Getting married in Florida may be as simple as signing a marriage certificate and paying a small fee, but getting a divorce in the sunshine state is no easy feat. Not only is the process itself much more legally intensive, but a divorcing couple will also need to present to a court their plans for how they will divide property, split debt, and care for shared children, among other things. As such, pursuing a divorce is an endeavor that should not be entered into without the assistance of a skilled attorney. At the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A., our law firm is here to provide you with sound representation and counsel. Divorce lawyer.
For a court to grant a divorce in Florida, a plaintiff’s petition must include the grounds on which the it is being sought. There are only two grounds for divorce in Florida: irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and mental incapacity of one of the parties ( Florida Statutes Section 61.052 ). Most divorces are sought based on the former, with an individual or couple claiming that their marriage has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer salvageable.
To file for a divorce in Florida, the party who is initiating the file (called the petitioner) must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing. If the six-month residency requirement is not satisfied, the petitioner must wait to file.
Once you have decided the grounds on which you will pursue your divorce, the next thing is coming to terms with, and resolving, the many issues in this matter. Some of the most common matters that demand attention, which our lawyers are highly experienced in, include:
Property division. Figuring out who gets what when a couple separates can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, with some couples actually going to court and litigating a property division determination. Florida code insists upon equitable distribution of marital assets (those assets that are acquired by either party during the marriage). Keep in mind that equitable does not necessarily mean equal, and as such, one spouse may be awarded what would appear to be a much greater property amount in some cases. Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to reach a property division settlement together outside of court.
Spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, is another pressing issue when couples are separating. While spouses may agree to a spousal maintenance award without going to court, it is important to note that if one spouse is not able to support themselves financially (which might include maintaining the standard of living to which they have become accustomed), and the other spouse has acted as the financial provider throughout the course of a marriage, it is likely that the court will issue an order for spousal support. How much a spousal support award may be depends upon a various factors.
Child custody. Maybe the most emotional issues for parents in a divorce is that of child custody. No parent likes the idea of losing time with their child, or missing out on watching their child growing. Parents who are parting ways are highly encouraged to work together, perhaps with the aid of a mediator, to create a parenting plan that works for all parties. If a parenting plan agreement cannot be formed by parents out of court, a child custody case will go to court, where a judge will make a determination about custody, parenting time, and legal decision-making power based on the best interests of the child. Going to court can be an emotionally strenuous process for everyone involved, as well as time consuming and expensive.
Child support. When one parent has custody of a child, the other parent will be ordered to pay child support, without exception. The amount of child support a parent will be ordered to pay is based on Florida child support guidelines (which bases child support amounts on the amount of children and the parents’ income).
Advantages of Working with a Divorce Attorney
Filing for a divorce without the assistance of a skilled lawyer is rarely advised, even if you and your spouse agree about all the issues (which is uncommon). In fact, even if you and your divorcing spouse are on great terms and file for a divorce in agreement about all matters, your attorney should, at the very least, review a proposed settlement before it is finalized to ensure your best interests are protected. In addition to reviewing a settlement, your attorney can aid you by:
Explaining to you the different methods of resolving issues, including collaborative divorce, mediation, and litigation;
Helping to form a clear picture regarding your current finances and how divorce may affect your economic situation;
Gathering evidence that supports the matters you care about most (such as evidence demonstrating the appropriateness of you being named the primary custodial parent);
Assisting you in choosing what things to fight hard for and where to make concessions;
Negotiating on your behalf;
Representing you in all discussions with your spouse or/and their attorney; and
Litigating your case in court if necessary.
Your attorney also serves as a resource for any questions or issues you have, and can also act as an advocate and form of emotional support throughout the process.
For legal help from a skilled Pensacola divorce attorney, contact the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A. today. Our attorneys have the experience and dedication to our clients that you’re looking for, and know how to aggressively represent you when you’re going through a divorce. Please visit our law office today, or request a consultation by calling our team or sending us a message.
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