A Florida divorce can be finalized on the 21st day.

Under Section 61.19 Florida Statutes, “no final judgment of dissolution of marriage may be entered until at least 20 days have elapsed from the date of filing the original petition for dissolution of marriage.”  (Could that wording be any more confusing).  Under the Civil Rules rules, the date an event is triggered is not counted.   I this instance the trigger date is the day the Petition is filed.  The confusing requirement that the phrase  “until at least 20 days have elapsed” means that the Final Judgment  may not be entered on the 20th day, because that day has not “elapsed.”   To be safe, the earliest date to enter a Final Judgment is 21st day after the day petition was filed.

Is there a way Around the 21 day requirement?

A  Final Judgment may be entered sooner than the 21st day to prevent an “injustice.”  I have been unable to find a case interpreting what would qualify as an “injustice,” so a lot will depend on the judge assigned to the case.

How often are divorces finalized on the 21st day?

Divorces are rarely finalized on the 21st day.  The most common reason for delay is that the parties have not yet agreed about the the terms of their divorce.  Litigating a case all the way through trial can take a year or longer.  (Divorce Litigation Guide).  However, even if you and your spouse are in complete agreement at the start, there are a many reasons why it will likely take longer than 21 days to complete the divorce.  For example a required parenting classes may still need to be completed, or there may not be an available court date.  If you represent yourself, a court facilitator will need to review your court filings and then schedule a hearing for some date in the future.  Finally, even if you agree, you may need to work out the final wording on complex issues like retirement plans, the sale of assets, and the relocation of children.


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