Articles Tagged with florida divorce

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Unfortunately, divorce has become a common reality in our society and in the State of Florida, and it has far reaching impacts for individuals, couples, and their children. Twenty percent of divorces are highly contested, causing courts to label these cases as “high conflict,” meaning that there is a troubling trend in communication style between the parents of the children in the case. With intervention, almost 80% of those “high conflict” cases improve and parties are able to address the needs of their children as a team.

Being in a high conflict Florida divorce, throughout the process and after, can be physically and emotionally damaging to the spouses and children. Improving your communication is the single most effective strategy to long term growth in co-parenting conflict. So, how can co-parents improve how they communicate? There are a variety of strategies that can be used to reduce conflict and anxiety. That being said, if you are in fear for your safety or your child, then your best course of action is to remove yourself and your children from danger.

First, stop building a case against your ex, former spouse, or former partner. Judges do not look favorably on parents having long text exchanges that start out discussing the children, and end up in name calling. Requiring your former spouse to only communicate in writing is also unhealthy. In situations where you feel that you need to memorialize a conversation, a follow up email to your co-parent detailing what you discussed in a phone call is more appropriate. Having an experienced Jacksonville Florida Family Law Attorney to conduct the litigation on your behalf is the best tool to helping improve your communication with your co-parent. Leave the lawyers to do their job, and focus on your child in your communication with your co-parent.

Florida-Family-Law-Divorce-300x200For many people, when you and your spouse are getting divorce, the last thing that seems possible is that you will come to agreements about how life will work once you are divorced. Florida courts, however, routinely order that couples attend a Florida Family Law Mediation to work out their differences. Many times, our clients will ask, “why do I have to go to mediation?”

The short answer to that question is simple, “because it works.” Another answer would be because it is ordered by the Judge. Research has indicated that when spouses can have some input and control over the outcome of the divorce that both sides tend to work better at holding to that agreement and being more satisfied than if the judge decides. Mediation in Florida divorces is an opportunity for each spouse to communicate through a third party over how each spouse’s finances, parenting responsibilities, timesharing with the children, and assets can be split based on the priorities of the family. Mediation occurs in a casual office like setting, so the environment is more comfortable for reaching agreements as opposed to the formality of the agreements. Additionally, you and your spouse usually sit in separate rooms with your respective attorney, and the mediator, who is typically a lawyer or counselor trained in family law, talks to both sides individually to help create an agreement for the future of this family. Also, at mediation, everything that you say is confidential, and negotiations can not be used against in court later, so this gives each side freedom to make offers to find a resolution and not worry that their words will come back to haunt them in front of the judge.

In addition, when it comes to timesharing with your shared children, you can craft a parenting plan that is not only going to work for the particular needs of both parents, but it is focused on the needs of the children. For example, maybe your soon-to-be former spouse has an work schedule where the work overnight shifts, mediating a parenting plan can help to take those considerations into account when you and spouse come to an agreement about how to maximize time with the kids and parents, considering the work hours of both parents.

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In the State of Florida, ending a marriage (otherwise referred to as a Florida divorce) is a difficult decision, and it may takes months or even years for either party to come to the realization that things are not working anymore. Research indicates that many couples give the holiday season or the summer for “one last shot” at making things work, and ultimately when things don’t work, they find that divorce is the only option. A recent University of Washington study indicates that there are particular times of year that divorce filings increase, specifically, the months of March and August. Over 15 years of analysis, the State of Washington demonstrated increased filings in spring and late summer that these times of year are when individuals tend to make the decision to end their marriage. Interestingly, the study indicates a similar trend throughout the United States, including Florida.  While there are trends, the selection of the month or time of year to file a Florida divorce action is up to the party filing the divorce action.

While divorce is a year round consideration, it makes sense that these two months are the highest filing times for divorce. First, considering the needs of the children is important to parents when deciding to divorce. Holidays and summer vacation bring times of optimism that “things will get better,” and when they don’t, couples turn to make the final decision. This “domestic ritual” calendar is important, researchers say, because it governs family behavior that they don’t want disturb during the initial stages of divorce. From a real life examination, it makes sense no one wants to splitting up their house with summer plans and back to school around the corner. There are too many unknowns. In addition, the high stress and emotional times in holidays also

Second, spouses need to find time to meet and interview lawyers. Once the children return to the routine, these provide opportunities for unhappy spouses to make the time to sit down with an experienced Florida family law attorney to discuss their legal priorities and options This is very important step that every spouse, because being educated as to what to expect and how to approach the divorce process should include an experienced attorney who can advise and advocate on behalf of your rights. Every family and even each spouse has different priorities to consider when it comes to what they hope to receive in a divorce. Knowing that the kids are back to their routine, gives parents a chance to consider how to make the necessary changes while the kids have stability of a scholastic calendar.

Florida is a no-fault divorce state. What this means is that the Florida court judges do not need to hear testimony or be shown evidence to support that one party caused the breakdown of the marriage or that the breakdown of the marriage occurred as a result of certain indiscretions, such as adultery, in order to grant a divorce. While Florida may be a no-fault state, the courts must still find that a marriage is “irretrievably broken” or that a mental incapacity has existed for a period of three years, Florida Statutes 61.052, before a divorce will be granted. Often times parties move for the grounds of irretrievably broken to seek their divorce. While the assumption can be made that anyone who goes through the tiring divorce process must being doing so because the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court must still be presented with evidence to support the status of the marriage as broken.

Parties are often surprised to discover that even in instances where they have agreed upon the terms of their divorce, filed a petition, sought legal counsel, drafted parenting plans, taken the parenting course, and agreed upon property division the judge is still able to reserve on granting the divorce until a later date, order counseling, or if minor children are of the marriage the judge may issue an order in their best interests if the judge sees fit. The judge can order the previously mentioned results in instances when one party responds to the petition that the marriage is not irretrievably broken, or in any instances when the marriage involves minor children. While this may not be the result divorcing parties desire this allows the courts to attempt at giving the parties another opportunity to reconcile for the benefit of themselves and/or the minor children. While reconciliation may not be in the best interest for the parties and the children in all instances the reservation of this power allows for an outside party to evaluate the circumstances and in some cases save families from a path that is not in their best interests. While the court reserves this power, it should be noted that it is not very often that the court does not move forward with the divorce proceedings.

If you have found yourself recently served with a petition for divorce and you believe that your marriage can be retrieved, you must inform the court in your initial responsive pleading that you deny the marriage is irretrievably broken. Answering a petition for divorce by denying the grounds of irretrievably broken will not guarantee the court will not grant the divorce. But, it may give your family one last chance at counseling, or allow for the passage of time to allow for you and your spouse to reconcile. Contact Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. today to discuss your Florida divorce.