In Florida, a divorce is referred to as a dissolution of marriage. Depending on your situation, you may choose to file for a divorce yourself. This is most commonly a simplified dissolution with no children and few assets. However, when children, property and debt are part of your divorce, you should work with a divorce lawyer to ensure that you get a fair and equitable settlement. Also, if your divorce is contentious, it may be beneficial to enlist the assistance of a divorce lawyer.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
First, your divorce lawyer will draw up the petition. Upon your approval this will be filed with your local circuit court. In the petition for Dissolution of Marriage, assuming you are the petitioner, you will include the things you want and need addressed in court. If your spouse is the filing party, you will be the respondent. This means you have 20 days to respond to the filing. As the respondent, you can respond with the terms you want in a counter-petition.
Both spouses must complete the financial affidavit. It includes all income, assets, debts (liabilities), and expenses. You and your divorce lawyer will want to examine your spouse’s financial affidavit carefully. Its contents, as well as the contents of your financial affidavit, are used in the settlement proceedings. Make sure that your spouse is not claiming expenses you are currently paying. Verify that that debts still held jointly are clearly indicated as such. You will want to come up with a plan in your settlement as to how those debts will be separated. If you and your divorce attorney do not feel that your spouse is disclosing all income, you can request a financial audit.
The Marital Settlement Agreement
Generally, the next step is filing a Marital Settlement Agreement with the help of your divorce lawyer. If you have minor children together, you will need to file the Marital Settlement Agreement with Dependent or Minor Children. Below are elements that may be necessary in your marital settlement agreement.
- Division of property, goods and debts
- Whether the wife plans on changing her name back to her maiden name
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Child support
- Parenting plan
Although Florida is a joint property state, that does not necessarily mean that you and your spouse divide all assets and debts equally. The court may consider certain aspects of the marital history. A few examples include whether one spouse supported the other while he or she finished school or if one spent money supporting a lover. The court can also consider paid alimony or child support for children from a previous marriage. Additionally, current income and expected future income are part of the considerations.
Wagstaff and Pitelis Is a Local Divorce Lawyer Firm
Of course, there may be many steps between these elements of your divorce and before the proclamation of dissolution. If you are looking for a divorce lawyer, in Belleair Bluffs, Dunedin or the surrounding areas, call Wagstaff and Pitelis. We have vast experience in divorce, spousal support, and custody. Call (727) 584-8182 to speak to one of our team members today.