Broward County FL Dissolution of Marriage Lawyer
Mark Abzug is an experienced Coral Springs, Florida, divorce lawyer who understands the difficulties that men and women are presented with when they decide to dissolve their marriage. As such, many clients wish to learn as much as they can about the laws in the State of Florida and how they affect their divorce.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Abzug, P.A. in Coral Springs, Florida have a thorough understanding of the divorce laws in the State of Florida. In addition to divorce, the lawyers handle separation agreements and annulments. The following is general information about Florida divorce law and should not be construed as legal advice. It is important that you talk to an attorney about your particular situation and how the law applies to your case. For more information, visit our Divorce Center and Family Law Frequently Asked Questions.
Divorce & Family Law Overview for Florida Proceedings
Jurisdiction and Venue
Florida is a no-fault state. In order to get divorced in Florida you don't need to prove that your spouse has committed adultery or has abandoned you. In short, all that's required is that you testify under oath that your marriage is irretrievably broken. F.S. 61.052. To obtain a dissolution of marriage, one of the parties to the marriage must reside in the state of Florida for 6 months before the filing of the petition. F.S. 61.021. If both parties reside in Florida but in different counties, then the county in which the parties last resided in as Husband and Wife is the proper county in which to file for divorce.
Commencement of Divorce Proceedings
The divorce process commences with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and issuance of a Summons. A Sheriff or Process Server must serve your spouse with the Summons and Petition, unless you cannot locate your spouse after making a diligent, good faith effort to do so. If you cannot locate your spouse, constructive service through publication may be authorized. The party initiating the divorce proceeding is referred to as the Petitioner and the other part is simply referred to as the Respondent. Upon being served, the Respondent then has twenty (20) days in which to file an answer admitting or denying the allegations in the petition. [The twenty (20) day requirement is not strictly enforced as the Court prefers to adjudicate cases based upon their own merits rather than upon technicalities]. Rule 1.140(a). Usually, if the Respondent has an attorney, you could expect the Respondent to file Counter Petition for Dissolution of Marriage that you or your attorney must answer. If either party fails to file and answer within the time periods prescribed under the Rules of Civil Procedure the Clerk of Court may enter a Default Judgment. There is no advantage or disadvantage to being the party to institute the proceedings. Whichever party files the Petition to get the ball rolling is required to pay a filing fee. Currently, the filing fee in Broward County, FL is $409.00 plus $10.00 for the issuance of a summons. If you have any further questions, call Mark Abzug, your Margate divorce attorney.
Discovery - Determining Marital Assets and Property
After the filing, the discovery process is started where information is gathered by your attorneys to prepare for trial. Anything that was acquired during the marriage is considered a marital asset with inheritances being the only exception. Even a separate bank account where marital money was deposited is considered marital property. Please know that no matter how long the discovery process takes, we will vigorously represent you throughout that aspect of the process.
There are several discovery tools that lawyers use to obtain information including: interrogatories (written questions), request for production of documents, and depositions (questioning under oath). Under Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.285, parties are required to provide one another with certain financial documents including their last 3 months of pay stubs, last 3 years of federal income tax returns, and account statements. Each party is also required to file a family law financial affidavit. The amount of time it takes to complete discovery usually depends upon a variety of factors such as the extent of assets involved and the nature of each party's employment. To be sure, it's far easier for attorneys to deal with W-2 Wage Earners in comparison to self-employed persons.
Believe it or not, the entire idea of the legal system is for there to be no surprises. Both parties are supposed to know pretty much everything there is to know about their spouse's assets and liabilities. They are also supposed to know every witness that's expected to testify at trial, what those witnesses will be testifying about, and all documents that will be introduced into evidence.
After discovery is completed, either party can notice the case for trial. However, if one of the parties has not completed discovery they can file a motion requesting a continuance. The Court is usually willing to grant a continuance unless it appears that the party asking for it to simply procrastinate or act in bad faith. Prior to trial, most judges require the parties to attend mediation.
At trial, each attorney makes opening remarks. Thereafter, the Petitioner puts on his or her case. After each witness finishes testifying, the Respondent's counsel is entitled to a cross examination which is followed by a redirect by the Petitioner's counsel. After all witnesses have testified for the Petitioner, including the Petitioner, the Respondent gets to put on his or her case in chief. Each party is then given an opportunity for rebuttal. A trial can be as short as two (2) hours and as long as two (2) weeks. It all depends upon how much evidence is being presented by each party.
Contact our office at (954) 753-1003 if you need a caring and experienced divorce lawyer to assist you with issues such as child custody and visitation, child support, or alimony. Our attorney, Mark Abzug, can help by providing the information you need to make informed decisions about your divorce. Our law office serves clients in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale as well as Broward County and Palm Beach County.