Divorce (dissolution of marriage)
In Florida, there are five main issues: Parental Responsibility (decision-making and time-sharing), Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Child Support, and Everything Else. Most contested cases take about six months to resolve from the time of filing, trials often take a year or more.
If there are children the courts seek to serve the children’s best interest when determining a time-sharing schedule (also known as custody/visitation) and creating a parenting plan.
Equitable distribution is the division of marital assets and debts.
Alimony, or spousal support, is decided based on ten factors, including the length of marriage. There are no alimony guidelines under Florida law, so it can vary substantially from case to case.
Child support is decided by a formula, so it’s often predictable; but many factors come into play that can affect the calculation. Parents are legally bound to financially support their children; failure to pay child support can lead to revocation of your drivers license or jail.
Under Florida law, when an unmarried couple have a child the biological father’s legal rights must be established through a paternity action. In many ways it is like a divorce action, but with fewer issues (parental responsibility and child support).
Child Support / DOR
Child support can be ordered apart from a divorce or paternity action, often involving the Department of Revenue (child support enforcement). If you receive paperwork from DOR contact an attorney quickly to protect your rights before an order is entered.
When a parent seeks to move 50 miles or more away, an action for relocation is often necessary in conjunction with a divorce or paternity case. If a parent does not comply with the requirements of Florida Statute 61.13001 there can be costly consequences.
Enforcement / Contempt / Modification
If a party doesn’t follow through with an order/agreement, or violates an order/agreement, there are different methods of enforcement. Depending on the violation, and severity, there could be costly consequences.
Circumstances change, sometimes that gives rise to a modification. There are minimum requirements for most modifications, find out whether you meet them before filing.
Domestic violence injunctions require swift legal action because the hearings happen very quickly and can impact other cases. Respondents are often in the position to lose access to their homes and contact with their children, there can also be criminal repercussions.
Custody (by extended family member)
When an extended family member seeks custody of a child the rules are different from cases between biological parents.