If you are considering a Florida divorce you likely have many questions and may be unsure where to find the answers you need. While your family law attorney is your best resource for helping you through your divorce, below you will find some additional resources you may find beneficial as well. The attorneys at The Family Law Place want to be the trusted resource you turn to during this difficult time. We have the necessary skills and experience as well as a deep understanding of what you are going through. Our knowledge of Florida family law is unparalleled and we will help you through your divorce with professionalism and empathy.
Your Florida Dissolution of Marriage
If you or your spouse has lived in the state of Florida for at least six months prior to the time you anticipate filing for divorce, then you are eligible to file for divorce in the state. Florida has abolished fault as grounds for divorce, and offers a no-fault divorce, requiring only that one party state the marriage is irretrievably broken with no hope of repair. If you have children, and the other party denies your marriage is irretrievably broken, there are certain provisions for this in the Florida State Statutes. Further, if one spouse is mentally incapacitated, the statutes also make provisions which you can read about in the same section.
Your divorce may be uncontested or could be contested. If you and your spouse agree on asset division, child custody and spousal support, then you may be able to have an uncontested divorce. You will hammer out the details with your spouse then your attorney will prepare a marriage settlement agreement which will be signed by the judge. An uncontested divorce generally takes about 4-6 weeks to complete. A contested divorce, on the other hand, can take months or even years, although the average contested divorce takes from 6 months to a year.
Division of Assets in the State of Florida
Florida is an equitable distribution state rather than a community property state. There are about thirteen states which still operate under the laws of community property, meaning marital assets are divided strictly down the middle. Although such a 50/50 split is equal, it may not always be fair. Under Florida’s equitable distribution laws, the marital assets are divided fairly, though not always equally. Marital property may include the marital home, checking and savings accounts, retirement funds, business interests, vehicles, stocks, bonds, vacation homes, rental property and personal property.
Marital liabilities include mortgages, the loans on your automobiles, credit card debt, and any other debts you and your spouse currently have. When distributing marital assets and liabilities, the court will consider the economic contributions of both spouses, how long the marriage has lasted, the economic circumstances of each spouse, interruptions in either spouse’s career or educational opportunities, each spouse’s contribution to increasing marital income, each spouse’s contribution to improving marital assets and any liabilities incurred by either spouse which affects marital assets. Further, the court will consider the intentional dissipation of assets within two years prior to the filing of the divorce, and will offset such dissipation on behalf of the other spouse. For more information regarding asset division in your Florida marriage, look here.
Child Custody, Visitation and Child Support
The state of Florida rules on child custody based on the best interests of the children. The state also has a policy of ensuring each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents following the divorce. In fact, Florida no longer uses the terms “custody,” and “visitation,” replacing them with “primary residential parent,” “time-sharing parent,” and “shared parental responsibilities.” Divorcing parents are required to take a Florida parenting class. This class can be taken online; you will find information here. The course is specially designed to educate and assist parents so they may minimize the emotional impact of divorce on the children. The court will not grant your Dissolution of Marriage until the course has been completed by both parties.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach decisions regarding which parent will be the primary residential parent and which will be the time-sharing parent, the judge will make those decisions for you. In rare cases the court may order sole parental responsibility to one parent, but will only do so if it is determined that shared parental responsibility would cause serious harm to the child. Prior to determining which parent will be the primary residential parent, the court will consider the following:
• The capacity of each parent to foster and encourage a close parent-child relationship with the other parent.
• The capacity of each parent to honor the time-sharing schedule.
• The ability of each parent to be reasonable when changes to the schedule occur.
• The anticipated division of parental responsibilities following the divorce.
• The extent that parental responsibilities will be delegated to a third party.
• The length of time the child has lived in a stable home environment.
• The geographic viability of the parenting plan, particularly for school-age children.
• The home, school and community history of the child.
• The mental and physical health of each parent.
• The reasonable preferences of the child, assuming the child is old enough and has the understanding and maturity to express a preference.
• The ability of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the children.
• Any evidence of child abuse, domestic abuse or child neglect.
• Any other factor the courts consider relevant
As far as child support is concerned, the courts believe each parent has a responsibility to support the children according to the children’s needs and your income. In determining child support, the Florida courts have a mathematic calculation which takes into consideration the gross income of each parent minus the allowable deductions to determine the net income of each parent. This number, along with which spouse will be the primary residential parent and which will be the time-sharing parent, plus the number of children to support will result in the amount of child support. You can input your numbers at this site in order to get an approximate idea of the amount of child support you will pay or be awarded. Child support is neither tax-deductible for the paying parent, nor must you claim the child support as income if you are the receiving parent. For more information on child support services, visit the Florida Department of Revenue.
Spousal Support in the State of Florida
Following the division of assets, your Florida court may consider whether spousal support is warranted for either spouse. Rehabilitative alimony is sometimes awarded for a limited period of time to the lower-income spouse who plans to return to college or a trade school in order to increase his or her skills and gain better employment opportunities. Rehabilitative spousal support can assist one spouse in developing skills and financial independence. If you are requesting this type of spousal support, you must present the court with a plan which shows the cost of gaining additional skills. Bridge-the-gap spousal support helps one party make the transition from married to single life, and can cover the costs of finding a new place to live, or securing reliable transportation.
Permanent spousal support is generally only awarded in long-term marriages, and generally to older spouses who may not be able to return to the workforce, or to spouses who have a disability or health problem. Permanent spousal support ends upon the death of one spouse or the remarriage of the receiving spouse. Durational spousal support can be awarded for a specific length of time, and is based on the length of the marriage and the economic position, age and health of the receiving spouse. While the presence of infidelity does not mandate an award of spousal support, the court may take it into consideration when determining spousal support. Florida statutes covering the award of spousal support can be found here.
Your attorney from The Law Place can direct you to many more resources you could find helpful during your divorce. Our attorneys consistently obtain faster, more effective resolutions to your family law issues, and will always take the time to familiarize ourselves with the unique details of your case. Our goal is to provide you with top-notch legal representation, so call The Law Place today.