COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE FOR DIVORCE

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divorce process

THE DIVORCE PROCESS

Read about our all-inclusive roadmap to getting to a successful settlement agreement. After all, social science is clear that the most important factor when it comes to raising successful children after a seperation is the amount of conflict and adversity between the parties.

 

A no-fault divorce is the standard in Florida. It simply means that you have irreconcilable difference as the basis for getting a divorce, in other words, simply telling the judge that you can’t live with your spouse any longer because you’re not compatible.
In comparison, the standard in North Carolina is an at-fault divorce. In an at-fault divorce you have to tell the judge that the reason you’re getting in divorce is because your spouse wronged you in some way.

 

We think so. We’re happy to be living in a no-fault divorce date. Slinging mud against each other might feel good in the short run, but in the long term it can lead to expensive and drawn-out litigation, which can destroy the co-parenting relationship that you’ll need to maintain with your spouse going forward if you have children.

 

You’ll have to check the local rules, but for all the courts in the Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas, Pascoe, and Hillsboro counties, the answer is no. In Tampa Bay-area courts, judges have issued a standing order that prohibits a spouse from taking the other spouse off his or her health insurance before the case is done. This means that if your spouse tries to take you off their health insurance, your attorney can go to the court and ask the court to hold your spouse in contempt.
That being said, when the case is over your spouse is going to need to take you off their insurance anyway or vice versa as a requirement of their health insurance company.

 

Florida law does not recognize the concept of abandonment.That means if you wish to leave the home, you can leave the home. That being said, if you leave your home, you need to make sure you’re doing the right thing. If you’re the traditional breadwinner and are responsible for paying the bills, you need to make sure that there is a fair way to keep the status quo if it all possible in the short term while the divorce is pending.
We tell a breadwinner spouse that it’s common to pay more while the divorce is pending than they will at the end of the day. This is especially true if you have a spouse who was unemployed or underemployed during the marriage and the spouse will need to get a job when all said and done. But this can’t be expected to happen overnight, and it might take a little bit of time for your spouse to transition from one stage the next.
Also, if the home is too big for your spouse and needs to be sold, it may take time for that to happen, and you may have to pay more in the short term.

 

If you don’t sign any settlement agreement, that means that you and your spouse have been unable to work out a deal to resolve the case. It’s okay if that happens, but then you’ll need togo in front of a judge and let the judge make the decision on the issues.
One thing to keep in mind throughout this process is that just because you can’t resolve all of your issues that doesn’t mean that you can’t resolve some of your issues and narrow down the number of issues you may need to bring in front of the judge. For example, we had a case where the parents disagreed on everything related to finances. Both spouses worked in sales. They were unable to agree on the right income to use for support guidelines, which assets were marital and which ones weren’t, and how much of the 401(k) each wanted from the other. Even after bringing in an accountant to help, we were still just too far apart. The financials would have to go in front of the judge.
In spite of these financial disagreements , these parents had figured out and knew exactly what parenting plan would work for them and for their child.In this case we were able to work out a child custody plan that benefited not only our client but also the child and got it signed and ratified early in the case.That meant that when we went in front of the judge instead of the trial lasting two or three days we needed only half of that time in front of the judge. Consequently, the cost of the trial was only half as much as it would have been otherwise.
So, while the parties didn’t agree on what the fair resolution would be with the numbers, the fact that they were able to work together to develop a parenting plan enabled them to move on after the case was over and to co-parent effectively.This only happens when both parties realize that they don’t have to agree on everything but can work out a deal on some things and then go to trial on other things.

 

In Florida, when we talk about a legal separation we mean filing an action in court or signing a settlement agreement outside of court that discusses how the parties are going to act and treat each other. But this is done without actually dissolving the marriage legally. In contrast, the result of a divorce is a dissolution of the marriage.
In both cases, we often settle many of the same issues. For example, in a legal separation we may represent a breadwinning spouse who traditionally pays the vast majority of the bills for the household.As part of a legal separation, there may be a period of support or alimony or maintenance that goes from our client to the other spouse.
If children are involved, we may develop a parenting plan as well to spell out exactly how custody is going to be managed while the parents are living separately.We may even set a time for the parties to come back to the table and try counseling or other methods to rehabilitate or save the marriage.
In a divorce, we handle a lot of the same financial issues and children’s issues but we won’t be working on saving or rehabilitating the marriage. In fact,in the divorce process, we’re moving toward an endgame of dissolving the marriage and allowing the parties to move on with their lives.

