A divorce can often be an overwhelming and emotionally charged process. With the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable divorce lawyer, it may be easier for you to effectively address any issues that arise throughout the course of handling the divorce in order to move on with your life.
Florida does not recognize legal separation.
The court does have provisions addressing spousal and child support, custody and visitation unconnected with a dissolution action. A spouse who is living separate from his/her spouse and minor child can get court judgment of obligation to maintain his/her spouse and child(ren), if any. The court will hear and settle his/her financial obligations to the spouse and child and establish a parenting plan for them.
Types of Divorce
Determining which type of divorce is right for you will be based on individual factors, such as your relationship with your spouse, the structure of your assets and liabilities, how close in agreement you and your partner are in matters related to the divorce, and your motivations for pursuing a divorce, as well as a variety of other factors. No matter which type of divorce you choose to pursue, however, we can help.
Uncontested divorce: An uncontested divorce can generally be completed in three months or less. This option is best for couples who are able to resolve the issues of their divorce between themselves, with minimum attorney involvement. We will prepare all relevant documents and will attend the final court hearing. This is a very affordable option.
Contested divorce: When a breakdown in communication occurs between divorcing spouses, a skilled lawyer is often necessary to assist the parties as they advocate for their child custody (time-sharing), child support, alimony or property division interests. We have represented individuals in numerous contested divorce trials. Our ultimate goal is to obtain the best possible results for my clients.
Although fault is not considered in the determination of divorce under Florida law, it may be considered when courts address the distribution of marital property and determination of custody that typically accompanies a divorce. This can be one of the most difficult and complicated aspects of a divorce, and is often deeply emotional because of the nature of the property involved. Marital property may include:
Debts, including credit cards, mortgages, and car loans
Generally, any asset or debt obtained during the course of a marriage is considered to be marital property and must be distributed prior to the successful dissolution of a marriage. Under Florida law, these assets and debts are generally distributed equally between both parties based on a variety of factors.
The court will also carefully consider the allocation of child custody and child support, as these are often the most emotionally challenging aspects of a divorce proceeding.
The termination of a marriage may not be the termination of your relationship with your former spouse, especially if you have children. When your circumstances change you may need to change the terms of your child custody, visitation and support arrangements. If your former spouse does not meet his or her obligations, you may need the assistance of the court.
We represent clients in a wide range of post-divorce modification matters, including parental relocation, child support and visitation modifications, and enforcement actions.
When a couple obtains a divorce, they must first create a parenting plan and come to an agreement regarding child support and alimony. However, the details of these agreements are all based on the family’s circumstances at the time of divorce. As time passes, children age, and ex-spouses may relocate or change jobs, making these arrangements unworkable. Fortunately, custody arrangements and support agreements can be modified following a divorce, so if you live in Florida and are divorced, but believe that your divorce-related agreements are in need of modification, it is crucial to contact an experienced Jacksonville post-divorce modification lawyer who can explain your legal duties and obligations.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
Courts are reluctant to change custody arrangements and support agreements unless there has been a substantial and unanticipated change in circumstances and modification is in the best interest of the child. Generally, to be considered substantial, a change must be of a permanent or near-permanent nature. Additionally, the party seeking the modification must establish that the situation could not have been anticipated at the time that the original parenting plan, custody arrangement, or maintenance agreement was ordered. This standard gives courts a great deal of discretion in deciding whether circumstances justify a change to a post-divorce decree. For this reason, it is especially important that a party seeking modification of a custody agreement or spousal maintenance award obtain the advice of an experienced Tampa post-divorce modification lawyer who can collect and present compelling evidence to the court.
The Best Interest of the Child
Judges will only agree to modify a parenting plan, child support agreement, or custody arrangement, when a party can demonstrate that the change would be in the best interest of the child. Although this is a relatively ambiguous standard, most courts will take a few specific factors into account when making the decision, including:
The child’s physical and emotional safety;
Whether the change would disrupt a child’s schedule or require him or her to change schools;
Whether the modification would damage the relationship between one of the parents and the child;
The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems him or her to be of sufficient intelligence and understanding to express a preference;
The home, school, and community record of the child;
Whether there is evidence of domestic violence, neglect, or abuse;
The developmental stage and needs of the child; and
Each parent’s capacity to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
To establish that a modification would be in a child’s best interest, a party will need to have access to compelling evidence, such as school records and witness testimony.
Before a court will grant modification of an alimony or child support agreement, it will also require evidence of a substantial change in circumstances, which could include:
A substantial raise;
Availability of medical insurance;
Retirement by the payor;
A decreased ability to pay;
Receipt of a substantial inheritance or gift; and
Generally, courts are not convinced that circumstances warrant a change if a party can only demonstrate that there is a moderate improvement in the payee’s economic situation or the payee voluntarily quit his or her job. There are also specific rules in place for different types of alimony. For instance, some types of alimony are designated as non-modifiable.
Call an Experienced Jacksonville Post-Divorce Modification Lawyer
If you live in Jacksonville and are seeking modification of a parenting plan, child support arrangement, or alimony, please contact Ashley Goggins Law, P.A. by calling 904-903-4522 to speak with an experienced Jacksonville post-divorce modification lawyer today.