Family Law

Diligent Divorce Attorneys Helping Brandon Residents

Going through a divorce is often an emotional time, with many important decisions to consider regarding the future of your life and those of your family members. Deciding how to divide property, where children should reside, who will be responsible for important decisions in their lives, and what financial support is needed are all things to consider when dissolving a marriage. The divorce lawyers at The Law Offices of Michael J. Owen know how stressful this process can be, and we are dedicated to working with clients in Brandon and the surrounding communities to determine what choices suit their needs and goals.

Dissolving a Marriage in Florida

Florida is a ‘no-fault’ divorce state, meaning the court does not require either party to provide a reason for the split. The bigger concern for a family court is the separating couple’s plan for the future. Either spouse may file for divorce as long as one of them has resided in the state for six months or more. In addition to an ordinary proceeding for dissolution of marriage, Florida allows for filing of simplified dissolution, which leads to a faster resolution. Simplified dissolutions are available for couples that have reached an agreement on all property and debts, have no minor children, and are not arranging alimony.

In Florida, the courts follow the doctrine of equitable distribution when dividing assets and debts between separating spouses. This means that, without a prior agreement, all marital property will be divided equally between each person, unless the situation calls for a different distribution method. The court will consider the following factors when determining how to divide property:

  • The economic status of each spouse, such as whether either is facing bankruptcy
  • Duration of marriage
  • Contributions by each spouse, including child care and education
  • Spousal contributions to each other’s education or career
  • Either spouse’s desire to retain either a family business or the family home

Assets are categorized either as marital or separate property in divorce proceedings. Typically, any assets acquired during the course of a marriage are considered marital property and those that were owned by one spouse prior to the marriage are considered separate, and thus not subject to equitable division. Inheritances and gifts by one spouse to the other, received during marriage, are also typically classified as individual property.

Spousal and Child Support

Spousal support, also known as alimony, may be available to a spouse who shows financial support is necessary in order to maintain the same quality of life that he or she had during the marriage. Alimony is awarded to a spouse who shows his or her own need as well as the ability of the other spouse to pay. A court will examine an array of factors in setting an alimony award amount, including the couple’s standard of living during the marriage, adultery by either spouse, the marriage’s length, and both spouses’ financial resources and earning capacities.

In Florida, both parents are financially responsible for any minor children involved in a divorce. Courts award child support based upon factors set out by statute, including how many children a couple has, a couple’s income, child daycare and healthcare expenses, and custody arrangements. Retroactive child support may also be awarded if parents were separated for over two years before filing a child support petition occurred.

A modification to a spousal or child support order may be allowed in some instances. For a change to a support order to be approved, the petitioning spouse or parent must show a permanent, unanticipated, and substantial shift in circumstances. Some examples of such a change include job loss, disability, termination of daycare, or a 15 percent change in income. There is no retroactivity applied to a modification of support order, so filing a request as soon as possible is advised.

Seek Guidance on Your Family Law Matters from a Riverview Lawyer

When a divorce becomes complicated, having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference. The family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael J. Owen compassionately and zealously work for our clients in Riverview and the surrounding area, including Tampa and the rest of Hillsborough County. Please contact our office online or call 813-502-6768 today to make sure your interests are protected.