Do You Need an Attorney to File for Divorce in Tampa, Florida?
At the risk of sounding self-serving, the answer to this question is generally “yes”. While there is no law that states you must have an attorney to file for divorce in Florida, the divorce will change your life dramatically and your financial situation will become unstable. The reason why divorces end up before the courts is due in large part to the amount of uncertainty that can happen post-divorce. To negotiate a fair settlement for you and your children, having a Tampa, FL attorney file for divorce on your behalf is essential to protecting your interests post-divorce.
Filing for divorce without an attorney
There are some situations in which filing for divorce without an attorney may actually save you money. In the case that your marriage only lasted a handful of months and there are no children in the marriage, you can file for a simplified dissolution of marriage.
Florida provides a process called the “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage” for couples who want to get a quick divorce. In this case, the spouses must agree on all aspects related to the divorce before they file for divorce. This includes matters like property division, and other issues not related to child custody. In cases where there are children involved from the marriage, the courts will not allow a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage to go forward.
When it comes to children, the courts consider the best interests of the children to be of paramount concern when determining issues such as custody, child support, and more. Additionally, a wife cannot be pregnant at the time of the filing. No alimony is awarded in a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage which is another reason to avoid it completely.
Options for dissolving a marriage in Florida
As stated previously, a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage only really works when the marriage lasted for a short period of time, there are no children involved, and one party is not attempting to recover spousal support. However, there are ways to dissolve a marriage that don’t involve battling your spouse in front of a judge. Those include mediation and the collaborative divorce process.
Mediation involves one attorney acting in the role of mediator to help the couple dissolve their marital estate amicably. Mediation affords the spouses better control over what happens. When you allow a judge to decide the matter, all of the control is in the judge’s hands. It also costs less money to mediate a divorce than to litigate it.
Another option is collaborative divorce. In the collaborative divorce process, both parties are represented by their own attorney, but they sign a contract promising not to litigate the divorce or threaten litigation. Both parties commit to collaboratively ending their marriage.
While the court always has the final say when it comes to custody and child support, many issues can be handled without the need for both parties to hire attorneys and battle it out before a judge. But going into the process without an attorney is generally ill-advised.
Talk to a Tampa, FL Divorce Lawyer Today
Westchase Law, P.A. represents the interests of Tampa, FL couples who are seeking divorce in Florida. Contact our Tampa family lawyers today to schedule an appointment. We will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have on pursuing a divorce.