 

Getting your spouse out of the home depends on the situation. Why do you need the spouse out of the home?
If it’s mere disagreement and an uncomfortable living situation, then the best method to get the spouse out of the home is to move forward with the divorce case and try negotiated mediation or seek possession of the home in the final case with the judge.
If there’s something more extreme going on, like wild fights that are causing disturbances in the neighborhood, then you might want to bring the issue in front of the judge in an expedited temporary relief hearing.
If there is an emergency, such as domestic violence or something else where you need your spouse out of the home right away, then you’ll need to file an emergency motion or a restraining order.

 

In most counties in Florida,you will need to continue the status quo on insurances while a divorce is pending.This will change when the divorce is over. And in certain circumstances it’s reasonable to ask the judge to credit you for the additional payments that you made while the divorce was pending.But most counties have orders in place to keep angry parties going through a divorce from unilaterally removing insurances in important things without informing the other party.

 

Under certain circumstances you can ask a judge to delay the divorce and order marriage counseling. But this is generally not favored by most judges. Again, Florida is a no-fault state and Florida law takes the position that if one party doesn’t want to be married, then they don’t have to be married.

 

In Florida, your spouse can ask the court to order counseling. However, we find that courts don’t really like to order couples counseling in most cases since Florida is a no-fault state.However if there is high-conflict parenting, a court may order therapy to help parents coordinate and make better decisions.

 

The idea of an attorney that specializes in men is an interesting marketing gimmick but probably is not necessary. There is no fundamental difference between a man’s divorce or a woman’s divorce.
In effect, the difference here isn’t strictly based on gender. It’s based on who in the marriage earns the bulk of the income and pays mostof the bills versus the spouse that stays home or tendsto the house rather than earning a significant income.
We represent many women who in today’s economy may support their husbands and children, are career-driven, and in all senses fulfill the rose of the home’s primary breadwinner.

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Alimony

ALIMONY

To help your attorney guide you to a fair alimony result you must have a solid understanding of the law behind alimony and how a judge would make an alimony decision if you went to trial. While the vast majority of alimony cases will settle by agreement

alimony

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Child support

CHILD SUPPORT

Child support in Florida is governed by statute. Our statutory law says that a court can order a party or a parent to pay child support at any time in accordance with the child support guidelines. Child support continues until a child’s 18th birthday, or the parties agree otherwise.

 

In Florida, child support is formulaic.The formula is based on the net incomes of the parties, certain statutory deductions like health care, the cost of child care expenses and health insurance for the children, and the number of overnights that the children spend with each parent.Of course, there are exceptions. Either party can ask the court to deviate from the guidelines when there are certain unique circumstances, such as in the case of a special needs child.But for the most part the real issue with calculating child support is determining what the inputs are.
Perhaps a spouse has not been employed and there needs to be an imputation of income and the two parties cannot come to agreement on an appropriate amount. Or perhaps you’re in sales and had a banner year last year but don’t expect the same success next year. As you can imagine, significantly different income inputs yield very different child support numbers.

 

This is highly dependent on the judge. Some judges open up their courtrooms quickly to a spouse who is being cut off. Other judges may make the spouses try to resolve their issues through mediation first.As a general rule, if the spouse we represent has been cut off financially, we encourage them to seek funding from a lender or family or friends in the short term to buy time until we can get their case in front of the judge.
The reality is there are occasionally genuine emergencies, particularly regarding children, and those cases tend to get moved to the front of the line.

 

Absolutely not. If a spouse cuts you off financial, he or she is only temporarily off the hook. It may take time for us to get your case before a judge, but a spouse that plays dirty tricks on another should beware when they get in front of a judge. Judges can be great equalizers, and they don’t like it when one spouse treats another badly for no good reason.
This is why our firm will not represent a spouse who wants to cut off financial help to the other who’s in need. Not only is it the wrong thing to do, but it can devastate the case for the breadwinning spouse at the end of the day.

