4465 Baymeadows Road
Suite #3
Jacksonville, FL 32217

Phone: 904-733-9080
Fax: 844-570-2242

FOREFRONT LAW

Divorce Attorney in Jacksonville, FL

Divorce Lawyer Jacksonville, FL

Elements of Florida Divorce

Dissolution of marriage:

refers to the process a married couple must goes through when they want to permanently end their marriage. Florida is a no-fault divorce state that is when no blame or fault for the breakup is placed on either spouse. Irreconcilable differences is commonly a used cause in no-fault divorces which means the couple simply do not get along any more.
  • Contested divorces are those in which couples may not agree on one or more issues. Uncontested divorces can become contested if the parties disagree on even a small number of items. Even in the case of an uncontested divorce, it is wise to seek the counsel of a divorce attorney to advise you. Legal representation will ensure that you and your spouse have considered every option and that your rights are protected.

Alimony:

Alimony or maintenance may be awarded during a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Florida has different types of alimony and to determine whether to award alimony or maintenance, the court will first make a determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. If the court finds that a party has a need for alimony or maintenance and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance, then in determining the proper type and amount of alimony or maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant factors, such as; the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the age and the physical and emotional condition of each party, the financial resources of each party, and many other relevant factors.

Equitable Distribution:

the law in Florida is equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. The court will always begin on the premise that distribution should be equal, unequal distribution must be justified using a list of statutory factors such as; the contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children, the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage and many other factors. Forefront Law, P.A. can help if you are going through this difficult time, call for a consultation today.

What to expect in the divorce process in Florida:

Petition for dissolution of marriage

Divorce is also known as dissolution of marriage in Florida. The divorce proceeding begins when either spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage. The Florida residency requirement for filing a dissolution of marriage petition is six months. Filing a divorce petition, is how a spouse informs the court that they are wanting a divorce and would like the court to grant them specific financial and property settlements. As well as, any parental responsibilities, time sharing, and child support, if applicable.

Service

The spouse not filing the petition must be notified about the divorce and this is called service. Service usually must be done by personal service, which simply means the divorce petition is hand-delivered to the non-filing spouse either by the sheriff or a certified process server. When the non- filing spouse has been served with the divorce papers, by Florida law they must file an answer within 20 days of being served and receiving the divorce papers. If the spouse being served does not respond, then they place themselves at risk of the court deciding on the divorce without hearing from them.

Mandatory disclosures

Florida law requires mandatory disclosure, which requires each party in a family law case provide certain documentation to the other party so that each will be fully informed about the financial circumstances of the other party. This rule requires that each spouse truthfully fill out a financial affidavit form, which discloses all of their assets, income, expenses and liabilities. The financial affidavit form must be promptly filed with the court.

Discovery

Discovery is the exchange of evidence between the parties. This may be accomplished by asking the other party to (a) produce specific documents or (b) provide written answers to questions or (c) provide oral recorded testimony, called a deposition.

Mediation

Mediation is a procedure to assist the parties in working out an arrangement for reaching an agreement. This procedure can help prevent a prolonged divorce process or going to trial. The court will require the parties to submit to mediation when there is no agreement. Mediation is a confidential meeting at which both parties, their attorneys and the mediator are present in the attempt to facilitate a settlement agreement. Issues that are not agreed upon, are considered contested issues, which could include anything from spousal support, child support, child custody, property distribution etc. If during mediation the parties cannot reach an agreement, then at this point the case would continue on to trial. However, if the parties can come to an agreement on the issues then, a marital settlement agreement can be drawn up, both sides would sign it and then a final hearing is set for the judge to review and sign off on the agreement. Reaching an agreement empowers both parties to create terms with which they are more likely to comply rather than leaving decisions up to a judge.

Trial

If the case continues on to trial, both sides are allowed to present evidence and testimony in front of the judge and have the judge decide on the issues in which an agreement could not be reached.

Florida Divorce FAQs

There is no standard length of time because every divorce case is unique. In general, however, an uncontested divorce will not take as long as a contested divorce. If both parties are in agreement as to the terms of the divorce, the process may take only a few weeks. If the parties are not in agreement, it may take six months or more.  The guidance of a qualified divorce lawyer, particularly in a contested divorce, can help ensure that the process moves forward more smoothly and all your divorce related questions are addressed.

In Florida—a no-fault divorce state—either spouse can seek a divorce without having to provide any reason other than irreconcilable differences. In other words, the only requirement for dissolution of the marriage is for one of the spouses is to provide proof that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Both parties can work to come to an agreement on division of property themselves. Otherwise, an agreement can be reached through the mediation process or the court will make the decision.

