The question as to whether or not an individual needs an attorney to divorce in Florida is simple if we review the question literally.  You can get a divorce in Florida without an attorney.  However, it may be unwise to attempt to be divorced without an attorney.

Why Should I Use an Attorney?

The author believes that an attorney is essential if you are attempting to obtain a divorce.  This may sound like a self serving statement, but the author thinks there are numerous reasons that one should use an attorney to guide them through the process.  The author feels that having an attorney keeps otherwise Pro Se (self represented) clients forging ahead and not getting side tracked by discovery issues and other procedural problems regularly encountered and routinely dealt with by attorneys.

The general rule in Florida is that child support terminates when a child reaches 18 years of age.  However, the general rule does not apply when child support is still owed for any time prior to the child’s reaching adult legal status.  Under those circumstances, the custodial parent generally retains the right to collect on the overdue balance owed.  In terms of procedure, to collect any outstanding child support payments, the custodial parent must obtain a Court order signed by a Judge.  Even if the debtor parent is not currently able to make the payments, the Court order preserves the right of the custodial parent to make a claim on future money earned for back child support.  To make sure that a Court order is properly obtained, custodial parents in Jacksonville would benefit from retaining the services of an experience Jacksonville family attorney.

Florida Also Provides an Exception in Instances When a Child of Legal Age Has Not Yet Graduated from High School

Florida’s child support statute found at Florida Statute §61.30, also contains a provision that extends child support until the child graduates from high school, if there is a reasonable expectation of graduating before his or her 19th birthday.  If there is no reasonable expectation that the child will graduate before their 19th birthday, child support will terminate automatically upon the child turning 18 years old.

The marital home is frequently the largest asset between the parties to be divided in a divorce. When and how the marital home was acquired will be a major factor in determining who gets the marital home temporarily and permanently.

What is Exclusive Use and Possession?

Exclusive use and possession refers to one party receiving permission to use the home for their own purposes. Conditions are frequently provided for, as well. A frequent condition to receiving exclusive use and possession of a home is typically connected with paying the mortgage or other household bills.  This sometimes occurs initially after holding a temporary needs hearing or a domestic violence injunction hearing.  The most expedient, but not necessarily recommended way that a spouse can obtain exclusive use and possession of a home is through a domestic violence case. Using a domestic violence case to obtain exclusive use and possession should only be pursued when it involves a Petitioner that has been the victim of domestic violence. In other words, a petition for injunction should only be filed when actually necessary to stop or prevent violence. Where domestic violence is not an issue, a temporary needs hearing would be the best vehicle to obtain a temporary order to decide who stays in the home temporarily. The author has seen a number of occasions where both parties shared the home while they waited for a final hearing because neither party had a good option to leave.  This is not recommended, as it is natural for hostility to build between two partis going through a divorce.

The end of a marriage can be a trying time, both emotionally and financially.  For many people, fundamental aspects of their daily life will change dramatically, including where they live, how often they see their children, their day-to-day routine, and even whether or not they have a job.  In some cases, one of the parties to a marriage has forgone pursuing a career to support his or her spouse or may have left the workforce early to raise a family or manage the marital home.  Your Jacksonville family attorney can assist you in obtaining alimony or defending against alimony claims.

Florida Alimony

Of course, the parties to a marriage both have financial needs, both during the marriage and afterwards, should it end.  The law that governs the way marriages end recognize this fact and provide for an equitable distribution of the marital assets upon dissolution.  Additionally, Florida Courts are authorized by law to award additional financial support based on one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay.  This type of arrangement is referred to as “alimony” by Florida law but can also be called “spousal support” or “maintenance.”  There are several types of alimony that may be awarded, including bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, permanent, durational, or lump-sum alimony.  Which kind of alimony is appropriate to request can sometimes be difficult to decide on your own.  Your Jacksonville family attorney will assist you in making that determination after examining all the facts related to your marriage.

Many divorcing parents and single parents are aware of their obligation to support their children, and some are familiar with how the amount they must pay is decided.  Fewer are aware of how long the obligation to support their children continues.  Your Jacksonville family attorney can assist you with understanding all of the nuances about child support.