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Child custody

CHILD CUSTODY

Most cases at least one of the parents is surprised by the divorce. Emotions such as anger and betrayal are running high. Often extremely damaging events have taken place between the two parents such as violence, cheating that leave the relationship in tatters

 

Not really. Your spouse would have to be able to show a judge that your behavior was somehow detrimental to the children’s well-being. So most affairs which are carried out secretly without the children even knowing are irrelevant to custody.

Florida sometimes seems like a transitory place.Young mothers or fathers going through a divorce often want to move back to previous homes to be closer to family when the divorce is filed.When children are involved,permission to move out of state is not automatic and can frankly be an uphill battle.
In the vast majority of cases it’s a good thing to have a mom and a dad be close together to help co-parent and raise their children. So when a mom or dad wants to move out of state and take the children with them, that parent needs to have a good reason to tell the judge why such a move makes sense. Of course, a judge can’t stop you from moving out of state to return home. But a judge can stop your child from leaving Florida with you.If you do want to leave the state, either your spouse must agree to the move or you need a judge’s permission.
Of course, if you’re married and don’t have children, then you are absolutely free to move out of Florida even during a pending divorce case. But make sure you check with your divorce attorney to see if there are any court hearings that you’ll need to attend in person.

Then you need decide if you want your children to come back home. If you do, you need to take action quickly.
If you know your spouse is moving out of state, you can file paperwork with the court that will effectively prohibit your spouse from leaving with the children without the court’s permission. It’s important to note, however, that this paperwork must be filed before your spouse moves.That’s not to say that your spouse will be free and clear to move if you don’t file the paperwork before the deadline. However, timely action makes it much easier to improve your chances of keeping your children close to you.

Ideally this decision will be made by you and your spouse. This happens most often when you and your spouse can come together and decide on a mutually agreeable parenting plan.
In high-conflict cases, however, things don’t always work so smoothly. In these cases, a judge has to decide where the children are going to live.
A player in the process who may be called in is a custodial evaluator or a guardian ad litem. These third-party professionals in high-conflict cases will spend a lot of time with the children and the families and give an opinion to the judge as to the best outcome for the children.

Everybody has the right to work or not work if they want to. But quitting a job during a divorce can be problematic for two reasons. First, divorce is expensive. You’re going from one household with two adults (and frequently two incomes) to one households with one adult. And there are also costs related to the court system and lawyers and sometimes other professionals, etc.
Second, the court might think that you’re trying to get out of paying alimony or child support by artificially reducing your income.
So, if you voluntarily leave your job, the court has the ability to decide how much alimony or child support you must pay. If you are traditionally the breadwinner for the household and now you’re unemployed or underemployed, you could get hit with a support obligation that will be very difficult for you to pay if you voluntarily choose to leave your job.

Generally speaking, we tell healthy adults who are capable of working that the courts will expect you work at the end of the day.So if your spouse refuses to get a job but is asking for alimony, he or she likely won’t get enough money just in alimony to support themselves completely. This is because we expect that a healthy person can at least get some type of work. And alimony is intended to be a supplemental source of income to fill in the difference between what a person can provide for themselves and what they need.

Florida law requires you to attend a parenting class if you have children. No matter how good a parent you are, the law still requires both parents to take parenting classes.
In fact, if a judge feels so inclined, they can order supervised time-sharing for a parent who refuses to take the four-hour parenting class.
The fee for the parenting class is less than $30. It takes less than four hours to complete. And who knows? You might learn something!

If your spouse refuses to attend a parenting class, they run the risk of angering the judge.An angry judge can order supervised time-sharing for any parent who won’t comply with the class. In the end, your spouse will likely take a parenting class. In some cases it just takes a judge to make it happen.

Florida law does not recognize the concept of abandonment.That means if you wish to leave the home, you can leave the home. That being said, if you leave your home, you need to make sure you’re doing the right thing. If you’re the traditional breadwinner and are responsible for paying the bills, you need to make sure that there is a fair way to keep the status quo if it all possible in the short term while the divorce is pending.
We tell a breadwinner spouse that it’s common to pay more while the divorce is pending than they will at the end of the day. This is especially true if you have a spouse who was unemployed or underemployed during the marriage and the spouse will need to get a job when all said and done. But this can’t be expected to happen overnight, and it might take a little bit of time for your spouse to transition from one stage the next.
Also, if the home is too big for your spouse and needs to be sold, it may take time for that to happen, and you may have to pay more in the short term.

