In Florida, divorce is referred to as “dissolution of marriage.” The process begins when one of the parties files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and proceeds until the court enters a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, with the average being less than one year.
Just as every individual and thus marriage is different, so is every divorce. The central issues involved in attempting to divide what has come from a once loving relationship involve many emotions, and can be incredibly stressful to deal with. An experienced Florida divorce attorney can help you through the process of dissolution in a way that minimizes your stress and anxiety to the extent possible.
In the course of the proceedings for dissolution, the parties will have to reach an agreement, or have the court reach one for them, regarding the division of the following:
- Personal property-- this includes traditional personal effects such as clothing, shoes, etc., but also includes:
- Wedding presents-- particularly if the event was relatively recent, a decision needs to be reached as to how these items will be divided
- Vehicles-- this includes cars, recreational vehicles, motorcycles boats, jet skis, ATVs, etc.
- Home furnishings-- furniture, works of art, china, silver, power tools, etc.
- Real Estate-- this can include not only the family home, but also time shares, empty pieces of land, commercial or residential rental properties, etc.
- Retirement plans-- particularly if the marriage was many years, parties will have to address how to divide the various retirement benefits
- Life insurance plans-- parties can decide whether the spouse will remain the beneficiary in lieu of a settlement payment at the time of the divorce
- Health insurance and other benefits-- benefits can be critically important when one of the spouses has worked out of the home while the other has not
- Stocks and Bonds, CDs-- financial accounts and assets will have to be divided, whether by the share, the company, etc.
- Family pictures-- this may not be one of the bigger ticket items, but it can certainly carry incredibly strong emotions. Will all pictures be duplicated? Will you attempt to divide them? What about art works or projects the children have made?
- Debts-- this includes not only the mortgage, or payments on the assets described above, but also credit card debt, student loans, and any other debt incurred during the course of the marriage. The default rule under Florida law is to assign the debt equally to each of the parties.
Determining time-sharing of the children and agreeing on a Parenting Plan is the other major component of a dissolution of marriage.
That being said, dissolution of marriage does not have to be the emotionally charged prolonged stressful battle that it is commonly portrayed. There are alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party, who is commonly a retired attorney or judge, meets with the parties and attempts to resolve disputes in a less adversarial manner. Though these sessions do not require the parties to reach a final resolution, if the parties do reach a decision, their written agreement is enforceable by court order.
The key in this equation is your Lawyer. An experienced and seasoned attorney’s sole duty is to you, the client. Your divorce is going to be emotionally challenging, so you’ll want to make sure you hire a person who can minimize any additional stressors by fighting on your behalf. Your attorney will become a part of your team, anticipating any potential needs, and proposing solutions.
If you are looking for a seasoned, zealous, dedicated attorney who knows the ins and outs of marital dissolution and the Florida family law system, contact Craig W. Turner today to schedule an initial consultation. Craig W. Turner has been advocating on behalf of family law clients for over 30 years in the Marion County area. You can contact us through our online contact form on our website or by calling (352) 629-4442.