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Contested Divorce

Divorce in Florida is also known as the dissolution of marriage and usually, occurs when one or both parties have decided to terminate the marital relationship. Contested divorce usually occurs when one party has made the decision to divorce and the other party does not agree with the decision or with every issue relevant to the divorce. Since these types of divorce are usually very complicated and emotional, an attorney is typically required to handle the divorce.

If you have made the decision to seek a divorce, it is important to consult an attorney to discuss your next step. If your divorce is contested, there may be many other issues a South Walton attorney can help you with, such as a protective order if you are a victim of domestic violence.

DeForniak Springs Contested Divorce Lawyer

Contact Adkinson Law Firm, LLC for a consultation if you have been served with divorce papers or are contemplating a divorce in the Florida Panhandle, including the areas of Crestview, South Walton, Fort Walton Beach, Milton, Navarre, DeFuniak Springs, Pensacola and Panama City.  

The attorneys of Adkinson Law Firm, LLC are knowledgeable in all areas of Florida’s divorce laws. Contact Adkinson Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation today at about your divorce questions throughout Destin and South Walton.


Divorce Terms and Definitions in Florida

Section 61.046 of the Florida Statutes defines certain terms and definitions that are helpful to know when filing for divorce. The following are a few of the most commonly used terms.

  • Support — Support is money or services paid from one party to the other for the support and maintenance of the other, and can include alimony, health care or monetary child support.
  • Parenting Plan — A parenting plan is a document that governs the shared decisions by the parents in regards to the children of the marriage after the divorce.
  • Custody Order — A custody order is a judgment that incorporates the parenting plan determination of child custody.
  • Petitioner — The petitioner is the person who initially filed the original petition for divorce, which is a written request asking the court to grant a divorce.
  • Order — An order is a written decision signed by the court regarding your divorce case and is filed with the clerk of the circuit court.
  • Obligor — An obligor is a person ordered by the court to pay money or support to another party in the case, such as alimony or child support.
  • Obligee — An obligee is a person who is entitled to receive money or support from another party in the case, including alimony or child support.
  • Respondent — A respondent is the person the petitioner filed to obtain the divorce from.
  • Shared Parental Responsibility — This type of parental responsibility is an arrangement where both parents of the marital children have full parental rights and responsibilities and make shared major decisions about the children. 
  • Sole Parental Responsibility — This type of parental responsibility is an arrangement where one parent of the marital children is given sole responsibility to care for and make decisions for the child, regardless if the other parent is granted time with the child.

South Walton Grounds for Divorce

In Florida, the only type of divorce is no-fault divorce, according to Fla. Stat. § 61.052. The state abolished fault-based divorce so there is less harm and accusations in the divorce process.

The only reason a couple may file for divorce in Florida is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Either or both spouses can file for divorce in Florida, and in order to file for divorce, the petitioner is required to show the marriage existed; one or both parties have resided in Florida for the six months preceding filing for divorce, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Florida law does not permit fault-based grounds for divorce, such as claims that one party has abandoned the other, one party has been in prison for a lengthy period of time, or one party was unfaithful to the other. The only type of fault-based divorce that exists in Florida is the rarely used mental incapacity.

This fault-based reason for divorce requires one of the parties to be mentally incapacitated for at least three years preceding filing for divorce. However, fault can be used as a basis for determining distribution of marital assets and liabilities, child custody, visitation rights and domestic support.


Florida Divorce Process

The divorce process in Florida begins when one person, the petitioner, files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the clerk of the circuit court where they reside. According to Fla. Stat. § 61.021, one or both parties must be a resident of Florida for at least six months before filing for divorce. The petition must state the marriage is irretrievably broken and what the petitioner wants the court to grant to them. 

The petitioner is also required to serve the petition on the other party, or the respondent. The respondent must then answer the petition within 20 days in an answer that addresses the issues in the petition and any other issues they want the court to make a decision on.

Each party to the divorce is also required to provide certain financial documents and affidavits to the other party within 45 days after the petition has been served on the respondent or before any temporary orders are issued by the court. If any party fails to submit all of the required information, this may result in a dismissal of the case or the court may not grant the party that failed to submit their information’s requests. Additionally, if there are children to the marriage, the parties must also submit child support guidelines worksheets before the court has a hearing on any child support.

If the divorce is contested, the parties may be able to pursue mediation to arrive at some form of agreement for the divorce. Or, if no agreement is able to be reached between the parties, a trial will be held where both parties will present their side of the case and be able to cross-examine the other side. The judge will then make a decision regarding most of the contested issues and will sign the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.


Adkinson Law Firm, LLC | Destin Contested Divorce Attorney

If you want to seek a divorce throughout the Florida Panhandle, including the areas of Okaloosa County, Santa Rosa County, Bay County, Walton County, Holmes County, Washington County and Escambia County, contact Adkinson Law Firm, LLC today.

Clay Adkinson of Adkinson Law Firm, LLC is an experienced DeFuniak Springs family law attorney who will listen to your needs and goals during this trying period. Contact Adkinson Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation at or send an online message about your contested divorce today.