Are you about to go through a divorce and want to get everything you’re entitled to? Here’s why you should invest in a divorce attorney.

Have you and your spouse decided to end your marriage? Are you wondering what the next steps are and whether you need a lawyer? The short answer is: yes. Don’t try to navigate the divorce process alone.

Maybe you and your spouse agree on “everything” (or so you think). Maybe you don’t have a lot of assets to divide or have an agreement as to who gets what if the marriage dissolves and think you and your spouse can handle it on your own and you’d rather not spend the money on a divorce attorney.

If this sounds like your situation, and you’re reluctant to hire a divorce attorney, keep reading. You should make the decision with all of the knowledge and information. Even if the divorce is amicable (so far) and seems like it will be quick and easy, you should still hire an attorney to represent your interests and ensure the order are enforceable.

Here are 9 reasons why hiring a divorce attorney is worth it.

1. They Determine if Your Agreement is Fair

Perhaps you and your soon to be former husband or wife think that you have an agreement that fairly divides your assets and debts between the two of you. An experienced attorney can evaluate this agreement and let you know if it truly is fair for both of you.

While you may think that you are getting a fair deal, a divorce attorney can take a critical eye to the agreement, think towards the future, and identify any hidden inequities that put you spouse at an advantage. Remember that their job is to get the best deal for you and create a solid divorce agreement that will stand up in court.

Even if you’re the party that will benefit more, you still may want to consider rewriting the agreement, as an unfair agreement could be contested in the future if it was grossly unfair to one spouse. If your spouse decides they didn’t get a fair deal, they may be able to go back to court to attempt to reopen the agreement. This will cost time and money, of course.

2. Even If You Agree, You Need a Lawyer to Draft the Agreement

Even if you agree on everything (or most things) and can come to a fair agreement on your own, you’ll still need a divorce attorney to draft an agreement that will be accepted by the court.

If you do not have legal experience and try to do this on your own, the court may not fully understand your agreement, resulting in a divorce decree that does not accurately state what you and your spouse want.  The court can also reject your agreement entirely if it does not follow the law.

When an attorney drafts the agreement, you can rest assured that the decree will state exactly what you and your spouse want. An attorney also will make sure that the language is clear and enforceable.

3. They Will File the Appropriate Paperwork

In addition to drafting the agreement, your attorney will also fire any necessary paperwork and motions as part of the divorce process. If you attempt this on your own, you run the risk of your case getting dismissed if you don’t file the appropriate paperwork at the right time or you file it incorrectly.

While you could attempt this on your own, as most states provide the documents to their citizens free of charge, it is still difficult if you do not have legal expertise. These documents also represent the bare minimum of requirements, and often fail to address everything necessary for your unique family.  The last thing you want is for your case to get thrown out due to procedural issues. This puts you right back at square one.

4. They Reduce Stress and Can Provide Emotional Support

Divorce is a stressful time. Your marriage is ending, you have to divide up your assets, you might have to move, and you could be suddenly sharing custody of your child. The last thing you need is the added stress of managing the divorce process in court yourself.

While a divorce attorney can’t replace a good therapist, they can reduce your stress level and provide emotional support to you. Remember that they are experts and deal with people seeking divorces every day. They know the process inside and out and can provide support when it all gets to be too much to handle.

5. They Can Help Avoid Delays

Divorce can take a long time. It varies by state, but in Florida, it could take as little as a few months to as long as a few years. A divorce taking that long is the exception, rather than the rule, and those cases typically are very acrimonious, contested, and have significant assets that need to be divided.

You likely want the divorce to be finalized as quickly as possible. This is where an attorney comes in. They will prepare the documents and file them for you, avoiding unnecessary delays.

Because they know the ins and outs of divorce law, documents prepared and filed by an attorney will be complete and error-free, keeping the process moving along as fast as the courts will allow.

6. They Know the Law

Every state has its own divorce laws, and your divorce attorney should understand the intricacies of divorce in your particular state. Not only do they understand the laws surrounding the division of assets, but also spousal support and child custody.

They can also use their professional experience and relationships with local judges, other divorce attorneys, and court personnel to give you a better idea of how your case will proceed through the courts.

7. You Have Children

Custody (or parental responsibilities) can be one of the most contested and contentious issues in a divorce. An attorney can help you navigate this process and ensure you keep your rights to your child. They will help you decide what’s in the best interest of your child and help you prepare a case to fight for custody and time-sharing if that’s the best option.

A good family law attorney will remain objective and help you to fight for what’s best for your child or children.

