Family Law

What is Divorce?

Divorce is a court process to legally end a marriage. Historically, a divorce required some fault by one of the persons in the marriage. Florida’s statutes were revised due to the recognition that a married couple can end the marriage regardless of fault. Thus, in Florida a termination of marriage is called a “dissolution of marriage.” In addition to ending the marriage, a dissolution may also deal with how property and debts of the spouses are divided and whether one spouse should pay support (alimony) to the other. If children are involved, a dissolution of marriage also resolves custody (which is referred to as parental responsibility in Florida), parenting time and child support issues.

When Can I Start a Dissolution of Marriage Case?

Before starting the court case, either the husband or wife must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months or have been a member of the armed forces stationed in Florida for at least 90 days. Unless Florida was the last state where you lived together with your spouse, issues regarding parental responsibilities of children may require a longer residence time in order to deal with those issues.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Dissolution of Marriage?

Under Florida law, dissolution of marriage can be speedily granted by the court when it is uncontested. If the spouses are not in agreement on how to settle all issues, the time it takes will depend on the complexity of the issues and the court’s schedule.

Child Support

According to Florida law, and every state has similar laws, both parents owe a duty of support towards their children. When a couple separates, child support can be imposed as a way of making sure that both parents are contributing to the financial needs of the children.

Child support is based on the Florida Child Support Guidelines involving several factors, including the gross (pre-tax) income of the parties, the number of children, the age of the children, day care and school costs, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. After these factors are determined, the court uses a child support calculator to determine the actual child support amount.

Either parent may seek child support and child support is usually ordered in dissolution of marriage or paternity proceedings. The state may also initiate child support proceedings. The state will seek a child support order when the child in question receives some sort of state aid. The state looks to the non-custodial parent for reimbursement of monies it has paid out to the child. The state may even seek child support from both parents if the child has become a ward of the state.

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