Family Law FAQ

Top Ten Frequently Asked Family Law
Questions & Answers

How long does it take to get divorced?
How much money will my divorce case cost me?
How does the Court decide Custody?
If I move out of my house, will I lose it?
How much Child Support will I receive?
Will I receive permanent alimony?
What if I can't afford an attorney?
What if my spouse doesn't want a divorce?
What kind of Visitation Rights will my spouse get?
If I were to get divorced, who keeps what? 

How long does it take to get divorced?

Answer: Some divorces take longer than others. If the parties are able to enter into a marital settlement agreement prior to the filing of the divorce petition, then the divorce case should not take more than thirty (30) days from the date it is filed. If the parties are unable to enter into a marital settlement agreement prior to the filing of the divorce petition, then the divorce case will probably take somewhere between six months to a year. A lot of it depends upon the parties' willingness to compromise as well as the complexity of the issues being litigated. The moral of the story is that if you want a fast divorce then you must be willing to compromise.

How much money will my divorce case cost me?

Answer: An uncontested divorce case is much less expensive than a contested case. If there are any issues that cannot be amicably resolved, then your divorce case is contested. For example, if the parties cannot agree on a visitation schedule or upon child support then the case is contested. Most law firms bill clients by the hour. Of course, its impossible to predict how much time will be expended in a contested divorce case so its impossible to state with any reasonable degree of certainty how much money your divorce case will cost you. The range can be anywhere from $1,000.00 to ????. Again, the moral of the story is that if you want to keep your legal fees down, then you must be willing to compromise.

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How does the Court decide Custody?

Answer: Generally speaking, the Court will always do what it believes to be in the best interests of the children. The Court does not award custody based upon which parent earns the most money. The Court examines a variety of statutory factors. See F.S. 61.13.

If I move out of my house, will I lose it?

Answer: No, of course not. If the home was acquired during the course of your marriage, it is probably a marital asset regardless of whether you reside in it or not. Furthermore, your name need not be on the deed. There are exceptions to every rule and you should consult with our office. The most common exceptions involve inherited property and property that was owned by a party prior to the marriage.

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How much Child Support will I receive?

Answer: Child support is governed by F.S. 61.30. Generally, child support is determined by utilizing a mathematical formula. Both parties' incomes are considered along with other factors including health insurance, daycare, and child support or alimony obligations owed from prior relationships. For further information, please contact our office.

Will I receive permanent alimony?

Answer: Every case is different so without knowing the specifics of your case this question cannot be answered. However, there are a few generalities that might help you get an idea as to whether you are a strong candidate for alimony. The longer you have been married the more likely it is that you will be awarded alimony. There is no "magic number" of years that you have to be married to be awarded alimony but it is unusual for a spouse to be awarded permanent alimony for a marriage that's less than 10 years. Another important factor is whether there is a large disparity of income between you and your spouse. Of course, there are other factors that come into play, too many to put down on paper. For more information, please contact our office.

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What if I can't afford an attorney?

Answer: First of all, the law does not require you to be represented by a lawyer. However, you will probably have a better result if you have one. It's possible that the Court will order your spouse to pay all or a portion of your attorney fees. If your spouse earns more money than you do then chances are he or she is in a better position to pay your legal fees than you are. The Court wants to make sure that there is a "level playing field." In other words, if your spouse has a great lawyer with 10 years experience and you don't have a lawyer at all then it can't be a fair game. It's as if the Yankees are playing against the Bad News Bears. The Court will balance out the situation and make your spouse help you with your legal fees. The main criteria for an award of attorneys' fees are disparity of income.

What if my spouse doesn't want a divorce?

Answer: Florida is a No-Fault state. You do not need permission from your spouse to get divorced. Thus, it really doesn't matter if your spouse agrees to a divorce. Of course, if your spouse doesn't want a divorce he or she could make it more difficult for you to obtain a divorce. They can contest certain matters such as custody, child support, visitation, etc... Remember, a contested divorce takes much longer and costs a lot more money than an uncontested divorce. Your spouse cannot stop you from getting a divorce but can make it more time consuming and expensive. The Court has the authority to sanction a party for taking unreasonable positions not support by the facts of your case or the law.

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What kind of Visitation Rights will my spouse get?

Answer: Every case is different. However, assuming that your spouse is a decent, law abiding citizen that has a healthy relationship with your child(ren), the Court will usually award at least alternating weekends and one night during the week. If you are the primary residential parent, you are required to foster and encourage the relationship between your children and your former spouse. Remember, the Court only cares about your children. The Court cares very little about you or your spouse. Your children deserve to have a good relationship with both parents and the Court will do everything in its power to make this happen. The Court presumes that children are best off having a strong relationship with both parents. This presumption can be overcome. If your spouse has criminal issues or lifestyle problems (drugs, alcohol, etc...), the Court will not be so willing to bend over backwards. The Court's main concern is the children's safety, happiness, and well being.

If I were to get divorced, who keeps what?

Answer: The Court starts out with the presumption that all assets and debts acquired and/or incurred during the marriage will get divided equally. The Court has the power to deviate but there must be reasons. For more information, please contact our office.

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