If you are considering a divorce or believe that a divorce is a possibility in your future, then you likely have a number of questions regarding eligibility, steps in the process, and what it can mean for you and your family going forward.
In this article, we will provide some information on the top eight things you need to know about divorce in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
1. Florida Divorce Eligibility
In order to move forward with filing for divorce in Florida, there are certain eligibility requirements that must be met, which include the following:
- You or your spouse must be a Florida resident for at least six months prior to filing with the court. Exceptions are made for members of the armed forces who are stationed out of state.
- As a no-fault divorce state, you and your spouse just need to agree that there are “irreconcilable differences” and the marriage is broken beyond repair.
- A divorce will also be granted if one party is mentally incapacitated for at least three years.
2. The Divorce Process
If and when you and your spouse are eligible for divorce, either party will need to file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with your local circuit court. The court will then serve the other spouse with paperwork and allow them to respond to the filing.
In the event that you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on how to split property and assets, as well as a parenting plan (if applicable), then the Court will schedule a hearing. It is also a good idea to involve an experienced divorce attorney as these disagreements tend to become complex and even get ugly.
3. Marital vs. Non-Marital Assets and Debts
You and your spouse will be required to disclose your assets and debts. “Marital assets” are considered by the court assets acquired by either party during the marriage. The division of these assets will be decided by the court.
On the other hand, “non-marital assets” are those assets that either party acquired prior to the marriage and can be retained if the proper paperwork is in order.
As with assets, debts are considered “marital” or “non-marital.” Student loans that were incurred prior to the marriage, for example, would not be included in the division of debts between spouses. Any debts incurred during the marriage would be divided fairly by the Court.
Most couples and individuals make the common mistake of thinking that the starting point for the equitable division of all assets is 50/50. It isn’t… Each situation involving the equitable division of assets is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
In the State of Florida, a spouse can request alimony as part of a divorce settlement. Alimony involves court-ordered payments made to a spouse as financial support.
The court will grant alimony to a spouse based on many factors including the standard of living during the marriage, length of the marriage, financial circumstances of each spouse, and child custody responsibilities.
5. Custody Agreements
Ideally, you and your spouse will reach an agreement regarding child custody. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Court will determine an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. You and your spouse’s ability to provide for the child and to meet his or her specific needs are the top factors considered by the Court.
6. Child Support
Child support will be determined based on the child custody agreement between the two spouses or parents and based on guidelines set by the State of Florida. A judge will also examine each parent’s income and expenses, including child care costs when determining the amount of child support.
7. Financial Disclosure
As mentioned in another point above, you and your spouse will be required to disclose all of your assets and debts. So, be prepared to share copies of tax returns, bank statements, mortgage, and billing statements, and a detailed list of your expenses. It is also beneficial to have a detailed list of your assets and possessions available.
Taxes… everyone’s favorite topic. Unfortunately, there is no escaping them in a divorce. Taxes are another important consideration during a divorce in Ft. Pierce, Florida. It is best to work with an accountant to understand the implications your divorce will have on your tax filing status. Alimony, child support, and property transfers are just some examples of what will need to be taken into account.
How a Divorce Attorney in Florida Can Help
In addition to learning about the steps and process of a divorce in Florida, there are also some things you should not do. Here is some more information about the top 10 mistakes people make when filing for divorce in Florida.