top of page

Contested Dissolution of Marriage proceedings

If you are facing a pending divorce in Florida, you likely have a number of questions about the procedural and legal aspects of this type of proceeding.

What is the divorce process for a contested case?

A divorce in Florida begins with the filing of a petition for divorce, and serving the petition upon the other party. If you are the first party to file, you will be referred to as the Petitioner throughout the case. The responding party, who will be called the Respondent, will then have 20 days to answer the petition.  They may also seek relief by filing a counter petition.   Both parties have to provide financial affidavits and certain documents to one another according to Court rules.  If you have children, you will need to take a parenting course, which can normally be taken online, and you will have to file the certificate with the Court.

Both parties are entitled to seek relief from the Court.  You can obtain relief while the case is pending by filing a motion for temporary relief, which will be set for hearing with the Judge assigned to your case.   Typical requests for temporary relief in a Florida divorce case include spousal support (alimony), child support, exclusive use and possession of the marital home and your vehicle, custody and decision making authority for the children, and attorney fees.   If you have an issue that’s important to you, we can assist you in getting that issue in front of the Judge. 

After the initial financial disclosures have been made, which include items such as tax returns, bank statements, payroll information, retirement, pension, any other financial asset statements, and statements regarding debts (loans, credit cards, mortgage statements), your case can be scheduled for deposition.  Depositions are conducted with the attorneys, the parties and the court reporter present.  A judge is not present for a deposition. A deposition is testimony, given under oath, under penalty of perjury.   Your Pensacola divorce attorney will ask the other party questions, and you will also be asked questions.  The Court Reporter will take down the questions and answers, which can later be obtained by ordering a transcript.  Witnesses can also be deposed.   The purpose of a deposition is to obtain the testimony of a party, under oath, to learn more about their position, facts of the case, and to understand how they will testify when they are in front of the Judge. Depositions are a very useful tool in a divorce case.  

Mediation will also normally be scheduled in your case.  This sometimes occurs prior to a deposition, if it is determined we have enough information to enter into settlement negotiations.   Mediation is a confidential settlement conference.  An impartial mediator will attempt to assist the parties in resolving the case, negotiating back and forth between the parties in an effort to reach middle ground on the pending issues. You do not have to accept an offer in mediation if it does not meet with your approval. However, if your case settles in mediation, we can move to close the case without a trial. If we are unable to settle the case for any reason, the next step will be final discovery preparations and the trial.

During trial preparations, we will want to conduct interviews and possibly depositions of our witnesses, obtain updated documents from the opposing party regarding their current income and current balances on debts and assets (deposit accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, other investments).  We will move to obtain final values of the assets in dispute, including furniture, housewares, collections of any sort.  

Florida adheres to the equitable division of property method of marital property distribution. This means that the court will assess the personal situation of each spouse to determine an equitable (or fair) way to split up all marital assets and debts.

It is important to remember that no case is exactly the same.   Your case may proceed as outlined above, or in a different order.  When you meet with the attorney, we will be able to give you a good idea of how your case will proceed, and are glad to answer any additional questions.

It is highly encouraged that you seek the services of a qualified Pensacola divorce attorney so that your divorce goes as smoothly as possible. For a free consultation with an experienced and dedicated Pensacola divorce attorney Brad G. Fisher, Esq. call 850-470-0100.

bottom of page