Unfortunately, divorce is much more difficult than just signing the papers. Before you reach that point, you need to agree on the terms or convince a judge to rule in your favor. This process all happens at the same time as you are learning to deal with a new reality. One of the major ways that you can take care of yourself is by investing in a divorce attorney who can make your life easier now and help you lay the groundwork for a better future.
The Risks of Not Having a Lawyer in a Divorce
Ending a marriage where you and your spouse share finances and possibly even children cannot be done with the stroke of a pen. You must agree with them on the terms of the dissolution of the marriage. If not, a court might end up deciding the matter. When you get in front of a judge, anything can happen. As you will see below, the law gives quite a bit of discretion to judges, and there may be little predictability.
When you are going through your own life changes, you cannot see into the future and what you may need. You may be unable to anticipate your finances or the custody arrangement that may work for you. What you agree to now will affect you in the future. Once the court enters a divorce order, you must live with those terms. You do not get a second chance at dividing the marital estate.
If you want to change the financial support or custody order, you must persuade the court that the circumstances have changed. That is not always easy to do. A court is only amenable where they are satisfied that either parent’s circumstances change after the existing order was issued. Only then will a court or administrative body that issued the order may revise (or modify) the order to pay child support.
Without an attorney, you may end up hurting yourself. If the other spouse has an attorney, and you do not, you are even more vulnerable because they will have the upper hand in any settlement negotiations. Your lawyer can help you obtain reasonable terms that fairly end the marriage for both parties.
Florida Divorce Laws and How They Impact You
There are multiple Florida laws to keep in mind when you are getting divorced.
First, when it comes to dividing the marital estate, Florida uses the law of equitable distribution. “Equitable” means that the property will be divided according to principles of fairness, as opposed to equality. The court will look at a number of factors, such as which spouse earned the money, child-rearing contributions, and the ability to make more money in the future. If the matter goes to the judge, they can apply any factor to reach a result.
Second, Florida Family Law Courts will apply the best interests of the child test in deciding any custody matters. Again, this test is flexible and can consider a number of factors. The guiding principle is that the court will put the interests of the children ahead of those of the parents. Different judges may reach different results depending on what factor they apply and how they view the best interests of the children. In Florida, the court prefers that both parents have custody, and they promote time sharing.
Finally, Florida has a 20-day waiting period from the time that the divorce is filed until the court will grant it. However, the 20-day waiting period assumes that there are no contested issues between the parties. If you cannot agree on terms, you might go through the litigation process, which can take months or years. The state allows for no-fault divorces when the two parties simply cannot live together anymore. You do not have to give a reason for wanting to file for a divorce.
If your divorce ends up in court, you will need an attorney to state your case to the judge effectively. Like any human being, judges can be persuaded when an experienced attorney applies the facts of your case to the law and shows why your custody position is in the best interests of the children or your position on dividing the marital estate is equitable and fair.
Why You Need an Experienced Divorce Lawyer
Without an attorney, you might end up overlooking key considerations that may leave you in a worse position in the future. At the same time, an attorney will handle the details of your divorce to help you resolve the situation with the best possible outcome. While your lawyer cannot completely take away the stress of the divorce, they can lighten the burden on you. Every bit of help that you get during this process can make for a better future for you and your children.
What happens if my spouse will not agree to any divorce terms?
You are always better off trying to negotiate an end to your marriage and sign a marital settlement agreement. If the other spouse is being unreasonable or will not sign anything no matter what, the court has the power to decide the terms of a divorce. Although a lawsuit should be your last resort, it is necessary in some cases.
If parents can not agree on a parenting and time sharing plan, the courts will review and order a plan based on the child’s best interests.
Will my divorce end up in court?
The overwhelming majority of divorces will end up in a settlement agreement without the need for a trial. The hope is that you can reach an agreement without having to go to court at all. Some spouses may need to file a divorce case, which will settle before it reaches the point of a trial. While a divorce trial is very rare, you should not agree to bad terms just to avoid court.
Can my spouse get their hands on all of my financial information?
The two spouses will exchange financial information at the outset of the divorce so that they can negotiate a settlement. If the case ends up in court, you will go through the discovery process. There, your spouse’s attorney can obtain very detailed financial records that you are under a legal obligation to disclose fully.
What if we are having trouble agreeing on a divorce settlement?
There is help for two spouses who disagree, short of going to trial. A mediator can help the two parties speak, finding points of common ground and trying to narrow the differences between the two parties. In difficult divorces, a mediator can be a worthwhile investment because the alternative is spending a lot of money on a trial that does not benefit anyone. You are always better off avoiding court because resolving your divorce as amicably as possible can set the stage for a better co-parenting relationship or less difficulty in coping with your situation.
Contact a Miami Divorce Lawyer Today
For help with your Florida divorce, schedule a consultation to discuss your matter. You should call us early in the process, so our advice and counsel can be even more effective. The sooner you get legal help, the more that you can lighten the burden of what you are going through at this difficult time.