The court will start with the presumption that assets will be equally divided. The Florida Standard of equitable distribution determines the way spouses in Florida divide their property and debts during a divorce. Florida law requires an equitable division of assets with equitable meaning equal in most instances. Several factors can be taken into consideration as well, including:

  • How long the parties were married
  • The contributions of each party to the marriage, such as services as a homemaker and contributions to the education and care of children
  • Whether one spouse helped the other’s career or education by pausing his or her own
  • Whether one spouse wasted shared marital assets
  • The economic circumstances of both parties

The court can order one party to pay periodic payments, a lump sum, or both. Types of alimony awarded in Florida include:

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony is intended to assist one party transition to being single for a limited length of time.
  • Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to help one party gain new skills or credentials or improve previous ones in order to become self-sufficient. There must be a well-defined rehabilitation plan in place. Rehabilitative alimony can end when the plan is completed, or if the recipient doesn’t comply with the plan.
  • Durational alimony may be awarded to provide financial assistance for a prescribed length of time. The amount of this type of alimony can be modified if a significant change in circumstances occurs; the length of time can only be changed under exceptional circumstances.
  • Temporary Alimony (aka pendente lite or pending the suit) are alimony payments made by one spouse to the other during the pendency of the divorce. 
  • Permanent alimony is meant to provide for the needs of a spouse who is unable to meet his or her own needs after the marriage is dissolved. The length of the marriage will be a factor in whether this type of alimony can be awarded.

The court can order one party to pay periodic payments, a lump sum, or both. Types of alimony awarded in Florida include:

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony is intended to assist one party transition to being single for a limited length of time.
  • Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to help one party gain new skills or credentials or improve previous ones in order to become self-sufficient. There must be a well-defined rehabilitation plan in place. Rehabilitative alimony can end when the plan is completed, or if the recipient doesn’t comply with the plan.
  • Durational alimony may be awarded to provide financial assistance for a prescribed length of time. The amount of this type of alimony can be modified if a significant change in circumstances occurs; the length of time can only be changed under exceptional circumstances.
  • Temporary Alimony (aka pendente lite or pending the suit) are alimony payments made by one spouse to the other during the pendency of the divorce. 
  • Permanent alimony is meant to provide for the needs of a spouse who is unable to meet his or her own needs after the marriage is dissolved. The length of the marriage will be a factor in whether this type of alimony can be awarded.

Once it has been determined that alimony is appropriate in the case, the court will weigh several factors in making decisions about the amount of alimony and how long it must be paid, including but not limited to:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • Each party’s financial resources
  • The standard of living that was established during the marriage
  • Each party’s physical and emotional condition, and age
  • Each party’s employability and vocational skills
  • Each party’s responsibility to any minor children
  • The sources of income available to each party

 

You are not required by law to have a divorce attorney in Florida, but considering the profound effects divorce can have on a couple or family, it’s advisable to have legal counsel if possible. The laws relevant to divorce in Florida and the complexities inherent in any legal proceeding can be challenging to understand and it can be difficult to know just which options you have available as you make decisions. In addition, if one party has an attorney, it’s best for the other party to have one as well in order to ensure that neither party has an unfair legal advantage.

If you have minor children and/or significant assets, an experienced divorce lawyer can help ensure that all parties’ legal rights are preserved and the most equitable terms can be reached. At Forefront Law Firm, our family law team can help you navigate every aspect of the divorce process, including mediation and a trial should it be necessary.

In order to file for a dissolution of marriage in Florida, one of you must be either a Florida resident or a member of an armed force who is stationed in Florida. One of you must also have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months. If your spouse is not a Florida resident, you will need to file in the Florida county where you live. If your spouse is a resident of the state, you must file in the county where your spouse resides.

A good deal of information is needed in divorce proceedings, many of them related to finances. These include mortgage documents for all real estate; statements for all bank, retirement, and investment accounts; income tax returns; records of all income, and more. You will also need a complete inventory of family belongings and major possessions, records showing both parties’ debts, and household budget details that can help the judge arrive at a fair amount of spousal support.

Judges have broad discretion in divorce cases and their decisions are not often reversed in appellate court. It is possible to make a successful appeal, however, if it can be proved that the trial judge made an error of law. In any case, you must act promptly to file an appeal of the final judgment: It must be filed within 30 days of the date of the order you’re appealing.

An experienced Jacksonville divorce lawyer can help protect your interests and those of any minor children. Forefront Law, can help you with in family law, divorce law, and estate planning, three practice areas we can draw from to ensure the best outcomes for our clients today and into the future. We help you establish grounds for your divorce, properly account for your economic circumstances, explain how property may be divided, assist with a plan for spousal and child support, negotiate a settlement, and much more. As with any legal proceeding, having a qualified lawyer on your side can help you avoid costly mistakes.

We are dedicated advocates for our clients through every stage of the process of divorce, from the initial filing to representing you in court, if necessary to resolve the terms of your divorce. If you need a Jacksonville divorce attorney, please don’t hesitate to call us at 904-733-9080 or contact us online.

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