If you and your spouse have made the decision to part ways, find out just how long does it take for a divorce to finalize in Florida.

Getting married can be a fantastic journey. Sometimes, however, that journey must come to an end to open doors for new adventures.

In the United States, somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

During and after a divorce, it’s not uncommon to go back and forth between feelings of giddiness and devastation. Plus, it’s reasonable to want the process to be over with as soon as possible.

If you and your partner have reached a point where you know divorce is the answer, you’re probably wondering, “How long does it take for a divorce?”

This guide will tell you all about ending your marriage in Florida and how long it takes to finalize a divorce.

How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Finalize?

There’s no specific answer for how long finalizing a divorce takes. It depends significantly on the type of divorce and the route you opt to take.

It also depends on your state. Some states have laws that require a 6-month waiting period from the time you file your paperwork. In Florida, however, it can take anywhere from a few months to years.

Incompatibility, infidelity, and money issues are 3 of the main reasons why people split.

How long a divorce takes depends on the reasons behind the divorce, and on factors like whether or not the divorce is contested.

Let’s take a look at what those different circumstances entail so you can better determine where you and your partner’s divorce can be categorized.

A Simplified Divorce

A simplified divorce is the fastest divorce process. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it is the quickest route to end your union.

It only works if you have no children under 18, no dependents and if neither spouse seeks alimony. The wife can’t be pregnant, and at least one partner must have lived in the state of Florida for the previous 6 months.

Plus, you both have to agree to the divorce in the first place. For it to work, you must agree on the division of your properties. Once you both submit a petition with financial affidavits, the court will set a hearing about 20 days later.

At that hearing, the divorce will be finalized, as long as everything you submitted was correct.

In Florida, the process is called a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.” The process eliminates any rights to a trial or appeals and takes about 30 days from beginning to end.

An Uncontested Divorce Case

An uncontested divorce case is similar to a simplified divorce in that both spouses are in complete agreement on every detail. There must be no disputes or discrepancies.

Both partners must agree on any child support or alimony to be paid, child custody, division of liabilities, division of assets, who gets tax exemptions, and any other details addressed. For a divorce to be uncontested, there can’t be any arguing, any unresolved issues, or any competitions.

Both spouses have to cooperate, work together to fix any paperwork, and sign everything in a timely and efficient manner. Uncontested divorces are quick, just like simplified ones. They can be even faster with the help of an attorney because attorneys have the power to control the scheduling.

Filing is instant, but it can take a few weeks to prepare the paperwork. A final hearing typically occurs 3 months after the paperwork is filed, so the divorce process takes approximately 4 months to complete.

An Initially Contested Divorce

Initially contested divorce cases are the most common types of Florida divorces. They’re prepared in the traditional manner, where paperwork is filed with the court, and then the other spouse gets served.

That means a private process server will personally deliver those documents to the other spouse. They may or may not be prepared for that moment.

In this type of divorce, the circumstances can be quite different from one couple to the next. The commonality, however, is that something’s contested. It doesn’t matter how many issues are contested or if both spouses agree they want a divorce.

If there’s even just one single issue that’s disagreed upon, the case is contested. A common reason for this has to do with finances. More often than not, both parties are in agreement on the divorce but aren’t in agreement as to how the money will get broken up.

Luckily, most cases that are initially contested settle at a “halfway point” during the divorce process. The halfway point usually involves mediation, where both spouses come to an agreement over their disputes. Once those issues are settled, the case then becomes an “uncontested case.”

How Long Does It Take to Finalize a Divorce That Goes From Contested to Uncontested?

A divorce that’s initially contested can take more time if the receiving party hides from the process server. Believe it or not, many spouses who aren’t ready to accept their spouse’s desire for divorce will dodge getting hit with the paperwork.

This process can extend the divorce process by a month. Process servers are fast and resourceful, though, so a spouse has to be quite tricky in their methods to keep dodging the server.

Once the other party receives the Summons and Petition, they have 20 days to file their answer. Next comes the discovery process, including financial disclosure, which takes approximately 3 months. Both sides must send the other party a set of financial documents, such as pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and retirement account statements.

Cases that are fully contested have more time-consuming requirements, so the process can take longer.

If there are children involved, the state of Florida requires a 4-hour parenting course for both parties before they can finalize a divorce.

If mediation is required, it’ll usually occur 4 to 5 months after filing. Most contested cases come to a conclusion at this point.

Florida requires mediation in all contested divorce cases, and it can be done through a private mediator or the courthouse. Opting to go with a private mediator can save some time in the divorce process.

The final hearing in an initially contested case usually occurs 4 to 6 months after the beginning of the case. It’s the last state of the divorce process, so technically, your divorce could be over in less than 6 months.

What Can Slow Down or Speed up the Process?

Here are some things which can speed up or slow down the process:

  • The accuracy of documents
  • Coming to an agreement in mediation
  • Failure to follow the procedures (either party or both)
  • Availability of the judge

Attorneys have an in with judges in that it’s much easier for them to call and grab a date. If neither spouse has an attorney, the flow and timing could be a little more up in the air.

Contested Divorces Take the Longest

Contested divorces are the long, drawn-out battles you hear about from friends or watch on TV dramas.

