Filing for divorce is difficult for anyone, and the complex laws and requirements can be too much in the wake of this emotional turmoil. Trying to handle a divorce case on your own can be extremely difficult. It’s all too easy to misinterpret the laws on the books or to make a mistake that could have lasting repercussions for you and your family.
When you have a dedicated divorce lawyer by your side, you’ll feel much more confident and informed about your case. You can make educated decisions about what to do next based on your attorney’s insight and concern.
Filing For Divorce In Florida
A court is required to have jurisdiction over all divorce cases. Jurisdiction in Florida occurs when one of the parties involved have been a permanent resident in the state for six months or more. The venue of the divorce case is the county where the parties resided as husband and wife. The filing party has submitted himself/herself to the court jurisdiction by filing the case. Once the court has jurisdiction, it has jurisdiction over all the assets. No matter why you’re planning to file, talking to an attorney can help you.
The Divorce Process
1. Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage
The first step in a divorce is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, which is filed with the Court. The petitioner is the person who brings the Petition to file for divorce with the court.
The dissolution states the facts of the marriage and describes to the court the wants and needs of the petitioner. As your divorce lawyer, attorney Chad Frost would draft all the necessary paperwork for the court and serve a summons on the other party. The summons is an order by the court for the other party to appear or lose any rights for relief.
2. Response Filed
Once the other party receives the paperwork, he or she will have the opportunity to file a counter petition and may seek a temporary relief.
The temporary relief can include temporary child support, temporary alimony, attorney fees, exclusive use of the house, or the exclusive use of a car and any other relief. The judge will hear all the evidence and make rulings on the temporary relief. These rulings are not the final judgment.
A hearing is scheduled to hear the relief with the court. If it is a financial relief, certain documents must be available such as a financial affidavit, tax returns, pay stubs, W-2, 1099 and K-1 from the past year.
At the temporary hearing, no final judgment is made, but these decisions may affect the outcome overall.
During the discovery phase, your lawyer receives information from the other side with the goal of enhancing your case. Information received in discovery is essential to the final hearing/trial.
Some of the discovery forms include financial affidavits, requests for production, interrogatories, and depositions. Financial affidavits include all financial records including assets. Interrogatories are questions that answered under oath about the other party.
Depositions are oral questions asked by one party under oath. Both sides must be present, and a court reporter records the deposition. Depositions serve to learn the other party’s version of events and the critical issues. This keeps truth in the proceeding to mitigate surprises. Subpoenas are issued if there are third parties discovered.
Sometimes one-party files a Motion to the court ordering a spouse to do something he/she may not want to do. A Motion is a request that the court can act upon. Examples of Motions are: not allowing the sale of property, not removing cash or stock from a marital account, and other unreasonable actions. As your dedicated divorce lawyer, attorney Chad Frost will help you address these concerns if they arise.
Mediation is where both parties sit down with their prospective attorney and hopefully with full cooperation disputes will be settled. Mediation is carried out with the support of a neutral third party. This mediator’s job is to guide the conversation, not to make decisions about the outcome. It’s recommended that you have your lawyer with you during this phase.
If a settlement is reached, a settlement document will be signed. This settlement becomes the Final Judgment, and the court will adopt the agreement.
If there is no settlement agreed upon, then the perspective attorney notifies the Judge and a Notice of Trial is filed. The trial should be the last resort. A trial is costly and time-consuming. If trial is necessary, it will be important to have an experienced trial attorney on your side. Attorney Chad Frost is a former State Prosecutor who is not afraid of taking your case to trial if a settlement cannot be reached.
6. Final Judgment
In order to finalize a divorce in Florida, there is either a settlement agreement or a trial or a hearing set before a judge. A final judgment is approved by the judge, which dissolves the marriage and closes the case. However, if child support, time-sharing, or alimony is involved, the case remains open until those matters are settled.
Modifications To The Final Judgement
Modifications to the final judgment can be made after the final judgment has been determined. A division of property order however, cannot be reevaluated. Alimony, child support, and time-sharing can all be readdressed and modified.
There are four changes in circumstances that are used to justify a modification in orders post-divorce: substantial, material, permanent and involuntary that address support and time-sharing.
- Substantial Change is a very significant change in circumstances such as loss of high-paying job, major illness, or becoming a lottery winner. The judge would make the determination and modify the enforcement based on the grounds you bring forward.
- Material Change relates to the issue that needs to be modified. An example is remarriage by the payor, which would not change the circumstances of the settlement.
- Permanent Change is a change that would last longer than a year, such as a disability due to illness or injury.
- Involuntary Change is one in which the payor party cannot control the circumstance. A loss of job by being fired or laid off would be considered involuntary.
The court retains the rights to enforcement of the judgments. Contempt of court takes place when either party does not adhere to the judgements.
Contact An Experienced Orlando Divorce Attorney
While this is intended as a broad overview of the divorce process, the unique factors in your case will influence how your case is managed. You need the support of a dedicated and talented divorce attorney to help you throughout your case. Contact Frost Law today at (407) 670-5569 to learn more about your options by scheduling a free consultation and review of your case.