Payment Lasts Until the Child Reaches Majority Age

In general, a parent must pay child support until the child is 18 years old.  This is considered the age of majority or when the child is recognized as an adult.  However, a child’s eighteenth birthday isn’t always the cutoff date for support payments.  According to Florida law, a parent’s duty to continue paying child support may be extended when the child has not finished high school by their eighteenth birthday; when the child has special needs; and when there is an agreement that says otherwise.  Your Jacksonville family attorney can assist you in determining what your obligation will be based on your particular circumstances.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

The term “Statute of Limitations” refers to a law that limits the period for which one may file a lawsuit.  This time period will typically vary by state and the type of suit that is being filed. For instance, the period of time for filing suit for a wrongful death claim may be different from the period of time one has to file for a trespass suit.  Federal law normally controls Statute of Limitations Periods for cases decided based upon federal law.

How Far Back Can One Be Assessed in Determining Child Support?

There are two common types of implied warranties.  One is referred to as an Implied Warranty of Merchantability.  The other is referred to as an Implied Warranty of Fitness.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability

An implied warranty of merchantability is an unwritten warranty to a Buyer that the goods purchased from a merchant conforms to the ordinary standards that one would expect from similar goods. The Uniform Commercial Code provides that a warranty of merchantability applies when: a Seller is the merchant of the goods sold, and the Buyer uses the good purchased for their ordinary purpose.  Therefore, a Buyer may sue for breach of implied warranty where the product does not perform as expected in its ordinary usage.  To have a valid claim for breach of an implied warranty of merchantability, a product must fail to perform as it is normally used.

Many pet owners treat their pets as if they are their own children, whether it be a dog, cat, turtle, or gerbil.  For these owners, the pet is an integral part of the family.  Unfortunately, in a Florida divorce, pets are not considered part of the family.  Rather, they are considered property.  That means that when the divorce process is complete, only one spouse will own the pet and the other will not be able to see the animal.  Divorcing couples can choose to agree to another arrangement, but the Court will only award pets to one spouse in a divorce.  Your Jacksonville family attorney can assist you with this emotional issue of pet custody.

How Florida’s Equitable Distribution Laws Apply to Pets

Florida follows equitable distribution laws when it comes to property division, which means property is divided fairly, although not necessarily equally.  When the case is taken to Court, the outcome will depend heavily on the facts of your case.  While the best interests of the pet are not taken into consideration in the same way as when child custody decisions are being made.  The Court will consider several factors when deciding on which party can keep the pets.  These factors include:  1)  If one spouse owned the pet before the marriage, the pet will typically remain with that spouse when the marriage is dissolved; 2) Which party spent the most time and effort caring for the pet?; 3) Which party took the pet to vet appointments and otherwise tended to its needs?;  4) Which party is financially capable of caring for the pet?;  5) Which party is in the best health to care for the pet?; 6)    What is the value of the pet?; 7) If a couple has children, the pets will go where the children go to prevent any further loss, pain, or heartache; 8) Finally, if there is a prenuptial agreement, and it addresses the issue of who gets the pet in the event of a divorce, then there is no argument as to who the pet is going home with.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution that is mandatory in a Florida divorce, paternity, or modification case, but many people do not see the process as the benefit it is.  During mediation, the two parties will meet with a mediator who is an unbiased and uninterested person in the case.  The mediator will try and help the parties resolve all disputes related to the family law case.  If an agreement is reached, it is drafted and submitted to the Court for approval so the case can be closed.  While the process is straightforward, there are still many myths related to the process.  Your Jacksonville family attorney can assist you in understanding the mediation process.  Below are the biggest myths about family law mediation in Florida, and the truth behind them.

The Mediator Will Make All the Decisions

This is simply untrue.  Mediators do not make any of the decisions when they meet with parties going through a divorce, paternity, or modification case.  They cannot force either party to do, or not do, anything.  Instead, they are only there to help you and facilitate you and your spouse, ex-spouse, or co-parent to reach an agreement.  If you cannot reach an agreement and your case requires litigation, it is the Judge that will make all the decisions.  Your Jacksonville family attorney is here to assist you in mediation and to represent you in any litigation should you not reach agreement.

Your domicile is the place upon which an individual has voluntarily decided to reside permanently.  In the ordinary sense, a persons domicile is the place where he lives and where he has his or her home.  However, the legal definition is more specific.  The plan in which a person has his or her permanent home and principal establishment upon which he intends to return whenever he is absent would fit the legal definition of domicile.

Why is it Important to Determine Domicile?

The domicile that one chooses has legal consequences. One’s domicile determines which state can probate a will.  It also determines which state can collect estate taxes when someone dies.  One’s domicile establishes where an individual may exercise certain legal rights and privileges.  Where one has the privilege to vote is determined by domicile.

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