Contested Divorce in Jacksonville FL
The process of a Jacksonville FL contested divorce begins with the preparation and filing of aPetition for Dissolution of Marriage in which one spouse (a.k.a. “petitioner”) generally describes the allegations and issues to be considered by the Court. The other spouse (a.k.a. “respondent”) is formally served with the Petition, and he or she has twenty (20) days from the date of service to file a formal response, known as an Answer. If you have been served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, contact an attorney immediately! If you call our firm, please advise us that you have been recently served with a Petition. Experienced attorneys are often very familiar with each judge and can give general insight as to your assigned judge’s philosophy. This is not to say that a lawyer can predict the outcome of your case, but a good lawyer knows that judges are unique individuals whose opinions are reflected in previous decisions.
As in every lawsuit, there is a discovery phase. Discovery is the process by which each party seeks information from the other. Discovery takes the form of Requests to Produce Documents, Requests for Admissions, Interrogatories and depositions. While most discovery is requested by one party from the other, Florida law requires each party to file a detailed Financial Affidavit, which discloses financial data like income, expenditures, debts and assets.
Once the Respondent has answered the Petition, the case is “at issue,” and it can be set for trial by the judge. In most jurisdictions, mediation is required prior to trial. Mediation is a process in which the parties meet with their attorneys before an impartial third lawyer well versed in family law. Mediators charge by the hour, and the cost is split between the parties. The Courts require mediation because most cases settle at mediation or shortly thereafter.
If the case fails to settle, it will proceed to a final hearing. Even though a final hearing is typically held in Chambers (the judge’s office) rather than in a courtroom, it still follows the same procedure as any other trial. Witnesses are called to testify, and all manner of evidence is submitted to the judge. The judge will rarely make his decision the same day. There are typically many issues to be decided, and the judge’s decision could take weeks.
Schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced Jacksonville divorce attorneys by calling 904-230-0778 or filling out the form on our Contact page.
North Florida Law Firm
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Jacksonville, FL 32259
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