Orlando Divorce Attorney
Compassionate assistance from an Orlando divorce law firm
Based in Orlando, divorce attorney Steve W. Marsee represents clients through every step of the divorce process, from filing the initial paperwork to handling complex issues such as spousal support, child custody and property distribution. Along with being one of the most experienced divorce attorneys in Orlando, Mr. Marsee is a Florida Supreme Court certified Marital and Family Law Mediator. Whenever possible, he works with his clients to resolve sensitive family law issues through negotiation, which often leads to amicable and workable divorce agreements. However, if litigation becomes necessary, he is an aggressive trial attorney who does not hesitate to zealously advocate for his clients’ interests in the courtroom. Contact our experienced Orlando divorce attorney for assistance today.
The divorce process in Florida
Divorcing spouses must meet many legal requirements to dissolve their marriage in Florida. To meet the state’s residency requirement, one of the parties must have resided in the state for a minimum of six months before filing the petition; then, the dissolution of marriage petition may be filed in the county in which either or both spouses reside. The parties’ petition must state the appropriate grounds upon which the dissolution is based. The appropriate grounds are those that the parties agree on and can substantiate, or those that the filing spouse wants to prove in court. Two grounds for divorce are recognized in Florida:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken.
- One of the parties is mentally incapacitated. However, dissolution will not be granted until the party alleged to be incapacitated has been deemed to be so for a period of at least three years.
After you file the petition, the court assigns a case number and assumes jurisdictional rights to consider and grant orders pertaining to such accompanying issues such as property distribution, child support, child custody and visitation rights.
The primary documents in any divorce are the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Under Florida law, these documents are essential; however most divorces require additional documents, such as a Marital Settlement Agreement, a Family Law Financial Affidavit and a Final Disposition Form. As an Orlando divorce attorney, Mr. Marsee possesses a thorough understanding of divorce filing procedures and documentary requirements, and he assesses what exactly needs to be done, drafts the documents, submits the completed paperwork and finalizes the proceedings as required to expedite the divorce proceeding.
Orlando Divorce Laws & Understanding Your Rights
Each state has its own specific divorce laws, which are based in statutes and case laws that protect your divorce rights. Acquiring a basic understanding of a few key Florida divorce laws can enable you to work with your lawyer and make informed decisions about your divorce. At Steve W. Marsee, P.A., we work closely with clients by explaining how relevant laws apply to their case and offering them trusted legal guidance, contact our experienced Orlando divorce attorney today.
Residency laws for Florida divorce
One of the first divorce laws you must consider when obtaining a divorce is whether you meet Florida’s residency requirements. To file a divorce petition in Florida, you you must be a resident for six months prior to the filing date. When filing the dissolution of marriage petition, you or your spouse must file in the county where either or both of you reside.
Laws that establish divorce grounds
There are two grounds for divorce in Florida:
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage – Irretrievable breakdown means the the couple cannot reconcile their differences despite counseling or other attempts to re-establish their relationship. When one spouse argues that the marriage is not irretrievably broken because no substantial attempts have been made to reconcile, the judge may order mediation or counseling to see whether the marriage can be saved. However, when domestic violence is a factor, judges do not have the legal authority to order mediation if it jeopardizes a spouse’s safety.
- Mental incapacity – Mental incapacity means that a judge has declared one spouse to be mentally incapable for at least three years prior to filing for divorce.
What is an uncontested divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce – child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division. Couples may arrive at a divorce agreement by themselves or through the help of an Orlando divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys often use mediation or negotiation to help couples settle their issues. Steve Marsee is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator and skilled negotiator.
After the attorney draws up a marital settlement agreement and schedules a final hearing with the court, Florida uncontested divorces usually proceed very quickly. Aside from being less stressful and moving quickly, uncontested divorces are far less expensive than litigated divorces. Especially during tough economic times, couples seek more affordable divorces, and the majority of divorces in the United States today are settled outside of court. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney in Orlando ensures that your rights and interests are protected.
What is a contested divorce?
A contested divorce occurs when the spouses cannot agree on the divorce terms. Usually one or more issues are in dispute. For example, perhaps the couple cannot agree on the type of custody for their children. They may disagree on how their assets should be divided or on the value of a family-owned business or other property. Whatever the unresolved issue and whatever methods used to resolve them, in a contested divorce, spouses arrive at an impasse. Consequently, they must take their divorce matters to court and allow a judge to decide for them.
A formal trial process begins, with each spouse represented by an Orlando divorce attorney. Once a divorce goes to trial, it may take months or years before reaching a final decree. Considerable expense may be involved.
