Central Florida Attorneys at Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett strive to protect your future and guide you through your divorce to achieve the best outcome.
Divorce can be a tumultuous and emotionally draining time in a person’s life. The transition from being married to single affects every facet of your life from the timesharing of your children, division of your marital assets, spousal and child support, among other changes you will encounter.
While the divorce proceedings can feel daunting and confusing at times, the correct attorney can help you with this sensitive matter with compassion and with diligence. Our goal at Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett is to help you achieve peace of mind and the financial stability to assist you in redeveloping your life.
Furthermore, we will be with you every step of the way to explain all the unfamiliar legal issues surrounding your divorce. You can rest assured that your needs are always top of mind.
How do you get divorced in Florida?
In Florida, a divorce is known legally as a “dissolution of marriage,” where the contract of marriage is terminated. In order to achieve a divorce in Florida there are two requirements.
First, Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that a party seeking a divorce from the marriage does not have to show any reasons or grounds for seeking the divorce. The party seeking the divorce, also known as the plaintiff or petitioner, need only plead generally that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Second, in order to obtain a “dissolution of marriage,” one of the parties must reside in Florida for at least six months prior to filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. The petition for dissolution of marriage starts the legal process towards obtaining a divorce.
Along with the granting of a final judgment for dissolution of marriage, is the creation of the divorce agreement. A divorce agreement is a contract that each party must abide by that is developed during the course of the divorce proceeding with each spouse and their counsel.
The divorce agreement contains stipulations that the parties must comply with including the timesharing schedule, parenting plan, child support, spousal support/alimony, division of marital assets and debts, attorney’s fees, and any other stipulation unique to the parties’ divorce agreement. Failure of a spouse to comply with the agreement results in breach of contract, and this can have other repercussions.
Are there various types of divorces?
Yes. In Florida, you can have contested divorces and uncontested divorces.
A contested divorce occurs when one spouse disagrees on at least one major issue in the divorce agreement. A major issue in the agreement is one involving the division of marital property/assets, child support payments, spousal support/alimony, the timesharing schedule, and/or parenting plan. These contested divorces tend to be more adversarial in nature.
Whereas, with an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree on every major issue in your dissolution of marriage agreement, including the division of marital property/assets, child support payments, spousal alimony, the timesharing schedule, and the parenting plan.
If you have been served with a petition for dissolution of marriage or are contemplating on filing for a divorce and need more information, let the experienced attorneys at Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett help you during this highly sensitive matter. Please contact us today for a consultation at (407) 843-3990.
Equitable Distribution of Property
Upon the dissolution of marriage in Florida, the court will equitably distribute all marital property. Before the parties can even begin to divide the property, the parties must first determine what is martial property and what is separate property.
Marital property includes those assets acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage—except for those assets acquired via gift, inheritance, or descent. Marital property can also include interspousal gifts exchanged during the marriage, and the enhancement in the value of nonmarital assets due to the efforts of the other spouse during the marriage. Lastly, marital property can include all benefits accrued during the marriage, such as retirement plans, pension plans, 401(k)s, profit-sharing plans, IRAs, vacation homes, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, airline miles, credit card accounts, mortgages, cars, car loans, and the like.
Separate property includes those assets that are acquired by each spouse prior to the marriage that the spouses have not commingled into the marital property pot. Separate property will stay with each spouse individually.
In Florida, there is a proposition that all marital property will start out being divided equitably (meaning “equally”)—as in 50/50, unless there are justifications for unequal treatment in the division of marital assets. The justifications for the unequal treatment in the division of martial assets stem from a non-exhaustive list of factors.
Under Florida Statute sections 61.075(a)–(j), some of the factors for the unequal treatment in the division of marital assets include:
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage;
- Each spouse’s contribution to the care and education of the children;
- Services of the homemaker spouse;
- Economic circumstances of the parties;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party;
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse;
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice;
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, production of income, the improvement of, or incurring liabilities to both marital and nonmarital assets of the parties;
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any minor children of the marriage when it would be equitable to do so for the best interests of the children;
- And any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
If you are in need of assistance with regard to your equitable distribution of marital assets, please contact one of our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett. We are here to help you achieve the best outcome for you and your family as it pertains to the settlement of your property disputes. Please contact us today at (407) 843–3990.
In the aftermath of a divorce, many parents worry how they will support their children financially and provide stability in the home. While it may be a burden on the parent that is left paying child support, it is an essential responsibility for the care
and welfare of their child.
Parents need to rid their preconceived notions about child support in that it is not a penalty for the parent paying the child support monthly—and it is not a gratuitous handout for the receiving parent. Child support is solely for the care and wellness of the child so that the child can be supported to the same degree as in an intact family.
In Florida, there is a fundamental obligation for parents to support their children. Fla. Stat. § 61.29(a). The main purpose of the statutory guidelines is to support the minor children as if the parents and children were still living as one intact household using one combined income. Fla. Stat. § 61.29(b). The guidelines are meant to encourage fair and efficient settlement of child support issues to minimize the need for litigation. Fla. Stat. § 61.29(c).
The minimum amount of child support is set by statute based on the parents’ combined net income and the number of minor children in the household. According to Florida Statute section 61.30(1)(a), the court may order payment of child support which varies plus or minus 5% from the guideline amount after considering all relevant factors, such as:
- The needs of the child or children age;
- Station in life;
- Standard of living; and
- The financial statute and ability to pay of each parent.
The court may order payment of child support in an amount which varies more than 5% from the statutory guidelines only after a written showing explains why the statutory guidelines are inadequate. Nevertheless, courts are often reluctant to deviate from the child support guidelines, but have the discretion to do so in the following situations under Florida Statute sections 61.30(11)(a)1.–11.:
1. Exceptional medical or educational expenses;
2. Independent income of the child;
3. The payment of support for a parent, which has been regularly paid and a demonstrated financial need;
4. Seasonal variations in income;
5. A child’s age warrants deviation;
6. Special shared parental arrangements exist;
7. The total assets of the parents and child justify a lower amount;
8. There is an IRS dependency exception;
9. An application of the child support guidelines schedule that requires a person to pay another person more than 55% of his or her gross income for a child support obligation;
10. A particular parenting plan exercised by the agreement of the parties, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 20% of overnights with one parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent; or
11. Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result.
Modification of Child Support Order
Sometimes events occur that are out of our control at the time the child support order was initially entered. Courts may modify a child support order upon a showing of substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances affecting the child’s welfare. Instances of substantial changes in circumstances are:
- Lower income of the payor party and higher income of the recipient party receiving the child support payments.
- Job loss on the part of the payor party.
- Disability of the payor party that prevents the payor party from working or maintaining full time employment.
- Failure to exercise time-sharing with the other parent, which prevents the other parent from bonding with the child.
Contact Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett for Help with Child Support in Florida
Calculating child support payments and the amount of support you may be entitled to receive to support your children is not only a sensitive issue for divorcing parents, but it can also be both stressful and complicated—especially without the assistance of an attorney who understands the Florida child support statutory guidelines. The family law attorneys at Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett will help minimize your stress as they not only calculate child support amounts with precision and efficiency, but also thoroughly explain how the Florida child support statutory guidelines will influence your case.
Please contract our office in Maitland for assistance in Central Florida if you have any questions or concerns about providing support for your children.
In some cases, divorce can leave one spouse in a position of financial vulnerability than the other spouse, which may require the assistance of alimony. Alimony, also called spousal maintenance, is the continuation of mutual support one spouse provides to the other spouse for maintenance of financial security.
However, alimony is discretionary by the court, and will not be granted unless the court makes a specific factual determination as to whether either party has a need for alimony and whether the other party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. Fla. Stat. § 61.08(2).
The award of alimony many not leave the paying spouse with significantly less net income than the net income of the recipient spouse unless there are written findings of exceptional circumstances.
