Like every other state, Florida divorce proceedings can be separated into two categories: contested and uncontested. One of the first things that a couple who is contemplating divorce must think about is whether they can get through the divorce process by agreeing to the major issues rather than fighting over them. This does not mean that each party does not need an attorney, but rather that they are willing to work through their differences to the extent possible. An ability to come to a consensus on the primary matters may mean that they can file an uncontested divorce. For many couples, this type of amicable dissolution of marriage is impossible and they need to pursue a contested divorce.
Uncontested Florida Divorce
A Florida divorce based on agreement, but this agreement must address all important issues, including:
- The equitable distribution of all property – this often is a source of contention among divorcing couples.The consensus must be absolute.If one party refuses to compromise on possession of the seascape purchased on the honeymoon, then this is going to turn into a contested divorce;
- The award of any spousal support – this includes setting the amount of the payment, if any, and the period of time over which it will be paid;
- The payment of child support – although the parties do have some latitude based on unique circumstances, the Florida Child Support Guidelines are going to apply, even in an uncontested divorce.If there is a significant deviation from these guidelines, the parties will have to petition the court and provide compelling justifications for the deviation; and
- The child custody arrangement – the parties must create a parenting plan and agreement.This document details all the division of parental responsibility and time-sharing (which are the terms that have replaced custody and visitation in Florida) and must be comprehensive.
Although there are parties who are able to resolve major differences and utilize the uncontested divorce process, for many people it simply is impossible to agree on all of these major issues and the divorce is contested.
Florida Contested Divorce
In many cases, there are disagreements about the valuation of the marital property, including whether something is or is not subject to equitable distribution. In addition, issues surrounding ongoing spousal support and the raising of the children become very heated. When this happens, the divorce is pursued as a contested matter.
There are a number of things to consider with a contested divorce. Specifically, there are increased costs when there are contested matters. A court in Florida likely will order the parties to attempt to work out their differences through the use of a mediator before coming to court for a trial. However, if there is a trial, the associated costs are going to increase significantly. Despite these caveats, for many divorcing spouses, a contested divorce is the only way to settle the disagreements.
Some Other Issues to Consider in a Florida Divorce
There are many things to scrutinize when contemplating divorce in Florida. Fortunately, one of the things that is not an issue is fault, so regardless of whether the parties are able to agree about the major issues or not, it is not necessary to lay blame on one party or serious issue. The parties simply need to declare that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, that is not to say that fault does not come into play at all. The actions of the parties will be considered in the distribution of assets, assignment of liabilities, award of support, and establishment of time-sharing arrangements with the children, depending on the nature of the behavior at issue. When there is a contested divorce action, it is imperative to retain and experienced Florida divorce attorney to help navigate the minefield.
Even when parties begin the process of the dissolution of a marriage with the intention of reaching amicable resolutions, it simply may not be possible. If you have found yourself struggling to protect your rights and interests during the initial stages of a divorce, it is crucial to get the right legal support on your side as soon as possible. The Palm Beach Divorce Lawyers at the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. are here to ease your stress and advocate effectively on your behalf. Call our West Palm Beach divorce law firm at (561) 429-3924 or send an email to [email protected] to schedule a confidential consultation.