When people get divorced, they fall under the purview of Florida Family Law, providing one of the parties has been a Florida resident for at least six months. This includes the dissolution of a marriage, child custody, support, alimony and, among other things, the division of the property that they may own together. While they may agree on that separation, often they do not, so lawyers and the courts may have to do if for them.
Florida law, Chapter 61 is the place where many of these disputes are considered.
In the old days, fault of one party or another were considered as grounds for divorce. That is no longer the case. A marriage has to be “irretrievably broken.” No one has to say that the other party was adulterous or cruel, and in that respect, getting a divorce has become easier.
Now the courts are more concerned with the welfare, education, support of any children of the marriage, the best interests of the child, in short, and the fair (equitable) division of property between the spouses. Custody can be shared and rotated, but again, only if the best interests of the child are served by such an arrangement. If one spouse works and one stays at home, the children often go with the stay at home parent, with the working parent providing financial support, for example.
Child support is usually predicated on which spouse earns more. The Florida legislature has set forth a schedule which is generally followed by the courts, and employed by the attorneys to perhaps reach a settlement. Child custody is often resolved in a shared parental responsibility arrangement, as determined by the court and who will be the parent with whom the child primarily will live. Sometimes the court will allow a rotation if it is shown to be in the child’s best interests.
Alimony, on the other hand, is granted permanently if one spouse worked and the other does not have an ability to earn income. But the real criteria are not only whether one party needs the money, but also if the other party has the ability to pay it. Often, the court will provide rehabilitative alimony while a spouse who did not work gets reeducated or trained, becoming economically more self-sufficient.
The courts routinely divide the assets of a marriage after the liabilities are subtracted using the principle of equitable distribution, say a 50% split between the spouses. Assets of the marriage do not generally include pre marriage debts or assets, but that is often subject to interpretation and therefore litigation on what actually are or are not non- marital assets. That is why you need us to represent you. Attorney’s fees are often awarded by the court against the party who has the most ability to pay them, after assessing the needs of the other party.
If you decide you need to file for dissolution of Marriage, we are experienced in this area of the law and will file a Petition on your behalf. Very often a mediation can settle the parties differences if they cannot agree on their own. Failing that, a judge decides the issues when the case gets to trial. How long that takes depends on how complex the issues, the finances, and how angry the parties are at each other. Sometimes that anger impedes a reasonable result a bit longer than it should.
If you have any questions that need answering before you hire us, we will be happy to consult with you. Bear in mind that this area of the law is complex and differs from case to case, so the text above is simply a guide, not a bible.