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SERVICES

Dissolution of Marriage

Divorce is the process of terminating one’s marriage for any number of reasons.  Florida is considered a no-fault state, which means that either spouse may seek a divorce without providing any reason for the divorce other than that the spouse no longer wishes to remain married. 

 

In Florida, there are several types of divorce, including simplified, contested and uncontested divorces.

 

  • Simplified Dissolution:  A simplified dissolution is a procedure where the spouses file a joint petition for simplified dissolution of marriage.  The parties must meet specific requirements to file for a simplified dissolution, including: 1) the parties cannot have any minor children; 2) the parties either do not have any property to divide or the property has been divided pursuant to a written agreement; 3) all financial obligations are resolved; 4) one party must be a Florida resident for at least 6 months prior to filing the petition; and 5) both parties must complete a marital settlement agreement. 

 

  • Contested Dissolution: A contested divorce arises when the parties are unable to agree on any terms of their divorce and require a judge to make determinations for them.  This means that the Court will then determine and order property division, child support, spousal support, timesharing and often times attorney’s fees. 

 

  • Uncontested Dissolutions: Uncontested divorces do not require the court to make decisions over disputed issues.  In an uncontested divorce, the parties agree on the terms or issues involved in their case, which may include property division, spousal support, child support, and timesharing.  Once the parties have agreed on all of the terms, a settlement agreement is reached and submitted to the Court for review and approval.  Subsequently, a final judgment is entered, and the divorce is finalized.

Spousal Support / Alimony

Alimony is the financial support provided to an ex-spouse to maintain the standard of living maintained during the parties’ marriage.  A Court has broad discretion to determine entitlement to alimony, the amount of alimony awarded, the duration of alimony and the type of alimony awarded.

 

In determining whether to award alimony, the Court must first make a determination as to need and ability to pay and then the Court shall consider all relevant factors under Florida Statute 61.08, including but not limited to: 

  • The standard of living established during the marriage.

  • The duration of the marriage.

  • The age and physical and emotional condition of each party.

  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties.

  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to: services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.

  • The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common; 

  • The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of an alimony award. 

  • All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

Timesharing & Parental Responsibility

Child matters are broken down into two types, timesharing and parental responsibility.  Timesharing refers to the amount of time each parent physically spends with the parties’ minor child and parental responsibility refers to each parent’s decision-making rights regarding the child’s health, education and general welfare. The parties may be awarded joint, ultimate or sole parental responsibility.

 

When determining timesharing and parental responsibility, the primary consideration for the Court is the best interest of the minor child.  For purposes of establishing a parenting plan, the Court must evaluate the following factors when determining the best interest of the child: 

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.

  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation.

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to act upon the needs of the child.

  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan.

  • The moral fitness of the parents.

  • The mental and physical health of the parents.

  • The home, school, and community record of the child.

  • The reasonable preference of the child.

  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to: The child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.

  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.

  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;

  • The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation.

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.

Child Support

Parents are responsible for providing financial support for their children.  When determining child support, the Court looks at the number of children involved, both parent’s income, the parties’ timesharing agreement, health insurance expenses, including medical and dental, childcare costs, and any special circumstances surrounding the children. 

 

Child support is paid until your child reaches 18 years of age or until they finish high school.  Exceptions apply when your child has a disability or special circumstances arise that extend the age limitation beyond 18 years of age.

Equitable Distribution

In Florida, the division of assets and liabilities during a Florida divorce is called “equitable distribution.” The Courts use this term to reflect their preference for the fair division of resources and debt. Although the statute calls for equitable distribution, it does not always mean an equal division.

 

Florida courts look at different factors when determining equitable distribution during a divorce. These factors may include the length of the marriage, the contribution by each spouse to the marriage, including the care and education of the parties’ children, the economic situation of the parties, and much more.

Florida’s equitable distribution statute sets forth the specific requirements for division. All assets and liabilities are evaluated and classified into “marital” and “non-marital” property. Florida Statute 61.075 dictates the premise for fair distribution and the factors to consider for unequal distribution. These factors are as follows:

  • The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.

  • The economic circumstances of the parties.

  • The duration of the marriage.

  • Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.

  • The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other

    spouse.

  • The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or

    professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or

    the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital

    assets of the parties.

  • The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the

    marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.

  • The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.

  • Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement in Florida is a contract between prospective spouses that determines how certain issues are treated during a divorce, issues may include property division, alimony, division of pensions, retirement accounts, etc.  The prenuptial agreement imposes a legal obligation on both parties concerning certain financial aspects that are likely to arise in a divorce action.  A prenup is appropriate for many individuals, including those who have pre-marital assets that they wish to protect in the event of a divorce, those who own a business prior to the marriage which they may wish to keep separate in the event the marriage fails, and those who have children from a previous marriage who wish to simplify inheritance issues.

Post Judgment Litigation: Modification and Enforcement

Post-judgment litigation is any action that seeks to enforce or modify a previous final judgment entered

by the Court. This litigation usually involves the same parties to the prior proceeding.

Modification

Many additional issues arise after a divorce is finalized that may warrant a modification of the original

divorce decree. These issues may involve potential child relocation, modification of child timesharing, or the modification of support obligations such as alimony or child support.

Florida courts allow for changes if a "substantial change in circumstances" occurs. In Florida, a "substantial change in circumstances" is one that is significant, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature.

 

Examples of a substantial change include:

  • Disability of a parent or child.

  • Significant increase or decrease of a parent’s income.

  • Increased health expenses of a parent or child.

  • Remarriage or cohabitation by a parent receiving spousal support.

Enforcement

Enforcement involves either compelling a party to pay a certain sum of money found by the Court to be

due and owing or compelling a party to perform or refrain from performing some act described in the

final judgment. Many issues may arise that call for the enforcement of a divorce decree, including the

enforcement of timesharing arrangements and support orders.

Dissolution of Marriage
Alimony
Child Support
Child Custody
Asset Distribution
Prenup
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