Divorce is not always planned, and it can happen for any reason. A separation puts almost every part of life into question, from career choices to savings plans and the education of children. It can be incredibly stressful experience for the entire family involved. That stress can make it difficult to navigate the many decisions that must be made, and agreements that must be signed.
Call our divorce attorneys in Tampa when you need someone to support you through your divorce. Our compassionate lawyers are committed to seeing that you are treated fairly throughout the entire process. We can analyze all agreements, handle negotiations and prepare you properly for any testimony you need to give in private settings or in court.
Our family law practice also offers services you may need during or after a divorce. Learn more about how we can help you with prenuptial enforcement, alimony, child support, and the modification of any agreements.
Common Areas of Conflict in Divorce
Divorce can be a long and hurtful process for both parties. You can prepare before it begins by considering some of the following questions. None of these questions will be easy to answer, but nearly all of them will need to be answered before the divorce is final. If you have any questions, our divorce lawyers in Tampa are ready to help you.
What is the cause of the divorce? Florida is a “no-fault” state, meaning that claiming that the marriage is irretrievably broken is all that is needed to end one. However, that must be agreed upon. Your spouse and even your children can contest that the marriage can’t be saved. Divorce must be an agreed upon measure in all cases except those where abuse is involved.
How will assets be divided? Asset division is typically contentious in any divorce, but in Florida, it’s difficult to produce a division that isn’t at least approximately equal. Florida is an “Equitable Distribution” state. That means, as a rule, both spouses leave with their non-marital property and marital property is split as evenly between the spouses as possible. Nonmarital property includes any assets or liabilities that existed before the marriage, or anything those pre-existing assets were exchanged for or purchased with. Various gifts and inheritances may also be considered nonmarital.
If a prenuptial agreement is in place, it may apply here. However, any agreement made before the marriage can be modified or invalidated by the circumstances of the separation. If the agreement is not carefully written, or if it contains clauses that are illegal in Florida (such as those determining child support agreement), it will likely be thrown out. Our divorce lawyers in Tampa can review any agreement.
What rights and responsibilities does each parent have to any children? Negotiations over access to children and authority over their care are some of the most upsetting. Florida has worked to reduce the pressure of these confrontations by trending toward shared time and eliminating the risk of non-abusive parents being cut off from their children. Unless there is a specific danger involved, courts will never allow one parent to cut off the other.
This state instead focuses on parental responsibility and time sharing as two different arrangements. A parent can have a right to see a child, even if they don’t have the right to make decisions about that child’s medical or educational needs. A parent may need to accept supervised visits, or submit to a mental health evaluation to earn a right to visits.
Will protection orders be filed? Divorce is sometimes used to bring an end to physically or mentally abusive relationships. Sometimes divorce is sufficient to bring an end to any behavior, but protection orders may also be necessary.
Choosing a Collaborative Divorce
There is an alternative to the traditional divorce process in Florida, and it is an excellent process for spouses who are willing to consider voluntary negotiations over litigation in court. The Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA) was put into place in 2017, and established alternatives to litigation for many family law situations. Collaborative divorce is a completely alternative process where neither spouse interacts with a judge, and can’t be compelled into any decision (unless the process is abandoned).
Many Tampa divorce attorneys have moved to recommending collaborative divorce for their clients because it’s a healthier process for everyone when agreement is possible. In cases where it isn’t possible, it simply goes back to a judge. There’s little risk to attempting to agree, and a successful agreement from a collaborative divorce is likely reduce resentment about the terms that may result in more litigation.
The collaborative process typically involves both parties sharing a table. Spouses share their perspective of asset and childcare issues, and allow their lawyers and others they’ve retained to help them develop a plan that meets their needs. Neutral experts such as accountants and child care experts may be called in to provide insight on certain issues.
As part of the agreement, the lawyers representing either side in a collaborative divorce agree that they will not represent those clients in litigation proceedings. This guarantees that the lawyers involved always have the highest incentive to produce an agreement.