Matters that require a family attorney can often be stressful, emotional, and confusing. A capable attorney can help you understand and protect your rights.
Divorce is a major familial, financial, and emotional time in a person’s life. The transition from being a married union to single affects every component of your life from the timesharing, division of assets, spousal and child support, among other changes you will encounter.
Although the divorce proceedings can feel overwhelming at times, the right attorney can help you with this matter with compassion. Our ambition at the Kendrick Law Group is to assist you achieving financial and emotional stability.
Additionally, we will be with you every step of the way to explain all the unfamiliar legal issues surrounding your divorce. You can rest assured that your needs are always top of mind.
Divorces in Florida
A divorce is legally described as a “dissolution of marriage,” wherein the marriage agreement is disbanded. To achieve a divorce in Florida, the parties must satisfy two requirements.
The first requirement to be satisfied is acknowledging that Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that a party obtaining a divorce from the marriage does not have to provide any rationales for seeking the divorce. The party obtaining the divorce, also commonly referred to as the plaintiff or petitioner, only need to plead generally that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
The second requirement needed to obtain a divorce is one of the parties must reside in Florida for at least six months prior to filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. The petition for dissolution of marriage initiates the legal process towards acquiring a divorce.
After a judge grants a final judgment for dissolution of marriage, a divorce agreement is created. A divorce agreement is a contract that each party must follow, otherwise they will be held in breach of contract. Such an agreement is formed during the course of the divorce proceeding with each spouse and their counsel.
Within the divorce agreement are terms and conditions that the parties must fulfill. If a spouse fails to abide with the terms and conditions of the agreement, then that spouse has breached the contract.
Types of Divorces in Florida
In Florida, there are contested divorces and uncontested divorces.
A contested divorce arises when one spouse opposes at least one main issue in the divorce agreement. A main issue in the agreement is one concerning the division of marital property/assets, child support payments, spousal support/alimony, the timesharing schedule, and/or parenting plan. These contested divorces veer to be more adversarial in nature.
Whereas, with an uncontested divorce, spouses agree on every main issue in the divorce agreement.
If you have been served with a petition for dissolution of marriage or are considering filing for divorce yourself, let the skilled attorneys at the Kendrick Law Group assist you in this matter. Please contact us today at (407) 641–5847.
Equitable Distribution of Property
When going through a divorce proceeding in Florida, the court will equitably distribute all marital property. Prior to dividing the assets, the parties must initially establish what is martial property and what is separate property.
Marital property encompasses those assets acquired by the spouses during the marriage. The assets that are not included in the martial property pot are those assets obtained through gift, inheritance, or descent. Marital property also includes interspousal gifts exchanged during the marriage, and the enhancement in the value of nonmarital assets due to the efforts of the other spouse during the marriage. Finally, marital property comprises all benefits accumulated during the marriage, such as retirement plans, pension plans, 401(k)s, profit-sharing plans, IRAs, vacation homes, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, airline miles, credit card accounts, mortgages, cars, car loans, etc.
Separate property involves those assets that are obtained by each spouse prior to the marriage that the spouses have not commingled into the marital property pot. Separate property will stay with each spouse even after the divorce and will not be divided.
In Florida, the starting point is that all marital property is to be divided equitably—as in 50/50, unless there are validations for dividing the marital property in an unequal manner. The reasons for the unequal division of martial assets stem from a list of factors.
Under Florida Statute sections 61.075(a)–(j), some of the factors that lead to the unequal division of marital assets include:
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage;
- Each spouse’s contribution to the care and education of the children;
- Services of the homemaker spouse;
- Economic circumstances of the parties;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party;
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse;
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice;
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, production of income, the improvement of, or incurring liabilities to both marital and nonmarital assets of the parties;
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any minor children of the marriage when it would be equitable to do so for the best interests of the children;
- And any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
If you need help fighting for an equitable distribution of marital assets or have reasons supporting an unequal distribution of marital assets, please contact our experienced attorneys at the Kendrick Law Group. Contact us today at (407) 641-5847.
In some cases, divorce leaves one spouse in a position of financial insecurity, and in need of alimony for support. Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is the continuance of mutual support the financially stable spouse provides to the financially instable spouse for financial security.