Maybe you didn’t even want a divorce but things became unbearable and you had to leave. And now you don’t know what your rights are. You don’t even know if your spouse is going to let you see your child.
You are absolutely allowed and encouraged to see your child while a divorce is pending. Under Florida law, you have just as much right as your spouse (and, in fact, responsibility) to see your child and care for your child while your divorce is pending. The fact that you left the home doesn’t matter when it comes to whether or not you can see your child.
Of course, you want to show concern and consideration for your child and recognize that the home may be something comfortable, stable, and consistent for your child while your family undergoes this transition. So you’ll naturally want to think hard about the best way to transition your child into coming into a new home and a new situation. And, of course, each case is different and depends on the child and the family.But you have absolutely every right to see your child and do everything you can to make sure you see your child as consistently as possible.
Of course, we recognize that in the emotional battlefield of a divorce sometimes the other parent might get a little crazy and try to keep you from seeing your child. In this case, talk to your lawyer about your options in these unfortunate circumstances.

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military divorce

MILITARY DIVORCE

Military Divorce has the perfect intersection of Federal and State Law. Parties have multiple residencies and thus jurisdictional issues. Deployment makes time-sharing and child custody issues difficult And the military retirement and benefits packages

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Learn divorce

COSTS & FEES

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all cost for divorce. The more complex a divorce and the more issues that have to be resolved, the higher the cost. Litigation, or using the court system to resolve issues, is often more expensive than mediation for a collaborative divorce where you’re trying to reach a settlement.
To get an idea of what your divorce might cost, check out our Florida attorney fee calculator.

 

If your spouse makes a lot more money than you or has more assets than you do, a court may make him or her pay your attorney’s fees.
We don’t want a situation where a spouse who has access to unlimited money can afford two lawyers and the other spouse may not be able to afford even a single lawyer. When there are disparate incomes or disparate assets, it’s reasonable and common for the court to make the spouse with more money contribute to the other spouse’s attorney’s fees so that everyone ison a level playing field.

 

It’s rarely a good idea to thumb your nose it a judge. If a judge orders you to pay alimony, attorney’s fees, or child support, then these orders are very serious and a judge can punish you severely if you don’t pay.For example, a judge could order you to pay or have you thrown in jail. And nobody wants to go to jail.
Inability to pay can be a defense, depending on the specifics of the case. If you’re thinking about not paying an alimony award or a child support award, consider discussing this with an attorney first.

 

As of September 2016, the filing fee for divorce in Florida was $423. You can also expect to pay $50 to $100 for a process server to serve your case.

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modification

MODIFICATION

Sometimes the agreement you reach in your original divorce needs to be changed. Learn about modifying child custody, alimony, or child support.

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enforcement

ENFORCEMENT

What Good is coming to an agreement if your spouse won’t hold up his or her end of the bargain? Luckily, divorce courts have a mechanism in place to make sure everyone plays by the rules.

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Learn divorce

CONTRACTS

Prenuptial agreements are looked at with much greater scrutiny by the Courts than an average contract. When analyzing a prenup, the Court will carefully examine the circumstances surrounding the agreement.

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property division

PROPERTY DIVISION

This article on property distribution details how Florida equitably distributes assets and debts to the parties at the time of a divorce. We will start by defining what exactly is an equitable distribution in Florida. We’ll then discuss the legal process Florida uses to classify assets.

 

It depends. Is your 401(k) a marital asset in its entirety? Or, more specifically, has every dollar that you’ve accumulated in your 401(k) been from money earned by you while married to your spouse? If so, then in most cases, yes, you can expect that your spouse will at least get the value of half of your 401(k). This can, of course, come from other assets and not necessarily from the 401(k) plan itself.
But if you had the 401(k) before your marriage, then expect that your spouse will be entitled to only half of the value of the 401(k) that has accumulated during the marriage. Any value your 401(k) earned before your marriage stays yours.

