Getting a divorce is hard enough on the individuals splitting up as it is. But…
Divorce should never be taken lightly. Divorce does not cure strained relations. Divorce is always stressful on all parties but especially the children. It’s shown that even adult children are affected by their parent’s divorce, even when it occurred decades ago.
Why do people divorce? There are many reasons which include substance abuse, adultery, and, specifically, pornography addiction. Often one of the parties is a narcissist or has an extremely controlling personality.
In Florida, it doesn’t matter why a person wants to divorce. (It’s called Dissolution of Marriage in Florida – but it is still a divorce.) Florida is a no-fault divorce state. The required language is simply that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If either party believes that their marriage is broken to the point that no amount of counseling will fix it, they will be able to get a divorce. Fault almost never comes into play.
There are times when people don’t want to get divorced due to religious beliefs or immigration concerns. But what do they do when their spouse has left them, and they have no means of support? Florida allows these individuals to file a petition known as a “Petition for Support Without a Dissolution of Marriage.” The court will consider the income of the parties as well as their needs in awarding alimony and child support. However, because it is not a divorce, there will be no awarding of assets or assigning liabilities in this proceeding.
One of the biggest considerations in a divorce is what happens to the children.
Who gets “custody?” Who will be paying child support? Well, things have really changed in the past decade. The Florida legislature deleted the word “custody” from the statutes, so neither party gets custody nor visitation, for that matter. They get “time-sharing” which represents the percentage of time each parent spends with the children.
The standard presumption is that the parties divide the children’s time with them 50/50. This is often accomplished by splitting the week and alternating weekends. For example, one parent has Monday and Tuesday, and the other parent has Wednesday and Thursday, and they alternate weekends consisting of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sometimes the parties alternate weeks. One party has the first week, and the second week is spent with the other parent. Needless to say, the parties should decide on what works best considering the age and ability of the children. If the parties want to split the time 60/40, for example, they can do that. If they cannot agree, the court will make the decision for them.
The court used to award “open and liberal visitation” which led to an inordinate amount of litigation in defining the non-custodial parent’s right to see his or her children. Now when parties have minor children, they are required to complete a form known as a “Parenting Plan” which delineates regular and holiday time-sharing with the children and a myriad of other details. This plan helps to reduce conflicts so everyone knows the specifics of the time-sharing plan. Now this schedule is not set in stone. The parties can always agree to modify the plan as an occasion arises. Permanent changes should be put in writing with the same formality as the marital agreement itself.
Child support is calculated by the number of children, the parties’ total income, and the percentage of that income each party earns. A very important element in these calculations is how many overnights each party spends with the children.
Considering how complicated all of this is, ask yourself, “Do I want to put you and/or my children through this ringer, or is it worth trying to give the marriage another chance?” If you can fix it, you should. Many times a good therapist can help in resolving the issues that brought the marriage to the brink. If therapy doesn’t work in fixing the marriage, it should at least help in improving communication. If you have children, you are tied together for life, even if you divorce. There will be school events, graduations, weddings, etc. when you have to see your ex. Make the split as amicable as possible with the children’s best interests in mind.
Sometimes divorce is not necessary. More than a few times in my practice, one party thinks they are divorced but aren’t. That makes the second marriage void as a matter of law. In this case, the parties would be filing for an annulment to end the second marriage.
Not getting married at all has its own problems. A family court would have jurisdiction over issues related to the children but not the property of the parties. Any relief you are seeking about real property or personal property has to be brought before a civil court. For example, if you bought a sofa together and cannot agree on who gets it when you separate, you would have to file a civil action against the other party.
In summary, every case is different. You might want to talk to an attorney to determine your rights before you file. Contact us online or call our offices at 786-558-4950 today.
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