Digesting a divorce petition

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. In this guide, we will address the most common questions and concerns related to alimony in Florida, helping you navigate the complex terrain of this important aspect of divorce law.

It’s safe to say that the onset of a divorce action causes considerable emotional stress and confusion for most people. The thought of dissolving a marriage is not pleasant. We often hear stories of how parties are served with his/her divorce papers and rarely are these stories uplifting and joyful. “Can you believe that my spouse just served me with divorce papers?” “I can’t believe my spouse served me with a divorce petition, they told me they wanted to work things out” “You will never believe the things my spouse wants out of this divorce?” Sound familiar?

When individuals are served with the initial pleadings in a divorce action they are almost always shocked and angered. As a rule I explain a divorce petition in the following way: “Do you remember some of the items you requested on your Christmas list as a child?” Most individuals laugh and recognize immediately where I am going with this question. Many of us requested items that we knew we would not receive; however, this fact did not stop us from making the request. If you don’t ask for it the answer is always no. You cannot receive what you do not ask for and therefore, what is the harm in making the request.

A divorce petition should be viewed in much the same way because in all actuality it is a wish list. The Petitioner is advising the court of all the items he/she seeks out of the case and since they are filing the petition the requested relief sought is almost always the best case scenario to serve his/her interests. A Judge in a divorce case cannot make a ruling regarding items that are not mentioned in the parties’ pleadings and this fact is why people often take a global approach when drafting their divorce petitions. This is why your spouse has requested all of the items from your marriage and why you feel as if he/she wants you to part with everything as you read the divorce petition. The reality is that many divorce cases are resolved by settlement agreements and these agreements rarely afford one party all of the requested items from his/her divorce petition.

Do not be alarmed by what you find in the divorce petition. Keep in mind that you will be filing an answer to this Petition, and in most cases a Counterpetition where you will have the opportunity to advise the court of your requests. By doing so the Court is apprised of what issues are present and what each party is seeking from the very beginning of the Case. There will be ample time to work out all of the issues and as the issues begin working themselves out, provided the parties are cooperating, the stress caused by the review of the original divorce Petition and Counterpetitions will subside and often become a distant memory.

For more information regarding your Divorce/Dissolution case you can contact the law office of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates.

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