Making the decision to divorce a spouse is one of the largest, hardest, and most far-reaching acts a person can make in their life. The impact of divorce goes far beyond the couple, especially if they have children, and extends to family and friends who may feel compelled to choose between the two parties. Given the emotional turmoil that accompanies divorce, it may be tempting to tune out and disassociate from the legal proceedings once a divorce lawyer is hired to handle the case. However, it is important to be engaged in the divorce process, despite the hard emotions, because of what is at stake. While a divorce attorney can represent the interests of a divorcing party, this person must maintain an active and engaged role throughout the process to ensure the outcome is in keeping with the party’s personal and familial goals. Further, it can be easy to assume one already knows the necessary information about divorce because of its constant presence in society, but unless a person has previous experience or legal training, there is a risk of oversimplifying what getting divorced actually means. Consequently, having a basic foundation in the key terms that come up in every divorce will help to prepare individuals on what to expect, which allows for thoughtful and informed decision-making.
What Is Divorce?
Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, legally severs the union between a couple, and puts them back in the same state they enjoyed as single individuals. Essentially, this process is the legal termination of a marriage, and how couples disentangle their lives from one another. Divorce is initiated when one spouse files a petition in court, and is concluded when the spouses agree on the division of property and responsibilities, or if the parties cannot agree, when the court forms the terms of settlement.
Types of Divorce
While it may appear that all divorces proceed in the same way, more or less, there are, in fact, several different types that affect how long it will take to finalize the divorce and how complex the case will be.
- Fault vs. No Fault Divorce – Florida, like most states, has no-fault divorce, which means it is not necessary to prove that the actions of one spouse caused the end of the marriage. Instead, all that is required is to state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Florida retains one basis for a fault-based divorce based on the mental incapacity of a spouse, but this provision is rarely used because the incapacity must exist for at least three years and be confirmed by a judicial order.
- Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce – In addition to determining the grounds of divorce, one also has to assess whether the divorce is contested or not. A contested divorce means the parties do not agree on all issues, such as property division, support, or child custody, and the parties will need to file a standard divorce petition based whether they own property together or have children. Florida also offers a simplified divorce for couples that have no disputes or minor children together. Simplified divorces move through the system much faster, but require the parties to waive their right to a trial and to seek alimony.
Financial Concerns: Because married couples tend to intermingle income, property, and debts, it is necessary to determine how these areas will be divided in divorce. Specifically, divorcing couples must decide:
- how to divide assets, such bank accounts, stock portfolios, and pensions;
- how to divide debts;
- how to handle jointly-owned property, like the marital home; and
- whether to pay alimony to one spouse.
Children: Disagreements about children account for most of the disputes in divorce, as parents attempt to work out:
- child support; and
- parenting plans.
Talk to a Divorce Attorney
While this article gave you a brief overview of the components of a divorce case, each case is unique and could have issues not covered here. A divorce lawyer can advise you about the particular law that applies in your case, and help you get the outcome you want. The All Family Law Group, P.A. will walk you through the divorce process step-by-step as you begin the next phase of your life. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+