Tampa Divorce Lawyer
The stated purpose of Florida’s divorce laws are to preserve the integrity of marriage and safeguard meaningful family relationships, while promoting amicable settlements of disputes that arise between spouses, and mitigating the potential harm caused by the process of a legal dissolution of marriage to both the spouses and their children. At Westchase Law P.A., our Florida family law attorneys strive to uphold these ideals every day as we guide our clients through the often difficult and always emotional process of divorce. We approach every case with compassion, care, and deep concern for the well-being of the children and all parties involved, combined with an understanding that our client’s needs and goals come first. For help with divorce in the greater Tampa Bay area, contact the experienced and dedicated Tampa divorce lawyers at Westchase Law P.A.
A Look at the Florida Divorce Process
The divorce process in Florida can be initiated by either spouse, provided at least one of them has resided in the state for at least six months. Florida only recognizes no-fault divorces which means that all that is required for a divorce is that the party filing for divorce declares that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Florida also allows for divorce based on the mental incapacity of one of the parties if certain conditions are met. When there are minor children involved or if the responding party denies and the Court is not convinced that the marriage is irretrievably broken the court may order the couple to attend counseling or provide some additional time for reconciliation. However in most cases the judge accepts the parties’ contention that the marriage is irretrievably broken and will dissolve the marriage once all issues have been settled or litigated at trial.
The issues to resolve in a divorce vary from case to case, but generally the following matters must be decided:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Complex Business & Divorce
- High-Asset Divorce
- High-Conflict Family Law
- LGBTQ Divorce
- Military Divorce
- Parenting Plans & Timesharing
- Property Division
- Revenge Porn
- Same Sex Divorce
- Uncontested Divorce
If the parties had previously signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that addresses matters such as the division of property or alimony, the court will give effect to the terms of the agreement unless it is challenged in court and found to be void or unenforceable.
The process of divorce begins when one of the spouses files a petition for dissolution with the court and then a copy of the filed petition, other initial pleadings,and summons are served on the responding spouse. The petition asks the court to dissolve the marriage and spells out what issues the court will need to address and resolve and what the petition spouse wishes the court to do regarding the specific issues in their case. The responding spouse then files an answer with the court admitting or denying the grounds for divorce and putting forth what they want from divorce.
Each party, within forty-five (45) days of the respondent being served, is automatically required to make financial disclosures regarding assets and debts pursuant to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285. The court will also typically put temporary standing orders in place while the divorce is ongoing to direct the parties on what behavior and actions are permissible and forbidden during the pending litigation. A party can also seek additional temporary orders from the Court which can temporarily resolve issues such as timesharing, support (both alimony and child support), and who gets to stay in the marital home.
At any time, the parties can choose to mediate their dispute, but if the parties have not voluntarily subjected themselves to mediation, then the Court will require it- in some counties mediation is required before any hearing can be held before the judge. The parties can also settle their differences entirely outside of mediation and can negotiate a resolution with the help of their attorneys, who will draw up a marital settlement agreement explaining how the couple wishes to address matters such as alimony, timesharing, and the division of property. Such agreements would be submitted to the court for the judge to review and approve without the need for a contested hearing or contentious courtroom trial.
If you have never been through a divorce before, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed. What do you do? What is the process? What are the laws and procedures involved?
Divorces are serious legal matters that people don’t always take seriously enough. But there are strict procedures that need to be followed. Otherwise, a divorcing couple can face delays and increased costs.
Are you considering divorce? If so, don’t go through it alone. Contact Westchase Law and schedule a consultation. Our Tampa divorce procedure attorneys can help you understand what to expect.
How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced?
One of the most frequently asked questions is how long a divorce will take. This can vary based on the elements involved. In a simple divorce where both parties agree on everything and are fully cooperative, the process can take less than a month. On the other hand, if the parties disagree over everything and are not willing to cooperate, they can expect the process to take well over a year.
Often, minor children tend to complicate the process. That’s because child custody and child support are the biggest issues in Florida divorces. Allegations against a parent can make the process take even longer.
In longer marriages, alimony may be involved. This is especially true if one person was a stay at home parent or there is a huge discrepancy in income.
