Legal FAQ's


General Questions



    • How much does a divorce cost?

      It is impossible to know. It depends on how much time your attorney puts into your case, which depends upon the level of complexity involved and how much you and your spouse disagree.

    • Do I need an attorney to get a divorce?

      No. You can represent yourself, but remember the old saying, “the person who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Florida law can be confusing, even if the parties believe they are in agreement as to all issues. Also, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney before you sign an agreement or it may be too late to protect your rights or “undo” things later.

      How long will a divorce take?

    • If it is truly uncontested and all matters are agreed to in advance, then it could take as little as a few weeks. However, if your divorce is hotly contested, involving complex legal issues, it could take more than a year.

    • I want to divorce my spouse, but he or she isn’t going to agree. I’m thinking about just leaving. Do I have any other choices?

      If your are dreading a lot of emotional arguing, let us help. Mediation is an excellent way to avoid an expensive or acrimonious trial, and is often ordered by the Court for that reason. We can represent one client in a mediation or conduct a mediation between the parties.

    • My spouse went on a spending rampage after I told him I want to divorce. Do I have to pay off half that credit card?

      We deal with all sorts of property division issues, so this doesn’t have to destroy your financial future. We may be able to show that the credit card is the responsibility of your spouse, because it isn’t marital debt, or we may be able to show that your spouse did this as a preemptive strike against you. Bring us your receipts, statements, or other related financial paperwork to develop a solution.



    • What is alimony?

      Alimony is generally defined as the support paid to the dependent spouse that continues after the marriage has been dissolved. Alimony is also referred to as spousal support or maintenance. There are several types of alimony in Florida, and depending upon the circumstances of your divorce, you may be eligible to receive alimony or you may be required to support your ex-spouse. If you have questions about what types of alimony you can expect after your divorce, simply give us a call – we’d love to help you explore your options.

    • Will I pay or receive alimony?

      This depends upon many factors, with the most important factor being the need of one spouse to be supported and the ability of the other to pay support.

    • Will a Court change alimony?

      If the alimony is not designated as being non-modifiable, or if the alimony is not lump sum alimony (which is generally non-modifiable), then the Court may reduce, increase, extend or eliminate alimony, so long as the party seeking the modification shows that there has been a substantial, material and permanent change in circumstances since the entry of the final judgment which warrants a modification, extension or elimination.

    • I made a lot of money in the past, but, in this economy, I can’t pay in alimony anywhere near what I could have three years ago—will the court understand what happened to me?

      Every situation is unique and no one can guarantee an outcome in court, but the law is designed to accommodate changes in status as in alimony cases. It is our standard procedure to evaluate the present situation against the foreseeable future and design proposed alimony and child support arrangements so they are reasonable.

    • What Does Maintenance Pay For?

      Maintenance can be ordered as either a substitute for a property division, short-term support to aid the ex-spouse in becoming self-sufficient, or lifetime support of a spouse who has limited earning ability or who is unemployable. The framework of the initial support decision is critical to whether the support obligation is subject to termination.



    • How is child custody decided?

      The Courts do not award custody any longer, but rather, provide for a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. If the parties themselves cannot agree, the judge will decide what he or she thinks is best for the child. This is a very complicated area of family law. The law seems to be evolving towards a more equitable time sharing arrangement, rather than the old-fashioned “weekends only” approach. However, each case is different.

    • What is joint custody? What is sole custody?

      Again, in Florida, there is no such legal concept as “custody” of children. Terms that reflect the type of time-sharing schedule include “majority time-sharing” and equal time-sharing.”

    • What is visitation?
      There is no such legal term as “visitation” with regard to your children. A parent has “time-sharing” with their children and time-sharing is simply spending time with them according to a schedule pursuant to court order or agreement by the parents.
    • Do Courts favor the mother over the father?
      Historically, courts have favored mothers with regard to caring for children particularly with children in their “tender years.” However, Florida courts have abolished the tender years doctrine and the statutes do not favor one parent over the other based on gender.
    • When can my child decide which parent to live with?
      Pursuant to §61.13, Florida Statutes, one of the many factors the court considers when ordering a parenting plan is, “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.”
    • My wife is giving me full custody and allowing me to relocate. How can I speed things up?

      The quickest way to finalize the divorce is to have a written marital settlement agreement, which states everything that you and your wife agree on. It must be signed and notarized by both parties. It would be wise to have an attorney draft your agreement. Once your agreement is drafted and submitted, you may call the judicial assistant and request a 5 minute hearing to finalize the divorce.

