Divorce Law in Florida

A divorce may dissolve a marital relationship, but it may also establish new or different rights and obligations. There are issues of child custody, visitation, support payments, tax ramifications and often significant emotional consequences, especially if children are involved. If you are contemplating a marital dissolution or have initiated the process on your own, consider hiring a Florida divorce lawyer.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

Marriage dissolutions may include complicated financial and child custody issues that many parties find difficult to amicably resolve. Matters regarding spousal or child abuse may arise that can cause considerable tension and stress. Litigation may be necessary with extensive discovery to uncover hidden assets or income sources along with numerous court appearances and meetings with your attorney. When a simple divorce or an amicable resolution is not possible, your Florida divorce lawyer can be essential in representing your best interests and those of your children while ensuring that your rights are protected under Florida law.

What a Divorce Includes

Filing a Florida Petition for Dissolution is contingent upon your establishing residency in the state for at least six months. Upon filing, each party must disclose all income sources and assets, whether acquired during or before the marriage, along with submission of a financial affidavit, which may be waived in some cases. Pursuant to Florida law, there is mandatory participation in a parental education class if you have minor children. A number of Florida counties also obligate parties to attend mediation. In all cases, you must wait a minimum of 20 days after filing the petition before your divorce may be finalized.

Should you suspect your spouse is being less than forthcoming with certain information, your attorney may need to initiate a discovery process to take depositions and uncover records regarding your spouse’s finances, property, and other matters.

No-Fault Divorce

Florida is a no-fault state, so you need only allege irreconcilable differences as a viable basis for your divorce. In those states that have retained fault, you may need to allege specific grounds for your divorce such as adultery or cruelty.

Avoiding Court

If you lack the financial ability to engage your spouse in protracted litigation, or you are experiencing emotional exhaustion, you may want to try other alternative dispute resolutions such as mediation or the Collaborative Process. You might consult with an attorney about these procedures.

Court Orders During a Divorce

Protective or restraining orders may be issued following verifiable episodes of domestic abuse or if you have credible evidence of child abuse. Police or child welfare agencies may need to be notified and investigations instigated. Additional orders pertaining to which parent must maintain health and life insurance are often necessary. Spousal maintenance orders, if applicable, are based on such factors as the duration of your marriage, your ages and health, individual finances, education levels, and sources of income.

The Divorce Agreement

Upon settlement, you and your spouse sign a Marital Settlement Agreement, which sets forth your property and debt distribution, child support and alimony payments, child custody and visitation, and any other relevant matters. If you cannot agree on how to divide your property, the court will apply Florida’s equitable distribution law.

Tax Consequences of Divorce

Many divorces involve significant tax implications, which can be beneficial or adverse to you. In cases involving business entities, complex trusts, and real property, your divorce lawyer can provide you valuable tax assistance. For example, those who make alimony payments enjoy a tax deduction while the receiver has taxable income. Child support payments are not tax deductible and are not taxable income to the receiving parent. If your child resides with you for over half of the year and you pay over 50 percent of the household expenses, you may claim your child as a dependent.

Consult With a Florida Divorce Lawyer

State divorce laws, court rules, and tax laws affecting your divorce are complex and are constantly evolving. To ensure that your best interests are protected, speak to a Florida divorce lawyer.

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