 

8. They Guide Your Decisions

It’s often hard to approach a divorce with a clear and level head. Emotions may cloud your decisions and lead you to make rash decisions. This is where a divorce attorney comes in. They are a neutral third party, not swayed by emotion, and can guide you in your decision making.

9. You Don’t Actually Agree on Everything

Just because you and your spouse think you agree on everything doesn’t mean that’s always the case. Chances are, there are things that you haven’t thought of, such as a life insurance policy to cover child support obligations if one of them passed away. Or who will pay for things like extracurricular activities for their children, healthcare premiums, or doctor office copays?

 

Perhaps you and your spouse agree on the big things, like the house, bank accounts, investments, cars, and other properties, but, likely, you haven’t thought of everything, which is understandable. A professional will have thought of all of these other things and can walk you through them.

What to Look for in a Divorce Attorney

Now that you understand why it’s so necessary to hire a divorce attorney, you might be wondering what you should be looking for.

Before hiring someone, do your research. Talk to friends and family members and ask them for referrals. Read online reviews to see what others have said and speak to the lawyer in person to see if you can work well together.

A few other things to look for include:

  • an attorney who will be honest about what you may get out of the divorce
  • an attorney who can give personal attention (versus a large firm with many clients)
  • clear and effective communication
  • resources and support staff to prepare your case promptly
  • skill and experience with divorce cases
  • timely responses to your questions

You may also wish to check with your state’s bar association to see if your attorney has ever been punished or had their license suspended for any reason.

The Bottom Line

Divorce is a stressful and emotional process that can drag on for far longer than you would like. Take steps to reduce that stress by hiring a divorce attorney. There’s not a lot you can control, but by hiring an attorney, you can control who is advocating for you and ensuring that you come out of the process with a fair outcome.

Our firm can handle all aspects of the divorce process for you, from alimony to child custody and support to child visitation arrangements. Contact us today to learn about what our firm can do to support you.

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The Law Office of Erin Morse - Family Law Attorneys In Orlando, FL

Even when both parties agree to the terms, a divorce can still mean a major upheaval in a couple’s life. That married relationship has come to an end and it is time for that couple to start rebuilding their lives. However, if there are children that are part of the family, then a co-parenting situation will be starting with the help of a family law attorney in Orlando. This is where the issue of determining custody comes into the equation. On many levels, it is easy to divide assets. Deciding which is the best living environment for a child can be the real difficult decision and not only for the parents but also for the courts.

Every custody case in a divorce presents a family court judge with different factors to consider. That judge will always make their consideration based on the best interests of the child. As a general rule, Florida law would like to see a child maintaining contact with both parents. That would mean that both parents will also share in all the decision-making responsibilities of raising that child. Just because one spouse has moved from the home and is paying alimony and child support doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be involved with issues pertaining to education, religious upbringing, discipline, and college.

Although the prevailing wisdom is that courts favor mothers in custody matters, the reality is that each judge comes into the divorce proceeding with an open mind. Again, it all goes back to what is in the best interests of the child. That is really the only question that matters both to the courts and to a family law attorney in Orlando. Here are some of the factors that might sway a judge in their decision for the best option for custody:

The Health and Safety Environment

Exposing a child to any kind of abuse will have a major impact on a court’s decision as to a custody ruling. That abuse doesn’t have to directly involve a child, but if there are in an environment where they see one parent abuse the other, then it will become a factor with the child custody decision.

Once a court order has been filed, there could be issues of ongoing neglect such as abandonment or physical abuse. A family law attorney in Orlando can trigger an instant revaluation of the child custody ruling leading to one parent forfeiting their rights. A parent who is struggling with any kind of substance abuse would also be creating an unhealthy living environment in the eyes of the court. If it has been demonstrated that the living environment is not safe, then a judge could vacate the original order and order supervised visits for the parent and child.

Emotional Needs

A judge wants to see that parents put their children first. This becomes the foundation for a child’s developmental needs. With regard to a child custody decision, the judge will consider how well the parent knows about their child’s life outside of the house such as with friends and teachers. Are they aware of the child’s current interests and whether they are involved in any extracurricular activities?

A family law attorney in Orlando will try to demonstrate how the child’s emotional needs are being met by providing a structured environment. Does the parent have consistent times for homework, meals, and bedtime? What are the boundaries surrounding discipline? If those routines have been firmly established in the household with one parent, then a judge will consider that as being a preferable living situation. That is not to say that those routines can’t be duplicated in a second household. However, the judge needs to see a clear willingness from both parents to maintain those standards.

The child custody arraignment itself could have an impact on a child’s emotional needs. This is especially true with younger children who might find themselves frequently shuttled between households in between visits.

