Uncontested Divorce: Collaborative Divorce In Florida

Divorce Paperwork

Florida is commonly referred to as a no-fault divorce state. Under Florida law, you don’t need to prove adultery or reasons for a divorce. See Florida divorce law 61.052. All Florida law requires is there be irreconcilable differences to obtain a divorce. Additionally, if the parties can reach a full agreement on the terms, they can file as an uncontested divorce. However, without a comprehensive agreement, there can be extensive litigation over the terms. For instance, a disagreement on alimony or child custody can lead to aggressive and costly litigation.

Filing for divorce in Florida can sometimes be a long and expensive process. However, an uncontested divorce in Florida can be completed much quicker and less costly than a contested divorce. Florida Law Advisers, P.A., offers a low cost, flat-fee divorce for an uncontested divorce. To receive a free, confidential quote, contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A., to speak with a divorce attorney in Tampa.

What Is An Uncontested Divorce?

In an uncontested divorce, the couple reaches a full agreement on the terms of the divorce before filing the case. If the case requires a judge to intervene, it must follow the traditional divorce procedure. If the parties agree on 99% of the issues, it will still be considered contested because there is 1% left for the judge to decide. If a Judge needs to get involved, the divorce is classified as contested.

Many issues may need to be resolved for an uncontested divorce. For example, all marital property must be distributed as part of the case. See Florida Statute 61.075. Additionally, there will need to be an agreement on the terms of alimony, if any. If the couple shares minor children, a full agreement on child custody and child support will also be necessary. A divorce attorney in Tampa can help make the process a lot easier and ensure your rights are protected. It is recommended to have a divorce lawyer assist with an uncontested case, but it is not required.

Filing Fees For An Uncontested Divorce In Florida

In addition to fees charged by an attorney for a flat-fee divorce, the court will impose a filing fee. For Pasco or Pinellas County divorce cases, the court charges a $397.50 filing fee. However, additional fees, such as summons fees, may be applied. For flat-fee divorce cases in Hillsborough County, the court charges a filing fee of $408. For a complete list of the filing fees in Hillsborough County, click here.

Flat-Fee Divorce In Florida

An uncontested divorce can be a lot less expensive than a traditional divorce. Most law firms will charge by the hour and require large retainers for a traditional divorce. However, uncontested divorces are eligible for a low cost, flat-fee program with Florida Law Advisers, P.A. The flat-fee will cover all the legal fees for the case, as long as it remains uncontested.

Most divorce attorneys in the Tampa Bay Area charge $300 – $450 per hour. Time spent negotiating, attending court hearings, and drafting documents are all billed hourly. Phone calls and emails with the lawyer are also usually charged by the hour. The costs for divorce can get out of control very quickly if services are billed by the hour. On the other hand, a flat-fee divorce provides peace of mind knowing exactly how much the case will cost.

What Is a Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce in Florida is the middle ground between traditional divorce and uncontested divorce. In a traditional divorce, the couple may disagree on alimony, child custody, and division of assets. These disagreements typically need to be resolved through litigation and require court intervention. On the other hand, in an uncontested divorce, the couple is in agreement on all the issues encompassing the divorce. Conversely, in a collaborative divorce, the couple has disagreements but are willing to negotiate outside of court.

Collaborative divorce in Florida has many benefits. For instance, it can allow the parties to have more control over the outcome and save money on attorney’s fees. However, a collaborative divorce is not right for every situation. If you’re considering divorce, contact a divorce law firm to learn more about collaborative divorce. Many divorce law firms in Tampa will offer free initial consultations to explain the collaborative divorce process in more detail.

The Process For Collaborative Divorce In Florida

Typically, in a collaborative divorce, each spouse will have their divorce attorney. The divorce attorneys will enter into a binding agreement that requires them to withdraw if litigation becomes necessary. Thus, there can still be substantive discussions regarding the case without the threat of prolonged litigation. The theory is this will allow the parties to focus on creating an agreement instead of adversarial proceedings and posturing.

To be successful, collaborative divorce in Florida requires both sides to provide full and honest disclosure. If both parties don’t enter the collaborative divorce in good faith, the negotiations may fail. Couples should not be too concerned about disclosing information. Under Florida law, all settlement discussions are considered confidential and inadmissible in court. Additionally, anyone involved in the process may not be allowed to testify in court regarding settlement discussions. For instance, a C.P.A. or forensic accountant must keep settlement discussions confidential.

