Divorce laws vary from state to state. A state’s laws will dictate what aspects and circumstances of your case will be relevant in your particular divorce case. Below are some aspects of Florida Law that are important to know when contemplating a divorce:
• Florida is a “No Fault” state
• Florida is an “equitable distribution” state
• Florida follows the “best interest of the child” standard when deciding child related issues
• Residency requirement: In order to obtain a divorce in Florida, at least one of the spouse’s must be a Florida resident for a minimum period of months prior to filing their Petition. There is an exception to this rule and it is applied to members of the armed forces who are stationed in the State.
In Florida, the rule that governs the division of marital assets and liabilties is Equitable Distribution. All assets and/or liabilities that were obtained/accrued during the marriage are considered marital property. This means that any marital assets and/or marital liabilities that were obtained or accrued during the marriage are to be divided between the spouses in a “fair and equitable manner”. Sometimes, there are instances, such as when there has been marital disspation or waste, that equity calls for an unequal distribution in favor of one spouse, rather than an equal distribution.
It is important to note that the concept of Equitable Distribution does not apply to non-marital assets or liabilities, such as assets or liabilities obtained prior to the marriage or assets obtained as a result of an inheritance. Sometimes these “non-marital” assets can become marital as a result of commingling. In those case, these previously non-marital assets become marital, resulting in their being considered for purposes of equitable distribution.
Alimony or “spousal support” is financial support given to the financially dependent spouse, by the financially independent spouse. In Florida, there are several different types of alimony available to fit the different lengths of marriages and standards of living that may have been experienced by different individuals whom are going through a divorce. Because the length of alimony is impacted by the length of the marriage, it is important to know how Florida categorizes marraiges. Short-term marriage 0-7 years; Moderate-length marriage 7-17 years; Long-term marriage 17+ years.
Below are the different types of alimony:
1) Bridge-the-gap Alimony: This type of alimony is to assist the dependent spouse in his or her transition from being married to being single. It is mainly designed to assist with short-term needs during this transition. The length of this type of alimony is not to exceed two (2) years.
2) Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony is meant to assist a spouse in becoming financially self-sufficient either by the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or by acquiring education, training or work experience necessary to obtain employment and financial self-sufficiency. This type of alimony award must include a specific and defined rehabilitative plan detailing information, such as the duration of the program, expenses involved and the time required to establish oneself in the particular profession.
3) Durational alimony: This type of alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances. However, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
4) Permanent Alimony: This type of alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration if such an award is appropriate under the circumstances of the parties. In some instances, it can be awarded following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate based upon clear and convincing evidence. In very rqare situations, it can be awarded following a marriage of short duration if there are written findings of exceptional circumstances. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship.
When married couples share children, their divorce no longer only deals with the financial aspects of their relationship, such as the distribution of their assets/liabilities or spousal support. The existence of minor children requires the parents to also deal with the child-centric topics of: Parental Responsibility; Time-Sharing & Parenting Plans and Child support.
In Florida, the standard by which children’s issues are determined is “the best interest of the child(ren)”. That term can mean different things for different families and their particular circumstances. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that any agreements entered into by the parents (or if an agreement between the parents is not possible) any determination by a judge, provides an outcome that is best suited for the minor children involved.
For more information on Parental Responsibility; Time-Sharing & Parenting Plan; and Child Support click here.
We have all heard the term uncontested divorce. In actuality all divorces are uncontested in Florida since one spouse cannot “contest” the granting of a dissolution of marriage. That being said, an uncontested divorce would be one wherein both parties are in agreement as to all issues relevant in their case and are ready to enter into a Marital Settlement Agreement.
If dissolution is contested, it usually means that people cannot agree to the all of the issues, such as alimony, parenting plan/timesharing or equitable distribution.
No matter how agreeable your divorce, it is a good idea to obtain legal representation to ensure that all relevant and necessary matters are discussed and included within your case. Our team will ensure that all necessary pleadings are filed. We will prepare all necessary agreements including the marital settlement agreement and/or parenting plan, as well as calculate any child support awards or obligations that are relevant and necessary in your case. Hiring an attorney who specializes in divorce will provide you with peace of mind and ensures the requirements under the law are met.