When entering any court case, the amount of paper work can become overwhelming. A divorce is no exception, with the documents requested being exhaustive. The failure to produce the proper paperwork can impede on the ultimate conclusion of your divorce and even the proper awards that you may be eligible for. It is imperative when going through the process that you understand the importance of the fundamental pieces that make up a divorce. Because divorce can be complicated, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced Orlando Divorce Attorney who will make sure that your documents are presented to the court in a manner that will protect your rights and assets.
The first document that will be filed in your case is the initial Petition for Dissolution. This document initiates your divorce and places the court and other party on notice of the divorce proceeding. This document is drafted by the party who will be known as the Petitioner, the other spouse will be served with this document and known as the Respondent. However, if working together with your spouse, the petition may be filed jointly, and your spouse can waive service. This petition contains information such as; the names of each party, the date of marriage, date of separation, place of marriage, the name and date of birth of any minor children, the grounds for divorce, if there are assets and liabilities common to the party, if there is a need for alimony and the need a parenting plan and child support. This petition gives the court a general understanding of the issues to be resolved between the parties. If you have been served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, contact your Orlando Divorce Attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected in this process.
Following a petition, the Respondent must file an answer within 20 days of receipt of the petition. The answer is a general admit or deny of each allegation in the petition. Some parties wish to file a counter petition, although not necessary. It is important to discuss the option of a counter petition in your specific case with your Orlando Divorce Attorney. If you or your spouse files a counter petition, the other party must, once again file an answer to this counter petition, admitting or denying each allegation, within 20 days.
After initial filings, you will then proceed with mandatory disclosure documents. These documents are required by the court in each case and tend to be exhaustive in nature. These disclosures are to be presented to the opposing party within 45 days of service of the initial petition or within 45 days of filing the petition. These documents include:
- A financial affidavit
- Tax returns for the past 3 years
- W-2, 1099 or K-1 for the past year if your tax return has not yet been filed
- Pay stubs for the past 3 months
- A statement identifying all sources of income for the past 3 months
- All loan applications for the past 12 months
- All deeds for the past 3 years, all promissory notes for the last 12 months, all present leases
- Statements of all checking accounts for the last 3 months, and statements from the past 12 months of all other banking accounts
- All brokerage account statements for the last 12 months
- Most recent statement of any profit sharing, retirement, deferred compensation or pension plan
- Declarations page and last periodic statement of all life insurance policies and current health insurance policies
- Corporate, partnership and trust tax returns for last 3 years
- All promissory notes for the last 12 months and all credit card account statements for the last 3 months
- All written premarital or marital agreements entered into by the parties.
- All documents and tangible evidence supporting the party’s claim that an asset or liability is non marital
- Any court orders directing a party to pay or receive spousal or child support.
After the receipt of each item, you and your attorney will have a fuller picture of the assets and liabilities under dispute and will be able to formulate a plan moving forward. However, most cases are settled out of court in an informal negotiation between lawyers or through a mediation process. This alternative dispute resolution will result in a Marital Settlement Agreement that will then be filed with the court.
If a couple was able to come to an agreement, they will then create and file a settlement agreement with the court. This agreement will outline all issues that were presented in the initial petition and addresses each item that came up in the mandatory disclosure documents. Marital Settlement Agreements are highly favored in contrast to leaving all disputed items up to the court, as you are in control. Once the Martial Settlement Agreement is filed, the court may then proceed with the conclusion of your case.
The final document that will be filed in your case is the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. If an agreement was filed the court will accept and enact the agreement and order both parties be returned to single status. If no agreement was made, the court will address each issue within this final document. This document will legally end your marriage to your spouse and signify the end of your case.
When entering into a divorce, there is a lot of stress and confusion that comes with the process. Simply understanding the necessary paperwork can be difficult. Discuss your divorce with a qualified Orlando Divorce Attorney who can help you to understand the pieces that fit together to create your final divorce order.
Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.