 

In Florida. there’s nothing stopping you from moving out of the marital home. But there are concerns that you need to think about. First, if you have children, you want to try and have some sort of structure in place for when the children will be spending time with you and when the children will be spending time with your spouse.Second, moving out of the home will probably result in you needing to get another home, which will increase your temporary cash outflow, especially if you’re still contributing to the marital home and making sure that those bills get paid.
Those caveats aside, however, you will not be punished in Florida for leaving the marital home. In fact, in the event of escalating violence or emotional trauma it may be vital that you get out of the home to keep things from unraveling further and bigger problems arising.

 

Florida law does not recognize the concept of abandonment.That means if you wish to leave the home, you can leave the home. That being said, if you leave your home, you need to make sure you’re doing the right thing. If you’re the traditional breadwinner and are responsible for paying the bills, you need to make sure that there is a fair way to keep the status quo if it all possible in the short term while the divorce is pending.
We tell a breadwinner spouse that it’s common to pay more while the divorce is pending than they will at the end of the day. This is especially true if you have a spouse who was unemployed or underemployed during the marriage and the spouse will need to get a job when all said and done. But this can’t be expected to happen overnight, and it might take a little bit of time for your spouse to transition from one stage the next.
Also, if the home is too big for your spouse and needs to be sold, it may take time for that to happen, and you may have to pay more in the short term.

 

Maybe you didn’t even want a divorce but things became unbearable and you had to leave. And now you don’t know what your rights are. You don’t even know if your spouse is going to let you see your child.
You are absolutely allowed and encouraged to see your child while a divorce is pending. Under Florida law, you have just as much right as your spouse (and, in fact, responsibility) to see your child and care for your child while your divorce is pending. The fact that you left the home doesn’t matter when it comes to whether or not you can see your child.
Of course, you want to show concern and consideration for your child and recognize that the home may be something comfortable, stable, and consistent for your child while your family undergoes this transition. So you’ll naturally want to think hard about the best way to transition your child into coming into a new home and a new situation. And, of course, each case is different and depends on the child and the family.But you have absolutely every right to see your child and do everything you can to make sure you see your child as consistently as possible.
Of course, we recognize that in the emotional battlefield of a divorce sometimes the other parent might get a little crazy and try to keep you from seeing your child. In this case, talk to your lawyer about your options in these unfortunate circumstances.

 

In certain circumstances you can trade in your vehicle. But talk to your lawyer first about your circumstances. Many counties have standing orders that prohibit parties from dissipating, concealing, or otherwise playing around with marital assets while a divorce is pending.

 

In certain circumstances. Talk to your lawyer about your particular circumstances. Again, many counties have standing orders that prohibit parties from dissipating or concealing or otherwise manipulating marital assets while the divorce is pending.

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mediation

MEDIATION

In the 1980s the concept of mediation and alternative dispute resolution was introduced in Florida for family law cases. Now, mediation is the primary and preferable path to try to reach a resolution in a case. In some counties, including all of the ones in the Tampa Bay area, mediation is required before going to court.

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going to court

GOING TO COURT

Sometimes you need to go to Court to address your case with the Judge. We teach you what you need to know here. Florida Divorce Pleadings – The Definitive Guide Divorce covers a wide array of financial and non-financial issues. Not surprisingly, there is a corresponding array of documents

 

In the above scenario, ultimately you’re going to get divorced and your spouse isn’t going to have any say in what happens. However, you’ll have to do a little additional work. A process server or private investigator will be hired to do due diligence trying to find your spouse. You’ll publish the divorce in a local newspaper. This will take a couple of months, but when it’s done you’ll be able to get the judge to grant the divorce by default.

 

No. There isn’t any waiting period to file for divorce in Florida. As long as you meet the residency requirements, you can file for divorce at any time.

 

The only requirement to filefor a divorce in Florida is that you must be a resident of the state of Florida for at least six months prior to filing.This is to keep people from “forum-shopping” or coming to Florida to get a divorce because they find Florida’s laws more advantageous to them than the laws of another state, say, Georgia.

 

This is highly dependent on the judge. Some judges open up their courtrooms quickly to a spouse who is being cut off. Other judges may make the spouses try to resolve their issues through mediation first.As a general rule, if the spouse we represent has been cut off financially, we encourage them to seek funding from a lender or family or friends in the short term to buy time until we can get their case in front of the judge.
The reality is there are occasionally genuine emergencies, particularly regarding children, and those cases tend to get moved to the front of the line.

