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Helping Families For Over 15 Years

Family Law & Divorce FAQ

Get answers from our Jacksonville family law and divorce lawyers by reading our frequently asked questions. To discuss your particular case with us in a free, initial consultation, do not hesitate to call today at (904) 770-3141.

The Divorce Process

What steps are involved in the divorce process?

If you are looking at getting a divorce, the first thing you should do is contact an attorney to find out what your rights are and what you are entitled to. When pursuing divorce, the first paperwork you will file is called a “petition for dissolution of marriage,” which is served on one of the parties. The party who receives the petition then has 20 days to answer that paperwork; he or she will file responsive pleadings, asking what he or she wants the court for.

There is then 45-60 days of discovery, during which time you and your spouse will be disclosing financial paperwork. Once all the financial paperwork is disclosed, the next step is mediation. If you settle at mediation, there will just be a short final hearing. If you don’t settle at mediation, you will go to trial 2-3 months later. If custody is at issue, there will be about 3-4 months of a custody evaluation, which we call a “social investigation” in Florida.

How long does a divorce take?

A divorce will take anywhere from 3-6 months as long as everyone is compliant during the discovery process. If custody is an issue, then you would consider another 3-4 months on top of that timeline.

Is mediation required during a divorce?

In Duval, Clay, Nassau, and St. John’s counties, mediation is required before going to trial.

Can I change attorneys in the middle of my Florida divorce case?

Yes, you can change attorneys in the middle of your divorce case if you’re not happy with your current attorney. It does require a court to enter an order that designates a new attorney as your attorney of record.

Can I make my spouse repay the money he cleaned out of my bank account?

Yes, you can ask for the court to order the other spouse who has depleted all the marital assets from the marital account to return those proceeds. Because Florida is an equitable distribution state, you and your spouse are legally entitled to an equal share of your marital property, unless the court determines otherwise.

Am I considered legally divorced in Florida if my marriage was annulled?

No. In Florida, if your marriage was annulled, you are not considered legally divorced. It will be as though the marriage never occurred.

Can an out-of-state divorce be enforced in Florida?

Yes. An out-of-state divorce decree can be enforced in Florida and it also can be modified. But in order to receive modifications, you are required to be a Florida resident. Additionally, if children are a part of this modification and enforcement, they need to be Florida residents as well.

Can I go back to my maiden name after my divorce?

Yes. In Florida you can ask the court to restore your maiden name as part of the divorce.

Child Support & Custody

How does the judge calculate child support?

In Florida, when you calculate child support, there are several factors that the court considers. First, how much is the gross income from both parties? Second, whether there’s any health insurance costs for the child or children. Third, if there’s any extended day, summer camp, or daycare costs for the child. And last, how many overnights the parties have.

Can I ask for a modification to my child support order?

Yes, you can modify child support at any time. When you run the child support calculation, it deviates up or down 15% or $50. The court will only grant a modification if they determine that a “substantial change in circumstances” has taken place, such as the paying parent’s income decreasing or the receiving parent’s income increasing.

What factors does a court consider when determining child custody?

The court considers many factors when determining child custody. They are called the “best interest of the child” factors under Chapters 61.13(3) of the Florida statutes. These factors include each parent’s relationship with the child prior to the divorce, their life circumstances, their ability to financially support the child, and more.

Which parent is more likely to be granted sole custody?

In Florida, when the parties are not married, the woman has priority for custody under the guardianship statutes. When you’re looking at a divorce case, the courts are gender neutral with regards to which parent has custody.

What is the difference between sole custody and shared custody?

In Florida, sole parental responsibility is when one person is making all the decisions regarding the child’s education, religion and healthcare. In shared parental responsibility, both parties are jointly making these decisions.

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