When you’re served with divorce papers, whether unexpected or not, it can be scary and confusing deciding what to do next. Our family law attorneys suggest taking these seven steps to protect your rights and make reaching a settlement less stressful. If you have questions about your divorce or are
When facing a dissolving marriage, emotions can run high. Heartbreak, fear, anger and stress can come to define this challenging time. Trying to navigate the complexities of divorce on your own – or with the help of an inexperienced lawyer – will most likely add confusion, frustration and uncertainty to your list of troubling emotions.
You don’t have to endure the difficulties of divorce alone. No matter how complicated the legal aspects of your situation, the experienced family law attorneys at Syprett Meshad have the skill, knowledge and compassion you need to face your divorce with confidence and integrity.
Get Help From An Experienced Divorce Lawyer
The best way to learn about your legal rights and options is to speak with our divorce lawyers in person. Please call 941-365-7171 today to schedule a consultation. We proudly serve clients from Sarasota, Bradenton and throughout Florida.
- Divorce in Florida
- Alimony (Spousal Support)
- Child Support
- Child Support Enforcement and Modification
- Parenting Plans and Timesharing
- Parental Responsibility
- Equitable Distribution of Property
- Collaborative Divorce
- Attorney Fees
- A Divorce Lawyer with Experience and Compassion on Your Side
- Contact our Sarasota Divorce Lawyers
Divorce & Divorce Law in Florida
As a no-fault divorce state, Florida allows dissolution of marriage to proceed without blaming either partner for a marriage’s demise. Any spouse can file for divorce if he or she can show:
- A legal marriage existed
- At least one of the spouses was a legal Florida resident for at least six months immediately preceding the divorce
- The marital union was irretrievably broken or one of the partners was mentally incapacitated
While filing for a dissolution of marriage can be a relatively straight-forward process, the reality of a divorce is usually much more involved. Hurt feelings aren’t the only considerations that hang in the balance. When joined in a marriage, a couple’s finances, families and assets are intrinsically entwined. Deciding how accounts, debts and properties and other assets will be divided aren’t just critical financial questions; they are legal issues. When children are involved in a divorce, far more challenging personal questions must be answered.
Divorce cases involving same-sex couples present unique challenges of their own. Same-sex marriages have only been legal in Florida since 2015, so there is still relatively little case law precedent to govern these cases. As a result, it is crucial that you work with an experienced family law attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of these cases.
Alimony (Spousal Support)
Also referred to as spousal support, alimony is monetary support one spouse pays the other. The purpose of alimony is to ensure that neither party goes from meeting their needs during their marriage to being unable to meet their needs after a divorce.
Spousal support is not an element of every divorce. It is only included if one spouse successfully demonstrates a need for this support as well as the other spouse’s ability to pay it. Proving this to a judge requires the review of several financial considerations, including:
- The standard of living prior to divorce
- Tax consequences
- The duration of the marriage:
- Short-term (0-7 years)
- Moderate (7-17 years)
- Long-term (more than 17 years)
- The age and health of each spouse
- The financial standings of each spouse
- The current and future earning potential of each spouse
- The education level and employability of each spouse
- Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage
- Each spouse’s responsibilities regarding any children
- All sources of income available
Under Florida law, there are several different types of spousal support that may be awarded:
- Temporary – Alimony provided temporarily during the divorce process. Once the divorce is final, a new type of spousal support will replace the temporary arrangement.
- Permanent periodic – Typically reserved for long-term marriages, this form of alimony requires monthly payments until the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse.
- Lump sum – True to its name, lump sum alimony typically involves a single monetary payment or transfer in property.
- Durational – This form of spousal support is commonly awarded in short- to moderate-term marriages to provide the recipient with financial support throughout a predefined time period, not to exceed the duration of the marriage.
- Rehabilitative – Alimony provided to help the recipient eventually become self-sufficient, through education, training or experience. A specific rehabilitation plan which details the logistics and projected timeline of the process is required.
- Bridge the gap – Generally awarded in short-term marriages, this type of spousal support is intended to help one spouse transition to single life. This form of alimony is only awarded for a maximum of two years.
Determining whether a spouse should get alimony – and if so, how much – is a complex process. It may require extensive research and a thorough examination of your finances, prospects and history. The divorce attorneys at Syprett Meshad know how Florida law impacts the way the courts will rule on alimony disputes, and we can help ensure your rights are protected during these complicated negotiations.
In Florida, each parent is responsible for supporting their children whether the child lives with them or not. Florida law requires parents to support their minor children until they reach the age of 18, graduate from high school if they will graduate prior to reaching 19, or the child emancipates in some other manner.
Florida law calculates child support using specific criteria to determine which parent will receive the support, which parent will pay the support, and how much support must be paid.
The factors impacting child support include:
- Income levels of each parent
- The amount of parenting time for each parent
- Special educational or medical needs of the child
- The cost of insurance and who pays for it
- The cost of day care and who pays for it
- Whether either parent pays or receives spousal support
- Child support payments to other children
- Which parent may claim the minor child for tax purposes
Unless the parties agree otherwise, Florida law requires child support to be paid through an Income Withholding Order (IWO). An IWO will take the child support payment directly from the salary of the paying parent. That payment is then sent to the Florida State Disbursement Unit and then to the Clerk of Court. This establishes an accounting of payments made so there is no future dispute as to whether a child support payment was made. The Clerk of Court then sends the payment to the parent receiving the child support.
Parents can agree to initially allow for direct payments between them and in the event payments become late, they can file the necessary documents to put an IWO in place at that time.
Child Support Enforcement and Modification
When a parent delays or refuses to make their child support payments, contempt or enforcement motions may need to be filed with the court. If the paying parent does not have a valid reason why the child support payment was not made, the court may order the delinquent parent to immediately catch up in their child support payments.
Child support can be modified if either parent can show that there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of one or both of the parents. Under Florida law, to justify a modification of child support, a change must to be shown to be “substantial, material, involuntary and permanent” in nature. Circumstances which can justify a modification include:
- Change of income due to job loss, a new job or a promotion
- Changes in the cost of health insurance
- Changes in the cost of child care
- Changes in the timesharing schedule
To justify a modification, the change in child support must be at least $50.00 or 15% of the total monthly obligation. There are no limits on the number of times child support can be modified, but there are legal standards which will dictate whether a modification is available to a parent.