Divorce in Florida, or dissolution of marriage, is a process that severs the marital relationship and distributes assets, debts and, if there are children, determines parental responsibility and time-sharing schedules. It also may include alimony and support. The outcome of each case depends on the unique parties, circumstances and issues involved. However, there are general guidelines that judges follow when making these decisions.
For example, in determining spousal support, the judge will consider the length of the marriage and each spouse’s earnings history and earning capacity. He or she will also take into consideration any domestic violence that may have occurred during the marriage. Similarly, in determining child custody or time-sharing, the court will take into account the best interests of the children.
A divorce petition must be filed in the county where you and your spouse live or where you last lived together as a married couple. It is then necessary to have your spouse served with a copy of the petition and a summons. After a period of 20 days, the respondent must file an answer to the petition or, if he or she chooses not to do so, a motion for default can be filed and granted. This allows the court to proceed with a final hearing where it will grant all of the divorce requests that were included in the original petition.
Generally, any asset or debt accumulated by a married couple during their marriage will be considered marital property. This includes cars, houses, bank accounts, investments and personal property. This also includes retirement benefits like pensions, IRAs and 401ks. However, any property that was inherited or given to one party as a gift and/or any settlement received from a personal injury lawsuit are considered separate property.
If a divorce is contested, it may be necessary to go through a mediation process in order to reach a divorce agreement with your spouse. This is a way for both parties to avoid the time and expense of a trial. Many counties have public or court-connected mediation services. Some courts even require spouses to attempt mediation before a final divorce hearing can be set.
In addition, keep in mind that after a divorce is finalized, you will no longer be considered a dependent and therefore will not be covered under your spouse’s healthcare plan. You will need to obtain your own insurance coverage.
Finally, don’t forget that alimony and child support payments are taxable income and must be reported on your tax return. If you are considering filing for divorce, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney divorceinfloridaonline.com for more information and guidance. During this difficult time, you will need all of the help you can get to ensure your rights and those of your children are protected. Contact our office for more information or to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you.