Dissolution of Marriage
The State of Florida recognizes the legal term for divorce as "Dissolution of Marriage", and Florida is a "no-fault" state. This means you don't have to prove cause or fault to be granted a divorce in Florida. There are two types of divorces; uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce occurs when you and your spouse agree on the terms of the divorce. It usually takes less time to complete, therefore it's less expensive. A contested divorce occurs when you and your spouse do not agree on all the issues.
The Divorce Process:
Divorce Petition - To begin the divorce proceedings, one spouse files a petition - also called a complaint - with the Clerk of Court.
Response - The other spouse is given a strict deadline for filing a response to the divorce petition. Because time is of the essence, I encourage you to seek counsel immediately after being served divorce papers by your spouse.
Discovery - The parties are required to disclose certain financial and other relevant information to each other. The discovery process may include filing financial affidavits, conducting depositions, answering interrogatories or exchanging important documents relevant to issues in the divorce.
Divorce Mediation - Mediation is a process whereby the attorneys for both the husband and wife work with their clients to negotiate an equitable divorce settlement. The judge must approve these details. If the married couple cannot come to equitable and fair decisions, and the divorce goes to trial, the issues will be resolved by the judge. There are two parts of mediation, settlement and the parenting plan.
In the Settlement Process, mediation parties work on an agreement of issues including:
Division of Assets & Debts - What is a fair and equitable distribution of the assets required and debts incurred during the marriage? Who will get what? Who will pay for what?
Alimony – Will either party seek permanent alimony, lump sum alimony, or rehabilitative alimony for a specified time?
Other Entitlements – Are there any other entitlements, such as retirement earnings, to be considered or divided?
In the Shared Parenting Plan – If children were born or adopted during the marriage, what is an agreeable shared parenting plan?
What will be the arrangements and schedule for visitation with the children?
How much child support will be paid? Will it be by agreement between parties or per Florida Statute?
How much life and/or health insurance for the children will be provided by either or both parents?
Who will pay for uncovered medical and/or dental expenses?
How will future education costs be shared or provided?
Motion - A motion is a formal request made to the court. During the course of the divorce, as your attorney, I may file numerous motions, for example, to postpone the trial date, to compel your spouse to produce evidence or demand compliance with a Pre-Trial support order.
Divorce Final Judgement - Also called a divorce decree, the final judgement contains all of the provisions of your divorce. Even if you and your spouse agree to a settlement, you must still obtain the court's approval and issuance of a final judgement that declares that you are divorced.
If you are thinking about divorce, call me before you begin the process. Early representation is vital to protecting your legal rights. I can help you with issues such as child custody, child support, visitation rights, your home and property, debt division, alimony, domestic violence and injunctions, and more.