Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.
Divorce can sometimes seem like a four-letter word because often one spouse wants the divorce and the other has not quite reached that point. In Florida, filing for divorce does not require much more than living in the state for at least six months prior to filing and a claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken. While some states require a separation period before the parties can divorce, Florida does not. Some states require that the couple attend marriage counseling for a set period of time before filing, Florida does not. So, where does that leave the spouse that does not want to get divorced while the other is pushing for it? As a divorce lawyer in Jacksonville, this is a question I am often confronted with by clients and the answer is never a simple one.
A marital relationship is generally entered into through love and friendship between two people. A divorce is not usually so amicable. While both people knew that they wanted to marry one another before saying, “I do,” divorce is not normally that clean cut for both spouses. If you remember, there is normally a time between the engagement and the actual wedding, so you still have time to process the fact that you are leaving single life to enter into a marriage. Divorce sometimes just happens and there is nothing that you can do to prepare yourself for how you will feel.
When divorce is on the table, often the person that brings it up in the conversation is the one that has been thinking about it for some time. That spouse has processed all of his/her emotions and ultimately decided that the best thing to do is to end the marriage. Or, sometimes the decision is not based on processing emotions, but on making an emotional decision after some catastrophic occurs in the relationship. How ever, she/he that made the decision, regardless of emotion, is prepared for its aftermath and often wants things done quickly. The other spouse, well she/he is left trying to figure out if there is something that she/he could differently, if there is a way to save the marriage, and whether counseling will help.
If the spouse that decided to get the divorce files before the couple has a chance to discuss counseling, then the other spouse may ask the court to give them time to attend counseling to determine if the marriage can be retrieved. Remember, one of the things you have to show the court in order to get divorced is the fact that the marriage is irretrievably broken. While this action can put the divorce on hold and the court likes to try to keep marriages together, simply asking the judge to grant it does not mean that it will happen. The court will actually a hold a hearing on the matter to determine if counseling would be beneficial to the parties. If the other spouse, the one that is pushing for divorce, does not believe that it will help because she/he is no longer in love with the other spouse, or has moved on, then the judge will most likely not grant the request for counseling.
When you are on the receiving end of bad news, such as this, it can be helpful to understand the emotions that you are feeling so that you can process them in a healthy way. Understanding your feelings on the situation can be beneficial to you throughout the divorce process because it can help you think clearly throughout the division of marital assets and debts. I can be helpful to speak with an individual counselor to help you better understand what you are going through as well as working with an experienced family law attorney in your area who will help guide you throughout the actual divorce process.