February 4, 2022
Once you have made the painful decision to end your marriage, you will likely want to get through the process as soon as possible. The first question many clients ask is, “how long will my divorce take?” Unfortunately, one simple answer rarely addresses this question. Many factors can delay a divorce case throughout the litigation process, and below are some of the most common factors that can slow down your divorce case.
Court Backlogs Due To COVID
As soon as the pandemic began, the Florida court system was already preparing to manage the inevitable backlog that will result from mandatory court closures.
Florida formed the COVID-19 Workgroup on the Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After COVID-19 in April 2020. It meets regularly for nearly two full years now to limit court delays due to the pandemic as much as possible. Despite this early intervention and the extent of the good work done by this task force, there are still certain bottlenecks in the system. Getting a trial date can take months under the best of circumstances.
In the era of COVID, divorce litigants must sometimes wait a year or more between filing a case and having a trial. This is why it is more important than ever to make the process more efficient. Cases that resolve through mediation, arbitration, or other means of Alternative Dispute Resolution can end much quicker. Once the parties have a written agreement, a judge needs only to review and approve the final divorce decree.
Disagreements Over Child Timesharing
Disagreements about child custody (which Florida law calls timesharing) or child support are common in divorce cases. Many parents feel far more strongly about their parenting rights than their property rights, which can lead to insurmountable obstacles in resolving a divorce case. Parents who cannot agree on child custody issues can submit their disputes to the court.
These matters can include:
- Disagreements over who should have legal decision-making authority on matters of medical care, education, religion, and other matters
- Disagreements over where a parent should live (or whether they can relocate out of state)
- Disagreements over the parenting schedule
- Disagreements over child support payments
Family court judges like to see parents working together in the best interests of their children. If you can resolve any of these issues, it can reduce the number of disputes that must be litigated in court and demonstrate healthy dispute resolution skills for the court. It can also set a precedent for a healthy working relationship with your child’s other parent.
Our experienced divorce lawyers in St. Petersburg have experience with many different ways of resolving parenting disputes. Sometimes, a formal arbitration or mediation session is necessary. In other cases, the parents can simply sit down with their lawyers and discuss their goals. We help parents find the method of dispute resolution that best suits their particular case – without jeopardizing any of their important parental rights.
Disagreements Over Property Division
Many couples do not realize just how much property they acquire during their marriage.
Property is not just the items you have in your home. It also includes:
- Boats and other recreational items
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate investments
- General investment accounts
- Stock and bonds
- Stock options and other employment benefits
There are many ways to fairly divide such property, and you do not have to liquidate every asset to divide the proceeds equally. Experienced divorce lawyers know how to find creative solutions to facilitate an equal division of any property, even complex assets like business interests or real estate.
Disagreements Over Alimony
The Florida Statutes allow family courts to grant many different types of alimony. However, the law is changing in this area. Alimony is becoming less favored, and revisions to alimony laws throughout the country restrict it more. Divorce litigants must prove that they have an actual need for alimony. Once someone meets this burden, the court will then determine the appropriate amount and duration of alimony.
Permanent alimony is increasingly rare. More often, courts now grant alimony for a specific purpose or for a set length of time.
This creates different types of alimony:
- “Bridge the gap:” This is a temporary form of alimony designed to help the spouse with lower income transition from being married to being single.
- Rehabilitative: Rehabilitative alimony helps one spouse gain the education or skills to transition into full-time employment. Courts commonly order rehabilitative alimony when one spouse intends to go back to school and get a degree that ensures their future income potential.
- Durational: Durational alimony lasts for a set length of time. It, too, intends to help one spouse transition from married income to a single income. It does not last forever. To help this transition, durational alimony might include a “step down” schedule. This slowly decreases alimony to prepare the recipient for the eventual end of alimony payments.
- Permanent: Permanent alimony is increasingly rare in American divorce cases. There are, however, some situations in which permanent alimony may be considered appropriate by the court. For example, if one spouse cares for a child with a permanent disability, they will likely not return to work. In this case, the court might order alimony payments permanently to pay for the child’s care. If the recipient already retired (or is nearing retirement age and cannot reasonably reenter the workforce), this too can be a situation in which permanent alimony is appropriate.
Find The Right Florida Divorce Lawyers For All Financial and Parental Disputes
If you want a divorce or need to respond to your spouse’s divorce petition, you should never delay getting help from a divorce law firm that you believe is a good match for you and your case. Start with a consultation about your options as soon as possible.