Family Law Explained
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Choose Your Fate: Seven Courtless Divorce Options
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Alimony & Spousal Support
Overheard among a group of middle school boys drinking mochas in a coffeehouse, as one tastes another’s coffee: “That is so ridiculously sweet! That’s like something a five-year-old would make!”
There are many lessons to be gleaned by an adult reading Alice in Wonderland. One especially hit home for me.
Yesterday, I reread Alice in Wonderland, a treasure trove of now-famous quotes, and happened upon this one.
Divorce in Tampa
Divorce is the termination of a marriage and the cancellation or reorganization of the legal duties and responsibilities of the couple. During a divorce, the following issues must be addressed if relevant: parental responsibility (timesharing and decision-making), equitable distribution (the division of marital assets and liabilities), alimony, child support, attorney’s fees, and any other important issue in your specific divorce. While a divorce often begins with a party filing a petition for divorce, some divorcing couples negotiate their divorce settlement completely before filing for divorce. If parties are not able to come to an agreement regarding all issues in their divorce, they will go to court for a judge to order the remaining issues. A final judgment of dissolution of marriage ends the marriage and dictates how issues should be handled going forward.
Joryn Jenkins has almost three decades of experience in practicing divorce law in the Tampa Bay area. Not only are the attorneys of Open Palm Law comfortable litigating divorce issues, but they are trained in alternative dispute resolution like collaborative practice and mediation. Hire Open Palm Law to resolve your divorce.
FAQs for Divorce
If you can prove you’ve lived in Florida for at least six months (by either personal ID or a witness), then you can get a divorce. However, you may not be able to have the Florida court decide all the ancillary issues (real property, child custody, etc.), which will depend on your answers to lots of other questions.
Legally you cannot re-marry unless you’ve been granted a divorce. He cannot do so if you are both still legally married. That is called bigamy and is against the law in every state in the U.S. If neither one of you have known each other’s location, there is a slight possibility he may have filed a divorce, and if he couldn’t find you, had you served constructively and obtained a divorce. You might want to check court records in the places you two lived to see if that has happened. Otherwise, file for divorce. There are procedures in place to help you when you are unable to contact your spouse, especially after nearly a decade.
If you and your spouse are unable to resolve your issues, then you will have to go in front of the judge for him/her to decide them. Even if you are able to reach a full resolution without court intervention, many Florida counties require at least one spouse to go to court to have the judge ratify the parties’ marital settlement agreement and to enter a final judgment dissolving the marriage.
A judge may or may not consider a spouse’s infidelity in a divorce. In most situations, a spouse’s infidelity will not be relevant. However, if a spouse spent substantial marital funds or assets on a paramour, this will be relevant in a divorce.
If you move out of the marital home, you may lose some rights. For example, moving out of the marital home where your children continue to reside creates a new status quo that could affect temporary orders that may eventually become permanent. This could affect timesharing, child support, and other important issues in your divorce. Further, while you won’t lose your right to your share of the equity in the home, it will likely be difficult to convince a court that your spouse should move out and that you should be allowed to return.
A no fault divorce refers to a type of divorce in which the spouse that is filing for divorce does not have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse. All a spouse has to do is give any reason that the state honors for the divorce. In Florida, a no-fault divorce state, a sufficient reason is that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Annulments aren’t granted simply because a marriage was short-lived. Usually annulments are granted if one of the parties was still married to someone else, one of the parties was underage, one of the parties was too drunk to understand what they were getting into, there was fraud in the inducement of marriage, etc. That you decide in hindsight your marriage was a mistake, from a legal perspective, usually, is insufficient; you’ll have to get a divorce. From a religious perspective, you should discuss the annulment with your religious counselor.
In Florida, you are not required to be represented by an attorney to get divorced. However, to protect your rights and ensure that you receive everything to which you are entitled, you should at least consult with an attorney who specializes in family law issues. If you are concerned that you cannot afford the full representation of an attorney, Open Palm Law offers unbundled services, which means that we represent you on a limited basis just for those matter with which you need help. This is an affordable alternative to complete representation by an attorney. Of course, if you are more comfortable having full representation, we are happy to provide those services.
If you don’t know the whereabouts of your spouse, you may still get a divorce. You will need to take certain steps to attempt to locate your spouse, and to notify him/her her that you have filed for divorce. If you can’t locate your spouse after reasonably attempting to, there is a procedure called service by publication, in which you obtain the court’s permission to publish a notice of the divorce in a newspaper. Once this is done, you may proceed with the divorce case. You will be able to get divorced and be awarded custody of any children; however, you may not be able to get full resolution of property division, alimony, or child support until your spouse is personally served with court papers.