Co-Parenting Skills

The Florida family court system and the family law attorney in Orlando want to foster positive relationships between divorced couples and their children. That starts with honoring the dictates of the court. That begins with following the alimony and child support requirements. However, a parent who is constantly late with picking up or dropping off their children for a visitation could put their custody status in jeopardy. The same can be said for being late with child support or alimony payments. Obviously, there were always be factors that can cause delays. This is when the issue of communication between the parents is important. As long as the parents are keeping each other informed, then the family can flourish with co-parenting.

Family court judges understand the strain that a divorce can put on a couple. However, they don’t want to see that stress spilling over onto the children. Judges don’t appreciate when one parent belittles the other in front of the child. Even worse, is using the visitation as a kind of emotional “weapon.” There should never be discussions with a child about whether a parent is delinquent with alimony or child support. That is a matter that should be handled by a family law attorney in Orlando.

Moral Fitness

Moral fitness can also be a deciding factor for a family court judge. They can consider a parent who has substance abuses issues or introduces the child to multiple causal relationship partners. General verbal abuse will also be frowned upon by the courts. If infidelity was part of the divorce, then a judge can weigh that against how it might have impacted the child. All of these issues will be presented to the court by the family law attorney in Orlando as part of the hearing.

The Custody Options

There are two levels of child custody: Legal and physical. Often, they are intertwined. Legal custody grants a parent the sole responsibility to make all the decisions regarding their child’s upbringing and general welfare. The physical custody pertains to where the child lives and which parent they are living with.

The ideal situation for the Florida court is to establish a joint child custody arrangement. Although an order of joint custody might be rendered, that doesn’t mean that the child will split evenly the time they spend with each parent. For instance, it might work better if the child stays in the mother’s home during the school week and goes with the father on the weekends. Holidays and vacation times will be divided accordingly.

Developing a Parenting Plan

Divorcing couples can work with their family law attorney in Orlando to help develop a parenting plan. They might be able to present this plan to the judge if it is not contested by the parents. This plan needs to spell out in specific terms just what each parent is responsible for with regard to their children. This is separate from any child support or alimony agreement.

The parenting plan will detail the time-sharing schedule, the ways the parents will communicate with each other and the child and what are the daily responsibilities when the child is in their care. There also needs to be details about who will be responsible for things like taking the child to the dentist or doctor for regular check-ups and who is going to handle the after-school activities. The more that can be agreed to before going to see the judge, the better off the end result will be.

Once the custody issues have been worked out between the courts and the family law attorney in Orlando, families can adjust to their new routines. It might be a bit “bumpy” at first, but soon things can get back to normal. It is important for the parents to watch out for their kids in this transitional time to make sure they aren’t isolating themselves. Yes, the family dynamics have changed, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t all a family.

Relocating With A Child After A Divorce

Florida Statute 61.13001 governs relocating with a child after divorce in Florida. Relocation is moving the child’s principal residence more than 50 miles away for 60 days or more. A vacation, temporary travel, or a necessary trip to a health care facility is not relocation. Before relocating, the parent must consider the child’s entire extended family, parents, stepparents, grandparents, and guardians. A parent who is relocating needs a new child custody order with a new time-sharing plan. The relocation is beneficial to the child if it improves his standard of living, places her in a better school district, or is closer to his or her grandparents.

Mediation After Divorce In Florida

You must decide where and how your child will live and where he or she will go to school. You’ve learned that an amicable relationship between you two parents and a good relationship with each of you is important to your child. Understanding and agreeing with your co-parent is less stressful and less expensive than contesting the relocation.You won’t have to go to court or pay legal fees and court costs. Look at the whole picture. How long did it take you to build your practice? How long did it take you to get into the position you’re in now? Have you
acquired vacation property or opened a new store or office? Your money is better spent on time with your child, on his or her education, or on a future vacation. You two can’t possibly know the future, but you can understand child custody rights. Custody can be:

• Sole
• Joint
• Joint legal
• Joint physical
• Third-party

Child Custody After Divorce in Florida

If one parent has sole custody, the custodial parent makes all legal decisions for your child. The noncustodial parent pays financial support and has specified visitation days and hours with your child. Joint custody allows your child to live with each parent and enjoy all the opportunities each parent provides, but one parent may spend more hours with the child than the other. Joint legal custody allows both parents to make decisions for the children regarding their education, religion, medical care, and choice of friends. Joint physical custody gives both parents equal time with the child. Third-party custody is typically given to a family member. A grandparent can be granted child custody rights if a parent is unfit or died after divorce in Florida. A custodial grandparent needs financial support and medical benefits for the child.

