Orlando Divorce Lawyer
In today’s world, divorce is a fact of life, but as experienced divorce lawyers, we realize that doesn’t make it any easier. Coming to terms with the end of your marriage is difficult, to put it mildly. You must make many decisions that will likely affect you financially and emotionally for years to come, and if you have children, you must make choices to protect their health and happiness as well. Having a supportive, knowledgeable Orlando divorce lawyer on your side can make all the difference in helping you feel confident, in control, and prepared to begin your next chapter when the divorce process is complete. At the Arwani Law Firm our divorce lawyers work together as a team to protect our clients’ interests and achieve the best possible resolution in every case.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Collaborative Divorce
- Complex Divorce
- Contested Divorce
- Domestic Violence
- International Family Law
- Military Divorce
- Parental Rights
- Postnuptial Agreements
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Property Division
- Same-Sex Divorce
- Spousal Support
- Uncontested Divorce
What You Need to Know about Divorce in Florida
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means either spouse can seek a divorce without proving any reason for it other than the spouses don’t want to be married anymore. The spouse seeking divorce simply needs to state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” and the court assigns no blame for the failure of the marriage. Because fault is not a legal factor in ending most marriages, the key issues in most divorce cases include:
- Whether either spouse is entitled to alimony
- The care and financial support of any minor children
- Making a parenting plan and timesharing schedule for any minor children
- The division of marital assets and debts
- The restoration of non-marital assets and debts to each individual
- The existence of any prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, and whether its terms should be enforced
Florida Divorce Video FAQs
A large part of my husband’s income is cash and is never reported. How do I ensure I get what I deserve?
To ensure that you get what you deserve, you have to talk to your attorney about the specific issue. Make sure you gather all the bank statements, the financial documents, the credit card statements. Any bank, any financial statement you can get your hand on. Get a copy of it and give it to your attorney.
Maybe discuss with your attorney hiring a forensic accountant. A forensic accountant traces money. It’s their job to figure out exactly where the money is going, and where the money is coming from. Once you do that, you can go to court and show the judge, “Hey, judge, look. This is what’s going on. Please help me figure out how much my spouse is making. He is underemployed, or intentionally unemployed, or hiding money.” The judge will enter it as income if you can prove that it’s a cash business and that your spouse is hiding money and not showing it in his tax returns, or in his financial statements.
Can a spouse prevent a court from granting a divorce in Florida?
A spouse cannot prevent a court from granting a divorce in Florida. What the spouse can do is request from the court to order the parties to go to counseling. The court may order the parties to go to counseling to see if they can fix the marriage. Now, once they go to counseling and the spouse is adamant that he or she wants to get a divorce then there is nothing that the other spouse can do to stop the court from granting the divorce.
Can an out of state divorce be enforced in Florida?
Yes, as a matter of fact, under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution there is what is called the for faith and credit. What that does is once an order is issued in any state, the sister state has to respect that order and enforce it. Now, if a divorce is entered and a final judgment is issued in a sister state, what is to happen is domestication. You have to take that order of final judgment and domesticate it here in Florida for that order to be enforced.
Can I file for divorce in Florida while my spouse is stationed with the military in another country?
While your spouse is stationed in another country, and is in active duty, it’s going to be very hard for you to initiate the divorce and get it started and completed. What’s going to happen is once you file for the divorce proceeding, you’re going to have to wait for your spouse to come back. There are federal laws that protect people in the military. The best thing to do is consult with an attorney and maybe try to settle with your partner before they are deployed for active duty.
Can I go back to my maiden name after my divorce in Florida?
Yes, you can. What you have to do is either in your petition or your counter petition is request from the court to reinstate your maiden name. Once that is done, the final judgment has to actually state in the certain specificity that your name is restored to your maiden name. Once that is done then you have a legal document to restore your name back to your maiden name.
Can I make my husband repay the money he cleaned out of my bank account?
If your husband cleaned out a bank account and took the money out and you have no way of getting that money back, then there is very little that a judge can do or a court do. What will happen is if the parties have assets worth maybe $100,000, let’s say, and your spouse cleans out $50,000 worth of cash or assets, then the judge will have the remaining $50,000 worth of assets given to you. Because your spouse, what he did, or she did, during the divorce proceeding, or immediately before the divorce proceeding is liquidate that asset. However, if the liquidation or the cleaning of the bank account was done way before the divorce proceeding was initiated, let’s say, a year or two or three, there is very little that a judge can do.
