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Monday, July 16, 2018

7 Things to Know about Divorce in Florida

Filing for divorce can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. There are a variety of state laws which govern the process, and it’s important that you work with an experienced divorce lawyer who understands the specific Florida laws that apply to your case. While the following advice isn’t a substitute for hiring an experienced attorney, keeping these 7 things in mind will help you as you start the divorce process.

Filing Requirements for Divorce in Florida

filing for divorce in Florida
In order to file for divorce in Florida, one spouse must be a resident of the state or an armed forces member stationed in Florida for at least 6 months prior to filing. You will need to have a Florida driver’s license in order to demonstrate proof of residency.
You must fill out a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” form to initiate the process. This petition must be filed in the county where one of the parties currently lives. If you and your spouse are living in different counties, the petition should be filed in the county where you both lived while married.

Florida is a No-Fault Divorce State

Florida allows for “no-fault” divorces, which means neither spouse needs to be accused of adultery, abuse, abandonment or any other action which would make them at fault for the end of the marriage. Instead, you can simply say that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
If both spouses agree that there are irreconcilable differences and no minor children are involved, the court will typically allow the case to move forward right away. However, if one party denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken or if you have minor children, the court may require you and your spouse to attend counseling for up to three months.

Qualifying Couples may be Able to File for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

You may be able to file for a simplified dissolution of marriage if you and your spouse:

  • Don’t have any minor children
  • Are not requesting spousal support
  • Agree on all property division matters

While a simplified dissolution of marriage will speed up the divorce process, it also means that you will sacrifice certain rights. You won’t be able to request financial documents or cross-examine your ex-spouse during the divorce case. However, for couples who have relatively simple assets and can agree on all the major issues, this can present a way to resolve your divorce in a quicker and more cost-effective manner. This can be very positive as you embark on post-divorce life.

You Must Disclose your Financial Records to Your Spouse

You are legally required to provide a signed financial affidavit within 45 days of the initial filing for divorce. This document must include detailed information regarding your:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Debts
  •  Bank statements
  • Tax returns
  • Investment statements
  • 401k and pension documents
  • Credit card statements
  • Any other documentation necessary to fully disclose your finances

Property Division Matters follow the Doctrine of Equitable Distribution

property division laws in Florida
Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that assets and property will be divided in a fair, but not necessarily equal manner. Factors that the court will consider when ruling on property division disputes include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the home and care for minor children
  • The financial circumstances of each spouse

In general, only assets, property and debts acquired during the marriage will be included in property division. Everything you and your spouse had amassed prior to the marriage is considered to be separate property and not subject to equitable distribution laws.

Child Custody and Support Issues are Decided based on the Best Interests of the Child

All child custody and child support matters will be decided based on what is in the best interests of the child. In Florida, shared custody is generally considered to be the ideal arrangement since it ensures both parents will be able to maintain a meaningful relationship with the children moving forward. Factors used to determine how this time will be split between each parent include:

  • Each parent’s willingness to facilitate a meaningful relationship between the children and the other parent
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a safe and healthy living environment for the children
  • The co-parenting and communication skills of each parent
  • The moral fitness of each parent
  • The existence of mental health or substance abuse issues by one parent

child custody in Florida
Florida no longer uses the term “child custody” to govern these matters. Instead, the court uses the terms “parenting plan” and “parental responsibility” when ruling on custody matters:

  • Parenting plans are used to define what is commonly known as “physical custody” and details how much time the children will spend living under the supervision of each parent

  • Parental responsibility covers items commonly known as “legal custody” such as which parent(s) will have control of the day-to-day decisions associated with the children’s education, healthcare and other daily care items

Child support is required until all children reach the age of 18 or until they graduate high school (up to age 19). The criteria used to calculate child support and determine which parent will receive these payments include:

  • Amount of time the children live with each parent
  • Each parent’s income level
  • Which parent pays for the children’s insurance
  • Any special medical or educational needs of each child
  • The cost of daycare and which parent pays for this service
  • Which parent claims the dependent children for tax purposes
  • Child support payments made for children from another marriage
  • Whether spousal support payments are being made as part of the divorce