Some of these cases go to trial, but either way, the process is usually long and unpredictable.

Finalizing a divorce that’s contested can take anywhere from 9 months to 3 years. Once in a while, a contested divorce in Florida will take 5 or 6 years, but that’s rare.

The First Half of a Contested Divorce Case

The first half of a contested divorce case takes about 3 to 9 months. It looks similar to that of an initially contested case in that the case has to be prepared, filed, and then served.

Financial disclosure can take months, and the court always orders mediation in the state of Florida.

Because things are contested, the process is more extensive, detailed, and can go back and forth for quite some time. One or both sides could refuse disclosure requests and end up going back and forth to court. Sometimes, a delay is even used as a strategic weapon.

Depositions and Trials

If either side conducts a deposition, it usually means there’s significant conflict. During depositions, both attorneys ask questions, a court reporter types everything, and the process can take a lot of money and time.

The final trial of a contested case can take anywhere from 4 hours to 2 weeks. Usually, they last about a day. The preparation, however, can take up to a year. Typically though, it’s more like 5 months.

As you can see, there’s a lot of variation in Florida divorce case lengths, especially concerning contested cases.

How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Finalize in Florida?

How long does it take for a divorce to finalize in Florida? The average length is about 6 months. But as you can see from the many different types of cases and circumstances that arise, the divorce process can take 4 months or 4 years.

If you’re anxious to finalize your divorce, the best thing both parties can do is, be honest in their disclosures and willing to negotiate.

Are you ready to get started and want to know how we can help? Even if both parties are in agreement, divorce can be emotionally and physically draining.

Contact us with any questions or concerns. We are here to make your divorce process as easy for you as we can.

How does divorce mediation work? What should you expect during the mediation process? We explain it all so you can be prepared.

Going through a divorce is never easy, and there are a lot of different things you need to know as you navigate the process.

Divorce mediation offers a way to make the entire procedure more streamlined, but you should still be aware of the mediation process and how it works.

Read on to learn more about this important step so you can be prepared for whatever comes next.

What is Divorce Mediation and How Can it Help?

In some cases, a divorce can be handled outside of the courtroom. The mediation process involves both parties, their respective lawyers, and a professional third-party mediator.

This option is usually much faster than a traditional divorce, and it’s also a lot less expensive than the usual court trial or dealing with several hearings. In fact, mediation works for many couples who are separating and don’t have a lot of assets or issues with custody to contend with.

One great benefit to divorce mediation is that it can usually settle all of your issues in one session. This eliminates the need for several court dates and tons of arguing back and forth. Another perk is that mediation is completely confidential and there is no public record kept of what goes on during the private sessions.

When you participate in mediation, you have more opportunity to express what you expect from the divorce and what you consider to be fair. In a courtroom, you won’t have much choice since the process is much more rigid and impersonal for your unique situation.

Choosing to use mediation doesn’t mean that you cannot use a lawyer. In fact, many people still enlist the help of an attorney as they go through the mediation process. For many, mediation allows for better communication and less stress which can help to reduce or even eliminate any conflict in the future.

When to Skip the Mediation Process

Opting to use mediation is certainly something that is worth trying for many couples, however it’s not for everyone. There are some cases where you will need the help of the court system to complete your divorce.

Spouses who are victims of domestic violence should consider going to court instead of mediation. This will ensure that the law is enforced and that the victim’s rights are protected as per a judge’s ruling. There could also be potential for violence if you choose to participate in a mediation setting rather than a courtroom.

Another example where mediation may not be best is if you’re in the middle of a serious custody battle. A mediator may not have the ability or the authority to determine a final ruling on custody situations.

If you’re ever in doubt about the terms of your divorce, talk to a professional divorce attorney. They can help you decide whether or not the mediation process will work or if you should take your case directly to court instead. You can still use mediation later if there are still any unresolved issues in the divorce.

For those couples who don’t predict many issues throughout the divorce proceedings, mediation has many benefits. However, if you’re concerned about your safety, the custody of your children, or the splitting of assets, consider a court trial instead.

How Mediation Works

If both sides agree to mediation, you should receive a phone call from a professional mediator. This is the first step in the process. The mediator will ask you for more details and background information regarding your marriage, your family, and any issues you are having.

Most mediators will start by asking for basic information, while other mediators could decide to gather as much detailed information as possible before the mediation date. Don’t hold anything back and always give them your honest, detailed answers whenever possible.

After the phone call, the first meeting will be scheduled. These meetings are usually held in an office or conference room setting at the mediator’s place of business.

The mediator will go over the entire process with you and what you can expect. Sometimes everyone will be in the same room the whole time, while at other times you could be separated at different points so you can speak in private.

You will probably be asked to sign an agreement that states you will keep everything confidential. The mediator cannot disclose what happens during mediation if you decide to take your divorce to court at a later date. A good mediator will do his or her best to ensure that both parties are calm and comfortable throughout the process.

A lawyer is not required to participate in mediation. However, if you are concerned that you will have difficulty speaking or making your point clearly, they can be an excellent asset who can speak on your behalf.

Navigating the Agreement

Once the mediator has gone over everything with you, you’ll be able to make a statement about your situation. Your spouse will also do the same thing. Remember to try and keep your statement short and to the point.