Relocation by Consent

Relocation by consent after divorce in Florida requires the moving parent to obtain the signed consent of all the people entitled to access to the child. The new agreement must be ratified by the court, but a hearing is not necessary. The new agreement must include a new time-sharing schedule and clarify how the children will travel from parent to parent to satisfy the new agreement.

Relocation by Petition

If the relocating parent is unable to get an agreed relocation order, that parent creates and files a petition to relocate in Florida Circuit Court. Every parent, stepparent, grandparent, and guardian involved must be served with a copy of the petition. The petition, signed under oath, must state the physical address of the intended residence and its mailing address, telephone number, and the date of the relocation. If employment is the reason you’re relocating, your job offer is within the petition. The petition must end with a statement in capital letters telling those opposed how to object to the relocation petition.

Objection to Relocation

A parent has 20 days to respond when served with a petition to relocate after divorce in Florida. If you do not file a timely response, the court can order the relocation plan without a hearing. Our child custody rights lawyer in Florida is a trustworthy mediator who can skillfully find creative solutions to your relocation dilemma. Our attorney is also a fierce litigator always ready to go to court to object to the other parent’s relocation with your child. A hearing will be scheduled in 30 days after receipt of your petition to object with a trial in 90 days. The court can reject your objection or the relocation plan itself if either petition does not contain all the facts required by Florida law.

Your objection must be factual. Clearly show your involvement with your child, your contribution to your child’s support, and state how relocation is likely to effect your child. For example, your son is doing well in school, just joined a soccer team, and doesn’t want to leave his half-brother and his friends. The judge will consider your child’s age. If your child is 14 years old or older, the judge may let your child decide where he or she wants to live. Judges keep siblings together for emotional support.

Biological Fathers

In Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762 (1977), the United States Supreme Court ruled that state courts can rule that a man other than your child’s biological father is your child’s dad. Competing presumptions in a highly contested custody case have been won either way. The Uniform Parentage Act gives equal rights to unmarried parents regardless of one parent’s divorce in Florida. DNA and blood tests determine whether a man is a child’s father with 100% accuracy. Our family lawyer in Florida may be able to help you gain a relationship with your child if his or her mother is relocating. A biological parent who never visited his or her child may have no child custody rights or a claim with merit. If you’re the noncustodial parent, you need to stay in your child’s life because you can lose your child custody rights after divorce in Florida.

Modification of Existing Custody Order

Substance abuse and domestic violence are grounds for a custody hearing after divorce in Florida. If you got arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol with your kids in the car, our family conflict lawyer in Florida can help with a domestic order of protection against the at-fault party for the children. Good people make mistakes they later regret. If you’re truly sorry, consider your business and your reputation. Your children need the financial support of both parents. Our family lawyer in Florida may be able to help you negotiate a positive outcome after your conviction.

Relocating Without Consent

If you move more than 50 miles away from home with your child without a new custody order and time sharing plan, our family law attorney can try to help you avoid contempt of court proceedings. You can be ordered to return the child or face sanctions during the modification of your parenting or time-sharing plan. Our child custody lawyer in Florida can help you if you have relocated with your child without consent of the court.

The court considers the child’s age and current needs. How will the relocation impact the child’s development? Will the relocation improve the child’s future? Are both parents current and participating in their obligations to their child after divorce in Florida?

Law Office of Erin Morse

Call our child custody rights attorney to discuss relocating with a child after divorce in our conveniently located Orlando, Florida, law office. Our family law attorney devotes her entire practice to family law: divorce, child custody, child support, military divorce, modifications, paternity, parental time-sharing and visitation. She’ll help you negotiate a brighter future. Our family law lawyer in Florida can also serve as a guardian ad Litem in a contested custody case.

Understanding Types Of Alimony

Alimony is also called spousal support or maintenance. It is a concept that allows a spouse with superior financial resources to support a former spouse up to the point that they can support themselves. It is also meant to ensure that each spouse maintains their former life status after a divorce. Alimony may either be awarded as a lumpsum, by monthly installments, or by combining the two options. Awards for maintenance require compelling arguments that prove that a spouse requires financial support to either support their former living standards or to help them get on their feet. It is advisable to hire a divorce lawyer to help make a strong case that ends in an order for alimony. Here is some basic information about the types of alimony in Florida and the circumstances under which each of them is awarded.

According to Florida Law, spousal support is awarded under the following circumstances:

  • To even the gap between a spouse with superior financial resources and one with meager financial resources
  • To be rehabilitative
  • To help a person become financially independent

Types of Alimony

Alimony in Florida is not the same as punitive damages. While punitive damages are meant to punish the wrong doer, alimony ensures that both parties in divorce get a fair ruling in terms of financial well being. It is a means of recognizing that one spouse has more skills and resources than the other and is much able to support themselves going forward. The court’s judgment on alimony in Florida is based on the length of the marriage.

