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Family Law

Divorce in Florida

Going through a divorce or separation is never easy, whether parties grow apart or life takes us in different directions, the most important thing is to understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel and eventually you will get through this. In either case, no matter what, there is always an answer and a solution to any difficulty or concern in life. We are ready to help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of filing a proper dissolution of marriage.

Our team is here for you and we want to help you through these difficult times.

“You are wonderful and perfectly made, make the best of your life the rest of your life, life is too short to give another minute to anyone or anything that does not make you happy.”

In Florida, a divorce is known as a “dissolution of marriage,” which is the procedure of legally dissolving a marriage.

There are three ways to file for divorce in the State of Florida.

Simplified Divorce

In some cases parties have the option of filing a “simplified dissolution of marriage” where property and child custody are not at issue.

Uncontested Divorce

Often times, the best way to split is on good terms, and some parties may choose to amicably resolve their disputes and file an “uncontested dissolution of marriage”.

Contested Divorce

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy, in some cases the parties are unable to come to an agreement and may have to file a “contested dissolution of marriage”.

Simplified Divorce

This is a fast and simple way to dissolve a marriage but this option is not always available to every situation. To qualify for a simplified divorce in Florida the parties must meet all of the following conditions:

  1. You and/or spouse must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months before filing for a dissolution in Florida.
  2. You and your spouse agree that the marriage cannot be saved.
  3. You and your spouse have no minor or dependent child(ren) together, the wife does not have any minor or dependent children born during the marriage, and the wife is not now pregnant.
  4. You and your spouse have worked out how the two of you will divide the things that you both own (your assets) and who will pay what part of the money you both owe (your liabilities), and you are both satisfied with this division.
  5. You are not seeking support (alimony) from your spouse, and vice versa.
  6. You are willing to give up your right to trial and appeal.
  7. You and your spouse are both willing to go into the clerk’s office to sign the petition (not necessarily together).
  8. You and your spouse are both willing to go to the final hearing (at the same time).

Uncontested Divorce

Often times, the best way to split is on good terms, and some parties may choose to amicably resolve their disputes and file an “uncontested dissolution of marriage” where the parties have agreed on the distribution of marital assets and/or child custody along with time sharing schedules. This is, in many cases, the most efficient way to dissolve a marriage.

Contested Divorce

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy, in some cases the parties are unable to come to an agreement and may have to file a “contested dissolution of marriage” where the parties may opt to attend a family mediation or in some cases, the parties may even take their concerns before a family Court Judge in order to have the marital property and/or child custody decided through the legal system and trial process.

There are a few reasons why parties may have to file a contested divorce, some of these reasons include but are not limited to:

  • Alimony / Spousal Support
  • Asset Divison / Division of Property
  • Debt Distribution
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Relocation of Children

Marital Property

What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours, these words are not concrete in a marriage but they do hold some major consequences.

In Florida, unless there is a premarital or postmarital agreement, marital property includes any property acquired during the marriage with monies or funds earned during the marriage, regardless of who purchased the property or asset. Usually, with some exceptions, it does not matter which parties name is on the tittle or who the asset is named too. However, there are different rules and regulations that will govern the distribution of inheritances, gifts, retirement accounts and businesses.

Marital property will also include the enhancement in value of non-marital assets, this means that assets that become more valuable during the course of the marriage because of the work of one or both of the parties, or because one or both parties spend marital funds or assets improving the property or asset, then the difference between the present value and the value of the property or asset, prior to the marriage, may be considered marital property for purposes of a marital dissolution.

There are many rules and exceptions governing the breakdown of these enhancements, it is always necessary to consult with an attorney before agreeing to any marital settlement whatsoever.

Alimony

I supported you, now you support me. Alimony is an avenue that can be requested in some cases where a spouse believes that they need financial support from the other spouse and that spouse has the financial means to support. Not every marriage is one that qualifies for alimony but in some cases a Court may consider the circumstances viable to award either temporary or in some cases permanent financial support to a spouse that needs such warranted assistance.

Many factors are taken into consideration when establishing whether alimony is necessary, some of these factors include the length of the marriage. In Florida the length of marriages is calculated through what is referred to as a rebuttable presumption.

    • Short Term Marriage – A marriage having a duration of less than seven years.
    • Moderate Term Marriage – A marriage having a duration of more than seven years but less than seventeen years.
    • Long Term Marriage – A marriage having a duration of seventeen years or more.

 

Depending on the circumstances and length of the marriage, there are several types of alimony that may be awarded by the Court, should the Court deem them necessary or should the parties agree.

