How Long Does a Default Divorce Take in Florida?
Divorce can be a lengthy and complex process, but it becomes even more complicated when one party fails to respond or participate in the proceedings. In Florida, a default divorce occurs when one spouse fails to respond to the divorce petition within a specified time frame. In such cases, the court can proceed with the divorce based on the filing spouse’s requests alone. However, it is essential to understand the timeline and requirements for a default divorce in Florida. This article will provide an overview of the process and answer some frequently asked questions.
The Timeline for a Default Divorce in Florida:
1. Filing the Petition: The process begins when one spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the local circuit court. This document outlines the grounds for divorce and the desired outcome regarding child custody, division of assets, alimony, and other relevant issues.
2. Serving the Other Party: After filing the petition, the filing spouse must serve the other party with a copy of the petition and a summons. This ensures that the other party is aware of the divorce proceedings and has an opportunity to respond.
3. Waiting Period: In Florida, there is a mandatory waiting period of at least 20 days after serving the petition before the court can proceed with the default divorce. This waiting period allows the other party to respond or seek legal representation if they wish to contest the divorce.
4. Failure to Respond: If the other party fails to respond within the specified time frame, typically 20 days, the court may proceed with the default divorce. The filing spouse must then file a Motion for Default with the court, requesting the divorce be granted based on their initial requests.
5. Default Hearing: Once the Motion for Default is filed, the court will review the paperwork and schedule a default hearing. During this hearing, the judge will review the terms outlined in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and make a decision. The hearing is usually a formality, and the judge will likely grant the divorce based on the filing spouse’s requests.
6. Final Judgment: After the default hearing, the court will issue a final judgment of divorce. This document officially ends the marriage and outlines the terms of the divorce, such as child custody, division of assets, and alimony. Both parties will receive a copy of the final judgment.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Can I still contest the divorce if I missed the deadline to respond?
A: If you missed the deadline to respond, it becomes more challenging to contest the divorce. However, you may be able to file a Motion to Set Aside Default, explaining the reasons for your failure to respond and requesting the court to reconsider the default judgment.
Q: What if I receive a divorce petition but cannot locate my spouse?
A: If you are unable to locate your spouse, you must make reasonable efforts to find them. If your attempts are unsuccessful, you can request permission from the court to serve your spouse by publication. This involves publishing a notice of the divorce in a local newspaper for a specified period.
Q: How long does the entire default divorce process take?
A: The timeline for a default divorce varies depending on factors such as court availability and the complexity of the case. Generally, it can take several months to complete the process from the initial filing to receiving the final judgment.
Q: Can I make changes to the terms of the divorce after the default judgment is issued?
A: Making changes to the terms of the divorce after the default judgment is challenging. It is crucial to consult with an attorney before the final judgment is issued to ensure your desired terms are included.
In conclusion, a default divorce in Florida occurs when one party fails to respond within the specified time frame. The process involves filing a petition, serving the other party, waiting for a response, and proceeding with a default hearing if necessary. While default divorces can expedite the process, it is crucial to understand the requirements and seek legal advice to ensure your rights are protected.