Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorney
If you are facing divorce, the financial and emotional strain can be overwhelming—on you and the people you love. Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. can help you make an effective plan to manage the difficulties that come with ending a marriage, such as transitioning to one income, sharing parental responsibility, and dividing property accumulated during your marriage. We will take the time to listen to your concerns, and guide you through every aspect of your case. Contact our experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney today.
- Contested Divorce
- Dissolution Of Marriage
- Divorce Mediation
- Legal Seperation
- Military Divorce
- Property Division
- Uncontested Divorce
Dedicated Counsel for Difficult Times
By providing the most efficient and effective legal service possible, our goal is to minimize the stress and cost of your divorce. Continuing reading and exploring our website for more information about specific topics, such as:
- Uncontested divorce – In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on everything alleged in the divorce petition, and the court enters a judgment at a final hearing.
- Contested divorce – In a contested divorce, there is at least one disputed issue, such as child custody or child support, that must be resolved at trial.
- Grounds for divorce – In Florida, you do not need actual grounds for divorce, such as adultery or abuse, but they still may be relevant in some cases.
- Divorce mediation – There are many benefits to settling your divorce through mediation, and Florida law requires at least one mediation session before a date for trial can be set.
- Divorce process in Florida – In order to end your marriage in Florida, you must follow a formal divorce process and meet certain requirements, such as filing deadlines and fulfilling the residency requirement.
- Petition for dissolution of marriage in Florida – To get the divorce process started, one or both parties must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” in the circuit court in the county in which one party resides.
- New divorce laws – It is important for divorcing parties and their lawyers to stay abreast of new divorce laws in Florida.
- Military divorce – There are unique issues that must be addressed in a military divorce, such as military pensions, residency requirements, and certain legal protections for military members.
Many people come to us worried about the financial burden of hiring a divorce attorney. Most do not know, however, that, by law, the parties to a divorce have the right to a similar level of legal representation. If there is a major difference in income between spouses, the court will sometimes require the party with higher income to pay some of the legal fees of the other spouse. We can help you find a solution to your financial concerns.
Fort Lauderdale Divorce Process
Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney Sandra Bonfiglio walks clients through every step of the divorce process, from filing the petition to the entry of your divorce judgment. Here we provide specific information about the requirements and procedures that are necessary to obtain a divorce in Florida.
Florida’s Residency Requirement
To get divorced in Florida, one or both of the spouses must live in the state for six months before filing for divorce. Once the residency requirement is met, a Florida court can claim jurisdiction over your case. For a military divorce, you may satisfy the residency requirement if you are stationed in Florida.
Getting the Divorce Process Started
To get the divorce process started, and to ultimately obtain a divorce in Florida, you must follow at least the following steps:
- One or both parties must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” in the circuit court in the county in which one party resides. The parties may also file additional paperwork at this time, such as a financial affidavit or a marital settlement agreement.
- Each party must provide a financial affidavit to the other party within 45 days of the service of the petition or several days before any temporary hearing (if financial statements were not filed with the Petition for Dissolution).
- If one spouse filed the divorce petition, the other spouse has 20 days from the date of being served to file an answer to the divorce petition. The answer should address the issues in the initial petition, as well as any additional issues addressed in a counter-petition.
After the divorce petition is properly filed, the County Clerk of Court’s office will notify all parties of court dates and information required for a hearing. It is essential to follow the clerk’s directions and submit all required documents on time, as failure to provide the correct information or documents—or the failure to appear in court—will likely result in a dismissal of the divorce petition or even court sanction.
Effective Guidance through Divorce
At Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., we represent clients on either side of divorce proceedings in all types of divorce cases, from the simple uncontested divorce to the complex, contested divorce that requires trial. No matter the circumstances, we do not let our clients go through the divorce process blindly. We explain every step, determining which issues are most important to you and devising strategies to deal with them, including equitable distribution, alimony, child custody and child support.
Florida Grounds for Divorce
Traditionally, grounds for divorce were based on one spouse’s fault, meaning that some type of marital misconduct led to the breakdown of the marriage. Florida no longer requires fault-based grounds for divorce, as the Florida Dissolution of Marriage Statute is designed to promote the amicable settlement of disputes that arise between the parties to a marriage, and to lessen the potential harm to spouses and their children caused by divorce.
Is Florida a No-Fault State for Divorce?
Florida is a pure no-fault state, which means divorcing spouses do not need to prove or provide grounds for filing for divorce. Rather, the spouse filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage simply cites irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or in some situations, the mental incapacity of the other spouse for a period of three or more years. Irretrievably broken means the parties have differences or disputes that cannot be settled, and are so serious that they have caused the total and complete breakdown of the marriage.
While traditional fault-based grounds are not required to file for divorce, these factors may become relevant in divorce litigation or introduced by the court if the divorce is contested. This means that the factors once recognized as grounds for divorce can influence the outcome of a case if they are relevant. Examples include:
- Domestic violence or abuse
- Desertion or abandonment
- Substance abuse or alcoholism
- Mental illness
In most cases, proving fault during divorce litigation does not affect child custody, child support, property division, or alimony determinations, except in situations where domestic violence creates an unsafe environment for a child.
Why No-Fault Divorce?
There are many reasons states no longer require fault-based grounds for divorce, for example, no-fault divorce makes it easier for a person to leave an abusive marriage, and domestic violence rates have declined as a result. No-fault divorce also shortens the length of time it takes to obtain a divorce, and divorce settlements are based on need, ability to pay, and contribution to family finances, rather than on fault.
Florida Divorce Laws
In the past five years, several laws affecting divorces have been passed or amended by the state legislature. Here, we briefly review new divorce and family laws in Florida.
New Alimony Factors
In 2010, the Florida legislature added three new factors for judges to consider when making an alimony (spousal support) award:
- The responsibilities of each party with regard to any minor children they have together
- 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
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party
These changes apply to new alimony awards entered on or after July 1, 2010, but do not provide a basis to change an existing alimony order.
Alimony & Marriage Length
In 2011, Florida defined short, moderate and long-term marriages for purpose of entitlement to alimony. A short-term marriage is one that lasted less than seven years; a moderate-term marriage is from seven to 17 years; and a long-term marriage is one which exceeds 17 years duration. The time period is measured from the date of the marriage to the date of filing the dissolution of marriage action.
Alimony & Retirement Status
New divorce laws in Florida recognize retirement status by capping alimony at 20% of the payer’s income, and terminating alimony upon full retirement age. Previously it was very difficult for a retired person to reduce alimony, even if his or her income was significantly lower than it was preretirement.
Florida law now recognizes the parenting coordination process, which allows a parenting coordinator to be appointed when parents cannot make decisions about their children during child custody (parental responsibility) proceedings. Powers of a parenting coordinator include providing education, making recommendations, and making limited decisions with prior approval of both parents and the judge.
The process that must be followed when a parent wants to move more than 50 miles away from the other parent now applies to pending divorce cases. Before this change, Florida’s child relocation law only applied after final judgment.
Custody & Domestic Violence
In custody disputes, there is now a presumption that domestic violence harmed the child when a parent has been convicted of a first degree misdemeanor or higher. Previously, the law required the higher standard of a third degree felony before harm was presumed.
Contact Us for Advice & Representation during Fort Lauderdale Divorce
If you are facing divorce, and you live in Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton, contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to schedule a consultation and learn more about our services. Simply knowing you do not have to go through divorce alone can give you significant peace of mind, contact our experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney.