Articles Posted in Divorce Procedure

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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.

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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.

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The Florida Department of Health released information recently indicating that, while the marriage rate in Florida is rising, the divorce rate fell to the lowest it has been in decades. Per every 100 marriages, there were 54 divorces finalized in Florida last year. This is the lowest divorce rate since 1960. In contrast, the number of marriages per year increased in 2014 for the first time after declining each year for the past ten years.

Divorce Rate in Florida Higher Than the National Rate

Even though the percentage of marriages that ended in divorce last year hit a long-time low, the divorce rate for the state of Florida is still higher than the rate for the entire United States. People are still filing for divorce on a regular basis and still face all of the legal issues that can be related to a divorce case. Only some of the legal issues in a divorce include as follows:

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Child custody is often a complex and hotly contested issue in family law cases. In many situations, parents involved in a custody case are getting divorced or ending a dating relationship and, too often, one parent may want to limit the custody of the other. One parent may allege that the other engages in misconduct or is otherwise unfit to parent the child. Though Florida law presumes that joint custody and relationships with both parents is preferable, the courts will look into such allegations to ensure that the custody determination is truly in the best interests of the child. In these situations, the court may order a custody evaluation.

Custody evaluations involve the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to protect the rights and best interests of the child. A forensic psychologist may also be appointed to help evaluate the situation. These professionals are expected to remain impartial regarding the two parents and focus solely on what type of custody arrangement may be best for the child.

An evaluation may include the following depending on the particular situation:

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German media recently reported a story regarding an angry husband who decided to take the division of property into his own hands following a split with his wife of 12 years. The man posted a video on Youtube that showed him taking a chainsaw to many of his and his wife’s possessions and literally cutting them in half. The video shows the resulting half of a bicycle, a couch, a bed, a laptop, an iPhone, a teddy bear, and even their car. The husband claims he sent one set of halves to his wife and posted his own set on eBay.

While this husband’s video entertained millions of viewers and his actions garnered international attention, pulling such a stunt is not advisable in the face of divorce from a financial and legal standpoint. In fact, in a Florida divorce case, that husband would likely face financial consequences for destroying marital property in such a manner.

Property Division in Accordance with Florida Law