What is a contested divorce?
A contested divorce occurs when a court has to decide some, or all legal issues related to the divorce because the parties cannot agree on their own resolution. Commonly disputed issues requiring contested divorce proceedings are disagreements about the division of assets and/or debts and financial support issues like alimony and child support. The court makes the ultimate decisions on contested divorce issues after hearing evidence supporting each spouse’s desired outcome of the issue in a trial.
How can an attorney help me?
In both an uncontested and contested divorce, there are forms to be completed and timely filed and legal requirements and deadlines for completing each stage of the divorce process. Experienced family law attorneys will assist you in correctly meeting all of the legal requirements for a Florida divorce. An experienced family law attorney will also help you avoid the pitfalls of poor divorce planning that can lead to costly legal problems post-divorce.
What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a divorce where you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all issues and need an attorney to create legal documents which will be reviewed by the Judge before granting you a divorce.
What issues need to be decided – Children (time-sharing and child support), property, financial (bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit card bills to name a few) and alimony. Depending on your case, there may be others.
What is the process – I will need all of the information on the agreement that you and your spouse have reached. A marital settlement agreement and other documents required by the Court will be prepared for your review. You will sign the necessary documents and they will be sent to your spouse for signing. After all necessary documents have been signed, you case will be filed and a final hearing will be set. I will appear at the final hearing with you to present your case to the Judge. When the Judge has heard your case, you will receive a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
Fees – I charge a flat fee for an uncontested divorce. This varies depending on whether there are children or real property. There should be no surprises in a divorce.
Remember, I can only meet with and represent one party. I encourage the non-represented spouse to have the divorce paperwork reviewed at their discretion by an attorney.
Can I make my spouse move out?
Sometimes you can, particularly if you or another family member have experienced domestic violence or threats of domestic violence from your spouse. Your experienced family law attorney will assist you in determining whether you can ask the court to order your spouse to move out, and expertly guide you through this legal process.
If my spouse withdraws all our money from the accounts, what are my options?
You can seek a court order requiring your spouse to return the money to your accounts and then freeze the accounts so that neither party can remove funds again without permission of the court. Or you can ask the court to include the removed money amount in your spouse’s share of the distribution of your marital assets and debts in the final divorce judgment. There may be other options, depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Your experienced family law attorney will help protect your rights to your fair share of marital assets.
How much alimony will I be required to pay/will I receive?
The court has legal guidelines in deciding whether to award alimony, but there are no strict rules about either the award of alimony or the amount of alimony awarded. There are also several types of alimony that range in duration from a few months to a permanent award. Your experienced family law attorney will help you evaluate your individual circumstances and work with you to accomplish realistic alimony outcomes.
Is alimony modifiable?
Some types of alimony are modifiable and some types are non-modifiable. Your experienced family law attorney can usually review your divorce final judgment/marital settlement agreement to determine whether the alimony award in your case is modifiable.
How much child support do I pay/receive?
Child support payments are calculated based on a Florida statutory formula based on the combined incomes of both parents. Your experienced family law attorney can perform these calculations for you when the income information is available, usually early in the divorce process.
Can my child support be modified?
Child support can be modified. Your experienced family law attorney can assist you in determining if your circumstances support an upward or downward modification in your child support.
Will the court make my spouse help with my attorney’s fees?
The court has the discretion to make your spouse help pay your attorney’s fees if you show a need for this help, and your spouse has the ability to pay some or all of your attorney’s fees. Your experienced family law attorney will help you evaluate whether you should ask for an award of attorney’s fees from your spouse.
How is custody of children awarded? Is it 50/50?
Florida divorce law no longer makes custody awards. Instead, a parenting plan is developed that establishes a timesharing arrangement between the parents. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may seek a 50/50 timesharing arrangement. Your experienced family law attorney will help you decide what type of timesharing arrangement works best for you, your children, and their other parent.
If we were never married do I automatically get custody since I’m the mother?
No. The above discussed parenting plan with timesharing provisions is applicable whether or not the parents ever married.
If we were never married, does the court order child support?
The court determines child support in the same manner as in a divorce case.
Can the children choose who they want to live with?
Florida divorce law favors frequent contact with both parents. Unless your case presents unusual circumstances, your children will probably enjoy substantial time-sharing with both parents.
Do my children’s grandparents have visitation rights?
No, grandparents cannot seek an award of visitation rights from the court under Florida law.