Florida Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) Simplified

Jacksonville Divorce Attorney Describes the Divorce Process in Florida

A divorce is a life-altering event. Along with the emotional and family issues that are associated with divorce there are often long term financial and economic effects that occur when a marriage is dissolved. In general, a divorce in Florida can be divided into four distinct categories. These categories are: division of property, alimony, child support and time sharing.

Division of Property in a Florida Divorce

Florida is a community property state. What that means is that the law presumes an equal division of all marital assets and liabilities between the spouses unless a judge views an equitable division of property to be unfair. In making an unequal division of marital property the judge may consider all relevant factors, including the following:

  • the length of the marriage
  • each spouse’s economic circumstances
  • any interruption in either spouse’s career or educational opportunities
  • each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including contributions as a homemaker or parent,
  • either spouses contribution to the career or educational opportunities of the other spouse
  • each spouse’s contribution to acquiring or increasing income
  • each spouse’s contribution to improving marital or nonmarital assets
  • liabilities incurred by either spouse, whether affecting martial or nonmarital assets, and
  • either spouse’s intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition for divorce or within 2 years prior to filing.

Also important is whether the property is marital property or separate. Property is nonmarital, or separate, if a spouse owned it before marriage or acquired it during marriage as a gift (not including gifts from the other spouse), or by inheritance. Separate property also includes:

  • assets and debts that the spouses have defined in a valid written agreement as separate property,
  • income from separate property, unless the spouses have treated the income as marital property, and
  • items purchased with or exchanged for separate property.

If separate property increases in value during the marriage as a result of contributions of marital funds or the efforts of either spouse, then the increases in value are marital property.

Alimony – What Will The Judge Consider?

The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support to spouse that is in the less favorable economic position. In determining whether to award alimony, a judge must first determine if either spouse has an actual need for alimony and whether the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony. In determining the proper type and amount of alimony a judge will consider:

  1. The standard of living established during the marriage;
  2. How long the marriage lasted;
  3. The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
  4. The financial resources available to each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
  5. The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
  6. The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
  7. The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
  8. The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
  9. All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

Child Support – Factors That Affect Child Support in Florida

If there are minor children of the marriage then typically a support amount for the child or children must be established. The parent that has the children the majority of the time receives support and the other parent pays support. The amount of support is governed by the incomes of both parents, in conjunction with the established amount derived from the Florida child support guidelines contained in Florida Statute 61.30. As stated before, the number of overnights the children spend with each parent will be a factor in the calculation of child support. Other aspects that can affect the amount of child support are taxes, daycare and health insurance.

Time Sharing – The New Word For “Custody” and “Visitation”

Time sharing is the term the Court now uses in lieu of “custody” and “visitation” and describes the time that each party will spend with the minor children. The Court can designate a majority and minority time-sharing parent or that the parties will have equal time-sharing. All of this will be encompassed in a Parenting Plan. This plan is developed based on the ‘best interests of the child’ standard which considers various factors contained in Florida Statute 61.13.