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Divorce / Separation


frequently asked questions

children and divorce: advice for parents


When does the divorce begin?

When you or your spouse first seriously think about ending the marriage. Every married person thinks about divorce or separation from time to time. When these thoughts linger after the anger or frustration has passed, they are a signal to do something because your marriage is breaking down. When the "I want out" thoughts dominate the desire to work things out and you start considering the practical aspects of separation or divorce (change of residence, living expenses, effect on the children), the divorcing process has begun. Once begun, the process does not need to end in a divorce. It is the willingness to do something positive as soon as you recognize the process beginning that gives you the best chance of reconciliation.

Should I stay married for the sake of the children?

Probably not, if they are the only thing keeping you together. The coldness or hostility displayed by you and your spouse is bad for the children and may even interfere later with their own marriages. In reality, though, people rarely remain together for the sake of the children. Most of the time there are other factors at play, sometimes unconscious ones. In fact, other gratification from a relationship can keep an estranged couple together, even though their marriage is dead. Arrangements sometimes develop between married couples where they only share the household because it is economically or socially convenient. They create their own separate lives within the home, without interfering with or substantially annoying the other. Parties living in a state of truce for many years will often divorce after the youngest child is on his own. If no such gratification exists for you, then deal with your marital problems realistically. Don't just ignore the deterioration of your marriage or mope around about it - solve it, adjust to it or separate. Too much self-sacrifice can be intolerable to your children as well as your spouse.

If I don't want a divorce, should I fight it?

Yes, at least to the point where you are sure the marriage cannot be saved. At that point your resistance should be geared only to what's necessary to obtain a fair settlement.

I want a divorce. Can't I just leave?

Yes, you can, but talk to a lawyer before you make this crucial decision. In a potentially litigated divorce a number of strategic considerations argue against a spouse's leaving the marital home. For example, if a wife or a husband seeking custody of the children leaves the home without the children, he or she may be at a substantial disadvantage when the actual custody proceedings begin. There are also significant financial considerations involved in any decision to live apart from your spouse, which should be discussed with your attorney.

Can a separation save a marriage?

Sometimes, yes. Physical proximity can be a great source of antagonism for couples considering divorce. A change in the status quo is often the first step to saving the marriage. The new perspective gained by separation may help you discover the cause of your dissatisfaction. The actual experience of separation provides a testing period that can alter perceptions of divorce as a solution. The party who is pushing for a divorce on the mistaken belief that physical separation will resolve his or her unhappiness often finds that the contrary is true. Separation then may provide new insight into the cause of unhappiness or the advisability of resuming the marital relationship.

If I leave the house voluntarily, can I get back in?

The longer you are gone, the more difficult re-entry is likely to be if your spouse opposes it. Even if you have a written agreement that says your leaving will not prejudice your right to return, courts are sometimes reluctant to enforce these agreements if the separation has been a long one. Very often a spouse who is sincerely interested in saving the marriage will agree to leave in order to give the other spouse an opportunity to reconsider. However, by making such an arrangement, the departing spouse takes a very real chance that no re-entry will be possible. Thus, be sure to consult with a lawyer before leaving.

Do voluntary payments set a precedent?

Yes, very often they do in terms of amount. If a supporting spouse has voluntarily been paying a certain amount for an extended period of time, it may be difficult to convince the court at a later time of an inability to pay that amount, unless there is proof of a substantial change in financial circumstances. By the same token, if the supported spouse accepts a certain amount and is able to live comfortably on the amount provided for an extended period of time, it will be equally difficult to convince the court of a need for a greater amount of support.

Can I date during separation?

Casual dating will not legally affect the granting of a divorce, the award of custody and support, or the division of property. However, if your dating involves considerable time spent away from the children or staying out overnight or involves a person of significantly bad repute or involves the expenditure of funds, it may become an issue in the divorce case. It is best to consult your attorney before you get involved in any regular or serious dating.

It looks like a divorce. How can I protect myself?

See a lawyer as soon as possible. You don't have to hire one, but you must learn what your rights and obligations are in regard to your spouse and your family. There are many books and pamphlets on divorce and separation but, no book, no pamphlet and no person untrained in the law as it applies in your community can advise you adequately.

How should I deal with my spouse during the divorce?

Divorce tends to bring out the worst in people. Self-protection requires a new set of guidelines:

  1. If love is gone, substitute politeness.

  2. Get legal advice from your lawyer, not your friends. Remember, every divorce case is different and what happens in any other case - good or bad - will not necessary happen in your case.

  3. Breast your cards. Don't let our spouse know how much you know.

  4. Walk away from arguments or conflict.

  5. Expect your spouse to resent your lawyer and attempt to undermine your lawyer's influence.

  6. Don't enter into private negotiations without your lawyer's permission.

  7. Don't make agreements or sign anything without talking to your lawyer.

  8. When in doubt, believe your lawyer, not your spouse.

  9. Use the lawyers as hired insulators. Learn to say, "Talk to your lawyer and have your lawyer talk to mine."

  10. Don't rub in your legal victories. Losers try to even up.


How long do I have to be resident of Florida before I file for a divorce?



Generally it is six (6) months before filing, however, there are other laws that need to be discussed with your attorney if your spouse does not live in Florida.




What documents do I need for my initial visit to consult with an attorney and how can I prepare?



Gather as much information as possible.  Every bank statement, tax return, W-2, pay stub will help to put together your financial picture. Start making a detail list of assets and debts to be prepared for your first visit.  After you initial visit, we will provide you a list of documents that we will need and a list of documents provided by the Court.


Be Wise.  It is amazing that once the word "divorce" is mentioned that documents once easily found seem to disappear.  Make copies of all your financial documents and keep in a safe place.



Can I get alimony?


If you are the stay-home parent or the lower earning spouse, you may be entitled to temporary support or alimony to help you pay your bills while your case is pending.  Alimony in Florida has many factors that are too difficult to describe here, but include the length of the marriage, the contribution of each spouse, the need of one spouse versus the ability to pay of the other spouse and other important factors.  Alimony can be modifiable or non-modifiable.  Alimony can be temporary, rehabilitative, lump sum and permanent.   




Is Alimony taxable?


Generally, alimony is taxable to the person who receives it and deductible to the person who pays it.  It is important to know the IRS tax rules with regard to recapture and child contingency rules to protect your alimony deductions as applicable.



Is Child Support taxable?


Generally, child support is not taxable to the person who receives it and not deductible to the person who pays it.




Is Child Support Modifiable?


Child support is always modifiable with the right evidence established through your attorney.



How is child support calculated?


Florida has Child Support Guidelines based upon the parents combined income, heath insurance, daycare expenses and the amount of time both parents spend with the children.



What can expert fees can I deduct on my taxes?


Attorney fees are not deductible generally, but tax advice is deductible.  Talk to attorney about the benefits of hiring a tax expert or CPA to help with your divorce.



How can I settle my divorce without going to Court?



There are several formal and informal ways of resolving your divorce without being contested through the adversary system or litigation including Mediation, Arbitration and Collaborative Law process.  Talk to your attorney about the more civil way of getting your divorce finalized.






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