Divorce, Child Support, Paternity, Time-Sharing And More

Our firm is focused on helping you through with all of your family law needs. We work hard to address all your major and important concerns:

  • Your CHILDREN – child support and time sharing plans that will place your children’s welfare at the forefront of your divorce.
  • Your FINANCES – support and asset division that is not only fair, but recognizes the many contributions you made to the marriage.
  • Your FUTURE – The women of Edwards & Edwards P.A. work hard to ensure you have the freshest start possible in your new life.

While ending your marriage, regardless of whether the decision has been taken by one party or mutually, it is important to be prepared and informed as early as possible. Your first step should be to solicit the help of a compassionate attorney who understands the emotional issues associated with a divorce: depression, distrust, anger, and sadness. Your attorney should also understand the stress and concern over the financial issues: support for you, support for your children, the marital home. In order to alleviate some stress, it is important to allow an attorney to guide you through the often complicated and lengthy divorce process.

Because you are handling a wide range of complicated emotional and legal considerations, it is critical that you find a professional and compassionate divorce attorney and law firm. Let Edwards & Edwards P.A. be the firm that you can trust to balance your personal concerns with the high demands of the legal system.

Do You Know?

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What is Fault vs. No Fault Divorce?
These common terms refer to the grounds in which a divorce may be granted, and varies from state to state. An “at fault divorce” requires one spouse to show that the other spouse is the reason, or his/her fault for the divorce. One of the most commonly cited examples of fault is adultery. However, this type of divorce has largely been abandoned, and all states have now adopted the “no fault divorce.” While some states continue to offer the option of filing for an “at fault divorce,” every state allows for the filing and granting of a divorce without the showing that any spouse is responsible for the demise of the marriage, and subsequent divorce.

As a no fault state, Florida allows for the granting of a divorce without the showing that one spouse is responsible for the divorce, but rather when the marriage is deemed “irretrievably broken.” This means that the marriage is beyond repair and there is no other option than to get divorced. The Court also allows a party to divorce if one spouse has been declared mentally incompetent at least three (3) years prior to the filing of divorce. Needless to say, the former grounds, that the marriage is irretrievably broken, is the much more common reason why divorces are filed and granted.

What is Division of Property?
Pursuant to Florida Statute, the Court will divide marital property under a principle known as equitable distribution. The Court will make the presumption that the marital assets and liabilities should be divided equally, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on a series of relevant factors including but not limited to the economic circumstances of the parties, duration of the marriage, contribution of one spouse to the career or educational opportunity of the other spouse, and the desirability of one spouse to retain a particular asset(s). Marital property includes, but is not limited to, assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage individually by either spouse or jointly by them, the enhancement in value and appreciation of non-marital assets resulting either from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution to or expenditure thereon of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both, and inter-spousal gifts during the marriage. Although not a bright-line rule, an easy rule of thumb is to consider any property or debt incurred prior to marriage as non-martial, and any property or debts acquired after the marriage as marital.

Additionally, while adultery does not have bearing on whether the divorce may be filed or granted, it may have bearing on the division of property. For example, if marital funds were used or depleted to fund the extramarital affair, the Court may award the non-adulterous spouse additional property to “make-up” for the lost funds. Excessive gambling is another example in which the Court may elect to give one spouse additional assets, if the gambling spouse used or depleted marital funds to support the gambling habit.

How is Alimony Determined?
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 or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. If the court finds that a party has a need for alimony or maintenance and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance, the Court shall determine what type of alimony and how much is appropriate. In making this the determination, the Court must consider factors such as the duration of the marriage, standard of living established during the marriage, the age and physical and emotional condition of each spouse, earning capacity of each spouse and the contribution of each spouse during the marriage such as homemaking, child care, and career building of the other spouse.

There are several different types of alimony that the Court may award to a spouse. These include bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent in nature or any combination of these forms of alimony. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.

How is Child Custody (Time Sharing) and Support Established?
In Florida, child support (CS) is dictated by Florida Statute and is the product of a calculation using the combined net income of both parties, the number of children, the number of overnights, and health insurance and daycare costs.

Often one parent believes that the other parent is purposely remaining unemployed or is under-employing him/herself for purposes of lowering or avoiding the CS obligation. The Court has identified this as an issue and has addressed it accordingly by requiring monthly income to be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent if such unemployment or underemployment is found by the court to be voluntary on that parent’s part, absent a finding of fact by the court of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control. In the event of such voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the employment potential and probable earnings level of the parent shall be determined based upon his or her recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community if such information is available.

The Court has also identified that there are special circumstances in which the CS award may need to be adjusted beyond the CS calculation. The CS may deviate based on factors such as extraordinary medical or psychological expenses, age of the child, special needs such as costs associated with the disability of the child, and/or independent income of the child.

Call us for detailed information and learn how we can help you with your divorce and related issues.

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