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Divorce and family issues involve the bonds and responsibilities of the family and can be complex and very emotional, especially for children. Our law firm handles all areas of family law, including contested and uncontested divorces, modifications, paternity, child support, and dependency cases. We also handle injunctions and restraining orders, as they are often times a large part of family law cases. The protection of your rights, and the rights of your children, are our top priority and you will receive the personalized attention you deserve.
Schedule an appointment with our family law attorney CALL US AT 321.269.6833
The process itself, is quite simple. However, we would encourage anyone considering filing for divorce to first meet with an attorney to have a full understanding of the process and more importantly, to learn the law as it applies to your set of circumstances.
The two routes to divorce are contested or uncontested. If you and your spouse agree on every single issue of your divorce, including the division of assets and timesharing for the children, then your action is uncontested. If this is the case, the process is reduced to the drafting of a petition, a marital settlement agreement, and a ten minute hearing in front of a judge to finalize the divorce. Most divorce actions are contested, at least to one issue, and require the following process:
Step One: File and Serve.
Your attorney will draft a petition outlining each issue that the Court will need to resolve during this process. If you choose to represent yourself, the Clerk of Courts has packets with the basic forms for filing for divorce. Please note however, these forms offer the bare bones, and you will certainly need to include additional paper to cover all the issues.
The cost of filing the petition is $409.00 and the summons which must be issued to serve the petition is $10.00. After filing, a process server must be hired to serve the petition on your spouse. Your spouse will then have 20 days to file an answer to your petition.
Step Two: Discovery.
Both parties are required to produce certain financial documents within 45 days of service, so that both parties have full disclosure of any and all assets and debts that the court may need to distribute.
Step Three: Mediation.
You are required to attend mediation with your spouse (you may choose to have your attorney attend) prior to holding a hearing in front of a judge. Of course, there are exceptions, such as certain emergencies. At mediation, you may reach a full agreement and end your case early, or a partial agreement, making your case easier, or no agreement, in which case you proceed to court.
Step Four: Temporary Relief Hearing.
The judge’s trial dockets are often set nine or ten months from the date we notice the case for trial. Which means that the status quo will continue for that same period of time. Filing a motion for temporary relief allows both parties to receive limited resolution on a temporary basis. The main issues usually heard during this time are alimony, child support, and timesharing with the children.
Step Five: Trial.
After months of preparation, your case will be heard in front a judge and evidence and testimony will be presented. At the end of the day, the judge will issue a ruling on the terms of your divorce and you will leave the courtroom a single person, free to begin a new chapter of your life.
Child support is a highly contentious component of family law cases. Fortunately or sometimes unfortunately, there is a rather strict approach to calculating child support, found in Chapter 61.13 of the Florida Statutes.
The formula considers the income of both parents, the number of children, the contributions to health insurance and daycare, and the number of overnights each parent has. The court will typically only deviate from this figure by five percent.
Timesharing on the other hand, has many options. The key to remember is that any action taken regarding the children, must be in the best interests of the children. By way of explanation, in Florida, there is no longer custody and visitation. Instead, there is a primary residential parent and timesharing by both parents.
The court will commonly order shared parental responsibility, meaning that both parents are involved in the important decisions of the child’s life (education, religion, health). The court will then designate a primary residential parent who is also the majority timesharing parent. This is the place were the child will primarily live. The other parent will have designated timesharing with the child. While on this subject, please note that court does not favor women over men, or visa versa.
Florida has set out minimum guideline visitation, whereby the parent with less timesharing is entitled to alternating weekends, and one evening during the week. However, there are more and more cases where the parties are exercising a 50/50 timesharing plan.
When determining a timesharing schedule, the court considers the parties’ work schedules, health, ability to care for the child, the willingness to encourage a relationship between the other parent and the child as well as several other factors. The court encourages both parties to communicate with each other for the benefit of the child and make the necessary efforts to ensure the best interests of the child are being served.
Modifications of child support and timesharing may be appropriate if there has been an unanticipated, substantial change in circumstances. It is important to think ahead and plan for the future when determining a timesharing schedule. Too often parties think in the present when the child is only one year old. Unfortunately, the schedule that is in place now, is usually not appropriate in the future. It is also important to point out that the child reaching school age is not an unanticipated substantial change in circumstance, as it is expected that the child will grow older and eventually enroll in school.
An unanticipated substantial change in circumstance often occurs when one party does not comply with the timesharing schedule or when one party has a substantial change in lifestyle, such as drug usage or an abusive nature.
Divorce and family issues involve the bonds and responsibilities of the family and can be complex and very emotional, especially for children. We handle all areas of family law, including contested and uncontested divorces, modifications, paternity, child support, and dependency cases.
Chapter 61.08 of the Florida Statutes governs the award of alimony. In order for one spouse to receive alimony, there must be a need for alimony and an ability to pay the alimony.
Florida has three tiers of marriage to assist in determining whether alimony is appropriate:
Short term marriages are 0 to 7 years in length
Moderate term marriages 7 – 16 years in length
Long term marriage are at least 17 years in length
Bridge the gap – alimony which does not exceed two years, and it meant to meet the short term needs in the transition from married life to single life.
Rehabilitative – alimony specifically for the purpose of assisting one spouse in becoming a self-supporter. This alimony requires that spouse to have a specific plan of gaining education or re-establishing skills.
Durational – alimony which is often provided when the length of the marriage does not warrant permanent alimony, but the factors of permanent alimony are met. In this case, alimony may not last longer than the length of the marriage.
Permanent Periodic – alimony which is awarded after a long term marriage and takes into account the standard of living during the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the earning capacity of the parties, contributions to the marriage, the income of the parties, etc. This type of alimony is terminated on the remarriage of the party receiving the alimony.
An award of alimony may be modified if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. The two most common changes are a decrease in income of the party paying alimony or the party who is receiving alimony is in a supportive relationship. In any event, an obligation to pay alimony may not leave that party with significantly less net income than the party receiving alimony.
Divorce and family issues involve the bonds and responsibilities of the family and can be complex and very emotional, especially for children.
We handle all areas of family law, including contested and uncontested divorces, modifications, paternity, child support, and dependency cases. We also handle injunctions and restraining orders, as they are often times a large part of family law cases. The protection of your rights, and the rights of your children, are our top priority and you will receive the personalized attention you deserve.To find out more about the areas of family law handled by our firm and schedule an appointment with our family law attorney, please contact us at 321-269-6833.