The Negotiation Process

Most often, the process begins with the couple and their respective divorce attorneys entering into a participation agreement. The agreement should provide an outline for future meetings. For instance, it should specify the required conduct of each party. Additionally, the agreement should address the use of any experts to aid in the negotiations. For instance, divorce cases with complex assets may require the use of an independent expert to help appraise the assets. The agreement should outline the process for selecting the experts and the issues they will be asked to advise on.

Subsequent meetings will be coordinated between the parties and should include a formal agenda. The agenda will describe the topics to be discussed to help avoid surprises during the negotiations. It’s suggested to create a customized agenda for each meeting to help further resolving any issues that are still lingering.  A customized agenda can help each side properly prepare for the meeting and stay focused on the topic at hand. The Tampa divorce lawyer you retained should be able to assist with creating the agenda.

Mediators And Uncontested Divorces

If the parties are not able to resolve all the issues amongst themselves, they should consider retaining a mediator. A mediator is an impartial, independent person who is familiar with Florida divorce law. The mediator will listen to both sides and propose solutions to help negotiate a settlement between the two parties. The mediator’s proposals are only suggestions. A mediator does not have any authority to compel the parties to any specific act or agreement.

A mediator cannot also serve as your attorney or provide legal advice. Therefore, you should retain an attorney to attend mediation with you. A divorce attorney can help with negotiating and advising on whether to accept a proposal. Without competent legal advice, you may be accepting too little or giving up too much in the case.

Consult a 5-Star Flat-Fee Divorce Law Firm In Tampa

We understand how stressful a divorce can be and are here to help. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we want to provide solutions, not add to your burden with overpriced legal fees. We offer a low cost flat-fee and hourly rates for divorce cases. When you hire Florida Law Advisers, P.A., you can count on the strong advocacy you need in these important matters. Regardless if a couple agrees to the terms of a divorce or is engaged in fierce litigation, we can help. Call us today at (800) 990-7763 to schedule your free consultation with a Tampa divorce lawyer at our firm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Typically, in a collaborative divorce there is no mediator. Instead, the parties and their attorneys work together to negotiate terms. A mediator can be used in collaborative divorces but is generally avoided to help reduce costs.

In an uncontested divorce, the parties agree on the terms of the divorce prior to filing the case. Florida is a “no-fault” state, therefore; you won’t have to provide evidence of adultery or abuse for a divorce. Florida law only requires you to allege the marriage is irretrievably broken.

The filing fee for a divorce case in Hillsborough County is $408. The filing fee for contested and uncontested divorces is the same. However, the Court may also charge additional fees for a summons or other documents.

Most often, an uncontested divorce in Florida can be completed within 45 – 90 days. Typically, only one court hearing is necessary to complete the case. Further, only one spouse may be required to attend the final hearing.

In an uncontested divorce, the parties agree on the terms of the divorce prior to filing the case. Therefore, any issues regarding property division, alimony, child custody, or child support must be agreed upon prior to filing the divorce. If there are any disagreements the case will be ineligible for an uncontested divorce.

Most uncontested divorces will be eligible for a flat-fee. The flat-fee covers all of the costs for the case, as long as it remains uncontested. The flat-fee will vary based on the number of children and assets involved. Typically, the flat-fee will range between $1,500 – $2,400.

Collaborative divorce is when both parties work together to resolve their differences without litigation. In Florida, collaborative divorce gives the parties more control over the divorce and allows them to customize the marital settlement to fit their specific needs.

Both parties must agree to a collaborative divorce. Before negotiations begin, both the spouses and their attorneys enter into a participation agreement. Under the participation agreement, both parties agree to disclose all relevant information and cooperate with each other to resolve all the issues in the divorce.

Yes, a collaborative divorce can be much quicker than a contested divorce. A collaborative divorce avoids litigation and court hearings, which can slow down a divorce case. Instead of waiting for a judge, the parties work on their own schedule to resolve the case.

At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we are committed to solving your divorce, bankruptcy, and immigration matters. We are a full-service law firm serving clients in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Orlando, and throughout Central Florida.