    • Permanent Alimony – Permanent alimony is just that, permanent spousal support. This support is usually awarded for long term marriages when the statutory criteria is met or for moderate marriages if necessary based on statutory factors along with clear and convincing evidence presented to the Court. In some cases, it may be awarded to short term marriages. However, the Court must make findings that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable in order to award permanent spousal support.
    • Bridge The Gap Alimony – Is spousal support that is awarded temporarily in cases where spouses have short term needs in order to accommodate and achieve self-support. Bridge the gap alimony must not exceed two years of support to the spouse.
    • Durational Alimony – This alimony is set for a specific period of time. In some cases, the alimony may be modified when there are substantial changes of circumstances under Florida Statute. Usually, the length of the durational alimony will not be modified unless there are exceptional circumstances, and this length cannot exceed the length of the actual marriage.
    • Rehabilitative Alimony – This refers to temporary alimony awarded to a spouse in order to help the spouse get to a position where he or she can take care of expenses without any assistance and have the capacity and desire to re-enter into the work force.

 

Alimony will terminate upon the death of either party or by remarriage of the party receiving spousal support.

Dissolution of marriage in the State of Florida is governed by Florida Statute Chapter 61.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours, these words are not concrete in a marriage but they do hold some major consequences.

In Florida, unless there is a premarital or postmarital agreement, marital property includes any property acquired during the marriage with monies or funds earned during the marriage, regardless of who purchased the property or asset. Usually, with some exceptions, it does not matter which parties name is on the tittle or who the asset is named too. However, there are different rules and regulations that will govern the distribution of inheritances, gifts, retirement accounts and businesses.

Marital property will also include the enhancement in value of non-marital assets, this means that assets that become more valuable during the course of the marriage because of the work of one or both of the parties, or because one or both parties spend marital funds or assets improving the property or asset, then the difference between the present value and the value of the property or asset, prior to the marriage, may be considered marital property for purposes of a marital dissolution.

There are many rules and exceptions governing the breakdown of these enhancements, it is always necessary to consult with an attorney before agreeing to any marital settlement whatsoever.

“Why hurt someone who’s only intention was to love you."

– Reyna Biddy

Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is legally known as a premarital agreement. This is a legal agreement between two people that becomes binding upon marriage and determines financial strategies for both individuals in the event of a divorce. Florida Statute 61.079 and the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) govern prenuptial agreements.

Postnuptial Agreement

A postnuptial agreement is legally referred to as a “postmarital agreement”. Similar to a premarital agreement, the postmarital agreement identifies how the parties’ assets will be divided and split in the event of a divorce. The difference is that the postmarital agreement is specifically designed for couples that are already married or currently in a civil union.

Requirements

Both premarital and postmarital share some similarities when it comes to necessary requirements in order to make the agreements binding. Some of these requirements include:

  • The agreement must be in writing.
  • Both parties must sign the agreement voluntarily and intentionally.
  • Both parties must make a full and fair disclosure to one another of their income, assets and liabilities.
  • The agreement cannot be unconscionable or completely one-sided.
  • In Florida the agreements must meet the state requirements under the law in order to make them enforceable and binding.

It’s essential that you contact an experienced attorney to draft these agreements because there are numerous legal requirements that must be fully met in order for prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to be legally binding.

Family Law

Child Custody & Paternity

Child Custody

Your kids need you. Every parent knows that whether your children are two or twenty-two they will always be your baby and no matter what, you will fight through anything to make sure they are happy, healthy and safe. We want to help you fight for your parental rights, often times, people will guide themselves by what neighbors and television shows portray as the child custody process but it is important to know that you have rights as a parent and that the courts ultimate goal is to ensure the best interests of the child. As a matter of fact, whenever possible, Florida Courts prefer to see both parents continue to be involved in a child’s life after a divorce or separation.

Our team will help you fight for your kids.

“Becoming a parent is the moment when all of life’s battles suddenly seem worth fighting for.”

Children need their parents. In Florida, parental custody is broken down into “parental responsibility” and “time sharing”. Florida Courts establish child custody and/or time sharing based on the best interest of the child.

Paternity

Fathers have rights too. Paternity is the process by which the father of a child is legally identified and established in Florida. Unfortunately, just having a man’s name on the birth certificate is not sufficient to establish that he is the legal father of a child. In many cases, a mother can name anyone who she believes may be the father or may want to be the father of a child, for paternity purposes. There are several ways to prove paternity and DNA testing is definitely not the only way to do so.

Parental Responsibility

Being a parent is much more than just having a child, it is being responsible for your child and making decisions to best affect their lives. Parental responsibility is the parents right associated with decisions affecting the child’s best interest, these include critical decisions on the child’s behalf like religion, schooling and medical decisions.

Time Sharing

You want to be there for your child, not just financially or morally but parents want to spend time enjoying their children’s company. Time sharing is the parents right to spend actual physical time with their children. Florida Courts have followed the trend of 50 / 50 time sharing for parents. This means that often times, with exception of some cases, the Court prefers that both parents enjoy equal time with their children, at least whenever possible.

Child Support

Being there for your child doesn’t mean you have to support their other parent. In Florida, “child support” is the economic support that child is entitled to receive from their parents. This benefit is the right of the child not the parent and is calculated according to the allocated time sharing and income of both parents as they relate to the guidelines set by Florida law.

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