Next, the mediator will ask some questions if they need clarification or some more information. They may also read the statements back to you just to ensure that you’ve both said what you wanted to and that you understand the talking points.

After the statements, the mediator will determine which points you both agree on, and which are areas of contention. Once you have an idea of what you want to achieve, you will all work toward a path that determines how to accomplish your goals.

If there are custody or property issues, the mediator will probably need more information from both of you. You may need to state the current value of your home or talk about any pending issues with your children that could come up in the mediation later.

Remember to be clear and concise and state what your ultimate goals are for the divorce negotiations. If important information cannot be provided at the first session, you might need to return for another one. Try to have everything you need with you the first time to avoid a second or third mediation.

The Negotiation Process

After statements have been made and all information has been gathered, the mediator will likely start with the simplest issues first. These easy questions and problems will help to build trust and make everyone feel more comfortable when difficult conversations begin.

When you start the negotiations, remember that this is a process and that nothing is final just yet. Stay on top of the facts and don’t get discouraged until the entire process is over and a verdict has been decided.

Negotiation can be a tricky skill to master, so don’t worry if you feel like you are not getting the results you want right away. It’s the mediator’s job to find out exactly what both of you want and how you can agree on a path to getting it. They should help you both brainstorm a few options that you might not have thought of before.

Do your best to express your opinion without getting too personal or name-calling. Make your position clear and talk about why your position and your desired outcome is so important to you and your well-being.

Onew ay to assure success is to be open to compromise. It’s highly unlikely that both of you will get exactly what you want unless the other person completely concedes. Always listen and try your best to understand your spouse’s point of view without talking over them.

When you both enter the mediation process with a spirit of openness and understanding, the odds are that you’ll walk away with a satisfactory resolution. Compromising means that both of your best interests are being taken into account. Never argue during the mediation and simply express your concerns if you are unhappy with the proposed terms.

Taking the Pain Out of Divorce

While there is never a guarantee that this method will be completely successful, the mediation process can make divorce much easier for both of you. Consider mediation if you want a quicker divorce, less cost, and a peaceful method that doesn’t involve the court system.

If you need some help or you’re concerned about making your presentation, consider a divorce attorney who can attend the mediation with you and speak on your behalf. This process should give you the outcome you want with less stress.

For all your family’s legal needs, be sure to visit our website and contact us today for more information.

Divorce can be a stressful experience, especially when children are involved. Learn how to create a solid parenting plan that works for both parties.

Divorce rates are on the decline, but 39% of marriages will still end in divorce.

If you’re facing a divorce, you’re no doubt entering one of the most stressful events of your life. If you have children, your worries are compounded.

Who will get custody of the kids? How can you create structure in their lives while your own life is unraveling? Most importantly, how can you ensure your kids receive the love and attention they need?

Many kids experience difficulties after a divorce, including behavioral problems and poor academic performance. But that doesn’t have to be the case with your children. The key lies in creating (and executing) a successful parenting plan.

What is a parenting plan? Why is it so important? And how can you create one that works for your family’s unique circumstances?

In this post, we’ll discuss those questions and more. Read on to learn how to write a parenting plan for court and your own personal use.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a legal document that outlines how you and your ex will care for your children after the divorce. It is generally required by the family court as part of the divorce process.

The plan should include every major aspect of your kids’ lives, including custody, visitation, and communication methods. (We’ll discuss this in more detail later).

If possible, you and your ex should be the ones to create the parenting plan, since you know your kids and your circumstances best. If you aren’t able to reach an agreement, the court may take steps to create a plan for you or suggest the services of a family law attorney.

What Should I Know Before Creating a Parenting Plan?

Although a parenting plan is a legal document, it doesn’t need to include technical or legal jargon. What it should include is plenty of details outlining how you and your ex will handle your responsibilities.

The court wants to see that your plan will provide a safe, stable, and loving environment for your kids. They want the assurance that your children’s physical and emotional needs will continue to be met.

Of course, your circumstances are different than any other couple in the midst of a divorce. A parenting plan template is a great place to start, but you need to customize it to fit the unique needs of your family.

Remember: The parenting plan is for the benefit of your kids, not yourself. You need to be willing to make compromises and be accommodating to whatever is in your kids’ best interests.

The most common mistake couples make is writing a plan that’s too vague. Include every detail and scenario you can think of, such as who will pay for medical expenses and what happens if one or both parents decide to relocate. You’ll also want to explain how you’ll resolve disagreements and if your kids are allowed to travel out-of-state or abroad.

When reviewing your plan, the court will evaluate:

  • Each parent’s health and ability to provide for their kids
  • Your children’s age and maturity level
  • Proximity to the extended family
  • Proximity to established schools or religious organizations
  • Any plans for one or both parents to relocate
  • Everyone’s preferences on custody arrangements (each parent and each child)
  • Any past or present legal misconduct

If possible, it’s best to work on this plan together. If you can’t reach an agreement, each parent may submit their own plan to the court for consideration and approval.

Parenting Plan Template: What to Include

Now that you’ve got an overview of the plan, let’s discuss specific items you should include.

