Handling a Divorce

"Handling a divorce correctly ensures a fair outcome for both spouses."

- Karen Estry, Esq.

Divorce Basics: Dissolution of Marriage

A "Dissolution of Marriage" is simply the legal term for a divorce. When "no fault" divorces came along (see below), the term "divorce" was changed to "dissolution".

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties are in complete agreement about wanting a dissolution of their marriage (divorce) and both spouses are in complete agreement about the division of property, custody of children, any child support payments and any spousal support payments (alimony).

In such a scenario, the couple would provide a Marital Settlement Agreement to the court which would outline the agreements that have been made regarding debts, property and custody.

Even so, divorce lawyers are often needed to review the Marital Settlement Agreement, and to look over all divorce paperwork before filing with the court.

Contested Divorce

When spouses can't agree on property division, child custody, debts or other divorce-related matters, a contested divorce takes place.

Like most states, Florida does not have jury trials for contested divorces. Instead, the judge and the court clerks handle the court proceedings.

The divorce process usually begins when one spouse serves the other a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage". The spouse served with the petition has only 20 days to respond, either by a motion or a counter-petition. Often, a divorce attorney is hired at this point.

What is a "No-Fault" Divorce?

In the past, couples wishing to end their marriage due to innocuous reasons were forced to fake serious marital problems, such as one spouse's adultery or mental cruelty, in order for the court to grant a divorce.

These days, all states have "No Fault" divorce options, and Florida is No Fault by default. As such, one does not require proof of fault in order to be granted a divorce.

Schedule an Appointment with our Firm

To meet with a divorce attorney, click below to schedule an appointment. At your initial consultation, you'll be walked through the next steps of the divorce process, so you'll know what to expect.

Marital Settlement Agreements

For uncontested divorces, a Marital Settlement Agreement, or Marital Separation Agreement, can be created before filing for divorce, and will contain agreements on property, spousal support, and child custody arrangements. The agreement will usually cover:

  • Division of property - including agreements on marital versus non-marital assets
  • Spousal support details - any payments the couple have agreed to regarding one spouse making monthly spousal support payments to the other.
  • Living arrangements - who "gets the house" and where the other spouse will live.
  • When children are involved, a Marital Settlement Agreement will also outline child support payments and a parenting plan.
Hiring a Divorce Attorney

At such a painful time, it's difficult to sit down with your spouse and make all the decisions that a divorce requires. The separation of finances, custody of children, living arrangements, spousal support issues and others are complex, life-changing matters. Guessing your way through theses discussions with your spouse, or worse, allowing him or her to make the decisions, may be harmful to you in the long run.

Hiring a divorce attorney doesn't mean that your divorce will become ugly, drawn-out, and expensive. Instead, it means you'll have to tools you need to ensure a fair outcome and a speedy resolution to all the issues that a divorce brings about.