If you’re the spouse seeking the divorce, the process can be traumatic, but even more so if you are the spouse who doesn’t want divorce but instead wants to work on your marriage. The State of Florida is a no-fault state, meaning, the spouse seeking the divorce does not need to prove any fault to be granted a divorce and the parties don’t even have to agree. Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.052, “1) No judgment of dissolution of marriage shall be granted unless one of the following facts appears, which shall be pleaded generally: a) the marriage is irretrievably broken or b) mental capacity of one of the parties….” See Florida Dissolution of Marriage Law.
You can’t stop the divorce from happening
If your spouse wants a divorce and files what is called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and you don’t want a divorce, unfortunately in the State of Florida, there is nothing you can do to stop the divorce from happening and moving forward. You can request counseling, and even if you do or if the court orders it, this will not stop the divorce process, but it may delay it.
You still need to answer your spouse’s Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
Per Florida Family law rules and procedures, you will still need to file a responsive pleading, generally an Answer, and would likely include a Counterpetition requesting your own relief. See Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. Your counterclaim may request the courts to mandate counseling or therapy to repair the marriage, but these are rarely pursued likely because to make a marriage work it generally requires both spouses to want the marriage to work. See Florida Dissolution of Marriage Law.
If you don’t respond to your spouse’s Petition within twenty (20) days of being served, your spouse may ask the court to enter a default against you and the divorce process will move forward without you. See Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. This is not a good idea as your spouse may get the relief they are requesting, without you having any say. It becomes much more complicated when property or children are involved.
If you attend mediation, counseling, therapy, or just outright both decide to reconcile, you can file a Motion to Dismiss or a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of the divorce with the court. This motion must be signed by both spouses and state that you have reconciled and wish to dismiss the divorce proceedings.
As you never know what may happen, you should never ignore the filing of a divorce. However, even if you deny the separation and don’t wish for the divorce to go through, the courts can and will proceed. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your voice is heard throughout the divorce process and that you know your rights, as you deserve fair treatment and a fair outcome. If you are struggling with accepting your spouse’s desire for the divorce you may want to discuss this with a qualified therapist, clergy, or a certified life coach who may be able to help you work through things and on to what may likely be a better life.
If you or someone you know is seeking advice on a contested divorce, you can speak with one of our family law attorneys at the Yaffa Family Law Group at 561-276-3880 or visit our website at www.yaffafamilylawgroup.com to schedule your confidential complimentary consultation.