Dissolution of Marriage

In Florida, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage.”  Florida is a “no fault” divorce state where all it takes to obtain a divorce is for one party to testify under oath that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”  Judges rarely ask why.

There are five major parts to any Florida dissolution of marriage case.

Parenting Issues.  There are two major topics to be resolved with parenting issues.  First is parental responsibility and second is the timesharing schedule.  Once those are resolved, they are included in a document called a “parenting plan” that outlines the parents’ non-financially related rights and responsibilities regarding their children.  Parental responsibility is the parents’ right to make decisions affecting their children’s health, welfare, and upbringing.  The timesharing schedule outlines the times that the children spend with each of their parents.

Equitable Distribution.  The division of the parties’ assets and liabilities (debts) is called “equitable distribution.”  First, any non-marital or pre-marital assets and liabilities are identified and set aside for the party to whom they belong.  Then, the parties’ marital assets and liabilities are identified, valued, and distributed between each party.  The beginning premise is that each party will leave the marriage with an equal net-marital worth.  So, if the parties have a total $50,000 net value of their marital estate, each party should leave the marriage with $25,000 in marital net worth.  If, based on the distribution, one party receives $40,000 and the other receives $10,000, then the party who has the greater net worth will pay the other $15,000 to equal out their marital net worth in an “equalizing payment”.  Sometimes, a court may distribute one party a greater or lesser share of the marital estate; however, it is up to the party wanting more than an equal share of the marital estate to prove to the court that it is equitable for the court to do so based on a list of statutory factors.

Alimony.  Alimony is also called “spousal support.”  It is financial support one spouse provides the other spouse either during or following a dissolution of marriage proceeding.  There are many types of alimony in Florida which vary in amount, duration, and form.  There are many factors that the court must consider when determining a party’s request for alimony during and following conclusion of the dissolution case.  Whether alimony will be awarded in a case and, if so, for how long and how much is a fact-intensive analysis and our attorneys can talk about your unique situation during a consultation.

Child Support.  Child support has several parts.  Most people think of child support as a monthly payment from one parent to the other.  This is often true.  But child support also includes the parents’ responsibility to provide health insurance for their children, the division of unreimbursed medical expenses incurred on behalf of the minor children, payment of the children’s extracurricular activity fees and costs, and payment of academic/education related fees and costs.  Also, as part of child support, the court can determine which parent should have the right to claim the minor children as dependents for federal income tax purposes.  How much child support is awarded, while it is a mathematical formula, is a fact-intensive analysis because what amounts are input into the formula and whether the court could or should award more or less than the presumptive child support guideline amount is often in dispute.  Our attorneys are well qualified to discuss your concerns with you and give you specifically tailored advice.

Attorney’s Fees and Costs.  The presumption is that each party will pay their own attorney’s fees, suit money, and costs in a dissolution of marriage case.   

While laws may be common, the facts involved in each case are unique.  Schedule your consultation today to discuss your unique needs with our attorneys who will give you advice tailored to your unique situation.

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