Does Florida require me to hire an attorney? No, under Florida law you can represent yourself in a divorce. However, you should make sure to at least consult with an attorney regarding the specific circumstances in your case to determine whether it would be worth it to have an attorney guide you though the process.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Florida? An uncontested divorce can be finalized in as little as one month from the date of filing the court case. If the parties require a trial the case will typically take about 12 months to finalize, but bitterly contested and complex divorce cases can take years.
How much does a divorce cost? The cost of divorces can vary greatly. If the parties have already verbally agreed then Mr. Valentine will often quote a flat "uncontested" rate for the party that he represents. Even that rate is dependent upon the circumstances of the parties (i.e. property issues, small business issues, children's issues). The financial cost associated with a contested divorce can be a source of anxiety for the spouses involved. Much of that anxiety is based upon the fact that the cost is so difficult to predict. It truly does depend upon the parties and their attorneys. Mr. Valentine understands that every dollar you spend on attorneys fees and costs is one less that is left for you and your children to spend, and he advises his clients frequently regarding fees and costs and the cost/benefit analysis involved in various aspects of each case.
Who gets custody of the children in a divorce? First, you should know that Florida does not use the term "custody" anymore, so when people ask about child custody in Florida they are really asking about parental responsibility (decision-making authority regarding the child's social, medical, religious, and educational development), and time-sharing (visitation). Most of the time parents will share parental responsibility and time-sharing. The Court evaluates each family's circumstances carefully and makes a determination according to the factors that can be found here.
Who gets alimony in Florida? Alimony is a highly litigated area of Florida divorces. Typically, depending upon the length of the marriage, a spouse will only get alimony if they have a financial need and the other spouse has the ability to pay. There are a number of factors that the courts consider in making an alimony determination. The Florida alimony statutes can be found here.
Who gets the house in a divorce? Either spouse may get the house in a divorce. However, courts consider the needs of the minor children when awarding the home, and they general favor stability for children, so many times the spouse that gets custody of the children will keep the home. Sometimes keeping the home is simply not financially feasible to keep the home at all. Be sure to speak with an attorney regarding all of the circumstances of your case, including your home.
How much child support will I get? Child support in Florida is determined by the child support guidelines. You can click here for go to a fillable child support guidelines worksheet. Be sure to consult with an attorney regarding child support issues.
What should I do before I file for divorce? As always, it depends upon the circumstances of your case. You should make a full assessment of your financial circumstances. Run a credit report and fill out a financial affidavit before you even consult with an attorney. Unfortunately, sometimes a spouse is so emotinoally overwhelmed by a divorce that they do things without regard for the long-term consequences of their actions, so make sure that your irreplaceables and heirlooms are in a safe place.