    • How does my child’s state residency impact custody?

      In order for a Court in Florida to have jurisdiction to enter an order granting a party custody of a child, the child must have lived in Florida for six months before the filing of the divorce or custody action. Because of this requirement, you must sign an affidavit, which we will prepare, listing each and every place the child or children who are involved in this case have lived for the past five years, and the names of the adults who have lived with them at each address.

    • I want to move out of Florida after my divorce. Will this affect my ability to retain custody?

      If your children are Florida residents and the other parent objects, the Courts will want to see that the children’s best interests are served. Generally, the Court will weigh their ability to spend time with both parents against the needs of the parents to live where they can earn a living or get assistance from relatives. We can work out a plan to show the court what your family needs to move forward and stay as healthy and happy as possible.

    • Will a Court change custody?

      As set forth in the answer to the question, “How does the Court determine custody?” the Courts do not award custody any longer, but rather, provide for a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. If the Court previously awarded custody or primary residence (the former terminology utilized by the Courts) in a final judgment, or previously provided for a parenting plan and time sharing schedule in a final judgment, that judgment may be modified IF the party seeking the modification is able to show that there has been a substantial, material and permanent change in circumstances since the entry of the final judgment which warrants a modification of the custody, primary residence or time sharing, and ONLY after the Court finds such a change has occurred may the Court then determine if such a modification would be in the best interests of the child.




Parenting Plans

                • What is a parenting plan, and do I need one?

                  A parenting plan is a document, that outlines how the parents will parent their children following a dissolution of marriage. Such provisions include, but are not limited to, the time-sharing schedule, holiday time-sharing schedule, provisions for extra-curricular activities, education, child care, contact between the parents, contact between the children and parents, and out-of-state (or country) travel. In every action for paternity or dissolution of marriage in which there are common children, the court will establish a parenting plan.

                • How to change a parenting plan…

                  In order to change a parenting plan a parent will need to obtain the Court’s permission to do so. He/She will need to show the Court that the new parenting plan is in the best interest of the children. If you do file a petition for modification you should get in touch with a family law attorney in your area for assistance with your case.

                • How to enforce a parenting plan…

                  The most expedient and productive means of accomplishing compliance is with a Motion for Contempt/Enforcement. A Motion for Contempt effectively threatens the other person with jail-time for willfully refusing to obey a Court’s ruling.


Child Support

                • Divorcing my wife. Will I pay child support?

                  If there is a minor child, the court will almost certainly order child support.

                • If I have custody, will I receive child support?

                  A parent who has majority time-sharing will generally receive child support. Child support is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, the statutory formula which factors in the parties’ income, percentage time-share, health insurance, and costs of daycare and uncovered medical expenses.

                • How much should I expect to set aside for supporting my child?

                  The state of Florida uses a child support calculator based upon your monthly income and the number of children. That calculator is used often to find a general starting point and does not necessarily indicate the amount that you will have to pay. Depending on the circumstances, amount of time you spend with the child and other factors, the amount might be more or less. However, each situation is unique and once you meet with one of our attorneys, you will have a much better idea of what you can expect.

                • What if I pay child support for another child?

                  In Florida, if you have been previously ordered to pay child support for another child, and you actually pay that support, the amount of support you pay for the other child is taken into account in determining child support for any other children for whom child support is ordered later.

                • Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?

                  Absolutely not. Time-sharing and child support are treated separate and apart from each other by the Florida courts except as it relates to calculating child support.



                  • What should I expect from mediation?

                    Mediation is generally required by all domestic relations courts in Florida prior to hearings. If you don’t agree, an impasse is declared, and the judge will decide all the issues. However, I encourage you to resolve any issues that you can at mediation, as you have control in a mediation, you can agree on whatever you want. Once you get in front of the judge, you don’t have control anymore, the Judge will decide whatever the Judge decides.

                  • What are some things that should be included in a mediation agreement?

                    First, you want an agreement that has details and specifics; the mediator should be able to help you with this. Schedules concerning timesharing should include the regular school schedule, summer schedule, holiday and special day schedule, vacations and school breaks; it is best to put in exact times, and dates (for example: the Thanksgiving holiday should state when it begins and when it ends) and how changes or events (vacations) are determined (by notice, by meeting, etc).

                    You should specify precisely how the two of you will communicate about the children in the future (regular meetings, emails, etc.). Transportation arrangements should be detailed; decision making should be described (not just “joint”); say specifically what decisions are covered and how the decision will be made. If you are concerned about follow through, you should address what happens if one of you does not follow through or is late.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any content contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.