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When Does My Spouse Get Rights to My Property in Marriage?

Florida Statute 61.075 controls how the parties’ assets and liabilities are to be distributed.  As previously discussed, the court must first determine which assets and liabilities are classified as “marital” (see previous blog for more information on this topic).

Upon said identification, the Courts must begin with the premise that distribution should be equal, unless there is justification for same.  The statute provides factors for the Court’s consideration for an unequal division of the marital assets and liabilities as follows:

  • Contributions to the marriage by both parties, including care of both the children and the home.
  • The economic circumstances of both parties.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
  • The contributions from one spouse to the other spouse’s career or educational opportunities.
  • The desirability of retaining any assets, including an interest in a business, corporation or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference from the other party.
  • The contributions of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and non-marital assets of the parties.
  • The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or the party, and it is financially feasibly for the parties to maintain the residences.  In making this decision, the court will examine whether it is in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, it will look at whether other equities would be served by giving one party exclusively use and possession of the marital home.
  • The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
  • Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between parties.

The date for determining the assets and liabilities as marital is the earliest of: the parties’ entry of a valid separation agreement, a date agreed upon by both the parties, or date of filing a petition for dissolution of marriage.  The value of said assets and liabilities is to the judge’s discretion as to what is just and equitable under the circumstances.  In many cases, the valuation date of marital assets is as close to the time of Trial as possible to produce the most fair distribution for both parties.  However, in same cases a valuation date is identified as prior to Trial because of an extreme increase or reduction in value of the assets by a spouse since filed.

If you have any questions regarding the above as it relates to your case, either submit an online inquiry for a consult or call The Mark’s Law Firm at 407.872.3161.

Judicial Procedures in Orlando Domestic Violence Injunctions

Domestic Violence is often a part of many Family Law cases. Each Domestic Violence situation is unique and must be individually examined by the Court.

Prior to a Court making any decisions regarding Injunctions (commonly known as “Restraining Orders”), a Judge must consider whether the Petitioner (the person seeking the Injunction), has a legal right to ask for same and whether the allegations presented meet the statutory definition of “Domestic Violence.”

The Judge must also determine whether there is an immediate and present danger of Domestic Violence, as well as various issues related to custody and/or visitation if minor children are involved.

Once a Judge has made the above preliminary findings and either a Temporary Injunction has been issued or a Hearing has been set on the initial Petition, the Court will move towards issuing or denying a Final Injunction.  At this point, the Judge will review any related cases with the same parties where provisions of other Injunctions may possibly conflict with the present circumstances.

Thereafter, the Judge will again examine the facts to determine whether the allegations are sufficient to support the immediate and present danger requirement of the Statute. If there are minor children involved, the Court may also make a determination as to appropriate visitation limitations. Finally, depending on the specific circumstances, the Judge may also order various rehabilitative programs such as Batterers’ Intervention, Anger Management, or Substance Abuse Evaluations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce Questions for Orlando Divorce Lawyer – General Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce):

Questions I should ask my divorce lawyer about my case and questions about divorce to Orlando Divorce Attorneys

What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?”
In addition to ending your marriage, a divorce (or “dissolution of marriage”) addresses all issues within the marriage, including property, finances, and child-related issues.  This is the most common way to deal with marital issues, as Florida does not recognize “legal separation.” However, if you prefer a less permanent route, there are options available to obtain financial support or address concerns related to minor child(ren) without filing for divorce.  For example, Florida law allows a married party to pursue an action for support and maintenance without dissolution of marriage.  That allows for a time of separation and the chance to consider the circumstance without the prospect of a full divorce hanging over you.  If you would like to discuss these options in more detail, contact one of the family law attorneys at The Marks Law Firm to schedule a consultation at your convenience.

Why should I have a lawyer representing me during my divorce?
While many individuals proceed through the divorce process, having the help of an attorney with family law experience can go a long way toward protecting your interests. Florida’s family laws have developed over many decades and are often nuanced and complicated.  An experienced attorney will understand these laws and be able to help you avoid the mistakes or unfavorable results that can arise from not knowing all of your rights.  For example, pro se litigants (those who represent themselves) often do recognize or include important considerations such as ensuring adequate financial protections in the event a spouse passes away, the tax implications of paying spousal or child support, practical ways to avoid future conflict, and significant children’s issues that pro se parties don’t often consider.  The family law attorneys at The Marks Law Firm have the experience to support you with these difficult issues.

How can I find out which decision-making option would be best for my situation?
The presumption in Florida is what is called “Shared Parental Responsibility,” which starts from the position that each parent is considered an equal in parenting the child(ren). When the Florida Legislature changed the “custody” verbiage in 2008, the intent was to ensure that neither parent was considered superior to the other and that each parent should have as much time with the child(ren) possible, unless very particular circumstances (i.e. child abuse, substance abuse etc.) indicate otherwise. There are accommodations that can be made for “shared parental responsibility with ultimate decision making” and “sole parental responsibility” when appropriate, although these are exceptions and must be justified by the significant evidence. The family law attorneys at The Marks Law Firm can educate and guide you as part of your team to make informed and well thought through decisions that can positively impact you and your children for years.

