Chadwick M. Layton, Esq.[i]
Harvey Waddell & Layton, P.A.
HOW DO I START A DIVORCE
This is not a question that anyone wants to ask. However, it is an important question that some of us must ask.
The steps to initiate a divorce in Palm Beach County are straight forward: preparing a petition for a dissolution of marriage, prepare a financial affidavit and a legal summons. File these pleadings with the clerk of court with the filing fee and then have them served on your spouse by a process server. This triggers a 20 day window for your spouse to file an answer with the court and serve it on you. The divorce has now been started.
The better question is, how should I start my divorce?
This question requires much more thought. Many times, the best route is not to file adversarial pleadings and go off to the races with litigation.
Competent counsel may work with you to the important issues of your marriage before filing a contested divorce case. You may then work together to explore the option of an amicable settlement agreement. Discuss what terms are needed in your divorce to provide a fair settlement that both parties can live with. Execute preliminary financial disclosures to define what assets and liabilities must be addressed in the divorce. Allow legal counsel to apply the law to determine what a fair settlement looks like in your marriage.
Once the process is initiated in this manner rather than contested litigation, everyone is in a much better position to reach a fair settlement agreement.
The final step then becomes filing pleadings with the court to ratify the settlement agreement and grant a final dissolution of marriage.
No process servers are needed. No adversarial pleadings are filed. No litigation occurs. The court is instead limited to the role of ratifying the private settlement agreement that was properly negotiated between the parties.
The law firm you choose in divorce to should match your needs.
[i] Chadwick M. Layton is a partner and shareholder at Harvey Waddell & Layton, P.A., located in downtown Lake Worth.
Mr. Layton is also a member of the Florida Bar Family Law Section and the Susan Greenberg Family Law American Inn of Court of the Palm Beaches,
101 North J Street, Lake Worth
Phone (561) 585-4631