1. Living Arrangements & Scheduling

This is the basis for your plan, as it outlines how each parent will physically provide for the children.

Will your kids live primarily in one residence or divide their time evenly between both of you? Who is responsible for pickup and drop-off? Will you bring your children’s belongings back and forth, or will your kids have two sets of most items?

What about daycare or babysitting arrangements? How will each parent communicate with their children when they’re visiting the other? When and where will the children spend time with their friends, and who will transport them to events such as parties or after-school activities?

You should also discuss how you’ll handle any changes or disruptions to the normal schedule. What if it’s necessary to make a change due to illness, special occasions, or an unforeseen event? How much notice will you give, and will there be make-up time for missed visitation?

2. Holidays, Vacations, & Events

Will your kids spend certain holidays with the same parent each year? Or will you alternate between households?

Create a plan for:

  • Religious holidays
  • Secular holidays
  • School breaks
  • Summer vacation
  • Birthdays
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Graduation
  • Weddings and funerals

Again, include as many details as possible, including transportation, length of stay, or any plans to “split” the time over certain holidays.

3. Health Matters

Who will provide medical and dental insurance (if any) for the children? How will you make decisions about routine or emergency treatments?

What about arrangements for routine checkups or dentist visits? Who will take the kids to these appointments? Who will take time off work and stay home if one of the children gets sick?

Will each of you have access to your children’s medical records? What about arranging for any special needs like eyeglasses, speech therapy, or orthodontia? How will you make decisions that are in your child’s best interest?

4. School & Extra-Curriculars

Where will your children attend school? Will they enroll in a special program or require tutoring after hours?

What about parent-teacher conferences or other school events? Who will attend? Who will pay for school trips, lunches, or other related expenses?

What if your child must be absent for any reason? Can either parent take the child out of school for the day? What circumstances are allowable (or not) for the child to miss school?

If your child plays sports or belongs to an after-school club, who will handle transportation arrangements and associated costs? Will both of you attend games or competitions?

5. Religion & Culture

Will your household include any religious instruction or activities? Will your kids accompany you to church or other religious services? How will you make these decisions?

What about relevant cultural events and activities? If you live in a bilingual household, what will be the primary language spoken at home? Will your children be instructed in a second or third language?

Consider the extended family too, such as grandparents. How often and when will they visit, and who will be there during the visits? How can the extended family communicate with your children?

What about everyday lifestyle and discipline? What rules will be in place for bedtime, allowance, homework, dating, and other expectations?

6. Communication Between Parents

How will you and your ex communicate after the divorce is finalized? Over the phone, by email, in person?

How will you keep track of your children’s schedules? Will there be a written or virtual calendar available where you can access and add relevant events?

How much notice will you give in the event of travel plans, schedule changes, or other disruptions? How often will you communicate about your children? What about emergencies—how will you get in contact with each other?

Other Factors to Consider

Your divorce may be contentious, but try to take a step back and be reasonable when it comes to your kids. You may no longer love your ex, but your kids likely still do.

Focus on creating a plan that will help them maintain a strong relationship with each of you. If they’re old enough, consider their preferences about who they’ll live with and how they’ll spend time with each of you.

If you have legitimate concerns about your ex’s ability to care for the children, put it in writing. You may not agree with certain aspects of their parenting style, but this is different than concerns over binge drinking or drug use.

Most of all, avoid putting your kids in the middle of your divorce. Assure them of your continued love and support during and after the process. Respect their needs by enjoying the time they’re with you and avoid criticizing what your ex chooses to do.

Do You Need Help With Your Parenting Plan?

Some couples are able to sit down and create an effective parenting plan on their own.

But what if the relationship is strained and civil communication is difficult (or impossible)? This is where a lawyer experienced in family law and child custody can help.

Your divorce is undoubtedly stressful, but making a parenting plan doesn’t have to be. It just takes time and consideration to decide what will work for you and your ex—and what is ultimately best for your children.

Are you going through a divorce in the Orlando area? Don’t go it alone.

We can help with all aspects of the divorce process, including assistance with your parenting plan. Contact our law office today with any questions or concerns.

While your divorce decree is a court order you and your spouse must act in accordance with, violations can occur that will require steps to enforce.

Have you or someone you know recently been through a divorce? If so, you know that things can get ugly – quick.

Even for couples with the best intentions, legal separations are both emotionally and financially draining.

But when the dust settles and all the matrimonial baggage is decided, you’re left with what’s known as a divorce decree.

A divorce decree is the court’s final ruling that officially and legally terminates the marriage. The decree summarizes what both parties have agreed to and what they’re entitled to.

You can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Or can you?

What happens when your ex refuses to abide by the judgments listed in the divorce decree? What are your legal rights and what action can you take?

Keep reading to learn how to enforce a divorce decree when your ex-partner won’t comply.

A Divorce Decree is a Legal Document

Not adhering to the guidelines of a divorce decree is a crime. Whether or not you wanted to agree to it, you did. And you’re now legally bound to uphold whatever ruling’s it states.

The same goes for your ex. If he/she chooses not to comply with the divorce decree arrangements, you can take legal action. The decree is enforceable in court, which means your ex will be held liable for noncompliance.

The problem is, getting justice can be a lengthy, expensive process.

The Steps You Need to Take

Before you call your ex in a rage or show up at their front door, take a deep breath. If you want to stay in the good graces of the judge and courts, it’s best you take the right legal pathway to justice.

That means following the below steps, in order.

Contact the Court System

The first order of business when enforcing a divorce decree is to contact the justice system. Be sure to notify the courthouse in the county where you received the divorce decree.

The best point of contact is the judge’s clerk since you can’t speak directly to the judge. If the judge’s clerk is unavailable, the next best person to speak with is the court clerk or an office member.

Be specific about which part of the decree your spouse is violating. The type of divorce decree violation will determine your next legal recourse.

Common violations include refusal to pay a debt, child support or alimony, and refusal to sell marital property, including real estate.

File a Motion of Contempt

You’ve probably heard the term “contempt of court” before but do you know what it means?

The most basic definition is failing to satisfy a court order. Since a divorce decree is a court order, your ex’s refusal to comply places them in contempt of court.

It’s now your job to file a motion of contempt. This is also known as a motion for enforcement. The court officer you speak to will guide you on which avenue to take. They might also provide you with the necessary forms.

Be sure to include all pertinent information on the documents including a copy of the divorce decree and a docket or case number. This will help expedite the process.

Show Up to Court on the Scheduled Day and Time

The quickest way to lose a case is not showing up for court on your scheduled day and time. Once you receive your scheduled court date, make sure you’re present and prepared for the court proceedings. This is your chance to present your case to the judge.

One thing to keep in mind on your court date is that you may not get exactly what you’re asking for. Don’t get your hopes up.

In most cases, the judge will issue a warning to your ex-spouse – giving them the opportunity to make right on their end of the agreement. The judge will also set a deadline that your spouse needs to meet. He/She is required to perform what the decree orders them to do by a specific date.

Start the Process All Over Again

In a perfect world, a warning from the judge and extended timeframe is enough to convince your ex-partner to do the right thing. But that’s not always the case.

If your ex still refuses to comply with the divorce decree – even after being ordered by the judge – you’ll be forced to start the process all over again by filing another motion.

You already know the right steps to take. After filling out the motion paperwork, be sure to attach not only a copy of the divorce decree but also the most recent court order that your spouse has violated.

If you end up back in court, chances are the judge will now rule in your favor and show your noncompliant ex much less sympathy. The judge may even order sanctions, requiring your ex to pay your court costs. In more serious cases, your ex might even face jail time for contempt of court.

Depending on the violations, the judge can use several different methods to help make you whole again. If your ex owes you money, the judge can issue a lien against their property or force them to use their tax refunds to pay their debts.

If children and visitation are involved, visitation may be restricted or granted based on who’s in contempt.

Reasons to Contact the Courts

Before you get the court system involved, make sure that your ex is actually committing a crime. Carefully look over the divorce decree to determine the rules and guidelines your ex is bound to.

Here are a few common ways that people violate divorce decrees.

Refusal to Pay Debts

Money, money, money. In most cases, divorce decree violations are connected to money and one party refusing to pay the agreed-upon debt.

Some judges show special leniency to those who recently lost their jobs. As long as the individual shows an effort to find employment, the judge will rarely enforce jail time.

But that doesn’t help you if your ex’s inability to pay debt puts you in your own financial pickle.

There are a few techniques in place to protect your rights and ensure that your ex makes good on their financial obligations. Some especially stubborn and vindictive individuals would rather face jail time than pay their ex a single dime.

In these cases, the judge may decide to seize your ex’s property as collateral. This is a slightly more complicated legal battle and might require an experienced attorney.

This process involves a writ of attachment issued by the court. This permits that any property owned by the noncompliant party can be seized and used to pay off outstanding debts.

Property can be anything from personal items to physical property like a home or piece of land. In this situation, the court will appoint a third-party recipient and that person will take custody of the land. They’re responsible for selling it and then paying you the owed amount.

Selling the family home is another point of contention in many divorces. If both you and your ex are listed on the title and/or mortgage, you both need to agree to list the home for sale.

In some cases, one party is too emotionally attached to comply with this part of the decree. But if both parties are financially dependent on the sale of the house, it must be done.

Similar to paying off debt, the judge will issue an agent or receiver to handle the sale of the home and divvy up the money accordingly.

These proceedings don’t happen without a little leg-work on your end. You’re responsible for proving that you tried, on numerous occasions, to convince your ex to pay their debts or sell the home prior to filing a motion of contempt. This could include proof of communication in the form of letters, emails, or text messages.

The court wants to see that you made an effort to resolve the issue on your own before asking them to intervene.

Failure to Properly Divide Retirement Accounts

Another common item listed in many divorce decrees is retirement accounts belonging to both parties.

Retirement accounts, including 401k plans, are often divided in the divorce decree. If your ex-spouse fails to give you half of the retirement funds, you can take legal action.

One reason why a traditional motion of contempt might not be the best approach is that if your ex spends all the money before you get a court date, they’re no longer obligated to pay. After all, half of zero is zero.

When dealing with retirement and other savings accounts, you need to prepare a QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This will protect your rights to the money and prevent your ex from spending it. The QDRO informs the plan administrator how the retirement fund should be divided as outlined in the divorce decree.

What to Do When Your Ex Won’t Play Nice

Divorces rarely proceed without any complications or hurdles. Even after the divorce decree is drafted, trouble can still lurk.

If your ex-partner decides not to follow the rules and judgments of the court, you can enforce a motion of contempt and have your case heard. Just be sure to make a valid attempt to solve the issue directly with your ex before involving the courts.

Document any exchanges between you and your ex as proof of your efforts.

Divorce can be ugly – but it doesn’t have to be when you have a qualified attorney on your side.

Contact one of our professionals today and let us help your legal case run smoothly.

 

 

Divorce is difficult, but there are steps you can take to make it easier. Read on to learn how to have a peaceful divorce.

The divorce rate in the US is around 40% to 50% of all marriages. While you may have initially thought you found your soulmate, maybe things have changed. And despite trying to work out your differences, you’ve grown too far apart and divorce is the only logical next step.

Reaching this decision isn’t an easy one, especially if there are children involved. Your friends may have gone through messy divorces themselves, and you want to do everything you can to avoid the same fate.

If you’d like to have a peaceful divorce so you can move on with your life better, then read on. We’ve got some helpful tips on how to do so.

Don’t Place Blame on One Another

When things get bad, it can be easy to blame one another for the failure of your marriage. Maybe you think your wife hasn’t paid enough attention to you in the last few years, or maybe she thinks you’ve been too focused on growing your career.

At this point, it doesn’t do any good to point fingers at one another. Trying to pinpoint exactly what made the marriage fail will just make both of you extremely bitter, which will set the tone for a messy and ugly divorce.

Once you’ve reached a place where both of you agree 100% that you should divorce, that should be it. Don’t try to assign a reason to the divorce; just agree it’s better for the two of you if you go your separate ways.

If you leave blame out of it, then you’ll stand a much better chance of having an amicable and peaceful divorce.

Don’t Be Petty

Those who don’t feel slighted by their exes may be tempted to be petty in the divorce process. For example, maybe your ex really loves your shared car, and just to make her suffer, you want to take it in the divorce.

But by doing this, you’re just dragging out the divorce longer. Since it’s such a treasured possession of hers, she’ll most likely fight you on this, which can end up in more meetings with the lawyer and time in court.

Instead of trying to exact revenge, try and be the bigger person. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should acquiesce to everything your ex wants.

What you should do is sit down and think about the big picture. What is it you truly want and can’t compromise on? Once you figure that out, everything else will be trivial.

The two of you should come together and discuss these non-negotiable needs and see if you can work around them.

Be Honest and Open

While in the midst of a divorce, some people will try to hide their assets so they don’t get cleared out by their ex in the process. But by doing so, you may entangle yourself in much more legal messes.

We’re not saying you should be best friends with your ex while you’re getting divorced, but both of you should be able to discuss all your assets and income without hiding anything.

By doing so, you’ll be doing a “good faith negotiation” with your ex-spouse. When the two of you can openly discuss everything, this makes it a lot easier to resolve any financial issues. This is especially important if you have children with them.

If you weren’t the spouse that handled the financial side of things in the marriage, this can give you a better picture of what the two of you shared. That way, you can have better trust and keep the divorce more amicable.

Put the Needs of Your Children First

Again, while you’re separating from your spouse, it’s tempting to find any ammo against them and use it. Often, parents end up using their children as pawns in the game of divorce. While it may be temporarily satisfying, it ends up being harmful to everyone involved.

Make it clear to your ex that the welfare of your children come first. You may want to consider divorce mediation, as this lets you discuss your children’s needs with a neutral third party present.

Always use positive language when discussing issues involving your kids. Always ask for your ex’s input so they feel involved instead of pushed away by you.

How you work together during the divorce can be extremely beneficial for the future, as it lays down the groundwork for you working successfully as co-parents.

Have a Good Support System

Not only can going through a divorce on your own be lonely, but it can really take a toll on your mental health as well. If you aren’t feeling 100% emotionally, you may end up taking it out on your ex. Needless to say, that won’t end up in a peaceful divorce at all.

Make sure you have a good support system consisting of close friends and family members. When you’re alone, it can be tempting to self-medicate in unhealthy ways. The after-effects won’t be so pleasant, plus it can kickstart a downward spiral.

If you have friends and family you can rely on, you can turn to them in times of need instead of self-medicating. Sometimes, all it takes is calling someone up for a chat for you to feel better and stronger. This can leave you more clear and levelheaded to deal with your divorce.

Have a Peaceful Divorce and Get Along With Your Ex

Just because you’re going through a divorce doesn’t mean it can’t be amicable. With our guide to a peaceful divorce, hopefully, you can navigate this difficult time of your life with more ease and tranquility.

If you need a divorce lawyer to help you through this process, then get in touch with us today. Not only can we assist you with your divorce, but we can also advise you on other related subjects, such as alimony and child custody.

Getting divorced is tough, but deciding how the money will work can be more difficult. Read on to learn about alimony in Florida.

Up to half of the couples in the United States end up getting divorced, and Florida has the 7th most noteworthy divorce rate.

