Family Law / Divorce
In Florida, the legal term for divorce is “dissolution of marriage.” Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that it does not matter if one spouse is unfaithful to the other and broke the marriage. A petition for dissolution of marriage simply needs to make a cursory allegation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning that at least one of the parties believes there is not a chance of reconciling.
Dissolution of Marriage
The petition for dissolution of marriage is filed in the county where the marriage last existed. There is a six (6) month residency requirement prior to being able to file a petition.
Dissolution of marriage cases usually involve the following issues: equitable distribution of assets and liabilities, a parenting plan and time sharing schedule if children are involved, determination of parental responsibility, spousal and child support, and attorney’s fees and costs.
In most cases, all marital assets and liabilities are split equally between the parties - this is referred to as equitable distribution. However, consideration may apply where one spouse may have intentionally disapated assets or one spouse may have a special equity in an asset.
A spouse has the right to receive support from the other so long as the receiving spouse has the need and the other spouse has the ability to pay. Currently, there is no formula for determination of an amount of spousal support. It is within the sound discretion of the judge to determine the spousal support. Factors the court will consider include the following: Standard of living during the marriage; length of the marriage; age, physical and emotional condition of the parties; the financial resources of each party; the contribution of each party to the marriage; and the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to find employment.
Child support on the other hand is determined by a set formula based on statutory guidelines. Both parties will be required to file a financial affidavit and a formula calculates the amount of child support to be paid. Even in cases of 50/50 timesharing, one spouse may owe child support to the other if there is a disparity in income. For purposes of determining the amount of time a child spends with each parent, Florida courts will consider whether the child spends the night with the parent in determining the number of days a child spends with each parent.
In Florida, we refer to custody now as parental responsibility and time sharing. Courts are leaning towards equality in time sharing between the mother and father, absent special circumstances or instances of abuse or neglect. The Florida statute requires that the court order shared parental responsibility unless the court finds that it is not in the best interest of the child. More specifics may be found at Section 61.13, Florida Statutes, which is available on-line.
Hiring an Attorney
Our firm recommends that you hire an attorney to assist you throughout the dissolution of marriage proceedings. If you agree on something and it turns out to be a “bad deal” for you, the courts will generally not modify the arrangement. Therefore, competent counsel is necessary to avoid pitfalls in litigation. Mrs. Mallory has the experience and knowledge to make sound recommendations to you throughout the litigation process.
Orders may be modified by subsequent modification proceedings if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred either financially, or because a prior order affecting parental rights is no longer in the best interests of the children. Our firm can help you assess whether or not a modification in your case may be successful.
In the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, consisting of Bay, Jackson, Washington, Holmes, Calhoun and Gulf counties, all family law matters will go before a Supreme Court Certified Mediator prior to being scheduled for a final hearing before a Circuit Judge. This is an opportunity for the parties to have control over the ultimate outcome of the case, and many times cases are settled at mediation.
If you have questions or need assistance with any of your Family Law & Divorce needs, please contact us at (850)747-8131 or by email to setup an appointment.