Articles Posted in Divorce Procedure

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It is understandable that some spouses who are divorcing are not necessarily in the mindset to cooperate with one another. After all, fighting and disagreements have likely played a role in the decision to end their marriage. However, refusal to come to an agreement regarding one or more issues in a divorce can cause serious delays and can increase the cost of a divorce.

Before a court will grant your divorce, you and your spouse must settle numerous issues including:

  • Property and debt division;
  • Child support;
  • Time-sharing and visitation;
  • Parenting plans;
  • Alimony.

If any one of those issues cannot be settled out of court, the divorce can be delayed as the court will have to decide for you. You and your spouse will have to present evidence to support your arguments for how you want to resolve the issue at trial and the judge will rule on the matter.

A recent divorce case demonstrates just how much a divorce case can be affected by adversarial disputes instead of cooperation. After 25 years of marriage, the wife of the founder of Cancer Treatment Centers for America filed for divorce. The filing occurred in 2009 and the case is still dragging on due to several disagreements regarding a prenuptial agreement, custody, and division of their millions of dollars in assets. The case has involved numerous hearings, appellate hearings, changes of lawyers, contempt orders, and other complications, and is now finally going to trial over asset and property division. In the meantime, both spouses have likely spent an enormous amount of money, stress, and time dealing with the divorce proceedings and have been unable to remarry since their marriage is not yet dissolved after more than six years. Continue reading →

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When two people get married, it often makes sense to combine finances. Spouses open joint bank accounts and combine their incomes to help each other pay off debts–both pre-existing debts and new ones acquired during the marriage. In many situations, spouses may depend on one another to be able to cover their monthly bills. This can all lead to a messy situation if the spouses decide to get divorced.

During a divorce, Florida law requires the fair and equitable division of all jointly-owned property and this law applies to debts, as well. However, dividing up debts can be complex, especially if some debts are owned individually and others jointly. The name on the debt does not always mean that person will be solely responsible for the payments, however, and it is important to discuss debt division with an experienced divorce attorney who understands the relevant law. The following is some brief information regarding the division of certain debts in divorce:

Student Loans

Student loans are often individual debts unless the spouses cosigned on the loans or the loans were acquired during the marriage. In such cases, the loans would be considered marital debt and you may be held responsible for sharing the payment unless you and your spouse can agree otherwise. However, even if you agree that your spouse will be responsible for the loans, your name will likely remain on the loans and any failure to repay could affect your credit. Continue reading →

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A major issue between parents who split up is who will get custody of their child. In many cases, if you do not particularly like the other parent or believe he or she may be irresponsible in some way, you may want to obtain sole custody rights. However, getting sole custody in Florida is extremely difficult.

In order to understand why this is the case, you should have a basic understanding of custody laws in Florida. First, there are two different aspects to child custody:

  • Physical custody: the time you spend with your child visiting you or living with you; and
  • Legal custody: the right to be a part of major decisions in the child’s life, including schooling, activities, religion, and medical care.

In Florida, physical custody is called “parenting time” and legal custody is often referred to as “parental responsibility.” How these rights are divided between parents is set out in a parenting plan that must be approved by the courts. Continue reading →

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Many different religions have different requirements for ending a marriage, such as a declaration of nullity in Catholicism or the practice of talaq in Islam. However, none of these practices ends a legally valid marriage in the eyes of the law in the state of Florida. Instead, Florida has many requirements and steps that you and your spouse must follow in order to legally dissolve a marriage. Without taking these steps, you will still be considered to be married by the Florida government. This can affect many different aspects of your life including taxes, your ability to remarry, property acquisition, and more. To avoid any unforeseen complications in your life, it is always imperative that you properly seek and obtain a legal divorce from the court if you want to end your marriage in Florida.

The following are some of the requirements set out by Florida law for a valid and legal divorce in our state.

A valid marriage — In order to seek a divorce, you must first have a valid marriage. While this may seem like common sense, many marriages may not be valid due to age, consanguinity, bigamy, and other reasons.

Residency in Florida — In order for a Florida court to hear your divorce case, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for the past six months before the filing.

Proper court filing — You must file a petition with the court requesting the divorce that includes all the necessary information. There are many different options for divorce filings including for simplified dissolution or uncontested divorces. Continue reading →

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A major part of any divorce case will likely be the equitable division of assets as directed under Florida law. Not all assets owned by the divorcing spouses will be subject to division, however, as only assets considered to be “marital property” must be divided. Marital property is anything owned by both spouses together while separate property is only owned by one spouse (and the owner spouse will get to keep that property). It is important to take particular care when you are deciding which property is classified as marital and which is separate. If you misclassify certain property, you may lose valuable assets in your divorce to which you otherwise would have been entitled.

Marital assets generally include any property that is acquired by either spouse through the duration of the marriage. This can include real estate, investments, retirement accounts, cash, and personal property. Even if only one spouse purchases a property or opens a retirement account, if he or she uses would-be marital funds to do so, the property will be considered marital regardless of the name(s) on the title. All too often, a spouse believes that because he or she started a business or titled a vehicle in only one name, that the property will be considered separate. In fact, in these situations, any business proceeds or vehicle equity acquired during the marriage should be divided between the spouses. If marital funds were used to acquire the property or if the proceeds of the property/assets would benefit both spouses, the classification should generally be “marital.” This can be confusing in many situations, so it is wise to review all property and asset classification with an experienced divorce attorney who understands Florida law. Continue reading →

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Divorce can involve many complicated legal filings and administrative tasks. One important task that should not be ignored is changing your name back to your maiden name if you wish to do so. While name changes have traditionally been associated with women, this is no longer the case since the legality of same-sex marriage and trends in recent years of combining last names or of husbands taking the last name of their wives.