Types of Alimony
Once the court determines that there is need for the alimony by one party and the other party has the ability to pay alimony, the court will then determine the proper type and amount of alimony. For purposes of determining type of alimony under Florida Statute section 61.08(4), there is a rebuttable presumption that a:
· Short Term Marriage—is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years.
· Moderate Term Marriage—is a marriage having a duration between 7 years but less than 17 years.
· Long Term Marriage—is a marriage having a duration of 17 or more years.
There are five types of alimony found in Florida Statute sections 61.08(5)–(8):
1. Alimony Pendente Lite (“Suit Money”)—This is temporary alimony designed to permit the economically poorer party to have support during the pending dissolution of marriage proceeding. If a party in any proceeding for dissolution of marriage claims alimony pendente lite, in his or her answer or by motion, and the answer or motion is well founded, the court shall allow a reasonable sum therefore. Fla. Stat. § 61.071.
2. Bridge-the-Gap Alimony—This form of alimony is to assist the economically poorer spouse transition from being married to being single. The length of the award may not exceed two years, as its primary purpose is for the short-term needs of the economically poorer spouse. The award will terminate upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient spouse. This award for alimony may not be modified in amount or duration.
3. Rehabilitative Alimony—This form of alimony is used to assist a party in obtaining an education, training, or redeveloping previous skills/credentials that are necessary for establishing the capacity for self-support. For a court to award this type of alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan, which must be included as part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony. The award may be modified or terminated if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or completion of the rehabilitative plan.
4. Durational Alimony—This form of alimony provides a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration when permanent alimony is inappropriate, or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. The amount of the award may be modified or terminated if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. The length of the award may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
5. Permanent Alimony—This form of alimony provides for the needs and necessities of a spouse who lacks the financial ability to be self-sustaining. It may be awarded under three circumstances:
a. Following a marriage of long duration,
b. Following a marriage of moderate duration, if such an award is appropriate based on clear and convincing evidence, or
c. Following a marriage of short duration if there are written findings of exceptional circumstances.
In awarding permanent alimony, the court must include a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties. Additionally, the award may be modified or terminated upon a substantial change in circumstances or the existences of a supportive relationship.
Amount of Alimony
In determining the amount of alimony to be awarded, the court must consider relevant factors according to Florida Statue sections 61.08(2)(a)–(j). However, even the statute is not an exhaustive list, in that any factor may be considered in awarding alimony so long as it is fair and just between the parties. Some of the listed factors in Florida Statute sections 61.08(a)–(j) are:
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- The duration of he marriage;
- The age and emotional and physical condition of both parties;
- The financial resources and sources of income of each party, including incomes available to either through investments of any assets held by that party;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties, and where applicable, the amount of time needed to obtain education or training;
- Each party’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, childcare, education, and career-building of the other party;
- The responsibilities each will have with regard to any minor children they have in common;
- The tax treatment and consequences to each of any alimony award; and
- Any other factors that will foster equity between the parties.
Can alimony be altered?
Under Florida Statute section 61.14(1)(a), the court may modify alimony payments by increasing or decreasing the support retroactively to the date of the initial filing of the divorce proceeding as equity requires.
Alimony may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances that was unexpected at the time the divorce agreement was entered. A substantial change in circumstances can include the following non-exhaustive list of factors:
- Loss of job by the payor party,
- Lower income by the payor party and higher income/new job by the recipient party,
- Remarriage of the recipient party receiving the alimony,
- Cohabitation of the recipient party receiving the alimony, or
- Inability of the payor party to maintain employment due to illness or disability.
Contact Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett to protect your alimony rights
At Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett, we will assist you with your alimony disputes, and work alongside you so we can assure you get the best outcome in your case whether that is receiving spousal support from your ex-spouse or reducing the amount of support delivered to your ex-spouse. Our office is conveniently located in Maitland, Florida, and we serve all over the Central Florida area. Contact our office today at (407) 843–3990.