FAQ

Do I need an Attorney?

There is no legal requirement that you must use an attorney for your divorce, contempt, child custody, child support, visitations issues, paternity cases or any other marital litigation. Due to the complexity of the various family laws and procedures, a person without a lawyer in court is usually in an inferior position. Additionally, even if both spouses or individuals intend on resolving their case through mediation or settlement, failure to use a lawyer can end up causing the most important paperwork involving your rights and the rights of your children to be deficient or improper.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

There are many factors and reasons that affect the length of time it can take to obtain a divorce in Florida. It can be done in less than a month or take sometimes a year or more. It also depends on whether the couple agrees on all of the issues or are willing to litigate and contest certain matters. Other factors which can affect the length of time are issues such as children, real estate, extent of financial accounts and wealth, alimony and other issues.

What if my marriage or relationship involves domestic violence?

Always involve law enforcement if your spouse is violent. You may be able to obtain an injunction (restraining order) against your spouse or partner by going to the clerk’s office of the nearest courthouse and fill out a petition. A Judge will then immediately review your petition and sign an order, keeping your violent partner away from you until a formal hearing can be held, which is usually two or more weeks later. You should hire an attorney to represent you at that hearing.

Who gets the marital home?

This issue is also dependent on various factors. Usually, a spouse can force the sale of the marital home, buy out a spouse, or seek the home as an award of alimony. Also, a parent awarded primary custody of the minor children or child can be awarded exclusive use and possession of the marital home until the youngest child turns eighteen and then sell the house and divide the net equity. Other issues which may arise is who is then responsible for mortgage taxes and insurance prior to the sale.

Do all divorces involve alimony?

No. Alimony is based on many factors that the law requires a judge to consider; such as length of marriage, education of the spouses, employment and income of each spouse, age, health and other related factors. In some instances, husbands can obtain alimony from wives. Also, there are many different forms of alimony, based on the different circumstances of each marriage. And finally, a judge is given wide discretion to determine if one spouse is in need of alimony and the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony.

Do Moms always get custody of the children?

No. In fact, usually both of the parents get what is referred to as shared parental responsibility, which requires both parents to decide, on a joint basis, significant factors in their children’s lives, such as education, religion, medical decisions and other areas.

How is child support determined?

Child support is based on both parents’ net incomes, which are factored into a mathematical equation, which is referred to as “Florida Child Support Guidelines”. Other factors include the cost of daycare, after care and health insurance for the children and who is paying for those expenses. Even the amount of time each parent spends with the children can determine the amount of child support and who it is that will be required to pay the other parent.

If I am separated, what are my rights?

You have the right to petition the court for family support including alimony, child support, custody and attorney fees without actually seeking a divorce. If you are seeking a divorce, a temporary request can be made to the court to financially support a spouse for the time until the actual trial.

Do Fathers have child custody rights?

Yes. The law requires judges to treat fathers and mothers equally when deciding custody rights. Florida Statute 61.13 has a list of factors a judge must consider when deciding which parent should be designated the primary residential custodian of the children.

What do I do if my spouse or former spouse disobeys a court order?

You should file a motion for contempt and enforcement. This document will inform the court of your allegations against the other person concerning their disobedience of the court order. It will also require your appearance at a court hearing where you will have the opportunity to testify and bring witnesses. Your former spouse will be given the same opportunity to dispute your allegations. It is recommended that you use an Attorney for a contempt hearing to help assist you in proving your case and to introduce your evidence.

Can I get a legal separation?

Yes. It is recommended that a spouse have an attorney prepare what is commonly referred to as a separation agreement or a marital settlement agreement. Once signed, by both spouses, this agreement can be used in a future divorce proceeding to resolve many, if not all issues between a couple. It is never recommended to sign such an agreement without first consulting with your own attorney.

Who pays for the Family Law Attorneys?

We also cover more topics and provide facts and information on Family Law issues in our blog articles.

Eric C. Cheshire is a West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney and you can reach him at (561) 655-8844 or fill out the form on the website.  All questions go directly to Eric and he will reply promptly.

The judge can order one spouse to pay all fees for both attorneys or order that each person be responsible for their own attorney’s fees and costs. Generally, the court will first determine need and ability, one person’s need to have the other person pay, and the other person’s ability to pay. The court will look to each person’s income and financial resources as well as other factors.