Divorce Laws Florida
Divorce Laws in Florida
There are three general steps to every Florida divorce. The first is to file a petition with the circuit court. The second is to notify the spouse of the filing followed by attending a Florida divorce hearing. While these steps happen in any divorce, the process is rarely simple. The law is clear on certain areas in regards to time, residency requirements, and residency.
For instance, there is a 20 day waiting period after the divorce is filed and the other party is served, and at least one party must have lived in the state of Florida for at least the last six months. In addition, the only two acceptable reasons to file for a divorce in Florida is if a marriage is irretrievably broken or one party is mentally incapacitated.
While these laws may be clear, divorces can have many different issues involved. For example, issues with assets, alimony, and children are the main obstacles that people cannot agree. To cover these issues, the Florida state legislature wrote chapter 61 of Florida statutes to deal with the main issues surrounding divorce.
Children and Divorce Law in Florida
ne of the largest and toughest decisions that any court must deal with is in regards to minor children. The first concern in all cases is the well-being of the child. For this reason, a large part of chapter 61 in Florida statutes is written to cover issues with children. In any case, the court may order either parent to pay child support during and after dissolution of marriage. While there is no set amount of child support by law, there are many factors the court considers when setting the amount a parent will pay.
Medical expenses are a consideration in every case, but if there are any extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses involved, the parent paying the child support may be ordered to cover these expenses. The court also considers whether the child is getting money from another source, whether the parent they are living with is getting spousal support, whether there are seasonal variations in annual income, and even the age of the child since an older child often has greater needs.
Yet another factor in setting a child support amount is the terms shared by the parents for visitation and who maintains the childs living expenses. In any case, maintaining a child or multiple children on a health insurance policy is necessary for at least one of the parents and this also becomes a consideration in setting child support amounts. Moreover, since each child gives a tax filer a tax credit, the impact of any IRS dependency exemption is considered. Finally, for anyone ordered to pay child support, payments may be ordered to be paid through a state depository.
As part of the child support discussions, the question of child custody is generally a strained one. Parents can be granted sole custody or joint custody, which is the preferred method over sole custody. In all cases, custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child.
The list of criteria when considering the best interests of the children includes:
which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with a noncustodial parent,
the emotional ties between parent and child,
the desire of the food to provide for the child,
the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment to maintain continuity,
and the permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home.
In addition, the parents must be mentally, physically, and morally fit to raise a child. Older children can indicate a parental preference if they are old enough to do so and can choose based on school and community record. Normally, a parents criminal record is checked for any domestic violence or abuse reports before a final decision is made. The law is clear that no preference is given to a parents sex and allows visitation from grandparents.
Property and Alimony Divorce Law in Florida
Outside of children, the largest issue surrounding divorce is alimony and property. Florida is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that all marital property is dived equitably between each party.
Florida divorce law does state that any non-marital property does not have to be shared with the spouse, so any family property or inheritance is not split if obtained before being married. While the settlement between the couples begins with an equitable distribution, many factors are considered prior to finalizing a contested divorce.
First, the contribution of assets from both parties are considered, including time spent as a homemaker. Next, the length of the marriage is considered along with the age and health status of both spouses. All income is examined for each spouse and a standard of living is determined.
Once those considerations are covered, the court tries to ensure both spouses can continually survive and even have the opportunity to gain more assets and thrive, even if this means time for one spouse or the other to attend college in order to support themselves. Finally, martial misconduct is not specified as a factor in any division of property. However, the court does consider marital misconduct, or adultery, in respect to alimony amounts.
Divorce Laws in Florida Summary
In all cases, an uncontested divorce is an easier and cheaper process than a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on all issues. While the laws are standard, the issues surrounding divorce are never standard and the law is not specific in every case. Understanding Florida divorce laws and gaining the advice from an attorney with help in any divorce proceeding.
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