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How long does a divorce take in Florida?

How long does divorce take in Florida? The timeline can range from a few months to over a year, depending on certain factors. We explain in this article.

evident Editorial Team
December 6, 2023
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If you are going through a divorce in Florida, you probably have lots of questions, such as how long does an uncontested divorce take in Florida, or how long does a divorce take to finalize in Florida?

Getting divorced can be an emotionally challenging experience, and it is only natural to wonder how long the process will last.

In this article, we'll provide a general timetable for getting a divorce in Florida and explore the factors that influence that potential timetable.

Key Takeaways

Florida Divorce Timeline

So, how long does a divorce take in Florida? The short answer is that it can be as quick as thirty days, or it could take a year or more.

Several factors influence a Florida divorce timeline, including whether a divorce is contested or uncontested.  (Note that Florida is a no-fault divorce state, and there are no longer any fault-based grounds for divorce).

The court's schedule will also affect the timeline for a Florida divorce case, although it will likely not impact it as much as some of the other factors we'll explore in greater detail below.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces in Florida

A threshold issue that affects how long a divorce will take in Florida is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

The timeline for an uncontested divorce in Florida is typically shorter than for a contested divorce, though the timeline for a contested divorce can vary greatly. 

How long does an uncontested divorce take in Florida?

An uncontested divorce in Florida could take as short as a few months. To get an uncontested divorce, the spouses need to agree to end the marriage and on all of the divorce-related issues, such as:

  • Property division
  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Child custody

Because the parties agree on all divorce-related issues, uncontested divorces require minimal court oversight, which helps to shorten the timetable for an uncontested divorce in Florida. Typically, the parties can draft their own divorce agreement, which they simply present to the court for its approval.

Errors in the divorce papers or late filings could extend the timeline of an uncontested divorce, though. Likewise, if the couple realizes they need more time to sort through an issue and reach an agreement, the process could take longer.

The average uncontested divorce, though, can proceed relatively quickly.

Simplified Divorce in Florida

Simplified divorce, or simplified dissolution, is an even more streamlined version of an uncontested divorce in Florida. Simplified divorce in Florida is an option if the couple does not have any minor children and neither spouse is seeking alimony. The couple must also have lived in Florida for the past six months.

If you are eligible for a simplified divorce, requirements include reading materials about the simplified divorce process, meeting with the clerk of the court with your spouse, and filing the requisite divorce papers (such as the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage). Simplified divorce in Florida can be as quick as about 30 days.

How long does a contested divorce take in Florida? 

A contested divorce in Florida can take anywhere from six months to more than a year, but the complexity of the divorce proceedings and other factors will dictate how long the process takes.

Every contested divorce case is different, which is why there is no single answer to how long a contested divorce takes in Florida.

Particularly contentious or complicated divorces could take over a year from initial filing to final hearing. It is crucial for a couple to cooperate as much as possible if they want their contested divorce to move more quickly. 

Keep in mind that disagreement on a single issue moves a divorce from uncontested to contested. Even if divorcing spouses agree on alimony, child custody, and child support, if they disagree on property division, their divorce will be contested.

Florida Divorce Waiting Period

Florida has a divorce waiting period of 20 days. This means that, under Florida law,  "No final judgment of dissolution of marriage may be entered until at least 20 days have elapsed from the date of filing the original petition for dissolution of marriage."

The law does note that "the court, on a showing that injustice would result from this delay, may enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage at an earlier date." But in nearly all cases, the Florida divorce waiting period of 20 days applies.

What else influences a Florida divorce timeline?

As mentioned, there is a lot of variation in how long a contested divorce takes in Florida because numerous factors affect the process.

Here are some of the factors that have the biggest impact on how long a divorce takes in Florida. (They are also some of the factors that affect how much a divorce costs in Florida).

Whether the divorce involves minor children

If a divorce involves minor children, additional issues such as child custody and child support have to be resolved. These issues add complexity and can certainly become contentious.

Additionally, Florida law requires that each parent attend a parenting course when the divorce involves children under the age of 18. The class is four hours long, and both parents must attend, although they do not need to attend together.

Florida divorces involving children are thus likely to take longer.

The size and complexity of the marital estate 

One of the primary issues in any divorce is property division. Married couples who have more shared assets will typically have a longer divorce timeline as they sort through how to divide that marital property.

Similarly, the nature of the assets comprising the marital estate can prolong a Florida divorce process. It is much easier to split cash or cash equivalents in a single bank account, no matter how valuable, than it is to divide real estate assets or even more complicated property, such as ownership interests in a business.

Whether alimony is an issue

If one spouse has financially supported the other during the marriage, Florida alimony may need to be calculated.

Florida alimony law requires judges to consider whether there is a need and ability for alimony. That is, whether one spouse needs financial support and whether the other spouse has the ability to provide it.

Couples can reach their own agreement on Florida alimony which can save time. But when it comes up, it is yet another issue for either the couple or the judge to sort through.

How contentious the divorce is

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Last but not least, the extent to which a divorcing couple can cooperate will have a big impact on the timeline of a Florida divorce. The more that the parties can work together to resolve divorce issues amicably and keep moving the divorce forward, the more efficient the process will be.

More collaborative approaches, such as divorce mediation, can help couples work through their issues in productive ways and hopefully avoid the drawn-out court battles that lead to divorce timelines of a year or more.

FAQs About Florida Divorce Timelines

How long does a divorce take in Florida with a child?

On average, Florida divorces with children take longer than divorce cases that do not have children. This is because issues like child support and child custody have to be resolved, and these issues can be emotionally charged and hotly contested.

That said, if the parties can reach agreement on these issues and propose a parenting plan to the court, the divorce process will move much more quickly than if the parties get drawn into a custody battle and put the issues before the judge to decide for them.

Is there a waiting period for divorce in Florida?

Yes, the Florida divorce waiting period is twenty days. This means there must be at least twenty days between when the divorce is filed and when it can be finalized.

Some states have no divorce waiting period (like New York), while other states have much longer divorce waiting periods (like Texas).

How long after mediation is divorce final in Florida?

If divorce mediation is successful, the divorce can be finalized within a few weeks after the mediation process concludes. The key step following a successful mediation is to draft a divorce settlement agreement that reflects the resolutions reached during mediation. (You must also clear the mandatory 20-day divorce waiting period, though more than 20 days have usually passed since the petition for divorce was filed).

Remember, though, that mediation is a party-driven process, and there is no guarantee that the parties will reach an agreement through the process. The parties must voluntarily reach an agreement through divorce mediation, and the divorce mediator cannot impose a resolution upon the parties. So, if divorce mediation is not successful, then the divorce cannot be finalized until the contested divorce process plays out, which can take anywhere from months to over a year to unfold.

The Bottom Line

So, how long does divorce take in Florida? The answer depends in great part on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

Uncontested divorce in Florida can be resolved in a few months and even faster if the couple qualifies for a simplified divorce. Meanwhile, contested divorces in Florida typically take much longer, sometimes up to a year or more. 

Even among contested divorces, though, the timeline can vary greatly, and there are certain common factors that usually prolong the timeline for a divorce, including minor children, complex marital property to divide, or contentious processes. Striving to cooperate as much as possible can help reduce the time involved.

Consider speaking with a Florida divorce attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and get a more accurate estimate of how long your divorce might take.