My spouse refuses to give a divorce. What are my options?
Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that either party may pursue a divorce without the consent of the other.  That means that even if your spouse refuses to cooperate, you can file and pursue a divorce proceeding on your own.  The Marks Law Firm is focused on family law and knows how to effectively assist spouses who face this frustrating situation.

What is the difference between an uncontested and contested dissolution of marriage?
An uncontested dissolution of marriage occurs when the spouses agree on all issues, including time sharing and child support, property distribution, and spousal support.  The benefit of an uncontested proceeding is that it minimizes conflict and allows the parties to maintain control over the outcome.  However, if the spouses cannot agree on any of these issues, the matter becomes contested and requires the Court to make the decisions for the parties.  The Attorneys at The Marks Law Firm have over 75 years of combined experience helping families in both contested and uncontested family law litigation.

Can I get my marriage dissolved without a lawyer?
Yes, you can obtain a dissolution of marriage without the help of legal counsel.  However, there are a number of steps to the process and before you decide to do it alone, you should consider whether you are comfortable with the following questions:

  • What do I need to file to start the divorce process?
  • Where do I file the necessary documents?
  • Do I know and understand all of the applicable statutes and time limits?
  • What am I allowed to legally ask for during my divorce (i.e. alimony, child support etc…)?
  • Do I know all of my legal rights and how to avoid waiving them?
  • What are my obligations to my spouse and child(ren) during the case and how might those obligations change when we are finished?
  • How are child support and alimony determined?
  • How does the Court determine property division in a family law case?

These are only some of the issues that may come up during your divorce case, and the outcome of these issues will affect you for years to come.  At The Marks Law Firm, our family law attorneys know the answers to these questions and have the training and experience to ensure your rights are protected.

Won’t a lawyer turn our dissolution of marriage into a battleground?”
It’s true that sometimes attorneys can add to the dissension and make matters harder, but normally the opposite happens.  The emotions and personal feelings associated with a dissolution of marriage can be overwhelming.  It’s often difficult for spouses to be objective during the divorce and work together to reach a reasonable and proper result.  While the goal of your lawyer is to fight for you and to protect you and your child(ren), an experienced family lawyer will also help you understand the legal and practical issues involved in your case and avoid unnecessary costs and headaches.  Involving an attorney early on also gives you a better chance for an early resolution, which allows you to move on with your life more quickly.

How long do I have to live in Florida before I can file a divorce action?
A person seeking a divorce in Florida must have resided in the state for at least 6 months prior to filing the divorce.  This means you must have lived in Florida with the intent to remain here for at least the 6 months leading up to the beginning of your divorce case.  If you are unsure about which state has jurisdiction over your divorce case, you can contact the family law attorneys at The Marks Law Firm to discuss your concerns.

In Florida is there a waiting period before my divorce becomes final?
There is no waiting period or cooling off period in Florida. If you and your spouse agree on all issues that need to be resolved, and your paperwork is in order and properly completed, your divorce can be finished as quickly as the Court’s schedule allows for you to attend a final hearing.

Why is the date of separation important?
The date of separation can be important because it is one of the dates a Court can use to determine the value of property to be distributed during a divorce, and can set the date for determining back child support or spousal support.  The Court also often uses the date the Petition is filed, as it can be difficult to nail down a specific date of separation, especially when the parties have been growing distant over a period of months or even years.  Determining the proper date, and applying that date to the calculations involved, can be tricky, and if you have questions about this issue it is a good idea to contact one of the attorneys at The Marks Law Firm for a consultation. We are Orlando divorce lawyers.

How is the date of separation determined?
As mentioned above, it can be difficult to determine the separation date. If you know the exact date on which one of the parties left the marital home, that is likely the best way to calculate the date of separation.  If you don’t recall that date, or if you are still living together, it is hard to pinpoint a date of separation and the Court may use the date of the Petition instead.  If you have questions about determining your date of separation, or regarding the best date to use for valuing your property for legal purposes, you can call The Marks Law Firm and discuss your questions with one of our experienced family lawyers.

Divorce Initial Consultation:

How can I get the most out of my Initial Consultation?
You should come to your Initial Consult as prepared and organized as possible. That means it will help save time if you have at least some basic financial documents like your most recent paystub, savings, checking and brokerage statements. It will also be very helpful to fill out our Initial Consult forms as completely as possible prior to coming in for your consult to give to the Attorney when you meet.  You should also think of any questions you may want to ask and write those down or even E-mail them to the Firm prior to the day of the Initial Consult. The Orlando Attorneys at The Marks Law Firm work hard to combine excellent counsel with cost effective representation, and anything you can do to save the Attorney time will ultimately save you money.

If I request a consultation, does that mean I have to hire you?
No, you are under no obligation to hire the Attorney or the Firm because you have set an Initial Consult. You should take the time to make sure the firm is a good fit for you before you retain the Attorney.

Do you give consultations over the telephone?
Yes, this can be an effective way to get started especially with time constraints and perhaps geographical distances. Ultimately is usually is a good idea for the Client and the Attorney to meet in person, but as long as the Client completes the Initial Consult forms and emails them back with some basic financial documents, (see below) a telephonic Initial Consult can be very effective.

