Making the decision to file for divorce is not one to take lightly. Still, it often occurs when a couple has experienced ongoing issues or when changing circumstances make the marriage no longer workable. Ultimately though, deciding to file for divorce can be a challenging decision for many spouses.
However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t pros and cons to filing for divorce in Florida. Understanding how the process works and what you need to do to prepare can make an uncomfortable situation much easier. Another key is to work with our team of experienced Tampa divorce lawyers. We can help explain the legal process so that you better understand your options.
What is the Legal Process For a Filing a Divorce in Tampa?
In Florida, when a couple wants to get divorced, they don’t need to blame each other or prove any wrongdoing. It’s called a “no-fault” state. They just have to show the court that their marriage is beyond repair, or “irretrievably broken.”
With that said, there is a general procedure in place when deciding to file for a divorce. It involves the following steps:
- Filing a Petition – The divorce process typically begins with one spouse (the petitioner) filing a petition for divorce with the appropriate court. The petition outlines the grounds for divorce and any requests related to child custody, support, alimony, and property division.
- Serving the Petition – After filing, the petitioner must serve the divorce papers to the other spouse (the respondent). This can be done through official delivery methods, such as hiring a process server or using certified mail, to ensure legal compliance.
- Response and Counterpetition – The respondent has a certain period of time to file a response–usually 20 days–to the divorce petition, acknowledging or contesting the claims made. In some cases, the respondent may also file a counterpetition, raising their own requests or concerns.
With these steps, the divorce will be initiated. From there, you’ll have to either negotiate directly with your spouse on things like child custody, asset division, and other issues that you want to resolve. If you’re not able to reach an agreement, you’ll have to rely on lawyers and a judge to divide up marital assets and decide who gets custody of the children, among other things. Again, it’s not an easy decision to go through with a divorce. At the same time, if your marriage is at a point where it’s simply no longer working, a divorce may be inevitable. That’s why it’s important to understand what you need to do to make sure you’re prepared.
What’s the First Thing You Should Do When Filing For Divorce in Tampa?
Not every divorce in Tampa is alike. In fact, different people have different priorities, so figuring out the plan of action when filing for a divorce is always unique. Ultimately, though, making the decision to go through with a divorce should only be done after careful consideration. Here is a look at some of the initial steps you should take to make sure you’re ready:
- Be Prepared – Even if you have been contemplating divorce for some time, following through with the process allows you to control the pace of your divorce case. This grants you the opportunity to organize your finances, adjust your living situation, and gather all the necessary documents and paperwork.
- Get Your Assets in Order – it’s always a good idea to get a proper accounting of any assets and other property prior to filing for divorce. Then, once you file, a separation date is established that marks an official separation of any individually owned property or finances. This enables you to protect your assets and avoid assuming any of your spouse’s debts.
- Prepare Emotionally – In certain cases, when a marriage has been contentious or even abusive, the desire for closure becomes paramount. Being the first to file for divorce can be empowering and expedite the process of finding emotional closure. By removing yourself from an unhealthy or dangerous situation at the earliest opportunity, you can begin the healing process emotionally, physically, and psychologically.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Tampa?
Just how long it will take a divorce to conclude in Tampa is unique, making it challenging to provide a standard timeline. Generally speaking, though, the key factor in figuring out the timeframe is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.
- In a contested divorce, spouses are in disagreement regarding one or more significant issues such as asset division, child custody, alimony, and other forms of spousal support. Resolving these disputes often requires court intervention, which can prolong the settlement process.
- In an uncontested divorce, both spouses are in agreement on all major aspects of the divorce. Although legal representation and court involvement may not be necessary, an uncontested divorce still carries legal weight. These divorces generally conclude more swiftly since both parties are in accord.
Regardless of whether your divorce is uncontested or contested, seeking the assistance of experienced divorce lawyers in Tampa can make the process much easier for you. Our team can provide guidance, advocate for your interests, and make sure you are treated fairly.
Thinking About a Divorce In Tampa? Contact Us Today
At Robert Sparks Attorneys, our team of skilled Tampa divorce lawyers is dedicated to delivering comprehensive legal representation and guidance to clients in Tampa. We understand the emotional and mental toll divorce can take, which is why we strive to offer efficient and effective representation, minimizing distress. If you are contemplating or have already initiated divorce proceedings, we’d be happy to discuss your options. Contact us today to learn more.