Florida is one of the most stressed states, particularly about financial situations.

Whether it’s because of money or other factors, many cities in Florida have high divorce rates. In Live Oak, for example, the divorce rate is 23%.

Regardless of where you live, alimony is one of the fiercest divorce battles to face.

And alimony in Florida is particularly challenging to determine, mainly because there is no mathematical formula for doing so.

Getting divorced is hard enough as it is, but figuring out how the money will work between divorced couples can be even harder.

Keep reading to learn all about alimony in Florida.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is also referred to as “spousal support.” Alimony is the legal obligation to provide financial support to a spouse after a divorce.

State divorce law varies, so alimony is issued by a divorce decree that works according to state divorce law.

Alimony is much different than child support, though people sometimes confuse the 2.

Alimony is considered taxable income to the receiving spouse. Plus, it’s deducted from the income of the spouse who is paying.

Child support payments, on the other hand, aren’t deductible to the paying spouse. They aren’t taxable to the receiving spouse either.

Child support is paid. There are no tax concerns that come into play, unlike alimony.

 

One important thing to remember about alimony in Florida is that there is no mathematical calculation for determining an amount. Child support payments, on the other hand, are determined based on the payee’s income.

There Are Different Type of Florida Alimony

Florida law has 5 different types of alimony.

A judge will award these 5 different types in whatever combination that seems fair under the particular circumstances of that divorce.

Alimony payments can consist of periodic payments from one spouse to another or a single lump-sum payment.

Spouses can agree on different terms and conditions of alimony on their own. A spouse can also opt to give up alimony entirely, which typically occurs in exchange for another valuable type of property.

What Are the Different Types of Alimony?

As we mentioned above, there are 5 different types of spousal support in Florida.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

Bridge-the-Gap alimony starts after the divorce is final, but it’s short term. The most it’ll go for is 2 years.

The purpose is to help the receiving spouse meet those temporary needs like living expenses while they wait for a home to sell or enter into an educational program to allow for better employment prospects.

Temporary Alimony

Temporary alimony only lasts the duration of the divorce. It’s awarded to a spouse who needs financial support during the divorce process.

As soon as the divorce is final, temporary alimony ends.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony exists to assist the receiving spouse in acquiring training or education that’s necessary for appropriate employment.

A spouse who requests rehabilitative alimony must submit a plan that outlines the amount of money and time they need to complete their program.

Durational Alimony

A court could award durational alimony if other types are insufficient to support a spouse’s needs.

The maximum term of durational alimony pertains to the length of the divorced couple’s marriage.

If you were married for 20 years, for example, you won’t be able to receive alimony for any longer.

Permanent Alimony

When the recipient spouse’s economic needs are forecasted to be permanent, an alimony award will be permanent too.

A judge who awards permanent alimony always has to state the reasons why another form of alimony wouldn’t be fair or reasonable under the facts of the particular case.

Permanent alimony exists to provide support to a spouse who can’t be self-supporting at a standard of living that’s as close as possible to the marital standard that was set before.

What Factors Will a Judge Consider?

Every court makes decisions on requests for alimony based on many different facts of the case.

They must determine whether or not the spouse who’s requesting alimony meets the standard to prove the alimony is necessary.

The court also has to determine whether or not the wealthier spouse has the ability to pay. But, only exceptional circumstances would cause a court to award alimony if it leaves the paying spouse with significantly less income than the recipient.

When a judge finds that there is both a need and an ability to pay, they consider all relevant factors in deciding which alimony to award.

These factors include things like:

  • All sources of income
  • Time and expense required for education and training
  • The marital standard of living
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The financial resources of the spouse who’s seeking maintenance
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage
  • Any tax consequences of a potential alimony award
  • The responsibilities each party will have for children under 18 that they have in common

If adultery occurred and it caused financial harm to either spouse, that will also be taken into account.

Alimony in Florida Works Best with Representation

Divorces are tough, no matter the circumstances. The best thing you can do if you’re going through a divorce is to hire a professional who specializes in family law.

Alimony in Florida is more complicated than in other states because there is no set formula or means for calculating what it is.

Plus, there are so many factors to consider and lots of paperwork to submit.

If you’re going through a divorce, contact us so that we can help you through the process and get you the fair results that you deserve.

 

 

 

 

There are many different and important things to know about divorce in Florida. If you want to learn more, you should click here.

Studies have shown that 12.6% of married couples in Florida will wind up getting divorced. If you find yourself potentially facing a divorce in Florida, it’s important to know the ins-and-outs of the state’s law to better equip yourself of what may be ahead. Whether your divorce is ending with feelings of betrayal or indifference, you’ll need to know exactly what rights you have under Florida state law in order to come to an amicable agreement in which both parties receive exactly what they deserve.

If you’re going through or about to go through a divorce in Florida and would like to learn more about what to expect read on for some important information on what your divorce proceedings may entail.

1. What to Consider When Going Through a Divorce in Florida

Before diving into the following laws, it’s important to try and have a clear and mature conversation with your former spouse in order to reach a peaceful agreement.

Divorce is known to come with its fair share of hurt feelings, especially when children are involved. For the sake of all parties involved, being able to have a civil conversation is always the best option.