I don’t even know if I need an attorney.  Is there just a packet of forms I can use?
If you have no minor children, and you and your spouse can agree on everything and feel comfortable enough that you know what you are doing, there are forms for a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage” available. You can also get forms if you have minor children, but we do not recommend it because of the added complexities. In fact if you have any significant assets or minor children, you should take the completed forms in to meet with an Attorney to look at them before you sign them. That way you may only have to pay an Attorney for one hour of time and then the rest yourself. Our Orlando Divorce Law Firm, Marks Law Firm regularly does this type of consultation and would be glad to answer any questions you have about the process before you file your paperwork.

Will I be involved in my own case?
Absolutely! At The Marks Law Firm in Orlando, FL our approach is that the Client and the Firm are a “Team.”  The Client knows the facts of the case better than the Attorney ever will, because the Client has lived through it, so the only way the Team can succeed is if we work together toward a common goal. When the Attorney/Paralegal and Client working collaboratively and with great communication, we can reach the best possible resolution for you and your family.

Modification / Enforcement

Modification / Enforcement

When parties reach an agreement to settle, or a Court at trial orders a resolution to a family law dispute, those decisions are based on the parties’ circumstances at the time of the agreement or order.  When those circumstances change, however, the agreement or court order may need to change as well.  The Orlando family law attorneys at The Marks Law Firm can help you in seeking to obtain that necessary change.

In Florida, a party that has experience a “substantial change” in its circumstances may be entitled to a modification of their agreement or the Court’s order so that party’s rights and obligations reflect their current reality.  For instance, if a husband who is paying alimony to his former wife learns that the former wife, who was previously unemployed, now has a job and earns more money and perhaps more than he does, the husband may be entitled to a reduction or elimination of his alimony obligations.

Likewise, if a father paying child support to his former wife suddenly loses his job, he may be entitled to a reduction or elimination of those payments as well.  If you believe your circumstances have “substantially changed” since the end of your family law matter, you may be entitled to a change in your rights or obligations.  Contact the Orlando Family Law Attorneys at The Marks Law Firm for a one-on-one consultation to ensure you are protected.  If you would like more information about modification in Central Florida, contact the family law attorneys at The Marks Law Firm in Orlando to schedule a consultation.

Alimony

Alimony

Alimony is provided for in FL Statute 61.08. There are literally hundreds of Appellate cases in Florida significantly impacting how this Statute is interpreted.

When spouses separate or divorce the financial burden on each spouse can be significant. Interestingly, the status of alimony in Florida is currently in a state of flux. There have been substantial changes to the alimony statutes and the corresponding case law over the past several years, and there is a movement affront in Florida to abolish Permanent Periodic Alimony.

Alimony, or Spousal Support, is the payment made by one spouse to the other. Alimony can be court-ordered or agreed to by the parties, however, not every separated or divorcing spouse is entitled to alimony. We can assess your unique situation and clearly and concisely counsel you as to your legal rights.

There are 6 types of alimony in Florida:

1. Permanent Periodic Alimony
2. Rehabilitative Alimony
3. Durational Alimony
4. Bridge the Gap Alimony
5. Lump Sum Alimony
6. Temporary Alimony

The number one and number two factors in all alimony cases are: 1. Does one spouse have a Financial Ability to pay and 2. Does the other spouse have a financial need to receive Alimony? You must meet both criteria for it to be an alimony case.

In Florida, under FL Statute 61.08, there are a number of additional factors to consider when determining whether alimony is appropriate, including the length of the marriage, standard of living, the health, education and age of the parties, non-marital resources available to the parties and other contributions made to the marriage.

The Marks Law Firm Attorneys in Orlando, FL have over 80 years of combined experience in the Family Law Area. Experienced in Florida Alimony Law – Orlando alimony lawyer.

Child Support

Child Support

In any separation or divorce involving minor children, the best interests of the children are paramount. Unfortunately, not every parent is willing to do their part and child support guidelines can be complicated to understand and often lead to contentious dispute between the parties. The Marks Law Firm has the knowledge and experience to help you make sure that your child support determination is fair and accurate. In Florida, child support is determined based on Florida Child Support Guidelines that considers each parent’s income and other factors like who pays the health insurance premiums, day care, or after school care for the minor children. Even Alimony payments made and received can affect Florida child support calculations and Florida child support payments.

You can review Florida’s child support guidelines by clicking here:

While the statutory guidelines provide the parties with a starting point for their Florida child support obligations, it is often appropriate to deviate from the amount provided for in the statute. The Marks Law Firm will consider your unique situation and help you determine whether a deviation is appropriate.  And for those parents already paying or receiving child support, we can analyze your situation to help you decide whether to modify or terminate your child support obligations or to enforce support obligations that the other parent isn’t meeting.

The Marks Law Firm’s child support lawyers in the Orlando, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Winter Springs, Winter Garden, Kissimmee, Longwood, Clermont, Ocoee, Lake Mary area with help and advise on your child support situation. Call us today.