Fort Myers Divorce Lawyer

Not all marriages live happily ever after. In fact, about half of them end in divorce. You are certainly not alone if you’ve reached a place in your life where you feel it may be best to end your relationship. Naturally, you might be wondering about the Florida family law rules and the divorce process.  A Fort Myers divorce attorney can answer those questions and handle your case.  Patrick McLain Law knows the many challenges that come with divorce and family law. He’s ready to take on those challenges and represent you in the fight for your future.

Divorce agreement

How Divorce in Florida Works

Florida is a no-fault state, which means that you do not need to have a specific reason for the divorce. As long as your marriage is irretrievably broken, you can file for divorce. The reasons for divorcing won’t impact any decision the court makes. 

Types of Divorce 

Divorces can be uncontested or contested.  In some cases, both spouses agree upon the terms of their divorce. If you agree on the terms of asset division, have no minor children, and no one wants alimony, you can apply for a simplified dissolution of marriage. While this type of divorce is simple, it’s rare. 

A contested divorce is a case in which parties have issues in dispute. Some highly contested family law issues involve money, property, and child custody. Most Fort Myers, Fl divorces require either mediation or a judge’s intervention. 

How long will a Florida Divorce take?

The length of a Florida divorce varies on the unique circumstances of every case.  An uncontested divorce will take a shorter time than a contested divorce.  Issues such as alimony, child custody, and support may complicate a case further.  A disagreeable ex can also make a case longer.  It is good advice to contact a Fort Myers divorce lawyer to get a better determination of how long your case could last.  

Common Challenges Encountered During a Divorce

Some divorces are amicable, and you and your spouse may agree on some of the terms of your divorce; however, it’s likely that there are a few areas of contention. Typically, spouses disagree on one or more of the following issues:

Child Custody

When it comes to their children, parents tend to react emotionally. For this reason, child custody often results in a heated debate. Both parents may be willing to do anything to get more time with their child or children.  Some of the most aggressively fought court cases in family law are the ones where child custody is an area of contention.  

According to Florida family law, shared parental responsibility is favored. The courts believe it’s usually in the best interest of the child to have both parents involved. However, there are exceptions to this and the court rarely offers a direct 50/50 split. 

Child Support

Florida family law states that parents have a financial duty to support minor children (children up to the age of 18.)  Child support is a court order.  The family law judge will consider the parent’s income, assets, expenses, and amount of parenting time to determine the amount.  

Asset Division

marital property infographic

With a homeownership rate of 46.7% in Fort Myers, many divorces involve some sort of asset division. In Florida, there must be an equitable distribution of property, so when a divorce occurs, the assets should be split in a fair way.

While the laws regarding asset division are straightforward, the issue may get complicated. It’s important to speak with a lawyer to understand your rights.

Alimony

Alimony, also referred to as spousal maintenance, is when one spouse is ordered to pay a monthly amount to the other spouse. The money is supposed to be used to help the other spouse maintain a standard of living as they recover from the divorce.  Usually, alimony is for a short time and is intended as a way to help a person get back on their feet after a divorce.

Alimony will be determined by the income of the parties, the marriage’s duration, and the ability of the lower-earning party to find work.  Whereas determining alimony amount is tricky for the layperson, Florida divorce attorneys are knowledgeable in alimony calculation, and it is best to seek a consultation for any questions.  

What does a divorce lawyer do?

 A divorce attorney can be the helping hand you need to get through a family law case.  While one does not need to hire an attorney, a person who is represented by a counsel will certainly have an advantage in the divorce process.  A family law attorney takes on all the work, so you don’t have to worry about the court forms and deadlines.  They will know about the Florida law and rules and how to navigate the court process.  A divorce lawyer will work on your behalf and communicate with your ex, so you do not need to have contentious arguments.  They will attempt to arrange a fair settlement for you but will also be prepared to go to court if necessary.  Appearing before a family law judge can be intimidating, but a qualified lawyer will be prepared to advocate on your behalf. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file for divorce?

To file for divorce, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Florida court. You must also give your spouse notice and serve your spouse with the petition.  They will then have time to respond to it and may even file a countersuit. You will then be given a chance to respond to that. Both spouses will need to turn in signed financial affidavits that declare their tax return, income, assets, expenses, etc.

In many cases, the court will order you to go through mediation before you appear at the trial. During mediation, you and your spouse will attempt to make a divorce settlement. If you can’t agree, your case will then go back to court and be handled by a family law judge.  Going to court will take a little longer to get a resolution and will involve testimony and evidence.  

Is there a way to get divorced without going to court?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to get divorced without going to court!  If both you and your ex agree about the issues, then you can come up with a settlement agreement.  This will be a stipulation in writing that both parties sign.  A family law judge will have to approve the settlement. In some cases, both parties will mutually agree on their divorce and produce a settlement; other times, an agreement will be made in court-ordered mediation.  Even if you and your ex reach an agreement, it is always advisable to talk with a family law firm first to receive the best resolution.

If my spouse and I live in different states, where can we get a divorce?

You may file for divorce in any state where you or your ex is a resident.  Florida will have jurisdiction over a case as long as a party has been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to the date of the filing. 

How do courts divide property in a divorce?

Florida is an equitable division state, which means that a family law judge will divide all marital property in a way that is fair and equitable. This could mean a 50/50 division, but other factors in your case may determine a different amount.  See Florida Statute 61.075 for more information.  

What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?

A legal separation is an agreement that the parties live apart but are still married.  A separation can involve similar issues such as separation of assets, child custody, and support, but the parties are still legally married.  In divorce, the legal marriage is officially ended, and the parties are declared single.  

Working with a Fort Myers Divorce Attorney

If you’re going through a divorce, you don’t need to struggle on your own. The benefits of an experienced Florida divorce attorney can be tremendous.  You can have someone standing in your corner that knows the laws and procedures. Here at Patrick McLain law, we want to help you get the results you deserve. Your family is important to us.  Call today to learn more about our firm located in Fort Myers, FL.