Spousal Support May be Granted, but is not Required

Spousal support may be awarded in order to ensure both parties can maintain their current standard of living following the divorce. However, spousal support isn’t included in all divorce agreements. Factors considered when determining alimony issues include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The lifestyle enjoyed by the couple during the marriage
  • The financial circumstances of each party
  • The education level and ability of each spouse to secure employment
  • Each party’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage

Protect your Rights by Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

While you’re not required to work with a lawyer during the divorce process, it’s in your best interest to do so. There are many complex state laws governing Florida divorces and it will be challenging to protect your rights if you don’t have legal representation. Make sure you hire a divorce lawyer who has made family law the primary focus of their practice. This will ensure your needs are being properly met throughout the process.

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Thursday, February 06, 2014

Orthodox Jewish Woman Granted Religious Divorce after 3 Years

Gital Dodelson, a 25-year-old orthodox Jewish woman from New Jersey, has finally been granted a religious divorce from her husband, ending 3 years of bitter fighting over the subject. The couple was legally divorced in 2012, but her husband, Avrohom Meir Weiss, had refused to grant her the religious divorce. 

According to orthodox Jewish law, the religious divorce, called a “get,” is required to truly set the woman free. Without receiving a get from Weiss, Dodelson is considered an agunah, or a chained woman. In the eyes of the orthodox Jewish community, she is still married. Now that she has received her religious divorce, she is free to pursue other romantic interests.

According to reports, Weiss had been demanding excessive sums of money – more than $350,000 – to grant Dodelson a religious divorce. Rather than give in to what amounts to extortion, Dodelson and her family brought her story public in an article published by the NY Post. 

In the weeks following the NY Post story, she received a wave of public support. A Facebook group called “Free Gital: Tell Avrohom Meir Wess to Give His Wife a ‘Get’” gained more than 14,000 supporters across the world. In addition, Weiss’ father and uncle, both esteemed rabbis, were forced to resign from their editor positions at Jewish publisher ArtScroll due to pressure from an outraged Jewish community.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending, and Dodelson received what she deserves. However, this story serves as a reminder that in many ultra-religious communities, divorce can be much more complicated. This makes it even more important to choose an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you negotiate the terms of your religious divorce during your secular divorce.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dwyane Wade and Ex-Wife Settle Financial Matters, Finally Resolve Divorce

The long, highly publicized legal battle between Dwyane Wade and his ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches, is finally over. Earlier this month, the all-star Miami Heat guard reached an agreement with his ex-wife that will settle their dispute over the distribution of marital assets. This settlement ends a divorce case that was initiated in 2007.

According to terms of the agreement, Wade will pay his ex-wife $5 million and surrender rights to their Chicago mansion and four cars. In addition, the two signed a non-disparage agreement which prohibits them from publicly attacking the reputation of each other.

Other issues had been settled several years ago. In 2011, Wade was granted sole child custody of their two sons. The divorce proceeding was extremely acrimonious. Funches had recently filed a lawsuit against Wade for failure to pay income from endorsement contracts signed in 2008, one year after the couple filed for divorce. The court dismissed the case, causing Funches to protest outside of Chicago’s Daley Center.

With this financial settlement, Funches should be able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for the rest of her life. But most importantly, both parties can now move on and put this ordeal behind them.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Divorce Can Strengthen Parent-Child Relationships

The divorce process is always difficult for everyone involved, especially young children. The tense emotions associated with working out important issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division can place a strain on family relationships. But the good news is many people find that their relationship with their children actually becomes stronger once they settle into divorced life.

Parents often find that there are several benefits to sharing child custody with their ex-spouse:
·         Each parent gets to enjoy some downtime without the children, where they can pursue their adult interests. When they see their children again, they are often refreshed.

·         Each parent is the primary caregiver during time spent with the children. This can allow a parent who took more of a passive parenting role during marriage to make important decisions and develop their parenting style.

In addition, parents who are still on amicable terms after the divorce can work together to make sure the child has a well-rounded environment between both households. This allows you to provide the type of care and develop the type of relationship with your child that feels natural to you based on your personal strengths.

While there are certainly challenges associated with being a single parent, the benefits can result in stronger bonds with your children than what you experienced during a strained marriage.

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