The Florida Divorce Attorneys Will Guide You and Advocate For You
Dissolution of your marriage can be an extremely difficult time in your life, fraught with anxiety and depression. At Winthrop Law Offices, P.A., our goal is to make the divorce process run as smoothly as possible so you can move on with your life. You can feel confident in the knowledge you are being represented by experienced litigators who are passionate about obtaining the best results possible. Our practice ensures each of our clients has two Florida divorce attorneys assigned to their case to ensure no stone is left unturned or angle missed when it comes to developing the best strategy for your circumstances.
Contested Divorce in Florida
When you and your spouse cannot agree to the terms of an impending divorce, your choice of which Florida divorce attorneys will represent you is pivotal. It is imperative you seek experienced litigators with a methodical, comprehensive, tried-and-true approach to the divorce process. Our firm will make certain you are well-versed on your options and all possible outcomes of your case. We will strategize to provide you with the best representation possible while considering your time and resources.
What Issues Are Addressed In A Contested Divorce?
At its essence, a contested divorce is the dissolution of marriage wherein the parties to the marriage cannot agree on the divorce terms. When this occurs, the contested issues must be presented before a judge, and the judge will make a ruling that is binding on the parties. Issues at stake in a contested divorce often include:
- Division of marital property
- Division of marital debt
- Division of Assets
- Child Support
- Child Custody & Time-Sharing (Visitation)
The decisions reached by the judge will be based on Florida law, which is very intricate and specific.
What To Expect In A Contested Divorce
While all contested divorces are unique, there are basic steps that occur in each of them.
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: The spouse seeking the divorce is known as the petitioner, and their attorney will prepare a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage which will then be filed and served on the other spouse (respondent). The respondent then has twenty days to file their Answer to the Petition. At this point in the process, we know what the issues are and the position of each party. For more information click here. If the respondent was properly served but failed to respond, they can be held in default, and the divorce can proceed without their involvement.
- Discovery Process: When the respondent does file an Answer, the discovery process is usually the next undertaking. Each party must release to the other information relevant for a proper settlement of the contested issues. This may include financial statements as well as business and property financials. For more information click here. It can also include witness statements and interrogatories, and depositions. The discovery process can be brief, or it can be drawn out. It depends on the number of assets and debt the parties have accumulated, the parties’ respective income levels, and their cooperation with the process.
- Mediation: Mediation is a process wherein a third party (a neutral mediator) meets with you, your attorney, your spouse, your spouse’s attorney and attempts to settle the contested matters. For more information click here. All, none, or some of the issues may be resolved through mediation. When all are not resolved, it is necessary to go before a judge to have the issues heard and a judgment rendered.
- Trial: During the trial phase, both parties will have an opportunity to present their case before the judge. This may include evidence as well as witness testimony. For more information click here. After presenting their cases, each attorney will be allowed to present a closing argument. The judge will then render the final decision.
Uncontested Divorce in Florida
It is always in the parties’ best interest to settle the terms of a divorce between themselves. In addition to allowing both parties to control the terms of the divorce, it also saves time and capital. In an uncontested divorce, all issues such as child custody (timesharing), child support, property division, debt division, and alimony are agreed upon by the parties without judicial interference.
Many married couples feel that as long as their divorce is uncontested, they should be able to safely proceed without being represented by a Florida divorce lawyer. However, this is not a good idea, as divorce law is very complex, and proceeding pro se can cause significant issues that a non-lawyer is unable to foresee. Following are several reasons proceeding unrepresented is not recommended by our Florida divorce attorneys.
- Exclusion of Key Topics: While most people remember to include the big issues, such as child custody (timesharing) and property division, other items are commonly missed. For example, who gets to claim the child(ren) on their taxes? Who is responsible for ensuring the minor child(ren) has health insurance? An attorney well-versed in divorce law will make certain all viable topics are addressed.
- Post-Judgment Modifications: It is much more expedient and less costly to properly identify and settle issues on the front end of a divorce. Once the agreed-upon terms have been ordered, a post-judgment modification (a supplemental petition for modification) must be filed to modify its terms. This can be a drawn-out and expensive process.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
One type of uncontested divorce in Florida is called a “simplified dissolution of marriage.” Pursuant to Fla.Fam.Law.R.P. 12.105, a simplified dissolution of marriage is appropriate only when the following conditions are met:
- Both parties must agree to the simplified dissolution of marriage process
- At least one of the parties must have lived in the state of Florida for a minimum of six months
- The wife must not be pregnant
- The parties must not have any minor or dependent children together
- The wife must not have any minor or dependent children born during the marriage
- There is no alimony involved
- There are no marital assets or liabilities requiring a division
- Both parties agree fully with the terms of the divorce
- Both parties agree the marriage is irretrievably broken
This type of divorce can be finalized in as little as thirty days but does terminate both parties’ rights to a trial or appeal.
Florida COVID-19 Divorce
Coronavirus added additional stress to many already struggling marriages, and attempting to work from home while homeschooling children is tedious even under the best of circumstances. Tempers flare and annoying habits that were once easy to ignore now take center stage. Because of this, the pandemic has caused many couples to consider divorcing. If you or your spouse are contemplating parting ways, there are special considerations due to COVID-19.
- Access to Courts: As is the case in many courthouses across the country, access to the Florida Family Court system has been restricted due to the pandemic. In some jurisdictions, court is being held remotely through programs or apps such as Zoom. In other locales, court is being held in person, but at a much-reduced capacity. As a result, many hearings on non-emergency matters are delayed or have to be rescheduled.
- Asset Values: COVID-19 has caused the value of many assets that are at the heart of divorce proceedings to become, at best, unpredictable. The housing market is fluctuating, and the stock market is going up and down. Many business owners that ran successful businesses before the pandemic have had to shut their doors. These factors complicate the ability to place proper values on assets such as stocks, homes, and businesses.
- Child Support & Time Sharing (Visitation): Among other factors, child support is largely calculated based on the amount of time each parent shares with the child(ren) as well as the income of each parent. The pandemic has had a huge influence on both of these components. Many people have had a significant decrease in income, affecting their ability to pay child support, and mandated lock-downs have had a weighty influence on each party’s ability to spend time with their minor child(ren).
- Privacy: Unlike before COVID-19, many couples that desire to live separately while seeking a divorce are forced to continue to occupy the same home. Having private, confidential meetings with your divorce attorney can be extremely difficult when you live in the same home with your spouse. Also, many school-age children are home all day due to the pandemic, and scheduling a meeting with your lawyer where your children are not present and being exposed to the realities of divorce can be problematic.
Skilled Florida Divorce Attorneys Will Advocate for You
No matter your circumstances, you need astute guidance and representation from experienced counsel when you are going through a divorce. The legal professionals at Winthrop Law Offices, P.A., are dedicated to assisting you in obtaining the best results possible for your particular circumstances. We are Florida divorce attorneys who care. Contact our firm today to schedule your initial consultation.