Tampa Contested Divorce Lawyer
Most divorce litigants agree on broad issues. But as they say, the devil is in the details. When it comes to specific questions, like property division and parenting time splits, disagreements are the norm. So, if the family law case includes any minor children and any property (or any debts), at least some conflict is inevitable. That’s when the contested divorce process kicks in.
At the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group, our Tampa contested divorce lawyers have years of experience in Hillsborough County family law matters. We use proven methods to approach these issues. Then, our detail-oriented professionals ensure that the final paperwork matches the agreements between the parties and/or the judge’s order. Through the entire process, we give you solid advice as to when to compromise and when to stand your ground.
The Temporary Hearing in Tampa
After the petitioner and respondent file their petition and answers, the judge usually holds a temporary hearing to determine interim support, temporary parenting timeshare arrangements, and so on.
The decisions made at this hearing often form the blueprint for the final orders. Child custody is a good example. Tampa judges favor the status quo in this area. If the current arrangement is working reasonably well, they are very likely to make it permanent. That’s especially true since, in most cases, the same judge who issued the temporary orders will also sign the final decree. No one likes to admit that they were wrong.
Evidence could come up during the discovery process to change the judge’s mind. But such evidence must be essentially overwhelming to bring about radical change. So, assertive representation at the temporary hearing is often the key to a successful outcome in a divorce proceeding. If we have sufficient lead time to draft proposed temporary orders that favor our clients’ positions, that’s even better.
The Divorce Discovery Process in Hillsborough County
During discovery, the parties exchange information regarding the issues in the case. That usually means financial documents, school report cards, and other data that’s relevant to child custody or property division. Discovery often includes party and witness depositions as well. This court-supervised process helps prevent “trial by ambush” and helps to ensure a more equitable outcome.
Florida divorce discovery has an additional component. If there are children involved, Tampa judges usually order social services investigations. A licensed social worker investigates both households; this person also interviews the children, parents, and other interested parties. Then, the social worker makes recommendations to the court. As mentioned earlier, a favorable (or unfavorable) social investigation is one of the few ways to alter a temporary custody arrangement.
Resolving a Florida Contested Divorce
Most cases settle either through informal or formal mediation. The attorneys for each side usually engage in ongoing and informal settlement negotiations. Sometimes these negotiations quickly bear fruit, sometimes a case settles almost literally on the courthouse steps, and sometimes there is no agreed resolution at all. Formal mediation usually involves a neutral third party who is typically a disinterested Tampa family law attorney or a retired judge. This person reviews the case, hears from both sides, then tries to facilitate a settlement.
If the case goes to trial, the property distribution must be a just and right division of the estate and child custody orders must be in the best interests of the children. The parties must usually establish their points by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Work With Tenacious Lawyers
Almost all divorce proceedings involve at least some elements of a contested case. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Tampa, contact the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group. After-hours and offsite appointments are available.