 

Absolutely not. If a spouse cuts you off financial, he or she is only temporarily off the hook. It may take time for us to get your case before a judge, but a spouse that plays dirty tricks on another should beware when they get in front of a judge. Judges can be great equalizers, and they don’t like it when one spouse treats another badly for no good reason.
This is why our firm will not represent a spouse who wants to cut off financial help to the other who’s in need. Not only is it the wrong thing to do, but it can devastate the case for the breadwinning spouse at the end of the day.

 

Florida sometimes seems like a transitory place.Young mothers or fathers going through a divorce often want to move back to previous homes to be closer to family when the divorce is filed.When children are involved,permission to move out of state is not automatic and can frankly be an uphill battle.
In the vast majority of cases it’s a good thing to have a mom and a dad be close together to help co-parent and raise their children. So when a mom or dad wants to move out of state and take the children with them, that parent needs to have a good reason to tell the judge why such a move makes sense. Of course, a judge can’t stop you from moving out of state to return home. But a judge can stop your child from leaving Florida with you.If you do want to leave the state, either your spouse must agree to the move or you need a judge’s permission.
Of course, if you’re married and don’t have children, then you are absolutely free to move out of Florida even during a pending divorce case. But make sure you check with your divorce attorney to see if there are any court hearings that you’ll need to attend in person.

 

Then you need decide if you want your children to come back home. If you do, you need to take action quickly.
If you know your spouse is moving out of state, you can file paperwork with the court that will effectively prohibit your spouse from leaving with the children without the court’s permission. It’s important to note, however, that this paperwork must be filed before your spouse moves.That’s not to say that your spouse will be free and clear to move if you don’t file the paperwork before the deadline. However, timely action makes it much easier to improve your chances of keeping your children close to you.

 

It’s rarely a good idea to thumb your nose it a judge. If a judge orders you to pay alimony, attorney’s fees, or child support, then these orders are very serious and a judge can punish you severely if you don’t pay.For example, a judge could order you to pay or have you thrown in jail. And nobody wants to go to jail.
Inability to pay can be a defense, depending on the specifics of the case. If you’re thinking about not paying an alimony award or a child support award, consider discussing this with an attorney first.

 

A marital settlement agreement is a settlement document that is signed by both you and your spouse that determines how all of your issues are resolved in your divorce.This occurs when the two parties in the case come to an agreement outside of court. When you have an agreement, you can take it to a judge, who will simply thank you and your spouse for working things out and will ratify the agreement.

 

Ideally this decision will be made by you and your spouse. This happens most often when you and your spouse can come together and decide on a mutually agreeable parenting plan.
In high-conflict cases, however, things don’t always work so smoothly. In these cases, a judge has to decide where the children are going to live.
A player in the process who may be called in is a custodial evaluator or a guardian ad litem. These third-party professionals in high-conflict cases will spend a lot of time with the children and the families and give an opinion to the judge as to the best outcome for the children.

 

Then cancel the divorce and live happily ever after!
It does happen that in some cases the parties in a divorce reconcile. This can happen at any time. Or they may postpone the divorce so that they can seek counseling and see if the marriage is salvageable. In some cases, parties may actually get divorced and then remarry.
In any case, the point is that in Florida you have the right to do whatever you and your spouse want to do. If that means getting married, you can get married, if one of you wants to get divorced, then you can get divorced. And if later you decide you want to remarry, again that’s your right.

 

In most cases, the petitioner has to go to court at least oncebecause even if everything is settled amicably at the outset, the court will still need to hear testimony from the petitioner to be sure that the case is in the right courtroom.
In highly contested and litigated cases, you will definitely have to go to court, and in many cases you may have to appear multiple times.

 

Of course, but understand that an uncontested divorce means that every issue must be agreed upon by both you and your spouse. If you can sit around the dinner table and work everything out without a lot of issues, then you indeed can get an uncontested divorce.
The vast majority of cases, however, at least start out being contested. Through negotiation and settlement these cases may ultimately turn into uncontested divorces when all of the issues are agreed upon by the parties.

