When you are in need of a Fort Walton Beach family law attorney, for whatever the reason, turn to the experts at ASG. We have the experience and the knowledge going forward to work with our clients, no matter what their situation may be. Going through a divorce can be one of the worst times in your life. You want answers to some serious questions, and we can address all of your concerns.
Divorce is a very unsettling time for anyone. Often, you do not know what tomorrow brings and you just want to get past the bad stuff. There are even more questions and concerns if you have children. It is critical to retain an experienced divorce attorney right from the start; someone who will look after your interests from start to finish.
If divorce was as easy as signing the divorce papers, no one would need a FWB divorce lawyer. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We are here to help ease you through the most difficult parts. If you have questions about filing for divorce, do not rely on family and friends. Ask the professionals for sound, unbiased, and up-to-date advice.
Contact our Experienced FWB Divorce Attorneys:
What is a Contested Divorce?
When parties in a divorce cannot agree about working out all of the details in a divorce procedure, it can lead to a contested divorce. Sometimes, one party will not give in on an issue, and the only way you can receive satisfaction is if you both go to court. Sometimes, there are safety issues for a spouse or children or both. There may be child custody and visitation issues. Divorce is not always as easy as it sounds.
People part for many different reasons. Whatever your reason, you can make things go more smoothly with the best divorce attorney you can find. Here, at ASG, we have experience and expertise in equal measure and we go to work for you right away.
Initiation of the case. Either party may file a petition for dissolution of marriage. The responding party then has twenty days from the date of service to respond. Assuming both parties want to get divorced, the response usually comes in the form of a counter-petition. The purpose of the counter-petition is to ask the court to give the responding party the relief they are requesting. Additionally, if the party that originally filed ends up dismissing the action at any point before the parties are divorced, the counter-petition allows the responding party to still obtain a divorce. Without it, the responding party would have to file all over and start from scratch.
Discovery. Once the petition is filed, discovery can start. Discovery is the process of asking for information from the opposing party and third parties. This can be done with written questions (called interrogatories), written requests for documents, and depositions – asking questions of a person while they are under oath. In addition to those things, in a divorce, there are special requirements to turn over certain documents and information automatically. The deadlines to comply run quickly, and failure to provide required documents and information can have very negative consequences.
Temporary Relief Hearing. At the same time, if the issues of the case need to be resolved on a temporary basis, before the final hearing, the parties can schedule a hearing for temporary relief. The court may then consider any issues in the case, like timesharing, child support, alimony, and others, on a temporary basis until the parties are ready for a trial.
Hearings on temporary relief are sometimes referred to as a “mini-trial” because most of the issues in the divorce may be addressed and receive a ruling from the court. Typically, this ruling is a good gauge for what will happen at the final hearing unless significantly new or different information is provided to the court. So, preparation for the hearing on temporary relief can be critical.
Mediation. Again, while all of this is happening, the parties will schedule mediation. Mediation is an opportunity for the parties to reach an agreement and control their own destiny. If they are unable to reach an agreement voluntarily, the Court will make the decisions on the issues at the final hearing. Usually, parties are motivated to reach a settlement at mediation. By the time litigation has reached that point, the parties may be ready to compromise in order to settle the case and move on.
Final Hearing/Trial. Finally, after everything described has taken place, if the parties still cannot reach an agreement, it is time to set the case for trial. Each side will prepare its case and tell its side of the story to the court. The court will then render a final decision on the issues and dissolve the marriage by entering a final judgment of dissolution of marriage.
Post-Judgment. It would be nice if getting a final judgment of dissolution of marriage were the end, but it usually isn’t. Most divorces require the parties to continue to stay in contact for a variety of reasons like co-parenting, support payments, payment of debt, liquidation of assets, and other reasons. In some cases, this contact may last for life. And if one party is not complying with the court’s order, additional legal work maybe required to enforce the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. This is why having an excellent attorney is so critical. A dissolution of marriage may affect you for the rest of your life. You want everything done correctly.
