The official legal term for divorce in Florida is “Dissolution of Marriage". Carmen G. Soto a divorce attorney in the Fort Lauderdale area can help you through this difficult process.
Florida is considered a "No-Fault" state. This basically means that the court does not make a decision on which party is at fault for ending the marriage. This “No Fault” provision also does not allow one spouse from preventing the other spouse when they want a divorce. Another major issue that divorcing parties have is regarding adultery or cheating. The common misconception is that the cheating spouse, is not entitled to anything because they were not faithful. This is not the case. You may still be responsible for paying child support and/or alimony, even though you were not the cheating spouse. The bottom line is that Florida, under its “No-Fault” provision does not use evidence of either party’s cheating behavior when determining the terms of a divorce. The idea is that Florida courts place no fault on either party. Both parties are entitled to their fair share of marital assets in accordance with Florida’s equitable distribution statute provisions. However, there is one exception. If one spouse has utilized marital money to support an extramarital relationship, then with substantial evidence to prove same, the non-cheating spouse may be able to recover some of those funds within the proceedings.
In Florida, there are only two main requirements to obtain a divorce: (1) one of the parties needs to have lived in Florida for a minimum of (6) six months immediately preceding; and (2) the marriage must be irretrievably broken.
The main issues that arise within a divorce include but are not limited to, Parental Responsibility, Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Timesharing/Custody and Child Support. If there are no children in the marriage then the main issues will be Equitable Distribution of assets and debt and Alimony. These issues are complicated Carmen G. Soto can assist you. She is an attorney that has practiced in the areas of divorce and family law for over 10 years in Ft. Lauderdale and the surrounding areas.
The basic procedure in a divorce is as follows:
- The filing of the Petition
- This begins the case. A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage explains to the Court that the Petitioner (the person that files the case) is seeking a divorce from the Respondent. The Petition includes information to assist the court in understanding the details of the marriage and pending divorce.
- The other party is served
- If you know where your spouse lives but you are not on good terms: The Respondent will be personally served by a Sheriff or Process Server with the Petition.
- If you are on good terms with your spouse: You may present the Petition to your spouse. They will need to sign an Answer and Waiver of Service acknowledging that they received the Petition.
- If you have no idea where your spouse is: The Respondent will be served by Publication in which it is published in a locally authorized newspaper for several weeks.
- An Answer to the Petition is filed
- Once served the Respondent has 20 days to file a response.
- Both parties submit a series of financial documents called “mandatory disclosure”
- The filing of these documents allows the parties to disclose their assets and debts. This also allows the Court to review the financial position of each side. This information assists the Court in making determinations regarding Child Support, Equitable Distribution and Alimony.
- A mediation is scheduled, 90% of cases are settled at mediation
- A mediation is the final attempt for the parties to settle their case on their own terms. At this point the parties should be aware of the other party’s financial position and can try to divide their assets in the most mutually convenient manner. If mediation is unsuccessful and the parties cannot agree on the terms regarding Timesharing, Alimony, Child Support, or Equitable Distribution then the parties will be required to try their case in front of the judge. The mediation includes the Husband and Wife, their respective attorneys and a Certified Mediator. Common practice is that sometime during the mediation the Wife and her attorney will be in one room, the Husband and his attorney will be in another room and the Mediator will go back and forth discussing the proposed terms and negotiations. This process may take 3-4 hours (or more). Most cases settle at mediation.
- If a case is not settled at mediation a trial is set
- If the case is not settled at mediation, then it is referred to trial before the judge assigned to your case. This includes a lot of preparation by the parties and their attorneys as well as increased costs.
- During a trial the judge will make the final decisions on all matters. It is possible to agree to some terms and enter into a Partial Mediated Settlement Agreement before trial. In those cases, only the remaining issues will proceed to trial with the judge. It is usually best for the parties to attempt to decide the fate of their future between themselves. But if that is not possible, the judge will be the final decision maker of the divorce.
- Trial can be from a few hours long to several days
- It is impossible to predict how long a trial will take. Trials always depend on the terms of the divorce, issues pending and the willingness of the parties to resolve their issues.
- A Final Judgment is ordered in the case
- Once the Final Judgment is entered and signed by the judge the parties are finally officially divorced.
- If there are changes in income (or other issues that may affect income) Child Support may be modified.
- Timesharing/Custody may also be revisited after the divorce has been finalized.
Divorces are hard. It is one of the most difficult things a person may go through. Call Carmen G. Soto an experienced divorce attorney that is ready to help you through this time.