Divorce in Court

Did you know that you need a Final Judgment signed by a Judge in order to  dissolve your marriage?  How do you get one:  The process begins by filing a document known as a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the county where you and your spouse last resided as a married couple.  The Petition identifies the parties and their children, place and date of marriage, requests spousal/child support and informs the Court on how you would like to divide the property and debt acquired during the marriage.

After filing, the process of exchanging the parties’ personal information commences and usually continues for several months.  Following the exchange of information and documents, known as financial disclosure/discovery, the depositions of the spouses, friends, and family members may be taken.  Multiple hearings may be necessary throughout this process if the spouses are unwilling to comply with discovery requests, or cannot agree on how temporary issues of support and timesharing should be settled.

Following discovery, if the case is not settled, trial will be scheduled.  Your trial will be set before a Judge and can last days or weeks, depending on the issues in dispute. It may take several months before the Final Judgment is entered. From the beginning of the lawsuit until the Judge enters Final Judgment, the divorce process can last one or two years, and perhaps even longer.

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce vs. Divorce in Court

  • The adversarial judicial system is often ill-equipped to handle the emotionally charged process of ending a marriage.
  • Collaborative attorneys agree to assist the couple to resolve issues using cooperative strategies rather than adversarial techniques and litigation.
  • The Collaborative model differs from traditional representation in ways designed to create a positive context for settlement.
  • Lawyers practicing in the Collaborative process agree in advance to remove litigation as an option.
  • Lawyers’ total focus is to reach a positive settlement.
  • Parties’ reasonable needs and interests and those of their children, are considered.
  • Collaborative Divorce is designed to minimize conflict and stress, protect children, keep the cost of divorce down and preserve the marital estate.
  • Collaborative professionals’ goal is to minimize conflict, not inflame it.
  • Collaborative Divorce presents a valuable alternative to litigation as expressed by Abraham Lincoln: “Discourage litigation. Persuade neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out how the nominal winner is often the real loser in fees, expenses and waste of time. As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity …”.
  • Private settlement conferences occur in the collaborative professionals’ private offices instead of a public courtroom.

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Next Generation Divorce, P.O. Box 21775, Tampa, FL 33622

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