When divorce papers are served, there are a lot of unknowns. Whether you are the one serving divorce papers or you are on the receiving end, you will likely have many questions about what is to come. 

You will want to know what you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible for everyone involved, while ensuring that you get a fair and just outcome. 

To help guide you through the process, here is what you can expect to happen after divorce papers are served in Florida. Keep in mind that processes may vary by state, and we recommend getting information about your specific state from a qualified divorce attorney.

What Happens After You Serve Divorce Papers? 

If you’re serving divorce papers on your spouse, the process won’t come as a surprise. You will expect it. Regardless, you might be anxious about what happens next. 

When your spouse is served with divorce papers:

  • They can choose to hire a divorce attorney or represent themselves.
  • They will have up to 20 days to file an answer. Members of the military may have a longer period of time to respond.
  • Their answer will tell the court which part of the filling they agree or disagree with.
  • They will be asked to fill out additional paperwork and participate in mediation and/or hearings to finalize the divorce.

If your spouse is served with divorce papers and they don’t file an answer within 20 days, they may forfeit their right to present their side. The court may award a default judgment, which is a ruling that only takes your petition into consideration (since there is no information submitted by the other party). This process doesn’t happen automatically. The petitioner (you) must file a Motion for Clerk’s Default to move the case along if your spouse doesn’t file an answer. To keep the process moving along, file a Motion for Clerk’s Default the day after the answer is due if your spouse does not file an answer. 

If your spouse is served with divorce papers and they respond after 20 days, they may still be able to participate in the case. They can file a late answer if the Motion for Clerk’s Default has not been filed. If the Motion for Clerk’s Default has already been filed, they will need to file other motions to show why they filed late and what relief they seek. 

Recommended Reading: How to File for Divorce in Florida 

What Happens After You Are Served with Divorce Papers?

The divorce process might be more disorienting if you are served with papers from your spouse. Whether you are expecting them or not, being served with divorce papers can be stressful. You may feel emotional about the situation, and you only have 20 days to file an answer. The key is to stay calm and act quickly. 

If you are served with divorce papers:

  1. Decide whether to seek counsel from an attorney. We recommend exploring your options with a divorce attorney as soon as possible. As soon as you are served, call for free consultations to see how a divorce lawyer can help you navigate the next steps. (At  TJ Grimaldi, Attorney at Law, all consultations are free. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.)
  2. Review the petition, and compile your answer. Your answer should respond to all claims made in the divorce papers. Don’t rush through this process. Carefully go through all claims and write up responses that relate to the division of assets and liability, child custody, and spousal support. Make note of any claims that you don’t agree with, and pull any documentation that supports your claims.  
  3. File your answer within 20 days. It should go without saying, but the deadline to file is extremely important. Don’t let this date pass without filing an answer. 
  4. Follow additional directions by the court leading up to final judgment. Once the answer is filed, you will likely receive additional documents to fill out, and you will participate in mediation and/or hearings until the final judgment is entered.

If you are served with divorce papers and don’t answer within 20 days, you may still have an opportunity to make your claims. If the Motion for Clerk’s Default hasn’t been filed, you can still file an answer. But, if the Motion for Clerk’s Default was filed, you may need to file additional motions to get your side of the case heard. 

Talk to an Attorney Before & After Divorce Papers Are Served

When divorce papers are served, the situation quickly becomes real. Whether you are serving the papers or being served with them, you are in a legal situation that can impact the rest of your life.

Make sure you have the information and representation to protect you, your children, and your assets as you go through the process. Work with an experienced attorney who can ensure that the process is as painless as possible for all involved while ending with a fair outcome. 

If you’ve been served with divorce papers or are thinking about serving your spouse with divorce papers, TJ Grimaldi is here to help. Our consultations are 100% free. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 to see how we can help make the divorce process less stressful for everyone involved. 

Deciding that you want a divorce can be very difficult. The process of going through a divorce shouldn’t be. We’re here to help you understand how to file for divorce in Florida to make the process as smooth as possible. 

If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, use this information to make sure you fully understand the process and know what to expect.

How to File for Divorce in Florida in 6 Steps 

There are many factors that can impact the divorce process. If it is contested, children are involved, or alimony is requested, there may be additional steps. But as a basic framework, these steps outline how to file for divorce in Florida. 

  1. One or both parties file a petition for Dissolution of Marriage. 
  2. If it is a contested divorce, the other party files an answer within 20 days.
  3. Both parties may be required to fill out additional paperwork and affidavits (related to material assets, child custody, alimony, etc.).
  4. Both parties may work together through mediation to come to an agreement.
  5. If no agreement is made, a trial may take place. 
  6. A final judgement is made, and the divorce is finalized. 

While these are the basic steps of most divorces, every divorce is different. Factors related to the marriage can make these steps move faster or slower and add to or shorten the process. 

If you are about to go through the divorce process, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney who can listen to the specific details of your case and help you understand what you can expect based on your unique situation. 

FAQS for Filing for Divorce in Florida

If you are wondering how to file for divorce in Florida, knowing the answers to these frequently asked questions will help you navigate the process. 

What is a Simplified Divorce?

The fastest and easiest way to get a divorce in Florida is through a Simplified Divorce. A Simplified Divorce, or Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, is an uncontested divorce. Parties meet certain qualifications that enable them to expedite the divorce. To qualify, no children under 18 can be involved, and both parties must agree to terms set before the filling, agreeing to forgo the right to trial and alimony. 

How much does it cost to file for divorce in Florida?

The average filing fee for a dissolution of marriage and annulment in Florida is $408.00. Depending on the details of the divorce, there may be additional fees if the case needs to cover matters related to child custody, visitation, paternity, and support. If parties can’t afford to pay the fee, they can submit an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status, or a divorce filing fee waiver. This may be approved by the court to waive the fee. 

What forms do I need to file for divorce in Florida? 

For an uncontested divorce, you only need a Dissolution of Marriage form. This form along with any other forms needed to file for divorce can be found on the Florida Courts website. If the divorce is contested, involves alimony, or has children involved, other forms might be required in addition to the Dissolution of Marriage form. For example, if children are involved, a Parenting Plan or Disestablishment of Paternity form may also be required.  

How long does a divorce in Florida take? 

A Simplified Dissolution of Marriage with no disputes can be completed in about three months. A contested divorce can take longer, and the length will depend on the details of the case. On average, a disputed divorce takes around 12 months. 

Can I file for divorce without an attorney? 

Yes, you can go through the divorce process without legal counsel. The Florida State Courts System’s Self-Help Center offers assistance through self-help programs and court staff. But, it’s important to note that these resources can only help with administrative and procedural assistance. They cannot provide legal advice.

If you want legal advice — information about how to go through the process to get the best outcome — you need an attorney. An experienced divorce attorney can ensure that you go through the process properly and get the outcome you deserve. 

Don’t File for Divorce on Your Own

Going through a divorce isn’t always easy, but when you work with an experienced divorce attorney, it is easier. 

You don’t have the added stress of trying to navigate the legal process. You can find comfort in knowing that someone experienced with the process is guiding you toward the best possible outcome while making the situation as quick and smooth as possible. 

If you need help going through the divorce process, TJ Grimaldi is here to help. See how TJ can guide you through your divorce proceedings. All consultations with TJ are 100% free, so schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today to see how our team can make your divorce easier on everyone involved.