When people get married, they are seldom thinking about divorce. Even when it is a second marriage, the thought may be, “This time will be different.” When there is a decision to divorce, it can be upsetting, especially when children are involved.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, so if one party desires a divorce, the court will grant one. How long the divorce process takes and how much, or little, turmoil is created depends upon each couple.
A recent study ranked Miami as the richest city in the United States, and the world’s fifth-richest city in terms of purchasing power. With that in mind, it is a safe assumption that division of assets and liabilities can be a significant concern for those divorcing in Miami.
When there are significant premarital assets, or the marriage involves a business, the financial aspects of the divorce can become complicated. It is important to note that only those premarital assets, which have remained separate or unmingled, can be counted as separate and not part of the community property of the marriage.
All assets and liabilities incurred during the marriage are considered joint property. During a high-asset divorce, a forensic accountant, business valuation expert or other financial expert may be needed. The types of assets which are subject to divisions include:
- All motor vehicles and boats
- Collections (art or other collectibles)
- Family business
- Foreign holdings and other offshore assets
- Jewelry, furnishings and clothing
- Partnerships or LLCs
- Real estate (main residence and other real property)
- Retirement assets
- Stocks, bonds and other liquid assets
The court frowns upon any attempt to hide an asset, or to spend an asset down as a prelude to divorce. Such actions can result in an unequal split of the remaining property.
Alimony Or Spousal Support
When a couple’s income is unequal or there has been a long-term marriage, the court may order that spousal support or alimony be paid to the spouse earning little or no income, as either a temporary or permanent payment. The court has discretion on the amount of alimony that could be paid or owed, and so it is important to obtain skilled legal representation to protect one’s interests.
When there are children in the marriage, the divorce agreement will need to include a parenting plan which outlines how much time the children will spend with each parent, and a schedule for that parenting time.
There are two types of child custody:
- Legal custody. This is generally shared and is the power to make important decisions regarding the child such as religious upbringing, schooling and health-related decisions.
- Physical custody. This is the physical caretaking of the child or children on a day-to-day basis. This is generally shared between parents, although not always. When there is shared custody, a typical arrangement is that the child or children will spend every other week and alternate holidays and vacations with each parent.
If physical custody is given to one parent, then the other parent would have visitation privileges. A typical arrangement is every other weekend for overnight visits with the noncustodial parent and one night per week for dinner or after-school visits.
The court will make a decision that is in the best interest of the child or children and frowns upon using the children as pawns.
A child support determination is made according to a basic formula set out by the state of Florida. The formula essentially considers the net monthly income of the parents combined, and then assumes a percentage of net income is each parent’s responsibility to care for the child or children.
The total amount due for each child is then divided according to how much time is spent with each parent, and the percentage of income each parent contributes to the monthly net. Although child support is a formula, the court has some discretion.
Occasionally a custodial parent will want to move out of state, or out of the country, and take the children to the new location. This cannot be done without a post-divorce modification and permission from the court. If both parents agree to the relocation, the court will generally agree as well. If one parent objects, the court will make a decision using some of the following factors:
- The child’s relationship with the parent who would be leaving
- The child’s relationship with the parent who would be left behind (if the child is moving)
- The child’s mental, physical and emotional development
- If old enough, the child’s preference
In some cases a couple may believe that a collaborative divorce is possible, or may wish to use a mediator. A word of caution to consider is that divorce is an emotional experience and even if you and your spouse agree on issues, you may wish to have legal counsel who is totally focused on your best interests. Some find it comforting. When significant assets are involved, it is certainly a good idea to obtain an attorney.
How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
When searching for a lawyer to represent you during divorce proceedings, it is a wise idea to hire an attorney who focuses on divorce in Miami, rather than selecting a general practice attorney with whom you may already be familiar. Depending upon your circumstances, or even the languages you speak, you may want to obtain an attorney who has that particular focus and who has helped other people similar to you.
To get in contact with an attorney fill out the intake form and let us know a little bit more about your case. One of our lawyers in your area will be in contact with you shortly after to go through your case in detail and lay out all the options available to you. After the initial consultation you can decide whether you want to hire an attorney and proceed.