However, alimony is discretionary, and will not be granted unless the court makes a specific factual determination as to whether either party has a need for alimony and whether the other party has the ability to pay alimony. Fla. Stat. § 61.08(2).
The alimony amount many not leave the providing spouse with significantly less net income than the net income of the receiving spouse—unless there are written findings of extraordinary circumstances.
After the court finds that there is need for the alimony, the judge will then determine the proper type and amount of alimony. In determining the type of alimony to be awarded under Florida Statute section 61.08(4), there is a rebuttable presumption that a:
- Short Term Marriage—is a marriage lasting less than 7 years.
- Moderate Term Marriage—is a marriage lasting between 7 years but less than 17 years.
- Long Term Marriage—is a marriage lasting 17 or more years.
Under Florida Statute sections 61.08(5)–(8), there are five types of alimony awards:
- Alimony Pendente Lite (“Suit Money”)—This is temporary alimony intended to allow the economically poorer spouse to have financial support during the pending divorce. If a party in any proceeding for divorce claims alimony pendente lite in his or her answer or by motion, and the answer or motion is well founded, the court shall allow a reasonable sum therefore. Fla. Stat. § 61.071.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony—This form of alimony is to assist the economically poorer spouse transition from being married to being single. The length of the award may not exceed two years, as its primary purpose is for the short-term needs of the economically poorer spouse. The award will cease upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient spouse. This award for alimony may not be modified in amount or duration.
- Rehabilitative Alimony—This form of alimony is used to assist a party in obtaining an education, training, or redeveloping previous skills that are necessary for establishing the capacity for self-support. For a court to award this type of alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan, which must be included as part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony. The award may be modified or terminated if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or completion of the rehabilitative plan.
- Durational Alimony—This form of alimony provides a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration when permanent alimony is inappropriate, or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. The amount of the award may be modified or terminated if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. The length of the award may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
- Permanent Alimony—This form of alimony provides for the needs and necessities of a spouse who lacks the financial ability to be self-sustaining. It may be awarded under three circumstances:
- Following a marriage of long duration,
- Following a marriage of moderate duration, if such an award is appropriate based on clear and convincing evidence, or
- Following a marriage of short duration if there are written findings of exceptional circumstances.
In awarding permanent alimony, the court must include a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties. Additionally, the award may be modified or terminated upon a substantial change in circumstances or the existences of a supportive relationship.
Amount of Alimony
The court must consider germane factors in determining the amount of alimony to be awarded under Florida Statue sections 61.08(2)(a)–(j). Nevertheless, the court may look outside of the statute if other factors not listed are relevant to the case, so long as such a factor is fair and reasonable between the parties.
Amount of Alimony Factors under Florida Statute sections 61.08(a)–(j):
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- The duration of he marriage;
- The age and emotional and physical condition of both parties;
- The financial resources and sources of income of each party, including incomes available to either through investments of any assets held by that party;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties, and where applicable, the amount of time needed to obtain education or training;
- Each party’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, childcare, education, and career-building of the other party;
- The responsibilities each will have with regard to any minor children they have in common;
- The tax treatment and consequences to each of any alimony award; and
- Any other factors that will foster equity between the parties.
Can alimony be modified?
Yes, the court may modify alimony payments under Florida Statute section 61.14(1)(a). The court has the discretion to increase or decrease the alimony payments back to the date of the divorce proceeding as justice so requires.
Alimony may be altered if there is a substantial change in circumstances that was unexpected at the time the divorce agreement was entered. A substantial change in circumstances includes the following factors:
- Loss of job by the paying party,
- Lesser income by the paying party and an increased income or new job by the recipient party,
- Remarriage of the recipient party,
- Cohabitation of the recipient party, or
- Inability of the paying party to maintain employment due to illness or disability.
Contact the Kendrick Law Group to Defend your Alimony Rights
At the Kendrick Law Group, our attorneys will help you with your alimony disputes and work with you so we can assure that you get the best outcome in your case. We can help you obtain the spousal support from your ex-spouse or help you reduce the amount of support awarded to your ex-spouse. Contact our office today at (407) 641-5847.