If trial cannot be avoided, hiring a competent and experienced divorce attorney is the best way to save on costs. Mr. Marsee is an aggressive trial lawyer that protects his clients’ interests. He treats opposing counsel and the spouses they represent with dignity and respect, and works efficiently and effectively to resolve your matters in the most timely way possible.
Laws regarding mediation and resolution of contested issues
Based on Florida law, when you or your spouse contest parental issues ― such as child support, the primary residence or visitation ― the judge may order both spouses to mediation in an attempt to settle your differences outside of court. When you reach a settlement agreement, the mediator prepares a written consent order that expresses the agreement reached, submits it to your attorney for review and your divorce attorney then submits it to the court for approval. A court-approved consent order has the same authority for enforcement as a court order based on a judge’s ruling.
Property distribution and alimony laws in Florida
Certain Florida divorce laws apply to property distribution and alimony. Florida statutes require property division based on equitable distribution, which does not divide property 50/50 like community property states do, but divides it according to what the court deems as fair. Judges base their property distribution decisions on a number of factors listed in Florida statutes, such as spouses’ contributions to the marriage, marriage duration and economic circumstances, to name a few.
Florida statutes also allow courts to award different types of alimony based on similar factors as the ones used in equitable distribution. Examples of criteria the court evaluates for alimony include whether adultery contributed to the marriage breakdown, a spouse’s inability to work or lack of income sources.
Orlando Divorce FAQs
Below are answers to questions frequently encountered by Orlando family law attorney, Steve Marsee as he advises and represents clients in divorce and related matters, such as child custody and alimony payments. If you are contemplating a divorce and have questions about the process, or if you are in the midst of divorce proceedings and need advice and representation, contact the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee for immediate assistance.
What is the procedure for divorce in Florida?
The divorce process begins when one spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. This petition must be filed in the county where at least one of the spouses resides (at least one of the spouses must have lived in Florida for at least six months prior to filing the petition, in order to satisfy the residency requirement). The petition must allege the grounds for the divorce, but it is not required to blame one spouse for bad acts or other misconduct. In most cases, a “no-fault” divorce may be granted on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, without blaming either spouse for the breakdown of the marriage. Another ground for divorce is mental incapacity, which can apply if one of the spouses has been judged by a court to be incapacitated for at least three years before the petition is filed.
Once the petition and answer have been filed, the judge may make temporary orders on matters such as custody and support. A hearing date will be set, and the parties can use the interim time to prepare their case. Unless the spouses agree between themselves, the judge will decide at trial how to divide the marital property, whether to award alimony, and matters related to the children, such as parenting time and child support. Whether negotiating a settlement or litigating a contested divorce, competent legal advice is essential to a positive outcome.
What if one parent needs to move out of state for a job or other personal reasons?
A relocation out of state or a significant distance from the other spouse may require modification of certain domestic relations orders, such as the parenting plan. A parent should not try to relocate out of state with the children without first consulting with an attorney and determining whether court action may be required.
How does the judge decide whether to grant alimony in a divorce?
Alimony is not automatic but depends upon the consideration of a variety of factors, including:
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The financial resources of each party, including their earning capacity
- The division of marital property
- The contribution each party made to the marriage, such as managing the household or taking care of the children so the other spouse could obtain education or advance a career
- All sources of income available to the parties
Given the discretion of the judge in considering all of these factors, it is important to have a knowledgeable and skilled divorce attorney prepare and present a persuasive case if you are seeking or challenging an alimony award.
What are the different types of alimony and what do they mean?
There are six different types of alimony which may be awarded in a Florida divorce:
- Permanent – sometimes awarded after long-term or medium-length marriages, permanent alimony allows a non-working spouse to continue at the same standard of living experienced in the marriage
- Temporary – payment of support from the time the divorce petition is filed until the final entry of judgment
- Bridge-the-gap – a short period of alimony (up to two years) to ease the transition for an ex-spouse
- Rehabilitative – provides support according to a specific plan of rehabilitation showing it is necessary to allow a former spouse to become self-supporting through education, training or work experience
- Lump-sum – as the name suggests, this is a one-time payment of support; this may be done to offset an inequality in the property settlement
- Durational – appropriate for marriages of shorter length, this is the payment of support for a set period of time, as opposed to a permanent award
Consult a skilled Orlando divorce attorney
From his Orlando divorce law firm, Steve W. Marsee assists clients with all of their divorce issues. Contact our experienced Orlando divorce attorney today for a consultation.