Timing. Contested divorces can take time. Very complicated divorces can continue years before a final resolution is reached. However, a typical divorce, if settled before trial, will be completed in less than a year. How long your divorce takes will largely be up to you. Being responsive to your attorney when asked for documents and information is important. Additionally, being willing to compromise and settle a case will also greatly speed up the process. However, sometimes, the other spouse is not willing to be reasonable and the case must go to trial. In this case, be ready for the process to continue longer than you would like or expect.
Do You Need a FWB Divorce Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce?
Many times couples believe getting a divorce will be a long and painful procedure. If both sides agree on property division, alimony, child support, and child custody, however, it is possible to file for an uncontested divorce.
If neither party is seeking alimony and both want a quick resolution to their marriage, you can file in Florida for a “simple dissolution of marriage.”
Definition. In stark contrast to a contested divorce, an uncontested divorce is one in which the parties agree on how ALL of the issues will be resolved. For us, as attorneys, this drastically reduces the work involved and the cost. We take the information provided to us about the agreement, advise our client of their legal rights and responsibilities, put the agreement into the correct legal language, and make sure all appropriate documents are properly completed. Then, we give your spouse and their attorney those documents. Once both parties have signed all the documents, they are filed with the court, and typically, a final judgment of dissolution of marriage can be obtained without a hearing.
A Word of Caution. If the other party does not sign the first time the documents are presented, you no longer have an uncontested divorce. Once negotiation begins, your divorce is contested. Now, a small negotiation is still better than taking a case to trial, but it is additional work and cost nonetheless.
Timing. The timeline for an uncontested divorce can be very compressed. Depending on the court’s calendar and availability, and other factors, an uncontested divorce can usually be accomplished in less than 3-5 months. You can greatly assist in speeding up the process by having your financial documents ready and fully discussing all the issues with your spouse in advance.
How Long Before the Divorce is Final?
Divorce agreements are up to both parties. If there are no issues in the way, meaning you are going for an uncontested divorce, it could be finalized in a month or so. To ensure the fastest, fairest result, you need an experienced Fort Walton Beach divorce lawyer. We are here for you.
If there are disputes, such as who gets the house, child custody issues, or alimony concerns, more time will be needed. If you and your spouse cannot agree on negotiations, then may end up going to trial, where a judge will have to intervene. This could take more than a year, especially if the courts are backed up.
Should I Get Alimony?
Sometimes, Florida courts will find you deserve (or must pay) alimony even if you were only married for a very short time. When marriages that have been long-term fall apart, the judge will often award permanent alimony.
A claimant must prove to the court that there is no other way for you to be self-sufficient. You may receive a lump sum or a durational alimony.
These answers inevitably lead to more questions. It is hard to give specific answers without specific details. Get in touch to speak with our experienced alimony lawyers. They will provide you with the answers you need in the detail you require.
Divorce and Children
Florida family law is dedicated to doing what is in the best interests of the child first and foremost. Time-sharing arrangements, also known as child custody, will be worked out in a way that is most beneficial for your children.
While parents may no longer spend equal time with their kids, they are encouraged to play active roles with their children. Child custody and visitation are not always easy to work out amicably. Your FWB child custody attorney is best qualified to help work it out for you and your child or children.
Paternity Issues and Ongoing Child Support
There are other family law concerns besides divorce that you may have questions about. Things like paternity issues or ongoing child support. There may be a situation, for example, where the spouse says he is not the father of the children, or someone else may be claiming to be the father. This is another critical area in which a Fort Walton Beach paternity lawyer can step in.
The same can be said for situations concerning ongoing child support. Occasionally, a spouse may decide they no longer want to provide support for a child, as they have moved on with their life. The way to reach a just conclusion is with the help of a child support attorney.
Even when a marriage ends, there may be future interactions between parties, especially when there are children. As your circumstances change or a spouse remarries, issues that were worked out initially, may need to be reviewed. If your former spouse is not living up to the agreed arrangements, it’s time to ensure that justice is served. If your former spouse is not paying alimony, child support or being abusive, now is the time for some form of law enforcement and collection.
Let ASG handle these concerns for you. Our Fort Walton Beach family law attorneys are here for you. Contact us today at (850) 863-4064.