Divorce Advice From Your Attorney
By Orlando Divorce Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2005
Divorce Has Four Components
As an attorney practicing exclusively family law since 2006, I tell my clients that divorces have the following four major components, one of which applies only when minor children are involved.
If a couple in a divorce process has at least one minor child,
the final judgment must contain provisions that establish:
- the level of parental responsibility that each parent will have,
- a detailed parenting plan that establishes which nights the children will spend with each parent, know as time sharing (formerly child custody)
- the amount of child support that will have to be paid.
The parental responsibilities of a divorcing couple comes in three forms:
- shared responsibility between both parents,
- shared parental responsibility, with ultimate decision making authority resting with one parent and
- sole parental responsibility in one parent.
Florida courts favor shared parental responsibility of child custody. Parents who operate under this arrangement have equal decision-making authority on all of the major issues in a child's life. This holds true regardless of the percent of overnight stays each one of them has with their children.
Shared parental responsibility with ultimate decision-making authority means that, while the parents must consult with each other regarding major decisions, the parent with ultimate decision-making authority has the "final say" if there is a disagreement.
Finally, sole parental responsibility, which is rarely ordered, vests one parent with the ability to unilaterally make all parenting decisions without even consulting with the other parent.
Time-sharing is the form of child custody and support used in Florida. It is governed by Chapter 61.13, Florida Statutes. It lists several factors that a court must consider before establishing a parenting plan. However, all of the listed factors collectively fall under the umbrella of "the best interests of the child."
Unfortunately, many parents dissolving their marriage fail to grasp this concept. Instead, they focus almost exclusively on establishing themselves as the "better" parent. Courts adopt parenting plans that are child-centric, not ones that punish or reward the parents. As your attorney, I can assure you that seeking the best interests of the children first will always lead to the best outcome of your case. This is why we follow that principle in our court proceedings.
The advice on the previous paragraph is an example of how we do more than just represent you in court at At AAA Family Law. We make sure that you understand the reasons for the actions that we take or recommend.
The general principles governing child support appear in Child Custody and Support.
Equitable Assets Distribution Between Spouses
Florida courts will generally distribute the marital assets and debts equally between the divorcing parties. An asset or debt is "marital" if it was acquired between (a) the date of the couple's marriage and (b) the date of filing the divorce petition or of their separation.
These assets and debts will be subject to an equitable (50-50) distribution regardless of which spouse has the titles to them. For more information on this subject please click here: Property Distribution In Divorce.
Spousal Support, Or Alimony
Whether a Florida court awards alimony depends on three factors:
- the length of the marriage,
- the needs of the recipient spouse and
- the ability of the paying spouse to pay it.
However, unlike with child support, no guidelines exist for alimony. Courts exercise a great deal of discretion when determining both its amount and duration. Click here for additional information: Alimony.
Attorney Retainer Fees
Finally, one spouse in a divorce may petition the court to order the opposing spouse to pay for some or all the retainer fee due to his or her attorney. As in the case of alimony, a spouse's entitlement to an award of the attorney retainer fee depends on two factors: (1) his or her need for it and (2) the ability to pay of the other spouse.
How AAA Family Law Can Help You
If you are likely to face the possibility of divorce in the Orlando metro area, call me, Eduardo J. Mejias AAA Family at (407) 260-6001 and schedule a free initial thirty-minute consultation. There is an hourly charge for additional consultation time. See Family Lawyer Retainer Fees.
I will listen to you and asses your situation, develop a plan of legal action and quote you a fixed attorney retainer fee in advance. And the assessment of you situation will be realistic. I will not just tell you what you would like to hear.
Our attorney retainer fee for contested divorce cases up to the mediation stage ranges between $2,000 and $3,000 depending on its complexity. An additional retainer amount is set before the trial if the divorce settlement is not achieved during mediation. For an uncontested divorce the fees range from $1,000 to $1,500.
AAA Family Law represents clients in all of the circuit courts of the Orlando metro area. We can also represent you in any family law appeal case in the state of Florida.
Please read the Articles section for more information on Family Law topics.