Divorce

The expense and complexity of a divorce depends on the parties and the issues. The issues typically include equitable distribution (division of property), alimony (spousal support and maintenance), parental responsibility and timesharing (previously referred to as custody and visitation), and child support.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is usually the most simple and least expensive form of divorce. If the parties agree on all issues prior to filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, an uncontested divorce is optimal. Generally parties who enter into a Consent Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage are more satisfied with the result since they have control of the outcome of their case.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is often more complicated and more expensive. After the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been filed and discovery (information gathering) has been conducted, the court will order the parties to attend mediation (a formal negotiation process) prior to going to trial. Generally parties who successfully mediate their case are more satisfied with the result since they have control of the outcome their case. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the case will proceed through the litigation process, and unless an agreement is reached in the meantime, ultimately go to trial. At trial, the judge will determine the outcome of the case and neither party will have control of the result.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is a new and different approach to divorce that centers around consideration and mutual respect for each other. Collaborative divorce is similar to an uncontested divorce in that the parties control the outcome of their case and the court's role is simply to enter the formalized agreement of the parties as an order of the court, rather than to make decisions for the parties.

The collaborative process is more than a "cooperative" approach to divorce - it is a structured process involving attorneys (and other professionals) who are trained in the collaborative process and operate under a code of trust with each other. For more information on collaborative divorce, or the collaborative process, please call to schedule a free consultation with our collaborative divorce attorneys.

Equitable Distribution

Florida is an equitable distribution state. Any asset or liability obtained during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled, is presumed to be marital property and must be equally divided,unless one party can show that certain property is non-marital or can show there are extenuating circumstances providing for unequal distribution.

Non-marital property is usually something owned by one party prior to the marriage (pre-marital), and not co-mingled, such as a car that was paid off prior to getting married. However, if that paid off car was traded in during the marriage as a down payment for a new car, the new car may no longer be considered a non-marital asset (this is an example of co-mingling). Another example of a non-marital asset is inheritance. So long as the inheritance remains in a separate account, in that party's name alone, and is in no way co-mingled with other marital assets, the inheritance should retain its non-marital status. Please be aware that while non-marital assets may not be subject to equitable distribution, they may be factors in determining child support and alimony.

Alimony

As of July 1, 2010, there are six types of alimony: temporary, lump sum, rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap, durational, and permanent. The court can order any combination of these types of alimony; and that the alimony be paid in periodic payments, lump sum payments, or both. An award of alimony is based on need and ability to pay, however the court must consider certain factors in determining the type and amount.

Temporary alimony may be awarded during the pendency of the litigation process to provide support and maintenance until a final resolution is reached.

Lump sum alimony may be awarded to compensate a party for equitable distribution if certain factors exist that call for unequitable distribution.

Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support.

Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single.

Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration.

Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage.

Parental Responsibility

In 2008, the Florida statutes were amended. The terms child custody and visitation were removed and replaced with parenting plan and timesharing schedule. If the parties have minor children, it must be determined where the child will spend his or her time, and when.

Child Support

Child support is determined primarily by the income of the parties. Heath insurance and employment related childcare expenses are also factors. Often, the amount of time spent with the child is taken into consideration. In Florida, parents are obligated to support their child until the age of 18 or until the child graduates high school. Sometimes parents will agree as to college expenses, but parents are not mandated as a matter of law to support their children through college.

Click here to learn about Child Custody / Timesharing