Divorce in Florida
Our West Palm Beach divorce law firm is committed to seeking amicable resolutions to divorce for our clients because high conflict divorces can be costly, results in more stress, and interferes with long-term working arrangements between the parties—especially where you must find a way to co-parent together. Even when there are certain issues that will need to be resolved through a litigated divorce, we try to resolve as many issues as we can in the most efficient and effective way possible. In other words, we strive to narrow and focus on the most important issues in your divorce. In reality, divorces are seldom as bitter or turn out as ugly as portrayed in media depictions like that of War of the Roses. Nevertheless, we still recognize that a divorce can be an emotionally difficult process for our clients and their families. Accordingly, our law firm always strives to work closely with clients in developing a strategy that is specifically tailored to achieving their legal objectives. Depending on the specific circumstances and facts of the case, there are three procedures in Florida for achieving a divorce: simplified, uncontested, and contested.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Florida
In Florida, a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage can be obtained only if you and your spouse meet the following requirements:
- You and your spouse agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
- You or your spouse has resided in the State of Florida for 6 months before the filing of the petition for simplified dissolution of marriage.
- You and your spouse do not have any minor children and are not currently expecting any.
- You and your spouse have already worked out the division of marital assets and liabilities.
- You and your spouse have either filed the appropriate financial affidavits with the court or have agreed to waive the filing of financial affidavits because you and your spouse are satisfied with the financial disclosure that has been made.
- Neither you nor your spouse will be seeking alimony or spousal support from each other.
- You and your spouse must appear together in court at the final hearing.
The procedure of seeking a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is typically utilized in those cases involving a short-term marriage (e.g., less than 6 years) and no minor children. In addition, the parties have not acquired any significant amount of property during the marriage and are relatively amicable in agreeing to end the marriage. You and your spouse must meet the basic legal requirements in order to pursue this divorce procedure. Otherwise, the court may refuse to enter a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or dismiss your petition.
Uncontested Divorce in Florida
If the parties do not meet the legal requirements to file for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, then the next option would be to obtain an uncontested divorce if the parties have already worked out all of their issues in the divorce. The underlying presumption in an uncontested divorce is that you and your spouse have worked out all the issues with regard to dividing the marital estate, alimony, and, when there are minor children in the marriage, child support, parental responsibility and time-sharing. An uncontested divorce still requires the filing of all the necessary pleadings and forms prior to the Final Hearing. If the divorce case involves minor children the parties are also required to file certificates establishing that they have completed the parenting course. Furthermore, the parties may request a waiver of the statutory 20-day delay period. According to section 61.19, Florida Statutes, requires the parties to wait at least 20 days from the date that the petition for divorce was filed before the court enters the final judgment of dissolution of marriage unless one of the parties can show an injustice would result from the delay.
Unlike a simplified divorce, each party in either an uncontested or contested divorce is required to file a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit. If a spouse’s individual gross annual income is $50,000, a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit (Long Form) will need to be completed and filed as part of mandatory disclosure. A copy of the completed financial affidavit also needs to be sent to the opposing party. If a spouse’s individual gross annual income is less than $50,000, then a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit (Short Form) will have to be completed and filed instead of the “Long Form.” A copy of the completed financial affidavit (short form) will also have to be sent to the opposing party.
Contested Divorce in Florida
If the parties are unable to work out all the issues in their divorce case, then the parties’ case is considered a contested divorce. Typically, the attorney for each party, unless a party is pro se, will file the pleadings on behalf of his or her client. The individual initiating the process is referred to as the “petitioner” while the spouse on the receiving end is referred to as a “respondent.” In addition to filing an answer and defenses, the respondent may also file a counter-petition. Furthermore, the filing of certain motions, such as motions seeking temporary relief, will require the court to conduct a hearing where witnesses are called and evidence is introduced. We have handled contested divorces involving a wide range of issues including but not limited to the following:
- Contentious timeshare plans and other child custody issues
- Division of high net worth estates
- Valuation and division of business interests
- Alimony disputes
- Issues of waste or hidden assets
- Paternity/child support disputes
- Divorces involving child abuse/neglect issues
- Domestic Violence – Injunctions
- Custody cases involving allegations of drug use or alcohol abuse
Depending on the facts of the case or the parties, litigation may be the only means of resolving an issue in a divorce. In the event that it is necessary to litigate an issue in your divorce, our firm is prepared to conduct an extensive factual investigation and use forensic experts,–e.g., forensic accountants, vocational counselors, business valuation experts, child custody evaluators and others with specialized knowledge. The Law Offices of James S. Cunha possesses the resources that enable us to create innovative legal strategies while utilizing our thorough and current knowledge of the law so that we can pursue the best possible outcome for our clients. West Palm Beach divorce lawyer James S. Cunha and his legal team is consistently mindful of the impact of divorce on the lives of clients and their families. Therefore, the West Palm Beach divorce attorneys at our law firm are dedicated to providing legal advice designed to protect our clients’ fiscal well-being and self-respect while preserving the close and enduring relationship with their children. When the specific circumstances of your case or the unreasonable position of your spouse pose as a barrier to an amicable negotiated settlement to your West Palm Beach divorce, we will explore all options for resolving as many issues as possible in order to reduce your costs and stress while seeking to achieve our clients’ objectives during their Florida contested divorce. Mr. Cunha and his legal team possess the skill, knowledge, experience, tenacity and resources to handle any divorce case. We are loyal and passionate about our clients’ cases and consistently seek the best possible resolution to family law matters, including the challenging issues at the heart of a West Palm Beach contested divorce. We bring a substantial level of skill, knowledge and diligence along with the ability to think outside the box so that we can be the most effective advocates for our clients. Contact us today.
The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. assist clients in all Divorce and Family Law Matters throughout West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach, and Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. We also offer legal representation to clients who reside in Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Hendry, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties.