approximately four months have elapsed. At the mediation conference each spouse is under a peak of pressure and there is a strong emphasis on settlement. But the vast majority of cases settle at mediation and most contested divorces end quietly as uncontested divorces. If the case settles at mediation the two sides still must attend a final hearing. By case-end, the entire process lasts approximately five to six months. This category represents the bulk of Florida divorce cases.
One out of a hundred Florida divorces go to trial. And in most Florida jurisdictions the time to get to trial averages twelve months. Some cases get to trial in five months, and others can take several years. It depends on the volume of issues present and the caseload of the local judge.
There are some things that can be done to speed up a divorce case in Florida. One of them is to have all your financial documents prepared quickly, right at the beginning of the case. Most delays in Florida divorce cases are caused by delayed documents. Another technique: pay your attorney on time. The basic truth is that people pay attention to things if it worth their while. And when your attorney goes unpaid they naturally will pay less attention to your case. You should always be reasonable in your goals. Asking for unrealistic things makes everyone pause and causes significant delay in your case.
Finally, it is always a good thing to show interest, communicate with your attorney, and encourage them to fight for you. An interested, engaged, helpful client is always a benefit to the case. And your attorney will naturally spend more time and thought to achieving your case goals. A well-prepared, well-conducted case tends to settle on favorable terms before trial. And the bottom line: settlements will always end a case quicker than fighting to the end.
*This entry is a guest post by our friend Howard Iken, a Florida Divorce Attorney. The views, opinions and information provided in this blog entry are explicitly those of Howard Iken and are not those of MyDivorcePapers.com. Additionally, the time frames Mr. Iken outlines here to complete the paperwork for an uncontested divorce refer specifically to the time it takes for an attorney to complete your paperwork for you. It does not take 10+ days to prepare your paperwork using the MyDivorcePapers.com service, which is a non-attorney, do-it-yourself service and can be completed at your own pace; sometimes in as little as an hour. However, MyDivorcePapers.com and it’s staff members can not and do not, under any circumstances, provide legal advice in any capacity, what-so-ever. If you have legal questions that we are not able to answer as non-attorneys, we encourage you to seek help from Howard Iken or a licensed attorney in your state.