How do I decide which divorce attorney to use?
There are several things to consider when choosing a divorce attorney in Florida. First, you must be comfortable with your attorney. You should trust that your attorney has your best interests in mind and they should be diligent in moving your case forward. Your attorney must be knowledgeable about the issues you will face in your divorce and you should be sure that they can give you recommendations based on the laws applied to the facts of your case. You want an attorney that will not force you to settle your case. Your attorney should return your phone calls and emails promptly to keep you informed of what is happening in your case. Your attorney should explain the issues to you, ask for your input on the issues and give you advice. You want an attorney that will be transparent in their billing, giving you frequent detailed itemized billing statements so you know exactly what is being done and how your money is being spent.
How is child custody determined in the State of Florida?
The guiding principle for the Judge when deciding custody issues in Tampa, Pinellas, Pasco and the surrounding counties is the “best interests” of the child. If parents are unable to reach an agreement on custody, the court will determine what custody is in the best interests of the child. Another person to assist the court in making a custody determination is a guardian ad litem. This is an individual who acts as the representative of the child. Shannon LaFrance is a Tampa Bay area family law attorney and is also a guardian ad litem.
How is child custody determined in uncontested divorces?
In an uncontested divorce, the parents reach an agreement on child custody. This agreement is then written down in a document called the parenting plan. This plan will set forth time sharing for each parent during the school year, the holidays and the summer. It will address how the parents will decide upon extracurricular activities and how those expenses will be paid.
When is primary custody granted in divorce cases?
Florida no longer recognizes the concept of primary and secondary residential parents. If the parties do not agree to equal time sharing or the court does not find equal time sharing to be in the best interests of the child, then one parent will have majority time sharing, greater than 50%. A parent with sole parental responsibility may have to consult with the other parent on a major decision, but if there is a disagreement, the parent with sole parental responsibility makes the final decision. To obtain sole parental responsibility, the parent seeking this authority must prove to the court that it would be detrimental to the child to have the other parent involved in making a major decision on behalf of the child.
How is alimony calculated?
There is no hard and fast formula used to calculate alimony, but our alimony calculator can give you a close estimate. A good starting point for the calculation is to consider the need of the spouse seeking alimony, the ability of the other spouse to pay alimony and the duration of the marriage. The ability of the other spouse to pay is also determined by comparing that spouse’s net income to that spouse’s reasonable living expenses. There are five types of alimony that can be awarded and based on several factors, and it can be modified if any changes occur during the process of making alimony payments.
How is child support calculated?
The child support calculation begins with a determination of the combined net income of both parents. The number of children will dictate the amount of child support relative to the combined net income. So for instance: combined net income of x, results in a total support obligation of $xx for one child, $xx for two children and $xx for three children. Each parent also has an obligation to contribute to the health insurance cost to cover the children and to contribute to any daycare care expense and un-reimbursed medical expenses.
Do I have to pay child support if I have joint custody?
If you have joint custody or equal time-sharing as it is known in Florida, whether you owe child support will depend on each parent’s respective net incomes. If both parents have the same or substantially the same net income, neither parent may have to pay the other child support. If there is a disparity between net incomes, so that one parent is earning more each year than the other, the higher earning parent, may have to pay some child support to the other parent. However, it is important that all offsets are factored in, including payment of health insurance and daycare. In addition, filing status and tax dependency exemptions must be accounted for.
What is the best way to make sure I pay as little alimony as possible?
Assessing the requesting party’s income and expenses is critical to minimizing exposure to alimony. Ensuring that full financial disclosure is completed is essential, especially in cases involving self-employed spouses. Documents, such as bank records, credit card statements and business records should all be reviewed. If necessary vocational experts can be utilized to determine if a party is underemployed so that in reality they could be earning a higher income, thereby reducing or eliminating their need for alimony. Expenses must be scrutinized for embellishment so that an argument for an inflated need can be defeated.
How are assets divided in a divorce?
Assets that are marital are divided based upon a theory known as equitable distribution. A marital asset, subject to certain exceptions, includes assets acquired from the date of marriage to the date of filing the petition for divorce. The Court will start with the presumption that the assets should be evenly divided, however, the statutory criteria can be used to justify an unequal distribution.
Do I have to sell my house if I am getting divorced?
You do not necessarily have to sell your house if you are getting divorced. One of the spouses can keep the house, but will usually need to give the other spouse the equity they would have received if the house had been sold. There may also be issues of refinancing that may impact keeping the home. It is possible in certain circumstances for a spouse seeking alimony to be awarded the house as part of the alimony claim.
How is debt distributed in a divorce?
Debt that was incurred during the course of the marriage is generally considered marital and subject to equitable distribution. This can include credit card, mortgages, car loans, taxes, student loans, and unpaid parking tickets. These expenses will be divided evenly unless the factors of unequal distribution apply.