Can I oppose a divorce in Florida?
Usually not, but what you can do is delay. You can go to court and ask the judge to order you and your spouse to go to counseling. However, if your spouse is adamant to move forward with the divorce then there is nothing you can do to prevent that divorce from taking place.
Can I represent myself in family court in Florida?
Yes, of course you can represent yourself. However, you need to be mindful of the fact that if you have considerable assets and issues with time-sharing, if you have kids, or parenting plan agreement, then what you have to do is maybe consult with an attorney, at least to figure out exactly what the issues are. Once those issues are laid out and you figure them out, then maybe you can come to an educated decision if you need an attorney to help you through this divorce proceeding, or if it is a good idea for you to represent yourself in this divorce proceeding.
Can my spouse tell me that I cannot see my kids?
No, your spouse cannot tell you that you cannot see your kids. Raising your children is a fundamental right, which means unless there is abuse that is happening to the kids, you are neglecting them or abusing them in some other way, no one can stop you from seeing your kids.
Do I have to pay alimony in a divorce in Florida?
It depends on the fact of each case. The duration of the marriage, the age of the parties, and the lifestyle that the parties have been living during their marriage. Now the main thing that needs to be proven is the ability of one spouse to pay alimony and the need of the other spouse for the alimony. Once those factors are proven, then a judge will make a determination on what the alimony is going to be.
How do I choose a divorce attorney in Florida?
To choose a divorce attorney in Florida you have to do your research. Either by Google, go online and Google and read the reviews of each attorney. Or ask friends or family members to maybe recommend an attorney for you. Once you’ve made a choice of three, four, five different attorneys, choose who you’re going to interview. Once you interview them, ask all the questions you have and once they answer your questions, feel how comfortable you are with each attorney. Once that is done, it will be easy for you to make a decision on which attorney should represent you.
How do I get a divorce by default in Florida?
The way to get a divorce by default is to start off by filing your petition for divorce and personally serve that on your spouse. Your spouse has 20 days to respond. If your spouse does not respond within the 20 day period you can move forward and ask the judge to grant you a default. Another way to do it is to … If you can’t find your spouse, is to service by publication. Please talk to an attorney to figure out exactly how to effectuate that service since it is very technical.
How do I protect my credit when going through divorce in Florida?
The first thing you need to do is pull your credit. Figure out exactly what you owe. What your credit card debt is. Figure out if you have any credit card debt jointly with your spouse at that point. Make sure that those payments are being paid and make sure that no late payments are made. After you do that, make sure that once a credit card debt is closed out, maybe close out the account. Therefore, you don’t have the worry that maybe your ex-spouse at that point uses that card and doesn’t make a payment on time that affects your credit score.
How is divorce initiated in Florida?
The way to initiate a divorce is to file a petition for disillusion of marriage. Once that is filed and personally served on the respondent, which is your spouse, he or she has 20 days to respond, and that is how a divorce is initiated in the state of Florida.
How long does it take for a divorce to be final in Florida?
That is a very liquid question. The way to answer this question is going to be very difficult as a matter of fact. It can take from 20 days to three, four, five years. It depends on the facts of the case and how complicated the divorce proceeding is. The shortest time it could take is another 20 days when the answer is due. If the opposing party files the answer and a settlement agreement, it could take around 20 to 25 days.
I am getting a divorce. Do I need to hire an attorney?
It depends on the facts of the case. For example, if you have been married for a few months and you guys decide that you want to call it quits, then I don’t think you may not need to hire an attorney but of course it depends on the facts of the case. However, let’s say your marriage is a long-term marriage and you are entitled for alimony, you need to talk to an attorney and figure out exactly what your rights are.
Another thing to think of is what is marital assets and what are marital liabilities. You might not know exactly what you are entitled to and what your legal rights are. So talking to an attorney, at least a consultation, to figure out what exactly your right is under Florida law is very important.
If I ask for a divorce and move out, do I still have to pay the rent and bills on that place?
Usually yes. Not making a payment on a obligation that you have to make is disfavored, especially if there are kids in common. Stopping making, for example, a rent payment or a water bill payment or an electric payment. It will really look bad in front of the court or a judge once it comes before that judge. Especially if there are kids in common. Making those payments is extremely important to show the judge or show the court that this parent is a responsible parent and not neglecting his duties or responsibilities.
If I start dating someone before my divorce is final, can it be used against me?
It usually cannot be used against you, however the way it could be used against you is if you have kids in common with your spouse, and you have the children around that person, it may be used against you if that relationship is negatively impacting the children.
What the courts look at is the best interest of the children. If that is not in their best interest, it will impact you.
In my Florida divorce case, can I and should I keep the house?
It depends. If the house or the house you’re talking about is a premarital property, which means was your property before you got married, then yes. However, you need to talk to an attorney to figure out if there was appreciation in the value of the house because that might be something that is marital. Another thing to consider is if the house was purchased during the marriage, then it is marital property. There are ways where you can get the house, but you have to talk to an attorney and figure out exactly how to get done.
In my Florida divorce case, can I use my spouse’s affair against them?
Technically not, Florida is a no-fault state, which means the fact that they cheated on you has no bearing on the divorce. However, the way to use a cheating spouse’s affair against them is if you have children in common and if they introduced that person to the children, and if that introduction negatively affected the children. You’re going to have to go by the best interest of the child and prove to the judge why it was not in their best interest or why they were negatively affected by this introduction. Speak to an attorney and figure out how to move forward.
In my Florida divorce case, can we decide ourselves how to divide our property?
Yes you can. The way to do it is to sit down with your spouse and figure out exactly how to split your assets and liabilities. Once that is done, you can either draft out your own marital settlement agreement or maybe seek help from a attorney. They can draft it for you and have you and your spouse sign that agreement. Once that is signed, it has to be filed with the courts and a final judgment is then signed and you are done.
In my Florida divorce case, does the mediator meet with the spouses separately or together?
It depends. If you would like to meet with a mediator separately you definitely can do so. Mediation is a very relaxed kind of environment. It is encouraged that parties go to mediation and try to figure out their differences and settle. The mediator will help you and your spouse at that point to reach a settlement and get the case over with.
In my Florida divorce case, how do I reply to the petition?
The way to reply to a petition in Florida is first of all, after you have been served personally, what you do is you file an answer. In your answer, which has to be filed within 20 days, you have to answer every single allegation in that petition. Another thing you have to keep in mind is maybe a counter petition. What you don’t ask for, you don’t get. If you don’t ask the judge to give you something or grant you something, you are waiving your right to that specific request that you want in your proceeding.
In my Florida divorce case, what are the alternatives to going to court?
You can always settle out of court. You can either settle through both attorneys, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney, through mediation. There are different venues for you to settle outside of court. However, even after settlement, there is a 10 minute hearing, which is called an uncontested divorce hearing, which one of you should attend, usually the petitioner. And just appear in court for a 10 minute hearing, and the judge will render your divorce at that point.
In my Florida divorce case, what happens in a temporary hearing?
At temporary hearing, what’s gonna happen is, you’re gonna address certain issues. For example, you’re gonna address alimony, child support, parenting plan, time-sharing and maybe attorney fees as well. During the hearing you will present evidence and the evidence is gonna be pertaining to each issue. For example, let’s say you wanna have more than 50% time-sharing with the children, you’re gonna have to show the judge why it is in the best interest of the children to have more than 50% time-sharing with you and less than 50% with your partner.
Is my spouse entitled to a portion of my business in Florida?
It depends. For example, if your business was set up during the marriage, then yes. Usually 50% of that business is what your spouse will end up with. However, if you have a prenuptial agreement then that would change the circumstance. Another thing to look at is if the business was actually started before the marriage. Then the appreciation in that business during the marriage is what your spouse will be entitled to.
My ex-spouse is neglecting her responsibility of carrying health insurance on my child. Is there anything I can do?
Yes. What you can do is go to court and show the judge that your ex-spouse is neglecting or not following a court order. If your ex-spouse is not following a court order, you can ask the judge to find them in contempt of court for not following that order. What’s going to happen, you can also ask the judge for attorney fees. The judge will likely give you attorney fees for bringing that action and will find your ex-spouse in contempt of not following that order.
My husband and I are getting divorced and he wants to relinquish his parental rights. How can we do this?
If you are married and your husband wants to relinquish his rights during the proceeding, it is very hard to impossible to do that. However, what you can do is ask for sole parenting responsibility, and time sharing, and no overnights if that is what your spouse wants to do. However, after the divorce is rendered, and final judgment is issued, and you get married, for example, you can have a step parent adoption, and that is what you can do to have your spouse, ex-spouse at that point, relinquish his rights to the children.
My spouse is trying to kick me out of our home. Is that legal?
That is not legal. No. They cannot kick you out of the house. Now, of course, it’s not advisable to stay home when there are problems or issues between you and your spouse. I mean, you have to think about domestic violence and what could happen if you and your partner are fighting or arguing constantly.
What you need to do is maybe consult with an attorney, and if there is violence between the parties, maybe file and injunction, but there is no reason for your spouse to be able to remove you from your home.
My spouse just asked for a divorce. What do I do first in Florida?
If you have been served with divorce papers, the first thing you need to do is file your answer within the 20-day period. Not filing your answer will enable your spouse to file a default, which is something you don’t want to have happen.
Now, after you file your answer, you have to gather all your financial information to have it ready to give to an attorney of your choice for them to look at and give you some feedback on what you’re looking at in terms of a settlement agreement, if you and your spouse are looking to settle.
What are emergency orders?
Emergency orders are the type of orders that are rarely issued. Now think of it this way. An emergency order is very similar to an emergency room kind of situation. There has to be a real emergency for the judge to stop what they are doing at that point and look at what you’re asking for. The type of reasons that you would or might get an emergency order issued is maybe child kidnapping or abduction, maybe neglect, abuse of a minor child. That is when a judge will definitely give you an emergency order, stopping your partner or your spouse from committing whatever you are alleging that they are committing.
What are temporary orders and how important are they in a divorce or custody case?
Temporary orders are orders issued after a temporary hearing. The reason they are important is because they set the stage for what’s going to happen next. Not specifically what’s going to happen in trial if the parties do not settle, but they set the stage as in if one spouse is being unreasonable and asking, let’s say, for 100% time-sharing, during that hearing. If there is no good evidence or no solid evidence to grant him or grant her that 100% time-sharing, and they end up with the 50% time-sharing, it will set the stage that what they’re asking for is unreasonable.
What are the most common financial mistakes made during divorce?
During a divorce, the most common financial mistake that we see is when a partner or a spouse has no idea what their partner is racking up in debt. For example, a credit card debt is a kind of debt that both a husband and wife are liable for, they both have to cover it. During the divorce proceeding, if your credit card debts rack up to 20, 30, 40, 50,000 dollars, you are responsible for 50% of that credit card debt. So, you have to be mindful and open your eyes to what your spouse is spending on a credit card before or during the divorce proceeding.
What happens if I do not sign the divorce papers?
If you settled and you signed a settlement agreement, you are signing divorce papers. However, if you go to court and the judge makes the ultimate decision on how the divorce is going to be handled, you don’t need to sign anything. The judge’s signature is what’s going to end the divorce.
What happens if we reconcile and want to cancel the divorce?
If you want to cancel your divorce, what you have to do is file a motion to dismiss your divorce. Now, you have to file that motion to dismiss before a judge assigns the final judgment. If the final judgment is signed, and you file your motion, it will not be granted, because your divorce, at that point, is granted.
What happens to joint debts when we divorce in Florida?
Any debt that is acquired during the marriage is a marital debt, which means that is a kind of debt or the type of debt that both you and your spouse are liable for. Before the divorce is finalized, that debt will be something either you will settle on or the debtor will make a termination on. If you have any questions, please talk to an attorney to figure out exactly how your debt will be treated in your divorce.
What happens to retirement funds and 401(k) plans in a divorce?
Anything that was acquired during a marriage is marital property. Your retirement account, if acquired during the marriage, is marital property. The appreciation in the account is also marital property. Talk to an attorney to figure out exactly how your 401(k) is going to be dealt with. If you have a pension plan, it’s the exact same thing. If acquired during the marriage, or if acquired before the marriage, and if there is appreciation that took place during the marriage, that should be or may be considered as marital property. It depends on the facts of the case. Please talk to an attorney to figure out exactly how your 401(k) or pension plan are going to be dealt with in your divorce.
What if I need child support while the divorce is still in process in Florida?
While a divorce is still in process and if you are in need of child support, what you have to do is go to court and ask the judge to grant you some kind of relief. You can ask the judge to either grant you either spousal support or child support. Once you ask the judge for that kind of relief, you have to show the judge how much you are making, how much your spouse is making, file the proper documents that need to be filed for that hearing and then you will get your relief.
What is a marital settlement agreement in a divorce in Florida?
In a divorce in Florida, what a marital settlement agreement is it’s a contract between the parties. What happens during the time that you and your partner agree on certain issues, your attorney or even you can draft a marital settlement agreement. At that point, both of you will agree on how to split your assets, split your liabilities, and if you have children in common, decide on a time-sharing schedule and a parenting plan.
What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is when the parties or the spouses agree on how to end their marriage. What’s gonna happen is you and your spouse are either gonna mediate, or maybe even agree before even filing the petition for divorce. You will file your agreement on how to split your assets, your liabilities. If you have children in common, maybe set up a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule. Once that is done, all you have to do is file it, and the divorce is gonna be entered. A final judgment will be signed. And that is exactly what an uncontested divorce is.
What papers do I need when I start a divorce case in Florida?
Once you start a divorce case in Florida and once your petition has been filed, what you will need is financial documents. For example, you will need your tax returns. You will need your bank statements. You will need your credit card statements. Those are the type of statements or documents you are going to need to proceed with the divorce. You will also get these kind of documents from your partner or spouse. At that point, when they give you these documents, you are going to decide on how to proceed with the divorce if you’re going to settle or are you going to go to court and fight over the assets and the liabilities and the time-sharing with the children.
What should I bring when I meet with the divorce attorney?
What you have to bring in when you meet with a divorce attorney is a petition. If the petition has been filed and you’ve been served with it. However, if it has not been filed and you are the one who’s filing the petition, maybe bring in the financial statements, such as your bank statement, credit card statements, and so on. If there is abuse and you suspect abuse on the children committed by your spouse, then maybe bring in some evidence. Maybe pictures or videos to show your attorney so you can get advice on what to do next.
When parents are not divorced yet, can one parent move with the children out of Florida?
If a petition has been filed, then you cannot move out of Florida. As a matter of fact, you cannot even move more than 50 miles from your current residence without asking the judge or a court to allow you to relocate over the 50 mile radius mileage. What you can do is try to settle with your spouse and ask them, or agree with him or her that is in the best interest of the children that you move to a place, let’s say, you have family members to help you out. Or, let’s say, you have a career job that will give you more financial stability.
Once you and your spouse agree on the move, then you can move. If you and your spouse can’t agree, then you have to go to court and show the judge why the relocation is in the best interest of the children. If you are able to do that, the judge might let you relocate with the children.
Why should divorcing couples consider mediation in Florida?
And further, more than any other state as a matter of fact, the reason any couple should consider mediation is for the single one factor is where you and your spouse can agree on how to end your marriage. You don’t want a judge or a court to decide on how to divide your assets or how or when you should see your kids. Now, in Florida what’s going to happen is, once the petition is filed, you will have to go to mediation no matter what before seeing a judge. But, mediating before even filing the divorce is something that we think is an awesome idea for the single reason of you and your spouse ending the marriage in an amicable way and deciding on how to split your assets and how to spend the time with your children and how to raise your children.
Why should I look for a lawyer when it comes to my divorce?
There are many reasons to consult with an attorney when going through a divorce. Knowledge is power. Figuring out your rights and knowing your legal rights is exactly what you need to know before entering into a divorce, or before handling a divorce.
You need to figure out exactly what is marital assets, what are marital liabilities, what is premarital asset, and what is premarital liability. Children, if you have children common with your spouse, then you need to figure out exactly how time-sharing, how the parenting plan is going to be handled.
Will I get to keep my house, car, and property after my divorce in Florida?
It depends. Now, if your house is a separate property that you had acquired before the marriage, then yes, you would probably keep your house after the divorce. However, the appreciation and the property that you have is going to be something that is marital property or a marital asset that’s going to be divided between you and your spouse. Now, if you have a prenup, then that changes the whole situation. There are so many facts that we need to consider before we can figure out exactly if you can or cannot keep a house or a car during the divorce.
Contact Our Experienced Orlando Divorce Lawyers
If you are facing divorce, our team will provide you with the personal attention, effective counsel, and straightforward answers you need during this difficult time. Our individual approach and client-based services are what set our firm apart from other Orlando divorce lawyers. Please contact our office to schedule a consultation, so we can learn the details of your case and start developing a strategy to handle your divorce on your terms. The Arwani Law Firm in Orlando provides high-quality divorce representation and sound legal advice for handling your family law concerns.