Usually, a divorce happens when a couple has had a lot of problems for a long time. Sometimes, things change or get difficult, and both people realize they can’t stay married anymore. It’s a tough decision for many spouses to decide to get a divorce.
When it comes to the topic of a Tampa divorce, Florida law has a number of different requirements that both spouses have to meet. However, you may be wondering if Florida, like other states, has a legally-mandated “cooling off” period before a divorce is finalized.
Does Florida Have a “Cooling Off” Period During a Divorce?
Generally, a “cooling off” period is designed to see if you and your spouse can reconcile or reconsider some of the issues that have been involved in the divorce. In Florida, there is no designated “cooling off” period.
However, when a couple decides to get a divorce, there is a specific procedure that follows. It begins with the filing of a court document called the:
- Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage
This filing officially starts the legal process and gives your spouse 20 days to respond. The response typically takes two forms:
- An “Answer”, where they admit or deny the claims made in the complaint.
- A “Counterpetition”, where they not only deny the claims but also make their own claims against you.
In terms of a timeframe, this 20-day window is extremely important and serves as the only real means of a “cooling off” period in the divorce process. Legally speaking, it’s crucial to officially respond to the complaint. Failing to do so within the given timeframe means the judge moving to enter a default judgment, which will grant everything stated in the complaint.
In simpler terms, it means your spouse could get everything they requested, including custody of the children, child support, and alimony. Moreover, a default judgment essentially concludes the case, leaving you with no option to present your side of the story through discovery, mediation, or trial.
Why Would You Need a “Cooling Off” Period For a Divorce in Tampa?
Not every divorce in Tampa is the same. However, most Tampa divorces are usually emotionally and mentally challenging, especially when it’s being contested by the other spouse. High-conflict, contested divorces can be long and drawn out as you and your spouse clash over assets, custody, or visitation. With emotions running so high, it’s easy to see why some jurisdictions mandate a waiting period before finalizing a divorce. However, because there is no official “cooling off” period, it’s not possible to stop a divorce once it has been filed and moves through the court system. Still, it’s important to examine the reasons why such a period can be beneficial. If you are going through a divorce in Tampa, consider the following reasons why you may need a “cooling off” period:
- Divorce is a big decision that can change your life. The “cooling off” period gives you a chance to step back and think about whether divorce is really the best choice. You can look at your feelings, and problems in the marriage, and see if there’s a chance to fix things or find other solutions.
- Emotions can be intense during a divorce, and you might be tempted to make quick decisions. The “cooling off” period helps prevent you from making hasty choices in the heat of the moment. It encourages you to think carefully about what will happen after the divorce and how it will affect your family.
- A “cooling off” period gives both of you time to think about your rights, things you own, and what you’re responsible for in the divorce. You can gather information, talk to experts like lawyers or financial advisors, and make smart decisions about child custody, dividing your belongings, and spousal support.
- Divorce is a highly emotional process, and sometimes people regret decisions they made when they were upset. Having a “cooling off” period reduces the chance of future regret by giving you time to think more clearly and make thoughtful choices.
Overall, taking a step back to look at a more rational and deliberate approach to divorce can sometimes be very helpful for both spouses. At the end of the day, a divorce is going to bring about major changes to both you and your spouse’s life. That’s why it’s important to consider all of your options and, if necessary, have an experienced and compassionate team of divorce attorneys on your side to fight for your interests.
Dedicated Tampa Divorce Attorneys Will Be By Your Side
At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we understand the emotional and challenging nature of filing for divorce. It’s not just about ending a marriage, but also about making significant changes to your life and the lives of your spouse and children, if you have any. We recognize the weight of this decision and are here to provide you with experienced and caring support during this difficult process.