The Orlando Family Firm of experienced divorce lawyers is here to help. The Orlando Family Firm is a full-service family law firm. We have significant mediation and trial experience in handling divorce, paternity, and modification cases.
Are you considering a divorce? Going through a divorce is an unquestionably emotional time for anyone. It is important that you have an attorney on your side who understands the law regarding divorce in Florida. Please read on for an understanding of the basic process of a Florida divorce.
Opening a Case
To open your case, we file a Petition for Dissolution, asking the Court to grant the divorce and address the issues of Equitable Distribution of Assets and Liabilities, Child Support, Alimony, Child Custody, and Attorney’s Fees. Some or all of these issues may apply in your case and we encourage you to read more about each topic below. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your personal matters with a experienced divorce lawyer.
In addition to the Petition for Dissolution, you must file the following supplemental pleadings:
- Financial Affidavit
- Notice of Related Cases
- Notice of Social Security Number
- Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
Our firm handles the filing and serving of your Petition for Dissolution and Supplemental Pleadings. Once the other party is served, they will have 20 days to respond to the Petition for Dissolution and 45 days to provide their own Financial Affidavit and Mandatory Disclosure.
In less complex cases, this is often the extent of the paperwork which needs to be filed in your case prior to going to mediation. All family cases must go to mediation, a process during which you, your attorney, your spouse, your spouse’s attorney and a third party mediator will attempt to resolve your case. If and only if your case does not resolve at mediation, your case will then proceed to trial. In more complex cases, additional discovery (link) will be necessary before the case is ready for mediation or trial.
You and your spouse are always free to agree to a resolution of any or all of these issues at any time during your case. Thus, it is imperative that you have an attorney on your side who can advocate for the most favorable resolution to your case.
Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce
1. I was served with papers saying my spouse wants a divorce, what do I do?
When you are served by the Sheriff or private process server, it is important to comply with the deadlines that family law requires. You have 20 days from the date of being served to file an Answer or Counterpetition to the Petition for Dissolution. An Answer simply admits or denies the allegations of the Petition for Dissolution. A Counterpetition also admits or denies the allegations but also sets forth your claims for affirmative relief. You are also required to file a Financial Affidavit within 45 days of being served as well as a Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure in that same time frame.
It is important to note that if you do not respond within 20 days, your spouse can move for a default against you which will severely hurt your case.
2. What is a Counterpetition and why do I need to file one?
A Counterpetition will admit or deny the allegations set forth in your spouse’s Petition for Dissolution but will also set forth your claims for affirmative relief. The easiest example of why you need to file a Counterpetition would be a situation where you are requesting alimony and/or attorney's fees from your spouse. The Counterpetition puts those issues before the Court so that the Court can aware you that particular relief.
3. I have children, am I obligated to pay child support even though there is no Court order?
Absolutely. Many clients believe that until there is an order requiring them to pay child support, they are under no obligation to do so. This is completely incorrect and in fact will hurt your case in many ways. Once parties are separated and the children are splitting time between two homes, an obligation for one party to pay child support arises. The best way to figure out your potential child support would be to schedule a free consultation with our office so we can tell you what to begin paying or what you should be receiving. Keep in mind that every day that goes by that you are not paying or you are not paying enough, you will accumulate arrears which must be repaid at some point regardless. It is imperative that you begin paying as soon as possible to avoid arrears and to preserve your good standing in front of the Judge.
4. My spouse is not letting me see our children, can we go to Court right away?
This is the most difficult question to answer because in many ways the procedure is very unfair to the parent who is not seeing the children. Unless there is a legal emergency which would warrant an emergency hearing, the withholding of time with your children cannot be corrected quickly. Most Courts require the parties to go to mediation before even a temporary hearing can be held. The only recourse at this point is to allow the withholding spouse to continue to do so, as this behavior will have an extreme negative impact on that spouse's legal position once a Court hearing is obtained. The very first consideration the Court will look at in determining timesharing and custody is the ability of each spouse to foster a relationship between the children and the other parent. Obviously, a spouse withholding contact will cause the Court to likely resolve that factor in favor of the parent who has suffered. Your spouse may "get away" with his/her behavior in the short term, but the long term consequences will hurt his/her case.
5. My spouse is not paying child support, do I have to let him/her see our children?
Yes. The law forbids the withholding of timesharing based upon the non-payment of child support.
The Orlando Family Firm, located conveniently in downtown Orlando is a full-service family law firm dedicated to providing compassionate and aggressive representation for our clients. As Orlando Divorce lawyers we are focused on representing you and getting your legal matters resolved as quickly and proactively as possible. Our firm typically handles family law cases throughout Central Florida in Orange County, Osceola County and Seminole County. We have significant trial experience in handling divorce, paternity, and modification cases. We believe that communication with our clients is of utmost importance so that our clients know exactly what is going on in their case and to help take the mystery out of the legal process. Going through a divorce or other family law proceeding is a trying time for our clients and we provide the peace of mind to help our clients resolve and move past their family legal issues. The Orlando Family Firm can help with your divorce - Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation.