Divorce is never an easy choice and involves many issues that can be tough to navigate.
A divorce touches almost every aspect of your life, from your property and finances to how much time you will spend with your children. Your choice of legal representation to represent you during this crucial time is one of the most important decisions you will make.
It is important to understand the legal rights and responsibilities that come along with filing for divorce in order to protect your interests. Many issues are addressed during a divorce and may include the splitting of marital assets and debts, alimony, parental responsibility, child time-sharing, child support, amongst others.
I understand as a Lakeland Divorce Attorney that when you have a legal issue that involve your family, it is natural to be confused, nervous, or frustrated. The law is complicated, which is why professional legal advice is crucial. From my Lakeland office, I help families throughout Polk County make the best decisions possible for themselves and their loved ones.
To start proceedings for divorce, a petition for divorce must be filed and served on your spouse. While Florida does not require specific grounds in order to get a divorce, there are some instances in which divorce may be delayed by the request of the responding party when children are involved in the marriage.
Both sides will be required to provide certain documentation and records to each other, including a number of financial documents such as bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, and other documentation pertaining to property and debts. Additionally, the parties will be required
to complete a financial affidavit relating to income, deductions, household expenses, assets, and debts. Additional items may be sought through a process known as discovery, and depositions may be taken from the parties, and in some instances, third parties.
Prior to trial, the parties will generally be ordered by the court to attend mediation. Mediation involves meeting with a certified neutral mediator in a confidential setting to discuss the possibility of settling some or all of the issues involved in the case. If any issues remain unresolved, the case will then proceed towards trial before a judge.
As part of the divorce proceedings, a decision must be made about how to divide the assets and debts of the parties.
As a starting point, property and debts must first be identified as either martial or non-marital. The non-marital property and debts will typically remain with that spouse, while the marital property and debts will need to be divided.
Several factors will be considered in deciding how to split the marital assets and debs, and one should always take caution in how property is handled as it is possible for non-marital property to be converted to marital property subjecting it to equitable distribution by the court.
If there are children involved in the divorce, both the issue of parental responsibility and time sharing will need to be addressed. Parental responsibility can be joint or individual, and addresses issues such as who will decide school enrolment, children’s participation in extracurriculars, and the general decisions regarding the children’s health and welfare.
Additionally, a parenting plan must be established to outline a visitation schedule for each of the parents. A typical timesharing plan will generally determine what days a parent has with the children during the school year, the summer, and on holidays.
When determining parental responsibility and time sharing, the court must consider what is in the best interest of the children based on a number of factors set out in Florida’s divorce laws.
In addition to parental responsibility and timesharing, one of the parents will likely be ordered to pay child support. In determining the amount of child support, a formula is used based upon the parties’ income, time with the children under the parenting plan, and other factors such as who may provide health insurance for the child.
In certain situations, the court may deviate from the from the formula set out under Florida law; however, it is imperative for a person seeking the deviation to include supporting factors in the pleadings filed with the court.
Alimony may be awarded as part of a divorce typically based upon one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. There are several different types of alimony that may be awarded depending on the circumstances in the case. Some will be for a specific purpose, while something such as permanent periodic alimony may be ordered on a regular basis for the duration of the other party’s life, or until remarried. The type and duration of alimony awarded will be dependent on a long list of factors that can be determined by the court.