Divorce Attorneys in Palm Coast, Florida
Going through a divorce is one of the most agonizing things that many people will ever experience. It’s painful to recognize that a relationship you thought would last forever is coming to an end. At such an emotionally turbulent time, it’s difficult to deal with the legal system on your own and negotiate with your ex about the terms of separation and financial responsibility for expenses and debts.
You don’t have to endure this painful process alone. A knowledgeable Florida divorce lawyer at Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant is ready to help you work through the process of ending a marriage. Our compassionate and skilled divorce attorneys can provide the guidance to help you make the best choices for yourself, your family, and your future.
Since 1973, our full-service family law firm has been helping clients in Volusia and Flagler counties achieve the best possible outcomes when they are facing the challenging circumstances of ending a marriage.
If you are considering a divorce in Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, or the surrounding areas, contact Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant. Our knowledgeable divorce lawyers will work to help you protect your interests and move past this difficult experience. Call us today at (386) 445-8900 or contact us online to schedule your confidential consultation.
Why Do You Need a Divorce Lawyer?
Some couples who don’t have children and have few assets can reach a divorce agreement without the help of an attorney. However, for many people, using a qualified divorce lawyer is critical to getting fair terms, considering all the financial consequences of your decisions and avoiding costly mistakes when seeking a divorce.
Divorce is typically an emotional and tense time. A Florida divorce attorney can help make this process as stress-free as possible by explaining your options and serving as an intermediary between you and your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer. A family law attorney can handle almost all the details needed to support your case. That allows you to focus on helping your family heal.
It’s often difficult for people who try to handle a divorce by themselves to understand the complexities of laws that can have a significant impact on their rights. However, experienced divorce attorneys are well-versed in state and local laws. When you work with a knowledgeable Florida divorce lawyer, he or she can protect your rights and help make sure that your divorce decree accurately represents your best interests.
Hiring a qualified divorce lawyer to handle your divorce can help you avoid making short-sighted decisions and incurring unforeseen tax situations that cost you money in the long term.
Grounds for Divorce in Florida
Florida law allows for divorce on two different grounds: irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or mental incapacity of one of the spouses. For a divorce based on irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the spouses do not have to prove what led to the divorce. Florida does not allow for fault-based grounds, where one spouse blames the actions of their partner for the divorce.
Of Florida’s two legal options for grounds, divorce on the grounds of mental incapacity is uncommon. Florida law only permits divorce on the grounds of mental incapacity if one of the spouses has been judged to be mentally incapacitated for at least three years. The spouse who is seeking the divorce must provide substantial evidence to prove the other person’s mental state.
How to File for Divorce in Florida
To initiate divorce proceedings, one spouse must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with the court in the Florida county where he or she resides. The spouse who files should use the petition to lay out any issues that need to be considered by the court as part of the divorce, such as alimony and child custody requests.
At least one of the spouses must have been a Florida resident for at least six months to be eligible to file for divorce. After a spouse files for divorce, the other person in the marriage will be served with divorce papers and will have 20 days to reply.
If the other spouse contests the divorce or if the couple has minor children, then they must attend counseling and wait for a divorce hearing. In a contested divorce, it can take months or years for couples to resolve issues over the divorce agreement and reach a final divorce decree.
Is Florida a No-Fault State for Divorce and What Does That Mean?
Florida is a no-fault state for divorce. That means that either spouse can file for divorce based on “irreconcilable differences.”
You don’t need to list a specific reason, such as physical abuse, addiction, or an extramarital affair, in your petition for divorce or offer evidence showing your spouse was to blame for the dissolution of your marriage. However, a judge might consider a spouse’s misconduct when dividing the marital estate or determining child custody.
How Are Assets Divided in a Divorce?
Under Florida law, courts divide marital estates equitably in a divorce. This means the judge will find a division that the judge believes is fair to each party. An equitable distribution is not always an even distribution. Some of the factors that Florida family law judges consider when determining the division of the marital estate include:
- The length of the marriage
- Each party’s contributions to the marriage, including their role in earning money for the family, supporting the other person’s career, or providing household and parenting services
- The ability of each spouse to earn income in the future and their current economic circumstances
- Any wrongful conduct by either spouse during the marriage
Courts will only divide assets and debts that are part of the marital estate. Typically, that includes anything the spouses acquired during the marriage. Anything that each spouse owned before the marriage or that was acquired as an inheritance during the marriage is typically considered separate property that is not subject to division.
However, there are many confusing exceptions to this rule. For example, if a spouse “comingled” their individual assets with marital assets by depositing money from their inheritance into a joint account, then the money might be subject to equitable division.
In another instance, even if one of the spouses earned retirement benefits from a job he or she left before getting married, the other spouse might be able to claim a right to the benefits if the asset appreciated significantly during the marriage.
A knowledgeable Palm Coast divorce attorney can help you assess the value of your marital estate, advise you about whether you can claim a right to some of your spouse’s assets, and negotiate on your behalf for a fair settlement.
How Is Child Custody Determined in a Divorce in Florida?
Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, Florida courts might award sole custody to one parent or shared parental responsibility to both parents. The parent or parents with custody will have physical custody, as well as legal custody, which means they have the right and responsibility to make educational, medical, disciplinary, and religious decisions for the child.
In child custody cases in Florida, the court’s first priority is determining what is in the best interest of the child.
Family law courts look at numerous factors in making this determination, such as:
- Each parent’s physical and mental abilities to care for the child
- The child’s relationship, affection, and ties with each parent
- The custody arrangement that allows for the most continuity in the child’s education, religious affiliation, medical care, participation in extracurricular activities, and interaction with friends and extended family
- The child’s age and health
- How likely each parent is to honor the time-sharing schedule, encourage contact with the other parent, and accommodate reasonable changes that need to be made
- Any concerns with each parent, such as a history of domestic violence or substance abuse
- The ability of each parent to meet the child’s emotional and developmental needs
- How involved each parent is in the child’s life and how much care they will personally provide for the child
The courts will use Florida’s child support guidelines to determine the base amount of money that each parent must provide to support their children. However, they’ll also consider factors, such as the child’s special medical, educational, and psychological needs, in determining child support payments.
Contact a Divorce Attorney in Palm Coast Today
Deciding to end your marriage is never an easy decision, even when it’s the right decision. The law firm of Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant is here to help you get through this difficult experience.
If you’re considering filing for divorce, contact a compassionate and experienced Florida divorce lawyer right away. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through this process and give you the support you need to make the best possible choices for you and your family.