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Can I file for an uncontested divorce if my wife had originally filed and recently got a lawyer to contest the divorce?

Tampa, FL |

I live in Florida. My wife agreed to file a uncontested divorce, but changed her mind and retained a lawyer. She hasn't paid the lawyer and the case has been at a standstill for over 1 year. Can I file an uncontested divorce?

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Attorney answers 5


I am sorry that you are having to go through this long wait to get something over with that should already be done. It is painful enough to go through divorce without having it drag out forever.

It sounds like you are asking whether you can file your divorce without the help of a lawyer, and the answer is, of course you can. If the case is already filed, you have to follow all the rules just like an attorney would, because you are acting as your own attorney. Even if you think you won't want to spend the money to hire a lawyer to represent you, it would be very wise to consult with a qualified family law attorney in the county where your case will be filed. Getting some advice and following it in the first place can save you tons of money and grief in the long run.

To find an attorney to get the advice you need, I recommend using my company, Advantage Denton ( 877-LAW-CALM to find the right lawyer for you and get you a discount on the attorney fee for the first interview.

Best wishes for getting this divorce over with in a sane and reasonably quick manner.


If the case was filed by your wife, and then she did not move it forward, you can file your own action. It is somewhat surprising that the court did not dismiss her action for lack of prosecution.


Did your wife's lawyer actually file a divorce complaint or did she hire the lawyer to review the paperwork that you presented to her to sign? Is your wife now willing to work with you to resolve any remaining issues and move the divorce forward? If your wife is not willing to work with you then you will not be able to file for a uncontested divorce and will have to proceed with a regular or "contested" divorce for now which means you will probably have to hire a lawyer to help you with the required legal procedures. If your wife now wants this over and done with too then you might be able to proceed with an uncontested divorce.

In order to file for an uncontested divorce in Florida, and majority of most States including my State of Georgia, you must file a Martial Settlement Agreement signed by both parties when you file the Complaint for Divorce or Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. You also have to have your wife sign a Waiver of Service and Answer that must be filed with the Complaint. If you can not get your wife to sign these two documents then you can not file for uncontested divorce. If she will agree to sign the documents then the Court will set the case down for final after either 30 days or whatever the waiting period is in your county.

But again the KEY is your wife has to work with you and sign the paperwork. If your wife is not cooperating and things are at a "standstill" then the only way to get things moving again is to file your own Petition/Complaint. That will then give her a deadline by which she has to answer and will start the proceedings moving. Hope this answered some of your questions, and wish you the best.


I am licensed in California, not Florida. However, the general law that pertains is that you file and serve your Petition and Summons, with other required documents (can depend upon the jurisdiction). Whether or not a divorce is "contested" is a matter of your soon-to-be-ex-wife responding with her Response, and other responsive documents. If she does not respond within the statutory time period, particularly since she is represented by Counsel (who is, or is not, her 'Counsel-of-Record' with the Court?), then you can file the paperwork for a 'default' dissolution.


I am an attorney in Tampa, with offices in Tampa and Brandon. Once the divorce has been filed, the other party cannot change the filing from "contested" to "uncontested." If it is taking forever, you should consider getting an attorney to represent you and use his/her best efforts to bring your case to a close. Feel free to contact my firm for a free consultation.

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