How Westchase Law P.A. Can Help With Your Tampa Divorce
The team at Westchase Law will work to secure a final divorce decree that meets your needs. Our team helps divorcing spouses with concerns such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Whether you and your spouse can agree on almost all the issues or need to fight it out in court, our Tampa lawyers can guide you through the process and formulate a solid plan. Here are some reasons why you need a divorce lawyer:
- Get solid advice. Divorce lawyers know the law. The laws vary from state to state, and chances are, you aren’t aware of your legal rights. Don’t make poor decisions and leave assets on the table.
- Avoid mistakes. This goes with the reason above. If you get legal advice, you can avoid common mistakes. Missing a deadline or forgetting to include an asset can mean a huge mistake.
- Reduce stress. Divorce is stressful even if you and your spouse agree on all the issues. Let an attorney handle all the legal work so you can focus on yourself and your children during this difficult time.
- Avoid delays. Missing a deadline or forgetting certain paperwork can lead to delays. Get your divorce finalized quickly by having a lawyer take care of everything.
Our family law attorneys have decades of experience helping clients through their divorce. Our team includes a Florida Board-Certified Specialist in Marital & Family Law, so you can rest assured our firm has the knowledge and expertise to handle your divorce regardless of the issues involved. Our lawyers are particularly experienced in helping business owners and professionals and their spouses deal with complex property issues unique to a high-asset divorce, and we are well-versed in dealing with emotional or high-conflict divorce cases as well. Or, if your divorce is amicable or uncontested, we can help it stay that way by providing expert advice and assistance to help you resolve all matters in a peaceful manner while making sure your best interests are considered, protected, and respected.
Florida Divorce FAQs
Divorce can be a daunting and emotionally-charged process. For those considering or facing a divorce in Florida, it’s important to have a grasp on the basic legal concepts and procedures. Below are some frequently asked questions about divorce in the Sunshine State.
- What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Florida? To file for divorce in Florida, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months prior to filing.
- On what grounds can I file for divorce in Florida? Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you don’t need to prove any specific grounds for divorce, other than the marriage being irretrievably broken or that one of the spouses has been mentally incapacitated for at least three years.
- What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce? In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and alimony. In a contested divorce, the parties are unable to reach an agreement on one or more issues, necessitating court intervention.
- How is property divided in a Florida divorce? Florida follows the principle of “equitable distribution,” which means that marital assets and debts should be divided fairly, though not necessarily equally. The court considers various factors, such as the length of the marriage, the financial situation of each spouse, and contributions to the marriage.
- How is alimony determined? Alimony is determined based on a variety of factors, including the financial resources of each spouse, the standard of living during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, and the contributions of each spouse to the marriage.
- How is child custody determined in Florida? Florida courts generally favor shared parental responsibility unless it is not in the child’s best interests. The court considers numerous factors, such as the mental and physical health of the parents, the child’s preference, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable environment.
- How is child support calculated? Child support is calculated based on the Florida Child Support Guidelines, which consider the income of both parents, the number of overnight stays the child has with each parent, and other expenses like healthcare and daycare.
- Can the terms of the divorce be modified after it’s finalized? Yes, certain aspects such as alimony, child support, and child custody can be modified post-judgment if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
- How long does the divorce process take in Florida? The duration of the divorce process varies. An uncontested divorce can take as little as a few weeks, while a contested divorce may take several months or even years, depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
- Should I hire an attorney for my divorce? While it is not mandatory to hire an attorney, it is highly advisable, especially in cases involving children, significant assets, or contentious issues. An attorney can provide legal guidance, represent your interests, and help ensure a fair outcome.
- What if my spouse does not want to get divorced? Since Florida is a no-fault state, you do not need your spouse’s consent to obtain a divorce. If one spouse states that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court can grant the divorce.
In conclusion, understanding the basic elements of Florida’s divorce laws is fundamental for anyone considering or facing the end of a marriage. It’s important to seek legal advice and support to navigate through the complexities of the divorce process.
Contact Experienced Tampa Divorce Attorneys at Westchase Law P.A. Today
Whether negotiating, mediating, or litigating your divorce, you can count on Westchase Law P.A. to address your needs and help you reach your goals. For help with divorce in the greater Tampa Bay area, call the experienced Tampa divorce lawyers at Westchase Law P.A.