Filing First in Florida Divorce
Taking the first steps to end a marriage is never an easy task. Even when the terms appear clear, such as in the case of infidelity, there is no set playbook about who seeks counsel and when. One spouse may develop uniquely individual reasons to seek separation and their request can come as a shock, with no outward sign or prior discussion of it. Regardless of the circumstances, divorce may feel like an unsuspected blow to the receiving party. One of the most common responses is the insecurity of preparation—the fear that now they must “catch up” in the proceedings or lose everything!
The first and most important step to take if you find yourself in the aforementioned situation, or even if you are merely considering separation, is to contact a qualified Florida family attorney to get answers to these questions and ease your mind as you prepare for one of life’s most challenging decisions.
At Brodie & Friedman, P.A., our team will explore the specific circumstances of your case with you every step of the way. Some of the most common questions we hear at the beginning stages are:
What if my husband files for divorce before I do?
Will my wife get the kids because she is the one filing for divorce?
Do they have a stronger case because they’ve been planning longer?
Florida is a No-Fault Divorce State
This means when you are on the receiving end of divorce papers, it does not assign a legal advantage or disadvantage to either side, whether you filed first or not. No matter what the terms are for initiating the divorce proceedings, Florida simply acknowledges that one spouse has taken the stance that this marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
In fact, the judge hearing your divorce case may not even consider the reasons why you filed in the first place. This fact remains true for your Florida divorce attorney as well.
A good legal counsel is the key to staying afloat during Florida divorce proceedings. Simply being in the “respondent” position, i.e. the spouse served divorce papers, does not give the “petitioner” any influence of who you may seek to represent your case in a family law court. However, if you find yourself in the respondent seat, you will want to obtain experienced legal counsel as quickly as possible. This is the only sure way to avoid losing an edge during your divorce case.
Under Florida Law, the Respondent has 20 days from the day they receive divorce papers to answer to the divorce case. If during this window, the respondent fails to attain a qualified Florida family law attorney or to respond in a timely manner, they may be seen in default by the court.
The Bottom Line
There are no winners or losers at the beginning of Florida divorce proceedings—the stage is merely being set to walk through separation arguments in a coherent manner under the protection and supervision of the law. In fact, if you find yourself on the receiving end of divorce papers, a common “silver lining” is knowing that your spouse, as the divorce “petitioner,” will be the one paying a filing fee to initiate the whole process.
With over 20 years of combined experience, Jason Brodie Esq. and Joshua Friedman Esq. will guide you toward realistic goals and provide committed advocacy toward achieving them. They are known throughout South Florida for dedicated client service, tenacity and success in complex divorce litigation involving property division, child custody and spousal support.
To get a better understanding of the qualities our reputation is built on, contact our office in Boca Raton to schedule your initial phone consultation (561) 392-5100