The Compassionate Guide to Starting Your Divorce Journey in Florida
By: Iman Zekri, Esq.
As we commence a new year, it is common for individuals to reflect upon their lives, sometimes leading to serious decisions such as divorce. For those contemplating this process, there are three key points to remember before moving forward.
Understanding a “No Fault” Divorce
Florida follows the “no-fault” principle. This means that the process does not require individuals to attribute fault or assign blame for the end of the marriage. Rather, the process centers on acknowledging that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” which means that the marriage cannot be fixed.
The “no-fault” approach means that either spouse may seek a divorce without proving who is at fault. This can make the process less adversarial. The shift in focus from fault-finding to a cooperative resolution also highlights the importance of trying to reach a fair settlement that considers the interests of both spouses.
Florida’s View on Equitable Distribution
In Florida, the principle of equitable distribution governs the division of marital assets and liabilities. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean an equal or 50/50 split of property and debts, but rather a fair distribution based on various factors.
The court considers factors such as each spouse’s financial contributions to the marriage, the duration of the marriage, contributions to the household, and the economic circumstances of each spouse. Other aspects, including the desirability of keeping an asset, the contribution of one spouse to the career or education of the other, and any interruptions to career or educational opportunities, are also taken into account.
The goal is to achieve a distribution that is just and fair, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of each divorce case.
Navigating Custody and Child Support
In Florida, child custody matters in divorce are addressed through the legal concepts of “time-sharing” and “parental responsibility” rather than using the term “custody.” The primary goal is to ensure the best interests of the child are met. Here is an overview of the main aspects of parenting issues in a divorce case:
- Parental Responsibility. Florida recognizes two types of parental responsibility—shared and sole. Shared parental responsibility means both parents are involved in major decisions affecting the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religion. Sole parental responsibility grants decision-making authority to one parent if shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
- Time-Sharing. Instead of traditional custody arrangements, Florida uses the term “time-sharing” to refer to the time each parent spends with the child. The court aims for a schedule that provides both parents with frequent and continuing contact with their child.
- Determining the Best Interests of the Child. Florida law outlines factors that the court must consider when determining time-sharing and parental responsibility. These include each parent’s ability to provide a stable home environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the physical and mental health of the parents.
- Parenting Plans. Parents are required to submit a parenting plan outlining how they will share responsibilities and time-sharing. If the parents cannot agree, the court will establish a parenting plan based on the best interests of the child.
- Modification of Time-Sharing. In certain situations, parents may seek a modification of the time-sharing arrangement due to a substantial change in circumstances. Assuming a substantial change is proven, the court will evaluate such requests based on the child’s best interests.
- Child Support. Child support is a significant component of obtaining a divorce where there is a minor child. Florida has guidelines in place to ensure financial contributions for the child’s well-being. The amount is determined based on various factors, including each parent’s income and the time-sharing schedule. For more detailed information on child support in Florida, take a look at this article, “How is Child Support Calculated in Florida.” It provides insights into the calculation process and considerations involved in ensuring adequate financial support for the child.
It is crucial for parents navigating divorce in Florida to understand these aspects and work toward an agreement that prioritizes the well-being of their child. Seeking legal guidance during this process can ensure compliance with Florida law and promote a positive outcome for everyone involved.
Henderson Franklin’s family law team has published an extensive list of articles you may also find helpful:
- Should I Get an Annulment Instead of a Divorce?
- Decoding Divorce Law in Florida: Your Top Questions Answered
- Will a history of domestic violence impact your family law case?
- Divorce and the Family Business
- Untying the Knot: Understanding a LGBTQIA+ Divorce in Florida
This article addresses only a few issues that may arise in a Florida divorce case. Oftentimes, professional guidance from a Florida family law attorney is indispensable. Those needing assistance may reach me at email@example.com to schedule a consultation.