Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that it is not necessary to prove the behavior of a spouse is the reason for the failed marriage. Couples in West Palm Beach can file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, and the motion will be granted by the court.
A divorce brings with it the need to make important legal decisions that will affect the future. Many of the issues that need to be resolved involve the children, such as custody arrangements and visitation schedules.. For this reason, it’s important to have reliable legal information that may not be right for you or your family.
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce is seeing the hurt or confusion on the faces of the children. Ending a marriage calls for parents to work together to make the transition smoother for the children. In the state of Florida, a parenting plan is a requirement for the court. A judge wants to see that parents have given thought to custody, visitation and schedules for the children.
It’s best if parents are able to agree on these issues but if that isn’t the case, the court will rule based on the welfare of the children.
In West Palm Beach, Florida, as in the rest of the state, the court prefers shared custody. However, when a spouse’s home features dangerous or unhealthy situations, such as criminal behavior or illegal drug use, the court will deny custody to a parent. Florida has two custody types – physical and legal.
- Physical custody involves the ability to make choices in all aspects of caregiving and includes overnight stays.
- Legal custody gives parents the right to be a decision maker in areas that include the religion, medical care and education of children.
In situations where sole custody is awarded, the other parent may have visitation. If granting visiting rights to a parent isn’t in the best interests of the children, however, such rights may be denied.
Each parent is financially responsible for providing for his or her children. To get a rough idea of the amount of child support payments, a calculation tool is available on the state of Florida’s government website. Each spouse is responsible for a certain percentage of support. Some of the initial factors that are used to determine child support are:
- The number of children in the household
- The combined net income of both parents
- The cost of health insurance for the children
There are a variety of other considerations used by the court to help calculate an accurate figure for child support. Some of the other points may include union dues, retirement contributions and additional costs to raise children.
Property division in Florida is done through equitable distribution. The guidelines for dividing property equitably states that assets and debts acquired during the marriage belong to both parties. The court allocates property in a reasonable way that is fair; however, this doesn’t mean assets are dispersed in two equal halves.
Division Of Property
When it comes to categorizing property there are two forms – marital and separate. An example of separate property may include a birthday gift or property protected by a prenuptial agreement. When separate property has become commingled, it may be hard to identify the appropriate owner. For this reason, commingled property often becomes a joint asset.
Some examples of items that belong to both spouses are:
- Real estate
- Automobiles, boats and planes
- Collectible items
- Household and clothing items
- Pensions and other retirement accounts
- Bank accounts, stocks, bonds and pensions
- Credit card debt
- Other joint liabilities
In Florida, there are a few methods for ending a West Palm Beach marriage, including dissolution of marriage, a simple dissolution of marriage and an annulment. Spouses filing for divorce have to meet the residency requirement of six months.
Although some of the methods to end a marriage in Florida are faster than other ways, terminating a union takes time. Once the petition is filed, there is a 20-day waiting period before the judgment is officially entered into the court record.
A simple dissolution of marriage is a streamlined divorce process that is often a less expensive way to end a partnership. Certain legal options are not available in this method, such as spousal support. In order to meet the requirements of a simple dissolution, spouses need to agree on all post-marital arrangements. The other stipulations for this filing type are:
- There must be no minor children (under the age of 18).
- The wife may not be pregnant.
- The spouses must agree that the marriage can’t be saved.
When a marriage is annulled, the court determines that the union never legally occurred. An annulment is an uncommon method to end a marriage in the state of Florida. In order to be granted an annulment, certain grounds need to exist and proven in court. Examples include:
- Incest (close family relative)
- Bigamy (already legally married)
- Underage (under the age of 18)
- Coercion (forced into marriage)
- Incoherence (under the influence of drugs or alcohol)
- Fraud (tricked into marriage)
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an effective tool to resolve issues and save costs associated with divorce. The goal is to avoid a trial and save time by working out issues with a neutral third party. Often the mediator is an attorney or judge and can help provide a range of possible solutions. Other benefits of ADR include preserving spousal relationships and being able to resolve issues in a less formal environment than a courtroom.
It’s important to have an attorney review documents before you sign them. A lawyer can inform you of better options that exist in the event an agreement is not entirely in your best interests. Whether you have questions on how to interpret a prenuptial agreement or there is concern over marital property division, enlisting the services of an attorney can be invaluable.
How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
There are many lawyers from which to choose. Not every choice is a perfect one for the situation. The attorney you hire should practice family law and have experience helping other West Palm Beach families transition through divorce. Only an experienced divorce lawyer is qualified to navigate the intricate divorce laws and issues related to dissolving a marriage. To begin the divorce process or learn more about the legal steps, fill out the free case review form to be put in contact with a West Palm Beach divorce attorney.