In the event the civil conversation is not possible, it’s best to speak directly with your lawyer to avoid any further confusion or problems from arising.

2. The Amount of Time Spent in Florida

Whether or not Florida state laws on divorce apply to you depends on the amount of time that you’ve been living in Florida. However, this does not necessarily mean that you had to live in Florida as a couple. At least one of the divorcing parties is expected to provide proof of them living in Florida for a minimum of six months before the divorce petition was filed in order for the Florida state laws to apply.

3. Divorce Court or Family Court

When it comes to determining whether or not your divorce is a matter for standard divorce court or family court, it’s a simple matter as to whether or not there are children or minor children involved.

The State of Florida considers the matter of child custody in the best interest of the child to be of the utmost importance and in divorce cases which is why the presence of children or miners would dramatically influence the proceedings of a divorce.  Being able to come to a strong agreement over custody and joint parenting outside of court, with or without the help of legal counsel, is one of the best things you can do to help reduce the emotional effects of the divorce on your children.

If there are no children shared between the married party, then the couple may apply for a simple dissolution of marriage application. From there the divorcing parties can come to an agreement on what will be done with their remaining assets and discuss alimony and further payments. In this case, the family court is not necessary.

If the divorcing party has trouble reaching an agreement on such matters, then divorce court may be an option worth pursuing.

There are still some factors that come into play for whether or not a couple is eligible for a simplified dissolution.

These factors include

  •  whether or not the wife is currently pregnant
  •  whether there any minors or dependent
  •  whether or not both parties can agree that the marriage is broken
  •  no partners are requesting alimony
  •  no partners are requesting information aside from the court-approved financial affidavit (more on this below)
  •  both Partners have surrendered their right to an appeal
  • both partners are willing to go and sign the petition
  • and both partners are present at the final court hearing

If all of these factors are approved, the couple may be eligible to dissolve their marriage.

It’s important to remember that the only two grounds accepted by Florida law for the dissolution of marriage state that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that one of the spouses has been mentally incapacitated for over 3 years.

4. Matters of Custody

In the event that there are children and custody needs to be negotiated, this decision is typically decided among the couple. In the event that the couple cannot come to a shared agreement as to how the custody of the child will be divided, the courts may appoint a mediator or counselor to help make the final decision.

The opinion of the mediator or counselor will then be presented to the judge who will appoint custody to one or both of the parties.

A custody agreement will also include other important decisions such as the amount of child support that may be ordered, visitation schedules, and who will be in charge of primary decision-making over the child.

Once again, if the couple is unable to make this decision together, the court will have to make one on behalf of what is healthiest for the child.

5. The Division of Assets

When it comes to dividing assets between the couple, it’s best to have any documentation that proves liabilities, transactions, and original ownership. These documents will be used to assess what’s fairly divided among the couple.

These documents may also be used with a tax attorney as your current tax status and filing situation may be affected once the divorce is complete.

Some factors the court may look into while determining the division of remaining assets include

  •  the partner’s contributions are sacrifices that were made during the marriage.
  •  how long the marriage lasted
  •  if either partner contributed towards the enhancement of the others career or education
  • Deteriorating a business or home when there is a dependent child
  •  any acts of waste or destruction that were done after filing for divorce or two years prior to filing from one party to another
  •  any additional factors that may be defined as equity

If required, the court may also need to look into testimonies provided as character witnesses or in the form of provided documents.

6. Submitting an Affidavit

Couples divorcing in the state of Florida are required to submit an affidavit. This is a document that contains all of their financial information in order to ensure the division of assets and finances is done so in a clear and transparent manner.

This affidavit is used as the basis for determining the amount of alimony, child support, and how the division of other assets may be computed.

7. Divorce and Taxes

Among the financial documents that may be submitted, tax returns dating up to 3 years ago may also be submitted with the affidavit.

This is to fully take into account all expenses and earnings that may have taken place among the couple.

It’s suggested to speak with a tax accountant if you have any questions on pending tax matters post-divorce.

8. Remaining debt

In the State of Florida, all debt such as mortgages and car payments are typically divided evenly among the divorcing parties.

Still, it’s important to remember the debts that had occurred before the couple came together are typically exempt from being divided. This may include things like student loans or business loans that were taken out and can be easily traced to before the date of marriage.

9. College Payments

While alimony and child support may be enforced by the court, the state of Florida plays no part in determining whether or not either parent is required to pay for college.

This is a matter that must be agreed upon between the couple and must be recorded in the original divorce agreement.

Finding Legal Counsel You Need

Divorce in Florida can be messy enough without issues being dragged into court. However, in the event that your divorce requires a court proceeding or you find it necessary to fight to receive the adequate amount of alimony or child support, it’s in your best interest to find the legal counsel that can help.

It’s important to have a lawyer behind you that understands the ins and outs of the Florida state laws, and that can adequately assess the documents and affidavit provided to help you claim what’s rightfully yours.

From child custody to dealing with issues of alimony our team is here to help you every step of the way. We understand the emotional rollercoaster that comes with divorce and are here to bring you some peace of mind while fighting on your behalf.

If you would like to learn more about how our team can help you both in and out of the divorce court contact us today for more information on how we can be of assistance.

 

 

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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