Legally changing your name back can include many different steps, including the following:

  • Requesting an official name change in your divorce petition, so the final divorce decree includes a court order allowing you to change your name back;
  • If your divorce decree does not include a name change order, you will need to file a Florida Petition for a Name Change to get a court order by that method;
  • Collect the following documents in order to update your name on official documents:
    • A certified copy of the court order for the name change;
    • Proof of your identification (passport or state-issued ID); and
    • Proof of age (birth certificate, certificate of foreign birth, or adoption order).
  • Use the above documents to change your name on your social security card, driver’s license, passport, and any other necessary forms of identification.
  • Use your new documentation to change your name on bank accounts, credit accounts, with your employer for payroll, utilities, and any other relevant accounts.

Continue reading →

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Many individuals who are facing divorce have never been to court before. While some simpler, uncontested divorces may only require one, or even no court appearances, other cases that are contested and/or involve complex issues can require both spouses to be present at numerous hearings before their dissolution of marriage is final. While court hearings may be inconvenient and may interfere with work or other schedules, it is highly important that you take these appearances seriously. Additionally, if your spouse fails to appear in court, there can be consequences for them and effects on your case.

The consequences of failing to appear without previously notifying the court can vary depending on the type of hearing scheduled, the reason for the hearing, and the reason for the failure to appear. For example, the following can occur:

  • If your spouse fails to appear at the first court appearance and has also not filed a written answer to your divorce petition, you may request that the judge enter a default judgment granting the divorce. While your marriage may be dissolved with a default judgment, other issues including child custody or property division may not be settled
  • If your spouse does not come to a hearing to decide certain issues in the divorce, the judge may either reschedule the hearing or may decide the issue based on your testimony alone, which can often work in your favor.
  • In some cases, if the you believe your spouse is intentionally not showing up to hurt the case, you can ask the judge to hold them in contempt of court and they may face criminal penalties and an arrest warrant can be issued.

A former Florida state senator was held in criminal contempt after he failed to show up at two different divorce hearings and failed to give one of their dogs to his wife as ordered by the court. His appeal of the contempt finding went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court and has recently been sent back to the trial court due to due process considerations. This case goes to show how a failure to appear can drag out legal issues as the failure to appear occurred in 2011 and the case is still persisting. Continue reading →

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Often, a divorce may be the first encounter you have with the court system and legal process. You will likely not be familiar with the many laws in Florida that govern divorce and set out your rights and responsibilities during and after the dissolution of your marriage. For these reasons, you should always seek out assistance from a highly skilled and experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney who can ensure that your best interests are protected in your divorce.

Many individuals may not know where to begin in selecting a divorce attorney and how to make sure they make a quality choice. While you may be tempted to simply do a quick internet search and choose the first name, this may or may not be the right decision for you. Divorce is a sensitive legal matter that can have significant and long-lasting effects on your life, so you should always choose an attorney as carefully as you would choose a surgeon or other life-changing professional. The following are some things you may want to consider when you are deciding you will represent you throughout your divorce.

Do Your Friends Have Recommendations?

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With the recent breach and data leak regarding approximately 32 million subscribers to the “married dating” website Ashley Madison, many married couples have likely been facing difficult situations as news of possible infidelity became exposed. It would not be surprising, in fact, if numerous couples end up in divorce court over a leaked Ashley Madison subscription. This leads to the common question: What role, if any, does a spouse’s adulterous behavior play in a subsequent divorce case?

Questions of Fault

In Florida, you must file for divorce on a “no-fault” basis, which means that no specific reason–such as adultery–can be given for the divorce. Insteading of blaming one spouse, all divorces are based on the assertion that the marriage is irretrievably broken. For this reason, adultery has no effect specifically on basic questions of fault in a divorce.

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In a divorce case, every individual wants to obtain a decree with the most favorable terms possible so that he or she may move on with financial stability and quality relationships with his or her children. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes during their divorce cases that hinder the outcomes. The following are only some of the errors that commonly affect the outcome of a divorce case.

Having unrealistic expectations — If you march into a courtroom demanding an exorbitant and unjustified amount of spousal support or sole custody of your children when shared custody is appropriate, your case may be affected in many ways. First, if you refuse to agree to reasonable terms, your case may be delayed and many issues may be placed into the hands of the family law judge, who may not find in your favor. An attorney can help provide a realistic view of the potential terms of your divorce decree.

Assuming your spouse will cooperate — Many people optimistically expect their spouse to be cooperative and fair when discussing and agreeing upon the many terms of their divorce. Unfortunately, the divorce process can incite a lot of negative emotions and many spouses become difficult and resentful before the divorce is finalized. You should never fail to have an attorney simply because you expect fairness from your spouse. Having the representation of an experienced divorce lawyer will ensure that you have the needed legal support if your spouse becomes unreasonable.