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Maintaining an Active Tempo in Your Divorce
Who really controls the tempo of a lawsuit? Are the parties dragging their feet? Are the lawyers creating more work than necessary? Are the court systems backlogged? If you want to control the tempo of your divorce, you must be proactive in the divorce process. And in order to be proactive, you must first understand the realities of the divorce process.
Understanding the Lengthy Process of Divorce
You've probably heard it said before: "divorce is a process." Perhaps it was stated with exaggeration, or, just as a statement of fact. Regardless of the tone or the context of the statement, the reality is that divorce (and, in fact, those pesky post-divorce issues that inevitably arise) is a tedious, arduous, and typically unpleasant process. It is affected by many external factors, including the parties' relationship with each other, the attorneys' relationships, and the degree to which friends and family become involved. All of these factors may impact (negatively, or otherwise) the nature of the process and, therefore, it is important to have an understanding of the process before committing to a particular path. The process of a typical litigated divorce (or, modification) may be summarized, as follows:
Do you recognize the pattern? Wait … here it is. Clearly, the process takes time. And time equals money. Money, not only in disputed alimony payments or modifications to child support, but money in legal fees and costs, which increase exponentially (x2) with each delay, each emailed "nasty-gram," each communication with opposing counsel. Most of the steps above don't happen all at once, and accordingly, responses to discovery will often stay in a "holding pattern," while waiting for the court to rule on a particular motion, for example, temporary attorneys' fees. This slows the process down considerably, while fueling the parties' frustrations at each other, at their attorneys, and at the system, which is truthfully ill-equipped to manage these types of disputes.
The person who places herself/himself in the hands of her/his attorney foolishly believes that their interests are in alignment. They are not. The process of divorce is a business, and as such, is designed to facilitate paper flow, encourage prolonged disputes, and justify billing clients. While it may sound harsh, and certainly does not apply to all lawyers, the fact is that a professional who is paid hourly, is not motivated to resolve a dispute quickly.
So, as originally posed in the beginning of this article, who really controls the tempo of a divorce case? If you understand the process, you can control the process. It is the parties who authorize whether monies may be spent on investigations, discovery, motion filings, etc. etc. It is the parties who determine whether a settlement may be reached. If you approach your divorce strategically, you will be better equipped to manage the process.
An uncontested divorce means that the spouses agree on the division of marital property, alimony, and child custody, support, and visitation. The spouses sign a Marital Settlement Agreement and go to court for a quick hearing to finalize the divorce. The cost of an uncontested Florida divorce is usually minimal. It generally takes 30 days after the parties sign the Marital Settlement Agreement for the court to finalize the uncontested divorce. This time will vary depending on how busy the courthouse is, but an uncontested divorce with both spouse's participation is typically the fastest.
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