Family Law FAQs

Family Law FAQs

How long does a divorce take?

When facing divorce, you may wonder how long it will take. A divorce could be finalized in a few days, if the parties already know what they want to do and have all their financial information in order for the attorneys, or could be drawn out over years, depending on the issues that you and your spouse face. Working with an experienced attorney can minimize the time and expense of litigation and ensure that your rights are protected.

Am I Entitled to Receive Spousal Support or Will I Have to Pay My Spouse?

If you are a dependent spouse, you may be entitled to spousal support. Spousal support determinations can be complicated because of the discretion given to the court. An experienced attorney can present your case effectively. The court will consider a number of factors listed below, in determining alimony payments:

  • The earning capacity of each party;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The earnings and marketable skills of each party;
  • Whether a party devoted time to domestic duties and child rearing at the expense of career pursuits;
  • The ability of the higher earning party to pay support;
  • The obligations and assets, including separate property held by you and your spouse;
  • The duration of your marriage;
  • The ages of the parties;
  • The ability of the supported spouse to obtain gainful employment;
  • Whether time is needed for the supported spouse to pursue further education and training to obtain employment;
  • Whether there is a documented history of domestic violence in the marriage; and
  • The tax consequences of a spousal support order.

Can I get a modification to a divorce judgement or order?

If you have an original divorce order that establishes custody, child support or spousal support, you may be able to obtain a modification to that order based on a significant change in circumstances. Custody arrangements can be changed if one party relocates or if the child has different needs. A support determination could be adjusted based on an increase or decrease in income, such as losing a job, getting a new job with different pay, or retirement.

We can help you obtain a modification or challenge a proposed modification. It is important to understand that support orders cannot be modified retroactively. Therefore, as soon as there is a need for a modification of a support order, you should immediately consult a family law specialist.

If I am not the Father, Do I need a Paternity Lawyer?

If you are an alleged father in a paternity case, it is important to challenge the assertion with experienced legal advocacy, if you believe you are not the biological father of the child. Failure to challenge paternity after it has been presumed or established could leave you open to child support obligations, even after paternity has been disproved.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Divorce?

Even divorces with minimal conflict can be complicated. You may think that you and your spouse are in agreement about major points including financial settlements, property and children. It is important that an experienced advocate review your settlement and work independently on your behalf to ensure that your immediate and future rights are secured.

Will I Have to Pay All My Attorney’s Fees and Some of My Spouse’s Attorney’s Fees?

In Florida divorces, the court has the authority to order a party to pay some or all of the attorney’s fees and litigation costs of the other spouse. The purpose of such orders is to make sure that both parties have access to quality legal representation to level the playing field, so that the party who has more assets or income cannot overwhelm the other spouse. If you feel you cannot pay an attorney to represent you, you should still check with a family law attorney to see if that is really the case. There usually are ways that we can quickly obtain funds from the other side so that you can have appropriate representation to pursue your rights.

Can I Get Alimony if I am not Divorced?

Yes. You may qualify for alimony even if you have not filed for a divorce. Florida statutes, section 61.09, allows a spouse who is not receiving support to apply to the court for alimony, without seeking a dissolution of marriage. The other spouse must have the ability to pay spousal maintenance.

Do I Still Have to Pay Spousal Support if My Ex Remarries?

It depends. A commonly raised defense to alimony is that the spouse seeking maintenance is in a supportive relationship and does not need maintenance. This argument works for alimony orders that are modifiable or which terminate upon remarriage. Other orders are non-modifiable and may continue even if your ex- spouse remarries.

What if my Ex Stops Paying Alimony?

You may seek enforcement of the court order by filing a Motion for Contempt. Your former spouse will have to prove that he/she is not willfully disobeying the court order. Your ex could have recently become unemployed, or ill and he/she can no longer afford the payments and will make those arguments in his/her defense. If you win the motion, the court can impose a wide range of penalties on your ex, such as a money judgment, judgment lien, writ of execution, a writ of garnishment or even jail time. If your ex has a habit of being delinquent, when paying you directly, you can seek an income deduction order so that the employer takes the money directly out of his/her paycheck.

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