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How long do Florida divorces take?

It will depend on whether the Florida divorce is contested or uncontested. A Florida uncontested divorce is where the parties agree on all issues like division of property, and debts and whether or not there’s to be alimony, the amount of child support, and the timesharing schedule with the children. (the agreement can be due to the parties attending mediation, or otherwise) Because of the agreement, there’s nothing really left for the judge to decide. Uncontested divorces in Florida can take just 4 or 5 weeks if all steps are finished and everyone cooperates to get it done. For Florida divorce cases where there are issues that the Court has to decide because the parties cannot agree on them, like alimony or amount of child support etc., the matters can take many months to be heard, depending on what part of the state you live in. Judges in particularly populated parts of Florida, such as Miami, Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood and Pompano can have hundreds or even more than a thousand cases on their docket. So it can take a good while before the Court will have time to hear your case. (and in a typical Florida contested divorce, there may be several hearings on different topics before the judge makes a final determination on the issues)

It can be frustrating for both the lawyer and the client when the court cannot set a hearing on an important issue in the case in a timely fashion. Obviously if a party does not for example have enough money to feed themselves and their children while the case is going on, it is quite important that the judge quickly rule that temporary support be paid by the other more financially secure party. (ie until a final determination can be made on the issues of the case) The lawyer of course can ask for an emergency hearing if someone literally does not have enough money to eat, but judges need to be convinced that there is a legitimate need for a quick hearing before they will move your case ahead of all others. (judges get alot of requests for emergency hearings, some of which are legitimate and some not so much)

Hopefully your lawyer will be diligent about requesting hearing time. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to the judge’s assistant to secure a hearing date, no matter how far in the future it is set for. (online scheduling of hearings is getting to be more and more prevalent in Florida) Sometimes the lawyer will have to wait for the judge’s secretary to return a call requesting hearing time. But due to the judge’s heavy case load the secretary may not respond right away. In that event it’s best to send the request in writing, stating any unusual circumstances that might require that a hearing be set quickly). And if there’s no response to these phone calls and letters, the lawyer needs to follow up with the judge’s office. Also, if lengthy hearing time is needed because of the volume or complexity of the issues, it may be awhile before the judge will have a large block of time to give you.

Other reasons for a delay in getting a hearing on your case may be a delay in getting an order of referral signed by the judge. Florida child support issues may be heard by a hearing officer and the other issues of your case may be heard by a general magistrate. At least as to the issues heard by the general magistrate, an order of referral is needed from the judge.

Because judge’s dockets are so crowded, they rely on hearing officers and general magistrates in Florida to relieve some of the caseload. Unfortunately the magistrates and hearing officers are also busy. Couple this with the fact that it is sometimes difficult to find a date for the hearing that all parties and lawyers can attend, it can be a long wait before your matter is heard. And some Florida judicial circuits and judges are requiring that the parties attend mediation before temporary support hearings can be held. (such as in Palm Beach and Broward County) Mediation can save the parties time and money if they indeed can settle their matter there. But if the mediation fails to bring a positive result, it served only to add another layer of delay and expense to the parties’ case.


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