Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorney
Before filing for a Fort Lauderdale divorce, there are many things an individual has to consider. What will happen to my future? How will it affect the relationships I have with my children? Will I be financially secure? These questions are often complex, and are best answered by an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney. At The Law Offices of Alan J. Braverman, P.A. we know that you are going through a difficult and emotional time. Since 1973, Mr. Braverman has been providing professional, compassionate representation to clients throughout the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area. Our primary goal is to obtain the outcome you need to move forward confidently with your new life.
Are you considering filing for divorce? Have you been served with divorce papers? We are here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce attorneys.
Significant Elements to Divorce
The state of Florida is a no-fault divorce state. As such, there are only two grounds for divorce:
- Irreconcilable differences where the marriage is irretrievably broken; or
- Mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three years.
When filing for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, you must only prove that a legitimate marriage existed and that the relationship can no longer work as a marriage. Other factors, such as adultery or abandonment, are not taken into consideration for the granting of divorce. However, these circumstances may come into play for the determination of spousal support and the distribution of property.
To dissolve your marriage based on mental incapacity, you must present documentation and testimony by two or more psychiatrists who assert that your spouse’s condition is incurable and with no hopes of future recovery. This ground is rarely used because of the availability of a divorce involving irreconcilable differences.
Once a ground for divorce is established, your Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney will file a petition in circuit court on your behalf. Your spouse is afforded 20 day to file an answer and/or counter complaint. Failure to do so may result in a default judgment for divorce.
If your spouse does not contest your allegations, the court may schedule a hearing for a simplified divorce hearing. However, this is only allowed if both parties are in agreement about all issues of custody and distribution of property. They must also prove willing to give up their right to file an appeal later.
If your spouse does file an answer that contests your petition, the case will continue on a trial path and may entail several different court appearances.
A divorce is often more than the legal ending of a marriage. Property, minor children and finances all play a huge role in an individual’s divorce proceeding. From a financial perspective, the determination of spousal support and property division are the largest factors for consideration. To determine whether spousal support is proper in your situation, as well the appropriate amount, the court will take into consideration a number of different factors, including:
- The standard of living that the parties established throughout the marriage;
- How long the marriage lasted;
- The age of the parties;
- The physical and emotional well being of each party;
- The marital and nonmarital assets of each party;
- The marital and nonmarital liabilities of each party;
- The earning capacity of each spouse, which is determined by education level, vocational skills, work experience and time out of the workforce;
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, such as homemaking, care for minor children, education and assistance given to the other party for career building;
- The retirement assets of each party;
- The tax treatment consequences to both parties in the case of an alimony award;
- All sources of income available to either party; and
- Any other factor necessary to promote fairness.
The other financial factor of a divorce is the distribution of property. The court considers many of the same factors as used for spousal support. In addition, you may need to present evidence that shows how and when the property was accumulated. For example, a house purchased during the marriage with joint funds is considered marital property.
When complicated issues arise, it’s important to have a lawyer who will advocate on behalf of your rights and interests. We’ve successfully handled cases involving the following divorce-related issues:
- Family Law
When you come into our office, you will sit down with one of our divorce attorneys to discuss your situation. We will take the time to answer all of your questions, and will explain the law as it relates to your case. After we’ve given you our honest assessment and expectations, we will work together to determine the next steps to take. Our approach is very hands-on.
Our Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorneys
We understand the emotional and complicated time you are going through. Our goal is to take care of the legal matters, so that you can focus on what matters, your family. When you come in for your consultation, you will sit down with one of our attorneys to discuss your situation. We will take the time to get to know you and understand the issues you are facing. You are more than just a number to us, and you’ll see that in the way that we will dedicate ourselves to your case.
Choosing an attorney to represent your case can be a difficult task. It is important to find someone you can trust, and who will be with you every step of the way. We think personal service is very important when it comes to a legal relationship, and it’s what we know our clients deserve. Our team of Fort Lauderdale family law and divorce attorneys strive to meet all of your legal needs.
We make a point to respond to all communication with prompt and supportive answers. At The Law Offices of Alan J. Braverman, P.A., you’ll receive the personal attention you need.
Cutting Edge Technology
We pride ourselves in being extremely technologically advanced. We utilize the latest software and scanning devices to handle our cases more efficiently and effectively. All of our files are scanned into our computer system. This makes information readily available to us at all times.
While other divorce attorneys may have to go to storage facilities and sift through boxes and boxes of paperwork, we can pull up a file from any of our cases with the touch of a button. At the office, or in court with our laptops, our attorneys are always ready to assist you.
Florida Divorce Laws
The decision about whether to divorce is an intensely personal one. There are obviously emotional considerations, as well as financial concerns, worries about the well-being of children, questions about property division and other anxiety-producing topics. The country’s divorce rate is sitting at well under 50 percent, but that still means that there are thousands of Floridians splitting up annually. The divorce rate for second or subsequent marriages is markedly higher than the rate for first marriages, and with Florida being a “Mecca” for retirees across the nation, that adds even more strain to the state’s busy divorce court docket.
With that in mind, it is a good idea to have at least a basic idea of how the Florida divorce process works, and what you can expect if you plan to end your own marriage. Getting started If you have kids, the Florida government wants to make sure you are well aware of the effect a divorce could have on them.
That is why the state requires a parenting class (sometimes called a “divorce class” or “divorcing parent class”) before a final divorce order is issued.
The class is designed to give parents insight into how children of different ages will likely view the divorce, methods of coparenting that can help smooth the transition, best ways to handle abuse (mental, verbal or physical) during a divorce proceeding, setting custody and visitation arrangements and other topics.
Another key legal point anyone considering filing for divorce in Florida should know: Florida law (Title VI, Chapter 61, Section .021 of the Florida statutes) requires that one of the parties to the divorce (not necessarily the person seeking the divorce) have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing the petition.
After the filing Once a petition for divorce has been filed, there are several different ways in which a resolution can be sought. If the husband and wife are civil and can make decisions on their own, they can work together (with or without the assistance of attorneys) to create their own property settlement, child custody, visitation/parenting time schedule and child support arrangement. This method is both the quickest and the least expensive, but it comes with risks: it is very easy for one party to lie about finances or property value, resulting in that party getting a windfall and the other party not getting a fair share of marital property. Parties can choose to each have their attorney and go to trial, which can drag out the process and make it more expensive if a judge has to make all the decisions on their behalf. Furthermore, having the judge make important decisions about custody and alimony or child support can make the parties feel like they have lost control of their lives, leading to more dissatisfaction with the results. If the couple can commit to working out the terms, there is also the option of mediation or collaborative divorce. In this process, a neutral party (usually an attorney or retired judge) guides the couple past sticking points and helps them reach workable solutions. This often leads to high satisfaction with the final arrangements since the parties helped craft it themselves. Since it also works on an “honor system” where the parties have to agree to be honest about finances, property, custody requests, etc., they feel secure in the result.
Divorcing in Florida: Avoid Common Mistakes
With almost one in two marriages ending in divorce, legal and financial experts are beginning to notice some common and costly mistakes. Missteps include: not seeking the right professional assistance during the divorce process, a focus on finalizing the divorce as soon as possible and not properly reviewing and adjust estate plans after the divorce is finalized.
It may seem counterintuitive, but those who hire family law professionals to help with a divorce can actually save money. The two professionals most likely to benefit those going through a divorce are legal and professional experts. Divorce lawyers can provide assistance in developing a fair divorce settlement, making sure all assets are taken into consideration while a financial expert like a forensic accountant may be needed to help ensure assets divided in the divorce settlement are valued correctly.
When dividing these assets, it is also important to avoid rushing through the process. Focusing on the finish line during a divorce can be dangerous. It can lead to hasty decisions that may negatively impact life after divorce. Take the time to seriously consider large decisions like whether or not to keep the family home. Carefully consider the pros and cons so the decision is not just an emotional response to this difficult process.
Once the divorce is finalized, make sure to update estate plans and insurance beneficiaries. These documents do not automatically adjust to reflect a divorce. This can lead to an ex-spouse remaining as the primary beneficiary. Reach out to insurance providers and change this designation. Review any wills or additional estate planning documents to make sure they are updated.
Florida Divorce Law Basics
Dissolution of marriage in Florida, more commonly known as divorce, requires only that the marriage be “irretrievably broken.” The process begins by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. If both members of the marriage can agree on property distribution issues, they can put together a written agreement and present it to the court.
Often, the most difficult portion of the written agreement is the distribution of property. A divorce settlement deals with the distribution of all marital assets, including cars, houses, retirement plans and bank accounts. Liabilities like mortgages and credit card bills are also subject to distribution.
Under state law, property is distributed equitably, meaning assets and liabilities are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. This allows the court to take various factors into consideration when making its determination. Such factors can include:
- Length of Marriage
- Whether one member supported the other’s advancement in his or her career or educational opportunities
- Any intentional waste after the filing for divorce or two years before filing
Property division determinations may also address issues of alimony payments, child support and child custody agreements.
Those who have minor disagreements on how the property should be split may consider mediation. Mediation is a process that allows the couple to meet with a neutral third party to assist in developing a divorce settlement without the use of a trial. Couples that are unable to reach an agreement are involved in a contested divorce. In these cases, a trial may be needed to reach a final decision.
Determining the best path for a successful divorce can be difficult. If you are considering filing for a divorce or have recently submitted a petition with the court, contact an experienced Florida divorce lawyer to better ensure a favorable outcome.
Planning: an Essential Step of Divorce
Many couples would admit that they have had difficult times during their marriages. People change as they grow older, and in some situations, this can lead to the spouses drifting apart. They may spend a lot of time working on their issues, but, in the end, decide that it might be time to start over.
When having difficulty in their marriage, many people will not know what they should do. They may talk to friends and family, or others who they know that have been through a divorce in the past. They might be afraid to finally move forward because they just do not know what might be best for their specific situation. If a couple has been having arguments about the same issues over and over again, it might be a sign that the relationship is broken. If the spouses went to counseling and the problems still persist, neither side may want to continue with the marriage. Both spouses might be waiting for the other to begin the divorce process.
Once the divorce is filed, the couple will need to be very careful to ensure that they do not make any significant mistakes during the process. They need to be ready for the divorce, which means that they have to gather financial information and other important documents that could be difficult to obtain from the other side later.
Couples who have been married for a substantial period of time might have considerable assets that they will need to divide, including potentially the marital home. This can be a very difficult issue, and the more prepared the couple is, the easier it can be to properly evaluate the value of the couple’s assets.
Divorce is not an easy decision for some people to make. No one wants to feel like they are giving up, and some are reluctant to deal with the stress that will often be a major part of the process. However, you need to be prepared should you eventually decide to move forward. Many people are surprised to learn about some of the things that happen once a divorce is filed, and this can make the situation much more complicated and contentious.
If you decide to move forward with a divorce, your first step should be to discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney. Your divorce lawyer can explain the process to you, and also help you understand the things that you will need to do before you file. This will allow you to protect your interests throughout the process, and help you feel confident that you have someone on your side.
Experienced and Credentialed Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorneys
Our firm was established in 1978. Since then, our Fort Lauderdale divorce attorneys have built a reputation for providing experienced and knowledgeable legal representation. Florida board certified in Marital and Family Law, attorney Alan Jay Braverman is a skilled family law practitioner.
Mr. Braverman is AV-rated* by Martindale-Hubbell, a very prestigious and national recognition. We believe that our extensive experience and accomplished credentials is what makes us unique.
Our Fort Lauderdale family law firm is ready to help you achieve your goals. To schedule a free initial consultation, call 954-945-9529, or toll free at 800-892-0792, or contact us online. We accept all major credit cards.