Florida’s No-Fault Divorce Is a Dissolution That Distributes Responsibilities, Incomes and Assets
By Orlando, Florida Divorce Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
Florida's no-fault divorce law means that: (1) the spouse seeking it does not have to have any justification for it, other than not wanting to continue the marriage because of irreconcilable differences, (2) it is a process of making decisions about the distribution of the common assets, income and child rearing responsibilities due to the dissolution of the marriage. These are primarily: (a) the division of the marital assets net of debts, (b) the decision of whether or not alimony is awarded to a former wife or husband and for how much, and (c) the distribution of custody and support of their children. These things are rarely affected by a spouse’s conduct during the marriage or who is at fault for its breakdown.
Assets net of debt that were acquired during the marriage are almost always split in half. With alimony, the length of the marriage, and the disparity of income or earning capacity between the spouses mainly determine how much, if any of it is awarded. Child custody and support decisions are based on what is best for the children. Which spouse was more responsible with money, who was the harder worker, and which spouse was more faithful are mostly immaterial.
In other words, Florida's no-fault divorce is a process with a set of rules for dissolving a marriage by distributing the common rights, responsibilities, assets and incomes of the married couples between them. As the term no-fault clearly suggests, it is not a place to assign blame. Any misbehavior on the part of any member of the marriage only has a place in the divorce process when it affects this distribution (such as hiding common marital assets in secret personal accounts, or falsely accusing the spouse of child abuse in order to reduce his or her child custody time, or, if there is infidelity, dissipating marital assets by spending them on the other man or woman).
Florida No-Fault Divorces Are Not About Morality
Divorces in Florida are not designed to be morality plays. Unless the time-sharing of children is at stake, a spouse’s questionable behavior, including adultery, seldom matters. Even when children are involved, a parent’s “moral fitness” represents only one factor among many that a judge must consider when establishing a time-sharing schedule.
Of course, divorces involve two people that shared strong feelings towards each other. When a potential client meets me for the first time, their feelings are still raw, and their wounds are fresh and I expect a certain amount of emotion. But, as your divorce attorney, I would be doing a disservice to my clients if I did not explain that the Florida no-fault divorce process is not a place to establish guilt. Attempting to do so could damage their case for a fair distribution of assets, alimony, child support and child custody.
Why Divorcing Couples Should Control Their Emotions During a No-Fault Divorce
(1) Inflammatory Language Hurts Chances of a Mediated Settlement
Injecting inflammatory language in the divorce petition simply for the purpose of “putting it on the record” usually backfires, regardless of the merits of the accusation. Your spouse will naturally become even more infuriated, damaging the chances of a settlement at mediation and requiring a decision by a judge. Agreeing on a settlement is less risky than leaving it to a judge to make the decision and it costs much less in legal fees. Any experienced divorce attorney will only include these type of allegations in very specific situations when they can make a difference to the outcome.
Many of my Orlando divorce clients harbor considerable animosity towards their spouses. Regardless of how justified the animosities may be, they interfere with articulating what they want in a future judgment. Instead of thinking about how their common properties and responsibilities should be divided, some spend the majority of the initial consultation lamenting all of the horrible things that their spouses had done to them. This clouds their judgment. As many Florida divorce attorneys find themselves doing, I give them as much emotional counseling as I do legal advice.
Sometimes they ask me if I could speak to a friend or relative for a few minutes and I agree to it. I sometimes expect, perhaps naively, to hear a different perspective. However, the friend or relative usually repeats all of the dastardly things done to my prospective client and ask how I could make life difficult for his or her spouse. Even though neither the prospective client or the friend or relatively wanted to hear it, I tell both of them that their complaints would be irrelevant in a no-fault divorce and can do damage to their interests in the settlement.
(3) Bickering Can Hurt The Children
For divorcing couples with children, frequent bickering damages the co-parenting relationship, therefore the children. And Florida laws require that all decisions about child custody be based only on the best interest of the children.
Call For Initial Consultation
If you are considering a dissolution of your marriage and want a knowledgeable and objective advice from a family lawyer on what to do, please call AAA Family Law at 407-260-6001. I will schedule you for an initial consultation by phone or at our Altamonte Springs office. I have been practicing law since 1999, family law since 2003 and have been dedicated exclusively to family law cases in the Orlando area since 2011.
At the consultation I will (a) listen to your situation and ask you what your objectives are for a settlement, (b) outline a plan of legal actions to achieve your objectives and (c) quote you a fixed attorney retainer feed, not an hourly rate whose total you will only find out after the settlement.
The retainer fees for our divorce attorney have the following ranges, depending on the complexity of the case:
Contested Divorce Up To Mediation: $2,000 to $3,000. (An additional retainer amount is set before a trial if there is a trial.)
Uncontested Divorce: $1,000 to $1,500.
For more information on attorney fees go to Family Lawyer Retainer Fees.