Consent Divorces are becoming more popular as economic downturn squeezes parties into making cost-cutting decisions.
A Consent Divorce is one where the parties are non-adversarial. Husband and Wife agree to the terms of their divorce without bringing lawyers to fight with one another. They outline the terms with the advice of counsel and present that agreement to a judge for his signature. As long as the terms are agreeable to the court, and they usually are, the marriage is dissolved with a single hearing.
Typically, a consent divorce takes about a month to occur. This is because Florida Statute §61.19 requires a twenty-day waiting period between the filing of a petition and the entry of a final judgment. This waiting period can be waived if injustice would otherwise occur, a requirement which is granted fairly liberally. In a recent case, I was able to dissolve a marriage in only seventeen days with the recent closure of the courthouse serving as reason for the “injustice” exception to the waiting period.
This is in stark contrast to the timelines of contested divorces which can go on for years an can cost tens of thousands of dollars. In a contested divorce one or both parties files a petition for dissolution of marriage. Then there is an exchange of “discovery documents”, which typically includes financial disclosures, bank statements, etc. Then there may be a temporary needs hearing, sometimes a contempt hearing, a mediation conference and then a trial. Some of these hearings may occur more than once depending on the length of the case and over time this may drain more money than the value of the asset the parties are arguing over.
With the shrinking of Florida resident’s individual incomes, several unhappy couples have taken the route of a consent divorce. This divides their property legally, settles the marital issues and restores them to the status of being single again so that they can remarry if they choose.
If you and your soon to be ex think that you can come to terms that will be agreeable to both and realize the value in preserving what money you do have, contact me at (904) 685-1200 and see if a consent divorce is a good fit for you.