The Divorce Process
The divorce process can take as little as a few months to as much as several years. The length of time will depend largely on the complexity of the issues involved and the litigiousness of the parties. The more the parties cooperate and agree, the less time-consuming and expensive their divorce will be.
The process begins when you hire our firm by signing a contract for legal services. We immediately send you a welcome letter with an introduction to some of the work which you, as the client, must do to enable us to assist you. The first thing you must do is gather various documents to furnish to the other side. You can expect the other side to provide their documents to you as well. We draft the initial pleadings to be filed with the court, and we schedule an appointment to review the documents with you before filing the documents with the Court and serving them on your spouse or his or her attorney. Once your spouse has been legally served with the divorce petition, he or she will have 20 days to respond. Under Florida law, the parties are required to make full financial disclosure to each other in order to enable each party to make informed decisions regarding their legal rights. Some cases may benefit from a forensic accountant, a financial professional who will analyze the marital assets and may make a determination with respect to the marital estate. Forensic accountants can be particularly valuable when one of the parties owns a business or businesses which need(s) to be valued. In addition, if one of the parties is claiming that some of his or her assets are non-marital, a forensic accountant can help determine the marital portion of said asset. Some cases will involve competing forensic accountants, so each party has a forensic accountant on “his/her side.” At Vilar Law, P.A., we typically recommend both parties retain a neutral forensic accountant to analyze the marital estate and report her/his findings to the parties and their respective attorneys. Handling a matter with a neutral forensic accountant, as opposed to two competing accountants, is more cost effective and more efficient.
The Court will require us to attend non-binding mediation, at some point, where a majority of all cases are resolved. We thoroughly review all the legal issues in your case with you and the forensic accountant, if there is one in your case, as well as all of the documents and information provided to us before attending mediation, so we are fully prepared to make the most of this settlement opportunity. Part of the preparation for mediation includes providing you with a frank assessment of your case in order to come up with a strategy for mediation, which will maximize your legal position in the eyes of the other side and lead to the desired outcome. If mediation is successful, we then draft and sign a Marital Settlement Agreement incorporating the terms negotiated and agreed to during mediation. You and your spouse will need to sign the Marital Settlement Agreement. At this point, the litigation stops, and we only have to attend an uncontested final hearing with the judge to formalize and approve the Marital Settlement Agreement and obtain the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage declaring the parties to be divorced. You may be able to reach a partial agreement at mediation and reserve certain issues to be decided by the judge.If no agreement or a partial agreement is reached, the matter is scheduled for trial so the Court can decide all or the remaining pending issues.
Litigation can be very expensive and emotionally draining. More importantly, litigation can adversely affect minor children directly and indirectly. That is why, at the law office of Vilar Law, P.A., we continually explore and consider all reasonable and possible compromises during the course of your case. We have more control over the process in this way and can make sure the unpleasant task of dissolving a marriage is handled as humanely and dignified as it can be.
This is probably your first time dealing with these important issues, but it certainly is not ours...