Deciding to get a divorce can be difficult. Realizing that divorce is right for you and your spouse can bring up feelings such as sadness, anger, and uncertainty.
In addition, you are worried about the details of actually getting divorced. Should I hire an attorney? How long will the process take? How do I file?
The skilled Pensacola divorce lawyers at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon can answer these questions and any other questions you may have about filing for divorce.
Deciding to File For Divorce
Whether or not you should file for divorce depends on your specific situation and your relationship with your spouse. While sometimes, married couples are able to overcome tensions and disagreements over time or with outside assistance through marriage counseling, this is not always the case.
It simply may not be possible for you to stay married to your spouse and still be happy. While divorce is not right for every couple, you should not stay married simply because you are nervous about the divorce process.
A compassionate Pensacola divorce attorney can help make the process much less stressful. You can even discuss the possibility of getting divorced with a divorce lawyer in Pensacola, FL, so you can get a better idea of what to expect.
Some things you might want to consider when deciding whether you want to file for divorce are:
- Your health and safety—If your spouse is physically or emotionally abusive, your health and safety should always come first.
- Your financial situation—After a divorce, you may have to take on more expenses than you had when you were married.
- The well-being of your children—Would your children benefit from reduced conflict in the home after a divorce?
These are just a few of the factors you should consider when deciding whether divorce is the right option.
Types of Divorce
In Florida, there are two main types of divorce: simplified divorce and regular divorce.
A simplified divorce, as the name suggests, makes the divorce process simpler and faster when both spouses want a divorce. To get a simplified divorce, there must be no minor children from the marriage, and neither spouse can be pregnant.
Both spouses must complete paperwork describing their property and finances as well as an agreement about how property shall be divided. A judge will hold a final divorce hearing and finalize the divorce.
A regular divorce is not necessarily complicated. Regular divorce can be either contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree on all aspects of the divorce.
This includes issues such as property division and child custody and visitation. You and your spouse then enter into a marriage settlement agreement that states the terms you have agreed upon.
In a contested divorce, there are one or more issues that you and your spouse cannot resolve. Contested divorce cases can be settled in a variety of ways. The most widely known resolution is when a judge decides the contested issue at trial. However, alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation or settlement, are much more common.
If your divorce is contested, it is a good idea to hire a divorce lawyer in Pensacola. An attorney can help you negotiate with your spouse or argue your case in court.
Common Issues When Filing for Divorce
Each divorce involves different contested issues. Some issues are more complicated and take more time to resolve than others. Below are some of the common issues that cause disagreement among couples seeking divorce.
In a Florida divorce, property is divided according to the concept of equitable division. This means that a judge will determine a fair division of property acquired during the marriage.
The judge will consider factors such as each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the property, each spouse’s income and economic circumstances, the length of the marriage, and more.
The judge will also equitably divide a couple’s debts during the divorce process. As with property division, the court may not divide debts equally between the two spouses. The higher earning spouse may be allocated a larger portion of any debt acquired during the marriage.
Many couples disagree over property division. Certain items of property may mean more to you than others. A common item of property that is the cause of contested issues is the marital home.
The judge will award the marital home according to what is most equitable based on all the facts. Occasionally, a judge will order the couple to sell the home and split the proceeds.
A divorce attorney in Pensacola, FL, can help you work out the property division agreement that is best for you. A skilled attorney will know how to handle valuation and how to prioritize your best interests when negotiating a property division agreement.
Child custody in Florida includes both parenting time and parental responsibility. Parenting time is the time that parents spend with a child, sometimes called visitation.
Courts can divide parenting time evenly, award it mostly to one parent, or award it exclusively to one parent. Parental responsibility is the right to make decisions about the child’s life, health, and well-being. Such decisions include where the child will go to school and major medical decisions.
The judge will award both parental responsibility and parenting time based on the child’s best interests. If there is evidence of child abuse or neglect by one spouse, that spouse may not receive custody rights.
Florida courts also consider factors such as each parent’s ability to provide stability and routine to the child, each parent’s financial ability to meet the child’s needs, and, if the child is old enough, the child’s preferences.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Alimony is designed to allow one spouse to adjust to covering their expenses with one income instead of two. Florida courts can award different types of alimony based on the situation. Most forms of alimony in Florida are temporary.
One spouse makes payments for a finite length of time, whether that while the divorce case is pending or while the receiving spouse completes job training or a degree.
In rare cases, a court may award permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is typically reserved for cases where one spouse is disabled and unable to earn enough money to support themself. It can also be awarded if one spouse has primary responsibility for a child with a disability.
Other Family Law Issues
The law offices of Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon handle a variety of family law issues aside from divorce.
Our attorneys can help adoptive parents complete all of the necessary paperwork and other requirements for an adoption. We also represent birth parents throughout the adoption process. Adoption law can be complicated, and we are here to work with you throughout the entire process.
If you or someone you love is a victim of domestic violence, do not hesitate to seek help. Our attorneys can help with protection in the form of restraining orders and protective orders for domestic violence victims. We will also fight diligently to represent sufferers of domestic violence who press charges against their attacker.
Our lawyers can help you establish paternity in order to protect your custody or visitation rights.
How Will a Divorce Lawyer Help Me?
It is important to hire a Pensacola Divorce Lawyer for any contested issues in your divorce. You will have to support your position for any contested issues that go before a judge.
A lawyer with experience handling divorce cases can help you gather evidence and make the best argument within the law for your position.
If your spouse has a lawyer and you do not, you may be at a significant disadvantage. Hiring a divorce attorney can improve your satisfaction with your final divorce agreement.
A divorce lawyer in Pensacola can also help you decide how to proceed with your divorce case. Depending on your financial resources, your goals for the case, and how quickly you want to finalize your divorce, options such as settlement or mediation may suit your needs better than a trial.
An attorney can listen to the details of your case and help evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each option.
If You Have Questions, We Have Answers
Contact the law offices of Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon today to get all your divorce questions answered. Our attorneys will work passionately to exceed your expectations no matter what your case entails. We have been serving clients like you for over one hundred years, and we are ready to help.
The attorneys at ESC Law are ready to answer these and other questions.
How Long Until My Divorce Is Final?
The length of time between filing for divorce and receiving a judge’s signature on a finalized divorce agreement varies. It depends on all the details of your case.
Courts usually finalize uncontested divorces much more quickly than contested divorces. The more contested issues there are in your case, the longer it is likely to take. When you discuss your case with an attorney, they may be able to give you a better idea of how long your case will take.
Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer?
You do not need to hire a lawyer to file for divorce. In fact, if you are seeking a simplified divorce or if you and your spouse agree on all of the divorce issues, it may not be necessary for you to hire an attorney. However, as mentioned above, if your divorce has contested issues, a divorce attorney in Pensacola, FL, can help you achieve better results.
How Much Does Divorce Cost?
The cost of your divorce includes filing and court fees as well as attorney fees if you hire a lawyer. While not hiring a lawyer certainly keeps the bottom line of your divorce lower, it can cost you in the long run. If you do not hire a lawyer, you may be less likely to receive an optimal property division. You may also end up back in court to try to amend your divorce agreement.
When you contact a family law attorney, make sure you discuss costs up front. Your lawyer should tell you how they structure their fee agreements. Some can even give you an estimated total cost.