About Our Office and the Legal Process
We understand and are sympathetic to the fact that things may seem a bit confusing and much like we are speaking a language you have never heard. I would like to take this opportunity to help clear some of the haze that may arise and give you a better understanding of the process. The best case scenario for a divorce action is a minimum of 25 days. This is for a strictly uncontested divorce action where the parties enter into an agreement right away and work together to sign all the papers needed to proceed to final hearing. The typical divorce or modification case will take about a year, maybe longer. Every case is different in some manner and context so please allow this to serve as a guideline and not as a concrete “this is how your case will proceed”.
I have established certain procedures in my office that you should be aware of. Whenever my office receives mail on your case, whether it is a pleading, a motion, a notice, or a letter, it is automatically copied and mailed to you. This will help keep you abreast of what is going on. Please read the paperwork we send you. Understand that we are not able to enclose an explanation letter with every piece of mail. If I feel that an explanation or action by you is needed, I will forward a letter to you specifically on those matters. If you have a question when you receive mail from our office, please feel free to call. A majority of the time my office staff will be able to assist you with your questions. If you feel that you need to speak with me directly, please call my office and schedule a telephone appointment. I have found this to be a more efficient way to allocate my time. It is my policy for all telephone calls to be returned within twenty-four (24) business hours. I also recommend that you keep a list of questions that you have and make one phone call rather than 2 or more per day. It is more cost effective for you. Each time you call the office you are charged a minimum of 2/10ths of an hour. While you may only be on the phone for say, 4 minutes, there are other things that transpire behind the scenes as a result of the call. That equates to a minimum of $15.00, which is deducted from your retainer. Some calls require more time and are billed accordingly. These charges can add up and quickly deplete your retainer monies. My goal is to assist you with as little expense to you as possible.
Starting the Process
My office will provide you with a financial questionnaire and a list of documents pursuant to Florida Family Rule of Procedures 12.285 either at the time of your consultation or when you return to retain my services. These items need to be gathered, completed and returned to my office promptly. I need this information to prepare your pleadings. The sooner you return this information, which is explained in more detail below, the sooner I can begin to prepare your case for filing. Once the financial questionnaire and 12.285 documents are returned to my office, I will begin preparation of your pleadings, whether it is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, a Supplemental Petition for Modification or otherwise. When the pleadings are prepared, my office will contact you to come in to review and sign everything. Generally, it is not necessary to meet with me personally, however if you believe you need to meet with me, please schedule an appointment. After you have reviewed and signed the pleadings, my staff will make arrangements for the case to be filed with the Clerk of Court and all of the documents to be served, by personal process service, upon the opposing party. Generally, service of process is complete within a week. Some situations will take longer, for instance, if the process server is unable to reach the opposing party or the opposing party is avoiding service. If the process server needs more information to effectuate service, they will contact my office and my office will contact you. The process server notifies my office when service of process is completed and my staff will notify you.
Generally, service of process is complete within a week of the case being filed. The opposing party will have 20 days to file a responsive pleading to our petition. Usually, the Answer will be filed along with what is called a Counter-Petition. The Counter-Petition may be abrasive and request things that you thought were already settled between the two of you. While this may be upsetting, it is quite normal to occur. If an attorney does not initially request all possible relief being sought, it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to go back later and request it. Therefore, many attorneys request everything under the kitchen sink. Our office has twenty days to file a response to the Counter-Petition. Sometimes, attorneys offer each other a courtesy extension to file the responsive pleading or discovery responses.