Frequently Asked Questions
You must have lived in Florida for at least SIX (6) MONTHS prior to filing for divorce. How the courts determine this is by looking at your Florida Driver’s License or State Identification Card.
Or, a friend or family member may vouch for you in an Affidavit of Corroborating Witness as to Residence that is filed with the court. The witness will be affirming that you have in fact lived in the state of Florida for six months prior to the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
The amount of time involved in a divorce depends on 3 things.
You, your spouse, and the court system. Typically, if both you and your spouse agree on how to split your assets and liabilities, time sharing with your children the amount of time will be less, possibly 2-4 months, depending on the availability of the judge and whether you and your spouse file all the proper paperwork on time.
To put it simply, an uncontested divorce is an action in which you and your spouse agree to everything, including but not limited to the division of your property – the house, the cars, personal belongings, retirement funds – and a parenting plan for your children.
No. An uncontested divorce costs less because both you and your spouse have come to an agreement on how to settle issues between the two of you. There is less time that is needed to deal with an uncontested divorce, therefore, the cost is less. Contested divorces cost more because there is more time and effort involved in such a case.
In a contested divorce, chances of going to trial are increased, therefore, not only does the attorney need to consider mediation, but depositions of the parties and possibly other witnesses, the transcribing of the depositions, hearings prior to trial and so on.
All of these things add up to time being expended and costs being incurred.
Florida has made some significant changes to the laws governing the area of family and children. Now we speak of Parenting Plans and Time Sharing. Parenting Plan, a plan setting up how the parties will care for their children. It reflects what the parties’ responsibilities are towards their children and the commitment they must take to actually parent.
Time-Sharing is a better term than visitation, because visitation turns the parent-child relationship into something that is less than a normal parent-child relationship. One would ask for time-sharing a majority of the time.
Florida is not just changing the words we use in family law. All of the Florida Courts are looking at how to create developmentally and age appropriate parenting plans that reflect the children’s physical and psychological development.
It varies from case to case. The cost depends on the complexity of the case. If you and your spouse dispute issues, such as time-sharing with the children, ownership of property, or assignment of retirement funds, then the process becomes more complex, which means more time must be taken to resolve those issues.
You also need take into consideration that there are filing fees, cost for the summons, cost for the process server to serve your spouse, mediation, possibly depositions, and/or cost of transcripts if needed for a hearing or trial, which can increase the cost significantly.
Florida law does not have a mechanism for legal separation of a married couple.
Once the dissolution of marriage lawsuit is filed, you can petition the court for temporary support.
You and your spouse will be required to attend mediation prior to going before the judge to see if you are able to work things out amongst yourselves with the aid of the mediator.
If you are not able to work things out or come to an agreement, you will then have an opportunity to go before the judge.
It is always in your best interest to have an attorney review any contract before you sign it. Your spouse’s attorney is required to look out for the best interests of their client – your spouse – and not you.
This is a 2-part question. Let’s take the alimony issue first. The elements that must be considered first and foremost are the need for alimony and the ability to pay. Other factors that are considered by the court are included in the statute. The State of Florida has recently made changes in the law governing alimony.
If you have been married for seven (7) years or less, this is considered a short term marriage. If you have been married for at least 7 years, but not more than 17 years, this is a moderate amount of time. A long term marriage is considered one that has lasted at least 17 years or more.
Bridge the Gap, which is for someone who needs assistance with getting back on up their feet. This type of alimony cannot last more than 2 years.
Rehabilitative Alimony, which is modifiable, is considered when someone needs to go back to school to complete a degree or prepare to go out into the work force. In order for the courts to consider Rehabilitative Alimony, one must submit a plan that includes what the ultimate goal is, how long it will take to attain it, the amount it will cost, including mortgage payments/rent, other costs, tuition, etc.
Durational Alimony, which is modifiable and cannot exceed the length of the time the parties were married to each other.
Permanent Periodic Alimony, which is available for someone who had been in a long term marriage. Individuals who were involved in a short-term marriage may be eligible, because of a sickness or disability, or exceptional circumstances.
Retirement, which is a marital asset, is usually split 50/50. Sometimes a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) needs to be drafted to be able to split the policy/plan according to the plans instructions. One cannot just split such assets up; there is a process and it must be followed. There are attorneys who specialize in drafting QDROs. It is strongly recommended that if you need a QDRO completed, you should discuss this with your attorney.