Will Your Florida Divorce Case Go to Trial or Settle?
Considering a trial separation is one thing, but actually filing for divorce is another. If you have started the divorce process by filing a complaint in the court of jurisdiction, you may have questions about the progression of a typical case. You may also be wondering if you will be deposed, be called to testify in an open hearing or go to trial. While Court TV might dramatize family law and divorce cases, many disputes do settle out of court. However, even if your divorce is uncontested, you will still need to appear in front of a family court judge during an uncontested divorce hearing to obtain your divorce judgment.
What’s the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce?
When the plaintiff files a complaint for divorce, they will have to choose between contested or uncontested. A divorce is contested if there is serious disagreement between the parties about shared property such as the marital home, dividing assets or eligibility for alimony. A plaintiff should also file for contested divorce if the parties have not reached an agreement about the custody and support of their shared children. If a divorce is uncontested, it is unlikely the parties have drafted a marital settlement agreement, and communications may be extremely volatile and contentious. If you are experiencing difficulty contacting your ex or serving the complaint or writ of summons upon them, you do have options. You also want to consult with a family law attorney about your options for settlement, negotiation or mediation, and how long you can expect before the case is resolved. In uncontested cases that do not settle out of court, a trial on the merits would be scheduled and the judge would render a decision as to contested issues, including custody of shared children.
If you and your spouse agree to end the marriage on an amicable note, and you are also in agreement about child custody arrangements, alimony, child support, and property division, you may be able to file for an uncontested divorce. When you file the complaint, you also will want to include a copy of the marital settlement agreement if you have one prepared, and a writ of summons. Generally speaking, uncontested divorces are usually resolved more expediently because there are less issues in dispute.
Negotiation & Mediation
In Florida, couples seeking a divorce may attend settlement conferences or meetings with the defendant and his or her attorney, if represented. Especially in cases where a marital settlement agreement has not been drafted, or when child custody is disputed, Florida courts encourage negotiation. Parties also have the option to attend mediation. Mediation is non-binding. Usually the mediation is moderated by a retired family court judge who understands the nuances and details of divorce and custody. In advance, each party will prepare a brief for the mediator to read. The brief will contain issues that remain contested between the parties, possible solutions or compromises on those issues, and what each party hopes to gain from mediation. The parties’ attorneys are also present to conduct divorce negotiations. It is possible that if both parties are represented by counsel that the mediator will ask to speak to counsel in private first to determine if the case is ripe for settlement or if the parties are still contentious. But information disclosed in mediation is confidential. Many family law cases do settle out of court, but for cases where an agreement cannot be reached, our attorneys can prepare your case for an uncontested hearing.
Call Our Tampa Family Law Attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A.
Whether you are only considering separation or need help with a post-divorce modification, our Tampa family law attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. are here to assist. Our attorneys have decades of experience serving clients throughout Greater Tampa with a host of family law issues and are also skilled litigators. We are not afraid to go to trial if necessary. We understand it can be difficult to process the loss of your marriage and are here to offer guidance and advice every step of the way. Call us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.