Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state – if at least one spouse wants a divorce and explains to the Judge that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, then there can be a divorce.
There are many issues in a divorce, which can be broken down into a few categories.
If the family has minor children, then two issues in the case are “parental responsibility” and “time-sharing”. These are the issues in Florida that address custody of children (“custody” is a term that for the most part isn’t used anymore in Florida family law cases). Parental responsibility addresses which parent has the right to make the major decisions regarding a child – e.g. school, medical, religious upbringing. Time-sharing addresses which days and overnights and holidays the child spends with each parent. Other important children’s issues are vacation time and travel out of the state or country, “Relocation” with the child, payment for extra-curricular activities, payment for out of pocket medical, dental and other health care expenses, and of course Child Support. Two major recent changes in the Child Support statutes are that there is a downward adjustment now for child support if a parent spends at least 20% of the overnights with a child – it used to be 40%; and child support orders now provide for automatic adjustment of the child support amount as each child turns 18 (19 sometimes when the child is still in high-school).
A second major category of issues is the division of property, or “equitable distribution” of property as it is called in Florida. This involves identifying what are “marital” assets and debts, valuing the assets and deciding who gets what. Although the concepts are straightforward, there can be analysis involved, for example, in identifying and valuing the marital portion of a pension, or in addressing whether a “non-marital” asset, for example a financial account, was “commingled” with marital assets or gifted to the marriage, and other issues. There are case-law and statutes which deal with these issues, and it’s a matter of evaluating whichever of the issues are present in your case. If there is a business, valuation of the business will likely be an issue, and then evaluating the valuations, because a lot of times the valuation numbers arrived at by each side are different. It’s helpful to work with financial software, as I and most family law attorneys do, that can present in a fairly readable form an analysis of the net assets to be received by each side.
A third major issue or area, is Alimony. There is a recent change in the alimony statute, F.S. § 61.08, which creates “rebuttable presumptions” regarding what is a “long-term”, “moderate-term” and “short-term” marriage – three concepts important in determining alimony. The statute also spells out the different types of alimony, including bride-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational and permanent alimony. I’ll describe alimony a bit further in the Alimony section of the website, including how Alimony affects the Child Support amount.
Call me at (954) 636-7498 or use the contact form on the website, and we can discuss the issues in your divorce.