In Charlotte County, as long as a divorcing couple’s negotiated settlements regarding child custody, child support, property division and so on are reasonably fair and practical, getting the judge to issue the final divorce decree is mostly a formality. In other words, the judge will rarely stand in the way of a married couple that no longer wants to be married.
Rarely — but not never. Technically, a Florida family court judge has the discretion to deny the divorce. Most of the reasons to decline to issue the divorce decree have to do with a missing document like marital asset disclosures or a child support schedule. But the law also states the judge must be convinced the marriage is “irrevocably broken.” At least in theory, your judge might decide they are not convinced your relationship cannot be saved.
Judge orders counseling, not divorce
If you think this never happens, you should know that it recently did happen to a Kentucky couple. According to a news report, the couple had been separated for a year and had negotiated their divorce amicably. But in a virtual hearing in mid-August, the judge declined to approve their divorce. She had a “vibe” that the marriage could be saved, she told the parties, and asked if they would like her to order marriage counseling instead.
Confused, the spouses told the judge that they had tried repairing their relationship several times before and had spent thousands of dollars on that and attorneys’ fees. Both agreed that they were well past the point of a possible reconciliation.
Still, the judge issued a ruling denying the divorce and ordered them to undergo yet another try at marriage counseling until mid-October. However, one of the attorneys in the case files a motion asking the judge to set aside her order and grant the divorce.
Could it happen to you? Probably not.
This is something you almost certainly will not have to worry about happening in your divorce. But it shows that you and your attorney should be prepared for the unexpected, just in case.