In this the third part of our multi-part blog entry discussing the types of issues often raised by those who are considering divorce or legal separation in Florida, we have tried to continue addressing many of the questions that are repeatedly asked by prospective clients. Although we have attempted to provide general information, this should not be construed as legal advice. If you need answers more narrowly tailored to your unique concerns, we welcome the opportunity to speak with you during a free initial consultation in our West Palm Beach family law office.
What is required for me to obtain a divorce in Florida?
Generally, a spouse must affirm that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that it cannot be saved through counseling or other forms of intervention. This is not an issue that is contested so simply making this assertion will typically provide the evidentiary basis for a marital dissolution. However, there is also a residency requirement to file for a Florida divorce so at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of Florida for six months prior to filing a petition for marital dissolution.
What if I have a child with another parent but am not actually married to the other parent?
If you are unmarried when your relationship breaks down with a co-parent, the appropriate legal action is an action to establish paternity rather than a divorce. This action will establish parentage through admission, blood test or other evidence while also creating a parenting plan and child support order.
I have heard that my spouse is going to file for divorce so do I need to hurry and file first?
Generally, it makes little difference which spouse files first with one very important proviso. Sometimes there are multiple potential courts or even different states where a divorce may be filed, the party that files first may have an advantage in forcing you to have the case heard in the court preferable to your spouse if you would not file in the same place. Issues of jurisdiction in family law matters can be extremely complicated so you should seek immediate legal advice if you have questions about where to file and whether to file first.
Can my spouse and I work with a single attorney if we are in agreement on the issues in our divorce?
An experienced Florida divorce lawyer should never agree to represent both parties in a Florida divorce because it is a conflict of interest. Even if you believe you have settled the issues with your spouse, you should consult an independent family law attorney who can advise you regarding the issues you may not be aware exist as well as your legal rights and likely outcomes in court.
Will our divorce be more contentious and expensive if we are both represented by Florida divorce attorneys?
The reality is that many divorces move more efficiently when qualified Florida divorce lawyers represent both sides. When parties lack legal representation, they routinely make mistakes that slow down the divorce process or take positions in negotiation that an experienced attorney would advise is unreasonable. Because your West Palm Beach divorce lawyers have a practical understanding of the possible range of outcomes on an issue in court, legal representation can keep settlement discussions on target, focused and efficient.