A divorce can be highly emotional and traumatic for couples as well as their children. Filing for a divorce and navigating the court system can be long and difficult for spouses. It is recommended that one that does not know their legal rights and obligations, seek legal advice from a divorce lawyer, but not everyone can afford a lawyer. A divorce can be long-lasting and high attorney fees can take effect on one’s lifestyle. Fortunately, a legal document preparer can help prepare the documents for a dissolution of marriage and provide information like court rules, procedures, and statutes.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
Florida is referred to as a no-fault divorce state. Therefore, you do not need to prove reasons for a divorce. All Florida law requires is there be irreconcilable differences to obtain divorce. Couples can file for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage as long as they have complete agreement on the terms of the divorce and it’s uncontested.
An uncontested divorce occurs when: (a) there are no disagreements between you and your spouse over any financial or other issues if applicable (i.e., child custody and support, division of marital property, spousal support); and (b) your spouse either agrees to the divorce, or fails to appear in the divorce action.
In addition to both parties agreeing to this process, at least one of the people involved must have lived in Florida for the last six months, and both parties must agree fully to the terms of the divorce and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
The parties are required the following:
The couple agrees that the marriage cannot be saved.
The couple have no minor or dependent child(ren) together, the wife does not have any minor or dependent children born during the marriage, and the wife is not now pregnant.
The couple has worked out how the two of them will divide the things that each owns (assets) and who will pay what part of the money each owes (liabilities), and they are both satisfied with this division.
The couple is seeking support (alimony) from the other spouse, and vice versa.
The couple is willing to give up the right to trial and appeal.
The couple is willing to go into the clerk’s office to sign the petition (not necessarily together).
The couple is willing to go to the final hearing (at the same time).
All responsibility cases require that parents fill out a parenting plan. This plan outlines how each parent will share the rights and responsibility of the minor child. If the parents reach an agreement, and it is in the best interest of the children, the judge will ratify the terms of the agreement. In a divorce, each parent submits a proposed parenting plan for the judge to review. The judge will decide the outcome based on the interests of the children.
Overview of Parenting Time
Parenting time generally is referred to as the time a noncustodial parent spends with a child or children. Historically, parenting time commonly was referred to as visitation. There are some essential factors that a parent in a divorce proceeding needs to understand about parenting time.
Purpose of Parenting Time
The move from calling the time between a noncustodial parent and children visitation to parenting time was purposeful. In essential terms, the concept underpinning parenting time is that no parent should be relegated to the status of being a visitor in the life of his or her child.
Frequency of Parenting Time
A number of factors come into play when determining the frequency of parenting time. These include such matters as the age of the child and the proximity of the noncustodial parent to the child’s primary residence.
Public policy dictates that a noncustodial parent should have regular and recurring parenting time. The exact amount of that time, and the frequency of parenting time, is determined on a case-by-case basis. With that noted, oftentimes a minimum frequency of 25 percent of days within a two-week period allocated to the noncustodial parent for parenting time is relatively commonplace.
Development of a Parenting Plan
In an ideal situation, divorcing and divorced parents work together to develop what is known as a parenting plan. A parenting plan is intended to address a myriad of issues associated with a child or children.
Examples of what is included in a parenting plan include establishing guidelines regarding decision making in regard to a child or children. A parenting plan also sets forth the specifics in regard to parenting time.
Best Interests of a Child Standard
While both parents certainly have input in regard to the creation and implementation of a parenting time schedule, in the final analysis, the interests of the child reign supreme. Custody and parenting time are determined according to what is deemed to be in the best interests of a child or children.
What is in the best interests of a child is determined based on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. A judge considers a variety of factors that typically include the general physical, emotional, and mental health of the parents, the residential situation of the parents, and input from a child (in some cases). Input from a child is considered depending on the age and level of maturity of that young person.
By understanding the basics of parenting time, a party to a divorce or child custody case has a better idea of what is involved in the custodial decisionmaking process. A parent can make informed decisions when staking out a position in regard to time with the child.
Under Florida law, there are five types of alimony a judge can order as part of a divorce. These five different types are temporary, bridge the gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent alimony. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. In determining whether to award alimony or maintenance, the court shall first make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony. The court will also consider all relevant factors in determining if the party has a need for alimony and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony, and the proper type and amount of alimony.
Parents must follow the Florida Child Support Guidelines for determining child support. The Guidelines outline how much child support will be required by each parent based on their net income, the number of children involved, and the custody arrangement. A legal document preparer can explain these guidelines and help with the preparation of the Notice of Filing Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. Florida law follows the Florida Child Support Guidelines very strictly. However, the court does have some discretion to deviate from the guidelines when it is appropriate to do so. Parents may file a Motion to Deviate from Child Support Guidelines and request the Court to award a child support amount that is more or less than the child support guidelines.