Florida’s No-Fault Divorce
By Orlando Divorce Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2005
Distribution of Common Assets, Income and Child Custody and Support
Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that the divorce is a process of making decisions about the distribution of the common assets, income and child rearing responsibilities of the married couple. These are primarily: (1) the division of the marital assets and debts, (2) the decision of whether or not alimony is awarded and (3) the 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 and debts that were acquired during the marriage are almost always split in half. With alimony, the length of the marriage, and the disparity of income 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 all immaterial.
Animosities Interfere With Articulating What Is Wanted From The Divorce Settlement
Many of my Orlando clients who consider hiring me to represent them as their divorce attorney harbor considerable animosity towards their spouses. These animosities interfere with articulating what they want in a future divorce judgment. Instead of thinking about how their common properties and responsibilities should be divided, they 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 family law 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 in the divorce. Even though neither the prospective client or the friend or relatively wanted to hear it, I tell both of them that what their complaints would be irrelevant in her divorce and can do damage to their interests in the settlement.
Florida 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 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 divorce 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 I would be doing a disservice to my clients if I did not explain that, in the Florida, the legal 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 or child custody.
Inflammatory Language Damages Chances of a Mediated Settlement
In addition, 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. An experienced family law attorney will only include these type of allegations in very specific situations when they can make a difference in the outcome.
Call For Free Initial Consultation
If you are considering a divorce and want a knowledgeable and objective advice on what to do, I encourage you to call AAA Family Law at 407-260-6001 and schedule a thirty-minute free initial consultation with me. I have been practicing law since 1999 and dedicated exclusively to representing clients as a family law attorney in divorces and other family law cases since 2005, in the Orlando area since 2011.
At the consultation I will (a) listen to your situation regarding a possible divorce 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 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
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