Going through a divorce and dealing with related issues such as alimony, paternity, child support, and child custody can be a trying, emotional, and stressful experience for everyone involved. These situations often raise a number of complicated legal questions that can have a significant impact on spouses, parents, and children.
At Douglas Law Firm, our St. Augustine family law attorneys understand the pain and anxiety that can accompany a divorce or family law dispute. This is especially true in cases that involve children, where parents may have different ideas about their child's best interest. We help our clients navigate the legal process with experience and personal attention tailored to individual circumstances.
A St. Augustine family law attorney at our firm will stand by you every step of the way, crafting a legal strategy formulated to your individual situation. We will keep you apprised of your rights and options throughout the process. Your lawyer will also work diligently to help you avoid long and costly court battles by resolving legal issues through negotiated settlement whenever possible.
Call one of our St. Augustine family law attorneys for a free consultation: 1-800-705-5457.
Our St. Augustine Family Attorney Outlines the Florida Divorce Process
Spouses looking to end their marriage in Florida are required to go through the legal process of divorce. The process varies depending on several circumstances including how willing both parties are to work with each other in order to resolve various issues.
- Simplified Divorce: Some people seeking a divorce in Florida are eligible for a simplified version of the divorce process designed to efficiently finalize the split. This option is attractive because it allows divorcing spouses to go separate ways without prolonging a protracted court battle. The simplified option is limited to people who meet specific requirements. Some of the requirements for a simplified divorce in Florida include not having children under the age of 18 and both parties agreeing on how to divide their assets.
- Uncontested Divorce: Divorcing couples who do not meet the simplified divorce requirements can still resolve their case efficiently in what courts and lawyers call an “uncontested divorce.” An uncontested dissolution proceeding is an action where the respondent does not contest the petitioner’s allegation that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In such a proceeding, however, the petitioner must still present affirmative proof in support of the allegations of the petition and evidence in support of all relief specified in the pleadings.
- Contested Divorce: Not all divorce cases can be resolved through communication between the spouses (or their lawyers). A contested divorce action is one in which the respondent denies the petitioner’s allegation that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In a contested proceeding, a petitioner makes an initial presentation of evidence on issues of residency, the existence of a valid marriage, and whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. The court then has the discretion to allow the respondent to offer evidence that the marriage is not irretrievably broken, or to allow the petitioner to proceed with proof in support of the relief sought in the petition.
Dividing Marital Assets in Divorce
Florida’s equitable distribution system is designed to ensure that marital property is divided in a way that is “fair,” but not necessarily equal.
Marital property includes any assets obtained by one or both spouses during the course of the marriage. In the event that an asset is not generally considered marital property and increases in value during the marriage, the increased portion of value may be considered marital property. That often occurs in situations where one spouse contributes to a home or business that was already owned by the other spouse at the time of the marriage.
An experienced St. Augustine family law attorney can provide vital assistance by helping you identify all of the marital property and develop an effective plan on how it should be divided.
Alimony in Florida for Divorcing Couples
Alimony or spousal support is intended to help one spouse maintain a certain basic living standard following a divorce. It can be awarded in a single, lump-sum payment or the judge may order alimony to be paid regularly over time.
Courts weigh several factors when considering whether to award alimony including:
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- Each spouse's income and earning capacity
- The divorcee's ages and physical or mental conditions
- The duration of the marriage
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking support
The ultimate goal is to determine each spouse’s need and ability to pay.
Any seasoned St. Augustine family law attorney knows that judges have significant discretion in determining how to award alimony and setting the amount of the payments. It is vital to have an experienced lawyer in your corner.
Our St. Augustine Family Law Attorney Explains Child Custody Matters
Parents generally have a right to be involved in raising their children. “Timesharing” - or custody and visitation - are common among the most difficult issues to resolve because of the impact they have on the relationship between a parent and a child.
Florida law considers two forms of child custody:
- Physical Custody: Where will the child live?
- Legal Custody: Who has the right to make decisions about the child’s medical care, education, religion, and other matters?
The ultimate question for a judge deciding child custody and visitation is: What is in the best interest of the child?
Courts have the power to award physical and legal custody on a sole or joint basis.
- Sole custody means one parent has full physical and/or legal custody of the child.
- Joint custody means the parents share physical and/or legal custody.
Florida courts tend to favor joint custody because typically it is in the best interest of the child. That requires significant collaboration among parents -- which is best achieved with the help of a St. Augustine family law attorney.
Child Support Assistance in St. Augustine
Child support, similar to alimony for divorcing spouses, is meant to ensure a certain level of security for children whose parents are divorcing or have never been married. It can be awarded in sole custody and shared custody situations depending on the circumstances.
Child support payments are calculated using a formula to gauge the needs of the children and the parents’ ability to pay. Courts consider the custody arrangement, the parents’ incomes, and their current contributions, among other factors in making child support rulings.
At Douglas Law Firm our St. Augustine family lawyers represent both mothers and fathers in many situations that require an establishment of paternity, child support, and time-sharing or visitation schedules.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our St. Augustine Family Law Attorney
If you are considering a divorce or have questions about property distribution, alimony, child custody, child support, paternity, or related issues we at Douglas Law Firm can help. Call today, 1-800-705-5457, or connect with us online to schedule a free consultation and learn how our St. Augustine family law attorneys can assist you.