Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorney
A Florida divorce is referred to as a “dissolution of marriage.” As this phrase implies, it’s an unwinding and on-going process that doesn’t end as fast as many couples that are heading for divorce would like to think. The good news is that you don’t have to go through this difficult process alone, especially when you have a qualified divorce attorney by your side.
Florida is a No-Fault State
The State of Florida operates according to the “No-Fault” rule, which basically means that rulings in the court of law are not decided by putting one particular party at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. It’s this same rule that allows each party to exercise the free will to leave the marriage if they wish, regardless of whether or not the other party wants them to stay.
Cheating and adultery is another extremely common issue among divorcing couples. Most people just assume that the cheating spouse is supposed to walk away with nothing since they were unfaithful. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the faithful spouse may still be required to pay for alimony and child support as part of the divorce settlement.
Essentially, Florida’s “No-Fault” rule ensures that cheating is not used as a basis to define the divorce terms. According to this rule, no party is at fault. Each individual is eligible to receive their just due of the marital assets when the time comes thanks to the equitable distribution statute provisions as per the laws of the state of Florida.
It’s important to note here that there’s an exception to this rule. If the faithful spouse can prove that the cheating spouse used marital funds to fund the activities of an extramarital relationship, the former will be entitled to claim some of those funds.
Important Requirements for Those Seeking a Florida Divorce
In the state of Florida, for most people there are generally only two prerequisites that a couple must fulfill in order to get a divorce:
- At least one of the parties needs to have been a resident of Florida for six months or longer prior to dissolution of the marriage
- The marriage must be broken beyond repair (irretrievably broken)
The most common disputes that come up during a divorce include (but are not limited to):
- Child support
- Time-sharing (custody)
- Equitable distribution (property division)
- Parental responsibility
If the marriage was childless, the couple will mainly have to deal with issues like Alimony and the Equitable Distribution of the marital assets and debt.
These are obviously very complex issues that require a delicate approach and a well-informed perspective. This is why you need an experienced lawyer who can help you handle the whole situation with as much tact as possible.
What is the Divorce Process in Florida?
1. Petition Filing
This is how the divorce proceedings start. The individual who’s filing for the divorce (referred to in legal terms as “the petitioner”) submits a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to the court explaining why they’re asking a divorce from their spouse, who’s referred to as the “Respondent.” Included in the petition are also the specifics of the marriage. Alternatively, a petition for a simplified dissolution of marriage can be filed instead when the divorce is uncontested.
2. The Other Party is Served
If the Petitioner is no longer on good terms with their spouse, then the Process Server will have to serve the Petition to the Respondent.
If the Petitioner is on good terms with their spouse, they may personally serve them with the petition. Upon receipt of Petition, the Respondent will be required to sign a Waiver of Service and an Answer as acknowledgement of receipt.
If you are unaware of your spouse’s whereabouts, the Petition will be served to the Respondent by means of Publication, which simply means that a locally authorized newspaper will publish it for a few consecutive weeks.
3. An Answer to the Petition is Filed
The Respondent is required to file a response within 20 days of receipt of the Petition.
4. Both Parties Submit Financial Documents Called “Mandatory Disclosure”
Through these documents, both parties reveal their debts and assets so that the court can evaluate the financial situation of each individual. The court will then use this information to determine the Alimony, Child Support and Equitable Distribution.
5. A Mediation is Scheduled
The mediation is where both parties try to settle the case amicably and fairly. Thanks to the previous reveal, each individual will be totally aware of the other’s financial position and this should make it easier for them to divide their assets. Should the parties fail to agree on Alimony, Child Support, Time-sharing and Equitable Distribution during the mediation stage, their case will have to be tried by a judge in a court of law.
The parties that should be present during the mediation include the husband and wife, their attorneys and a certified mediator. At some point during the mediation process, the husband and wife and their respective lawyers will be in separate rooms while the mediator will go from one party to the other to communicate the proposed terms and basically facilitate the negotiations. The whole process typically doesn’t take longer than 4 hours to complete, and most couples actually settle easily during mediation.
6. If the Case is Not Settled at Mediation, it Often Goes to Trial
Should the parties fail to settle their case during mediation, the case will be sent to trial to be handled by the judge who’s in charge of it. The cost of doing so is significantly higher than the costs involved in the mediation phase, as both attorneys need to put in a lot more groundwork.
The judge has the final say on all matters of the case during trial. However, there’s also the option of entering into a Partial Mediated Settlement Agreement so that only a few of the matters are decided at trial. It’s always a good idea to try and settle out of court.
The trial can last from a few hours to several days. There’s no telling as to what the duration of the divorce trial will be as this depends on a number of factors, from the pending issues, the terms to be discussed and the readiness of the parties to settle their differences.
7. A Final Judgment is Ordered in the Case
The divorce is declared final and binding when the judge has declared and signed the Final Judgement.
- Some revisions can be made to the Child Support award where, for example, the spouse responsible for payment experiences a change in earnings, or other circumstances outlined in the Florida Statute.
- It’s also possible to revise the Custody and Time-sharing agreements even after the divorce has been completed.
Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer, Kristin Padowitz
Going through a divorce can be one of the toughest stages in anyone’s life, whether or not the divorce is uncontested. For many, hiring legal help is essential. Contact the Law Office of Kristin Padowitz, P.A. today and speak with our divorce lawyer directly. We provide legal services for clients throughout South Florida, including Weston, Plantation, Sunrise, Davie, Tamarac, Cooper City, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach and Aventura, among other locations. Having a highly competent divorce attorney by your side is not only comforting, but will help insure you reach the best possible outcome.