When spouses are unable or unwilling to come to an agreement on all issues involved in their case, they are left with a contested divorce case. In other words, they have a case that is on track to be decided by a judge. A typical divorce case involved the following issues:
- child support (if there are minor children)
- time-sharing with children (if there are minor children)
- the amount and duration of alimony, if any
- division of marital assets (real property, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, vehicles, personal property, etc.)
- division of marital debts (mortgage, credit cards, car payments, etc).
- which assets or debts should be considered marital assets or debts.
Each contested case begins when a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed by one of the spouses. That petition is served on the other spouse by a process server. After being served, that spouse has 20 days to file a response with the Clerk of Court. Following the response to the Petition, the discovery phase of the case begins.
Florida law requires the exchange of the following documents in every divorce case:
- pay records (pay stubs, IRS form 1099, etc.)
- Financial Affidavit
- Tax returns
- Bank records (checking and savings accounts)
- Credit card records (list of purchases)
- Proof of insurance and policy provisions (car, health, life, home, etc.)
- Miscellaneous documents that relate to the existence and value of other assets
- Miscellaneous documents that relate to the existence of debts
Either party is allowed to request additional documents from the other or from third parties (banks, employers, schools, creditors, etc.).
After a complete financial picture has been created, the case is usually ready for mediation. You can learn more about Orlando divorce mediation by clicking on the link. Fortunately, an agreement is reached in most cases at the mediation. If no agreement can be reached at the mediation, then the case proceeds to trial where the judge makes decisions on the issues listed above.
Since every case is different and presents unique issues, it is impossible to determine in advance the cost of a contested case.