When a marriage reaches the point of divorce, it’s rarely a surprise. Every marriage and subsequent divorce has its own unique set of circumstances, but when there are significant assets or other issues that a divorce could threaten, some may wonder if it’s possible to refuse. Moreover, does your refusal to accept a divorce or go along with the rulings that it can involve mean that it’s not legally binding?
In Florida, you or your spouse cannot simply refuse a divorce. No matter what the circumstances were that led up to the decision to file, once the divorce is officially filed, the legal process will be initiated and both sides will have to engage in the proceedings. At that point, whether or not you or your spouse can work together will determine how long the process will actually take.
Strong Support From Florida Divorce Attorneys
Even if you or your spouse don’t agree with the decision to file for divorce, the legal process will move forward. When you find yourself in this situation in Florida, you could benefit from the experience and support of our Florida divorce attorneys at Robert Sharp Attorneys. Throughout our years of practice, we have helped clients work through the various issues that can come up in a divorce, making sure their interests are protected. To schedule a free consultation with our office, contact us today.
What Happens If I Refuse To Sign Divorce Papers in Florida?
Under Florida law, there is a procedure in place once divorce papers are filed. Officially known as a Petition For The Dissolution of Marriage, a divorce complaint officially initiates the legal process. If you filed the complaint, your spouse has:
- 20 days to file their response, which will either be an Answer or Counterpetition.
Generally, an Answer will simply either admit to or deny the claims made in the complaint, while a Counterpetition will not only deny the claims but will counter with claims of their own against the other spouse.
Whether or not you agree with or even want a divorce to take place, filing an official response to the complaint is extremely important. If you fail to respond to a divorce complaint within the specified time frame, you will be in “default.” When a judge enters a default judgment against you, they effectively grant everything that is alleged in the complaint.
What this means, generally, is that your spouse could get everything they ask for. This could include custody of your children, child support, and alimony. Further, a default judgment basically closes the case, meaning you won’t have the option to go to discovery, mediation or trial to state your case.
Contested Versus Uncontested Divorce in Florida
Even though you or your spouse cannot stop divorce proceedings once an official complaint is filed, there are ways that the decisions and issues can be challenged. This is known as a contested divorce. Alternatively, an uncontested divorce is one where you and your spouse agree on all the major issues of the divorce. Most likely, if you or your spouse were looking to refuse a divorce, it will be contested.
- Contested divorce – A contested divorce is one where you and your spouse don’t agree on major issues, like asset division or child custody. Further, these divorces require the intervention of a judge and attorneys to negotiate and actually rule on issues so that they can be enforced. While a contested divorce will allow you to fight for what you want (or are entitled to), it can also drag out, costing you or your spouse more money. Further, if you or your spouse don’t agree with a judge’s ruling, appeals and post-trial motions could be filed. This would extend the process even longer, costing more money.
- Uncontested divorce – An uncontested divorce is one where you and your spouse are in agreement on the major issues in the divorce. Often, you will come to the agreement beforehand on your own and may not even require a lawyer. Still, even an uncontested divorce has to be officially filed so that it can be legal.
A divorce is an extremely emotional and taxing process in most cases, but even more so if it is contested. High-conflict, contested divorces are usually painstakingly long and can even stretch out years as you and your spouse butt heads over assets, custody, or visitation. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, having the representation and support of an experienced Florida divorce attorney can be vital, making sure that deadlines are met and your best interests are advocated for.
Dedicated Florida Divorce Attorneys Will Stand With You
Contested divorces can come with great personal and financial cost. But a difficult divorce can be even more costly in terms of your emotional and mental health. Having to fight for things like property, alimony, or custody of your children can take its toll. The stakes in a divorce can be extremely high, so having experienced and dedicated representation from our team of Florida divorce attorneys can be crucial. If you are thinking of filing for divorce or are in the middle of one, contact us for a free consultation to make sure your needs are met.