Marriages can be classified as follows:

  • Short-term – A marriage that does not last beyond seven years
  • Moderate-term – A marriage that lasts for 7-17 years
  • Long-term marriages – A marriage that lasts beyond seventeen years

Temporary Alimony

This type of spousal support is awarded during divorce proceedings. It is also called alimony pendent lite. Temporary alimony is terminated once the court grants a divorce decree and replaced by any of the other types of alimony in Florida.

Rehabilitative Alimony

When a spouse wants to pursue vocational skills training or an education program so they can get employment and be self-sufficient, the court awards them rehabilitative alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded based on a specific plan. The court will give the order of rehabilitative spousal support by the duration of the program, associated costs, the period that spouse will be working as an apprentice, and the time required for the spouse to become self-sufficient. However, a spouse paying or receiving the alimony requests for a modification of the order on the grounds of a change in circumstances or where the receiving spouse deviates from the plan. Unlike other alimony awards, rehabilitative alimony in Florida does not end with the death of the receiving or paying a spouse or when the receiving spouse remarries.

Durational Alimony

In cases involving short or moderate-term marriages, the court may order for durational spousal support. This type of alimony in Florida comes as a fixed amount spanning over a set period that does not exceed the duration of the marriage. For example, if the couple seeking divorce lived together for two years, the durational alimony should not exceed two years. However, if there is a significant change in circumstances, the court may allow for a modification of the award. The modification only applies to the amount of alimony and not the duration of the award. Durational alimony in Florida ends when either the receiving or paying spouse dies or if the receiving spouse marries someone else.

Bridge-the-gap Alimony

This award helps the spouse move from being married to living as a single person. It helps allocate the funds that cater to identifiable and foreseeable bills that help one start a new life without a spouse. Bridge-the-gap alimony in Florida ends when either the paying or receiving spouse dies or if the spouse receiving remarries.

Permanent Alimony

This type of alimony in Florida is given for moderate and long-term marriages. However, under special circumstances, it may be awarded for short term marriages. Permanent spousal support will be granted if a spouse cannot achieve the living standards of the marriage in terms of basic needs or life necessities. Before granting permanent alimony, the court will consider the life of the couple during the marriage. A person who is used to a lavish lifestyle will be awarded spousal support that helps them live up to a similar lifestyle after they get divorced. The court may modify permanent spousal support if there is a change in circumstances or where the receiving spouse gets into a relationship where they are receiving support from someone other than a relative. Like many of the other types of alimony in Florida, permanent alimony ends when either the paying or receiving spouse dies or if the receiving spouse remarries.

Factors Affecting Alimony Awards

The court usually frowns upon adultery and will review the circumstances leading to adultery when awarding alimony in Florida. Therefore, for spouses who have committed adultery, there is the need to hire an experienced divorce lawyer to improve the chances of getting an award for alimony. Generally, the court usually considers the following financial matters before granting alimony. This includes:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The living standards that the couple enjoyed during their marriage
  • The age of both the receiving and paying spouse and any emotional or physical impairments that may affect their economic needs and ability to make a living
  • The marital and non-marital assets of both parties and the debts incurred during the marriage
  • The need for career training or education for any of the spouses to get employment and be in a position to support themselves
  • The contributions that each spouse made during the marriage including; child care, homemaking, salary, financial contributions, supporting a spouse in their education bills, or assisting a spouse in building a business or pursue a career

The Importance of Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

There is no telling how a divorce case will turn out. In most cases, the terms of a divorce will usually favor one party. This is the case if one spouse is found guilty of adultery or where one spouse has superior financial resources. Most people hire a divorce lawyer to improve their chances of a fair ruling after a divorce. A divorce lawyer is involved in much more than litigation and will ensure his/her client gets a fair ruling on alimony. Some of the roles played by a divorce lawyer include:

  • Submitting the divorce case in court
  • Serving spouses with divorce papers
  • Reviewing the facts of the case and building a strong case for clients
  • Pushing for a suitable alimony award
  • Negotiating in settlements before a case goes to trial
  • Representing the client in court and pushing for fair terms of divorce including alimony and child support

The outcome of a divorce case, including the terms of the divorce such as alimony, is dependent on each spouse’s legal representation. It is the job of the divorce lawyer to build a strong case that justifies the award for alimony among other conditions.

The Quickest And Easiest Way To Get In Control Of Your Child Custody Issues

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