Contested Divorce Attorneys in Melbourne, FL
Guiding You through Family Law Disputes and Complex Cases. Serving clients throughout Brevard County.
A contested divorce is filed when both spouses cannot agree on the aspects of their divorce. In a contested divorce, the proceedings can reach litigation, where a judge makes a ruling. This process takes much longer to be finalized. There is significant work involved in obtaining current financial documents. The court will schedule a case management conference to discuss the status of the case and set the trial and pre-trial deadlines. The court expects the attorneys to meet all deadlines. Exhibits must be bate stamped and provided to both opposing counsel and the court. A trial involves significant preparation with the case file and preparation with our clients. Both parties must present their case to the court, call witnesses, if any, and present their evidence. These trials depending on the issues can take 1-5 days on average. An experienced contested divorce lawyer can help guide you through this process.
The contested divorce can be very complex – you will want a skilled trial attorney by your side to facilitate and represent your best interests. At the Figueroa Law Group, P.A., our contested divorce trial lawyers in Melbourne, FL, have the skill and experience to see your case to a successful conclusion.
We encourage you to request a consultation with our firm.
Why do I need a Contested Divorce Lawyer in Florida?
Being in a contested divorce is physically and emotionally draining for you and your children. Unlike in an uncontested divorce, you must go to trial for the court to determine various issues depending on the case including the timesharing and parenting plan, child support, division of property, alimony and attorney’s fees. Moreover, it is essential to remember that family laws may vary in each state.
In Florida law, the “no-fault” concept applies, which means you are not required to offer a cause for dissolving your marriage. The parties testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Furthermore, the judge does not consider any fault or reason for splitting property or awarding support to one spouse over the other unless there are reasons to do otherwise such as misconduct, dissipation or depletion of assets.
Hiring a Melbourne divorce lawyer ensures you they have extensive knowledge about family law in Florida. Our Florida law office has spent years helping families go through transitions in their lives. We help to protect their future and advocate for them in court. Moreover, our lawyers offer legal services to other parts of family law, such as but not limited to:
- Child support
- Child Custody (Parenting Plans and Timesharing Arrangements)
- Uncontested divorce and Simplified Divorce
- Military Divorce
- Spousal Support (Alimony)
- Marital Settlement Agreements, Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
- Pre-Divorce planning
- Collaborative Family Law
We are here to help you. Let’s talk about this chapter of your life!
Issues to Resolve in a Contested Divorce
When filing a contested divorce, there may be a lot of back and forth as you and your spouse dispute the terms of your separation, provide requested financial and other documentation, prepare and attend mediation, attend any temporary hearings all prior to the case being scheduled for trial.. Though our Melbourne, FL contested divorce attorneys are always respectful of the other party and their legal representative, however, we are not afraid to vigorously advocate your legal issues. We are determined to present a compelling case for the results you seek.
Some of the issues that usually need to be resolved by the court in contested cases include:
The Divorce Process
First, one spouse must prepare, file, and serve the petition for divorce to the other spouse. The other spouse will respond to the petition for divorce and may file an answer and counter-petition. An answer to the counter-petition will be required to be filed. Thereafter, the parties will be required to exchange requested financial documentation within in designated time frames. Then the parties will be ordered to go to mediation in an attempt to resolve some or all of the issues. If the case results in a settlement, the attorneys will work to prepare a marital settlement agreement, parenting plan if applicable and a proposed final judgment. If the case does not settle, the case will be scheduled for a case management conference at which time the court will coordinate a date and time for a trial and provide both sides with pre-trial deadlines that require compliance by both sides.
Each spouse should retain their attorney, who can get started on and guide their client as to the discovery process. This involves gathering important financial information from the spouse and third-party sources. Once this is complete a Certificate of Compliance is filed with the court and the documents are provided to the opposing counsel.
The following is an overview of the divorce process:
Filing of petition
To kickstart the divorce proceedings in Florida, you must file a Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage. The petitioner refers to the individual who files the petition first, while the respondent refers to the other spouse.
Serving of divorce papers
You should serve the divorce papers to the other spouse once you have filed the petition. After receiving the petition, the receiving spouse has 20 days to respond. They may also file an answer and for a counter-petition. The party who filed the petition will then need to file an answer to the counter-petition.
Submit a signed financial affidavit
The court will order you to disclose all the financial information between you and your spouse, such as
- your separate income
- pay stubs
- monthly expenses
- tax returns
- bank statements
You have to comply with this within 45 days of filing your petition. Each party’s attorney can advise their client as to the required deadlines for compliance.
Going through mediation
After you have submitted the petition, the judge will order mediation. As stated in the “Private vs. Courthouse Mediation” section, the mediation will either be private (if you have the means) or will occur in courthouse mediation. During this time, you and your spouse, that attorneys with the assistance of the mediator will seek to reach a settlement. A mediator has been either retained if private mediation or assigned to assist both of you if court mediation in reaching an agreement. However, if the mediation is unsuccessful, here is when a contested divorce occurs since you will have to proceed to trial.
Private vs. Courthouse Mediation
In Florida, certain divorcing couples will have to complete private mediation while others are allowed to use courthouse mediation. If the couple’s combined gross income is less than $100,000 per year, they will qualify for courthouse mediation, the cost of which is usually shared by the parties. If the couple makes over $100,000 per year, they will require private mediation, the costs shared by the parties unless otherwise agreed between the parties or court order.
The Litigation Process
If you are left with no other alternative but to go to trial, the first thing you should do is to explain your and your spouse’s financial situation to your lawyer. This is necessary, so your lawyer can grasp the problem, give proper legal advice, and choose the best line of action for you. You should be candid to discuss the details of your case and goals with your attorney.
Moreover, it is important to be cooperative with your lawyer. Be truthful about what you want to happen and what you plan to achieve at the end of this divorce proceedings so that they can adjust their approach to your objectives. Also it is important to be reasonable with your expectations as the court is bound by the parameters of the law and your attorney must present your case within these same boundaries of the law. It is important to understand the both sides want to win their case, however, once you place our case in the hands of the judge, the judge makes the final ruling and it is possible that one or both of you may not be happy with the final ruling.
When navigating a contested divorce, you can expect to go through pre-trial legal motions and temporary hearings, which may lead to a settlement proposal and negotiations between the attorneys involved. It is often necessary to have a pre-trial hearing before a judge to compel financial disclosure or enforce a prior court order if the other side has not complied.
Upon the completion of the trial, the judge make take the case under advisement and render the court’s decision on a later date. Once you receive the written ruling, if there is a dispute as to the ruling you may discuss with your attorney to file a motion for rehearing and an appeal if there is a legal basis to contest the judge’s decisions.
Retain the Figueroa Law Group, P.A.
Our contested divorce lawyers in Melbourne, FL, are eager to serve as your trusted guide through the process ahead. We offer reasonable fees and can help you make objective decisions that are in your best long-term interests.
Schedule your consultation with one of our attorneys today!