 

This depends greatly on the attorneys, the court, and the involved parties.In horror-story divorces, cases can last for two years or more. We don’t see any of those in our firm because horror-story cases require a perfect storm of two parties who can’t agree, a court that doesn’t push things along, and two attorneys who are reactive rather than proactive.
In a more common scenario, we expect a divorce cast to last somewhere between three and nine months.And in the best case scenario with motivated clients ready to move on with their lives, a divorce case can be completely finished within 6 to 8 weeks.

 

It depends on what type of final hearing the court calls for.In most cases, we end up with an uncontested final hearing. That means at some point in the process we have been able to hammer out a deal and sign a marital settlement agreement. In these cases,an uncontested final hearing is just a formality so that the judge can make sure that the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed.In an uncontested final hearing, only the petitioner needs to attend. In certain circumstances, we can have that petitioner attend via phone or Skype.
In a contested final hearing, what we’re really talking about is a divorce trial.At a divorce trial both parties present witnesses and other evidence to the judge so that the judge can make a determination on all the issues in the case.In that scenario, you would need to testify in person after being prepared by your attorney. In a contested divorce, both parties must attend the final hearing.

 

Florida law requires you to attend a parenting class if you have children. No matter how good a parent you are, the law still requires both parents to take parenting classes.
In fact, if a judge feels so inclined, they can order supervised time-sharing for a parent who refuses to take the four-hour parenting class.
The fee for the parenting class is less than $30. It takes less than four hours to complete. And who knows? You might learn something!

 

If your spouse refuses to attend a parenting class, they run the risk of angering the judge.An angry judge can order supervised time-sharing for any parent who won’t comply with the class. In the end, your spouse will likely take a parenting class. In some cases it just takes a judge to make it happen.

 

Your divorce is final when the judge stamps the bottom line of an order that ratifies your settlement agreement or determines what is going to happen in your case if you go to trial.This often happens in court in front of the judge. For example, if you work out a deal and settle your case and you’re the petitioner, you’ll go in front of the judge for a short uncontested hearing.The judge will take testimony from you, look at your driver’s license, review everything you’ve done, and then stamp your final judgment.Thejudge will then tell you that you’re divorced and wish you luck.

 

Then you’re going to need to make an effort to find your spouse. If your efforts are unsuccessful, you will then have to ask the judge for your divorce.In effect this is still an uncontested divorce. You just need to be able to show the judge that you did everything you could to try and find your spouse and let them know that there was a case going on so that they could have their say.

 

An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse sit down across from the table at the very onset of the divorce and hammer out the issues between yourselves and agree on everything.In an uncontested divorce, lawyers may act as guides to formalize everything, handle the paperwork, and take you through the process which may culminatein a court hearing where we ask you some questions in front of the judge and conclude your case.Short-term marriages without a lot of assets or without childrenand with two parties who make similar incomes are good candidates for uncontested divorce.
Longer-term marriages, alimony cases, and cases with children, especially high-conflict cases, are very difficult if not impossible to be completed as true uncontested divorces.
Be careful not to confuse an uncontested divorce with an uncontested final hearing. Contested divorces ultimately will have be resolved in an uncontested final hearing.This is a short hearing with a judge to ratify the agreement that was reached as part of the final judgment.

 

The first step in the process is usually a consultation with an attorney. Then it will proceed based on the type of divorce that you have. For a traditional litigation divorce, the first step is the filing of the petition which means actually filing a document in court saying, hey, we want to get divorced. The first step in an collaborative divorce is an initial collaborative meeting.

 

A simplified dissolution of marriage is one way to go about getting an uncontested divorce.In a simplified dissolution of marriage, there is a single document that operates as the petition in the settlement agreement and even the financial disclosure.You actually fill out this document together with your spouse. This document is filed at the courthouse and a court hearing is set with the judge.

 

A no-fault divorce is the standard in Florida. It simply means that you have irreconcilable difference as the basis for getting a divorce, in other words, simply telling the judge that you can’t live with your spouse any longer because you’re not compatible.
In comparison, the standard in North Carolina is an at-fault divorce. In an at-fault divorce you have to tell the judge that the reason you’re getting in divorce is because your spouse wronged you in some way.

 

We think so. We’re happy to be living in a no-fault divorce date. Slinging mud against each other might feel good in the short run, but in the long term it can lead to expensive and drawn-out litigation, which can destroy the co-parenting relationship that you’ll need to maintain with your spouse going forward if you have children.

 

Getting your spouse out of the home depends on the situation. Why do you need the spouse out of the home?
If it’s mere disagreement and an uncomfortable living situation, then the best method to get the spouse out of the home is to move forward with the divorce case and try negotiated mediation or seek possession of the home in the final case with the judge.
If there’s something more extreme going on, like wild fights that are causing disturbances in the neighborhood, then you might want to bring the issue in front of the judge in an expedited temporary relief hearing.
If there is an emergency, such as domestic violence or something else where you need your spouse out of the home right away, then you’ll need to file an emergency motion or a restraining order.

 

Harassment can be a crime in Florida. Discuss the harassment with your lawyer so they know the exact details. If the harassment escalates to a scary level, you may want to seek emergency relief to stop that behavior.

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DIVORCE IS TOUGH

The decision just to get to divorce can be gut wrenching. And the pain is even worse when its not your choice.

Now, your financial present and future is thrown into disarray. In the present, day to day living is about to get much more expensive as you contemplate separating. That means two roofs, two electrical bills, and more.

In the future, you are looking at dividing assets, and researching how alimony works in Florida. And if you have children, you have to position yourself to protect your rights with your children while trying to keep things as seamless as possible for your little ones.

BUT THERE IS A RIGHT WAY TO DO THIS

As tough as it looks, there is a way to minimize the damage of divorce. And if you do it right, you can come out of this in a better place than you were when this started. And in a better position financially than you think.

We know this because we see it every day.

And while no one wants to go through divorce, there is a reason you are reading this page. It’s not working. And if it is not working, and you are heading into divorce, why not do it right?

WHY YOU NEED A GAME PLAN IN YOUR DIVORCE

To get the best resolution possible in your divorce case, you need to develop a game plan early on, and keep your eye on the prize.

You want to know where you are going. And you want to always be taking steps that get you closer to that destination.

When you file for divorce, you are filing a lawsuit. Unfortunately, if your not careful, your lawsuit can spiral out of control, taking you away from your destination, not towards it. We know because while our divorce team focuses on nothing but Tampa Bay area divorce cases, our firm is a Trial Law firm. That means all of the lawyers in our firm are in Court on a regular basis.

And the lawsuits that go sideways are the ones that end up taking years to resolve, wracking up embarrassingly high legal fees, and ending in resolutions that are often lose-lose. Worse, these cases can lead to emotional scorched earth on the parties involved.

YOU DON’T NEED THAT.

The solution is the game plan. In our firm, we are planning your case as if it is going to trial from the moment you walk in the door. That means we are setting a goal each phase of your case , including the “final” phase, the trial.

But lets be clear: The vast majority of our cases don’t go to trial. Ironically, by keeping your eye on the prize and always moving towards an end goal of trial, you increase your chances of resolving your case for an excellent resolution.

PLANNING AS IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRIAL LEADS TO BETTER SETTLEMENTS AND COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

Absurd but true: By game planning your case from start to finish, your case will finish in less time, cost less, and result in a better resolution.

Quicker Turn around Time: All things being equal, you would likely prefer that the case take months, not years. In our divorce firm, we have found that by working on increasing the time it takes to get our clients through different phases of a divorce, we can actually increase our customers overall happiness in the final result. We now set benchmarks for how quickly our team gets you to each stage in a case, as well as how quickly our team performs certain functions, like setting hearings or communicating with the other attorneys.

Cost Less: Time and time again, we have seen parties who try to slow thing things down in the divorce process to try to save money. Yet the numbers are clear: Doing it right the first time from the very beginning is actually more cost effective for our clients in the long run.

Better Resolutions: Divorce is “all about the facts”. These facts include issues like income of the parties, ability of an underemployed spouse to work, duties during the marriage, back records, small business income, parenting responsibility, and more. Time and again, we see other divorce lawyers fail to adequate prepare the case at the beginning, ultimately hurting their clients in mediation and settlement negotiations. Preparing the case from the beginning like it is going to trial will give you and your divorce attorney a tactical advantage in settlement negotiations and pretrial hearings.

Schedule a strategy session

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