Custody:Is it true that the law changed as to custody and that the parents will now have to have split or 50/50 custody. No. Florida Divorce Laws have changed, but the new laws do not require 50/50 time sharing of children. There was a significant law change in regard to child custody and timesharing that took effect on October 1, 2008, but that law does not necessarily translate to equal time. The Court is looking to reduce the fight over primary residential rights and now wants people to focus on how they will share time with the children instead of fighting over the label of primary residential parent. This is different from mandatory 50/50 time sharing of children. The Court must still look to the best interest of the child to determine how time will be shared between the parents. Some judges may start with a 50/50 plan in mind and others will do as much as they can to help equalize the time, but rarely does a 50/50 splint work to give the kids the stability that they need. The fight over time sharing is still one of the hardest issues for parents or judges to settle. Regardless, of the change, the Divorce Court will want the parents to work with the co-parent to develop a time sharing parenting plan because most judges believe that the parents working together are the best judge of what is in the best interest of the child. To evaluate the specifics of your case contact your Tampa divorce attorney.
Property:I am up-side-down or have negative equity in my home, how do we divide the property? If you owe more than your house is worth, the court will typically agree with any agreement that you and your spouse may decide upon. Options that have worked are that the property is treated as an asset and the mortgage is treated as a liability and each item is divided accordingly. Other times the property is sold and each side will pay a portion of the loss at closing. More often than not, the property will be either paid by one spouse that will continue to live in the home, or the house will be sold via short sale, where the bank will work with the parties and cover the loss. The latest trend for the Court is for the Divorce Court to order one side to pay the mortgage, until the house is sold. Once sold any reduction in principal will be credited to the paying spouse, and the remainder evenly split (This change is based on the case Kelley v Kelley and is now called Kelley Credits.)
a. How do you start an action for divorce or separation in Tampa?An action for divorce or annulment is started by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Thereafter, the Petition must be served personally on your spouse and an affidavit of personal service must be filed in court.
b. What is a summons?A Summons is a legal document which gives notice to your spouse (the Respondent) that an action was started.
c. What is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage?The Petition is a legal document in the action for divorce or annulment. It contains the specific details and reasons for the relief requested, including your grounds for divorce or annulment; it also contains other requests such as child custody, visitation, child support and alimony, equitable distribution of marital property, health insurance, life insurance, payment of legal fees and experts’ fees, exclusive possession of the marital residence, orders of protection, etc.
d. What happens after my spouse is served with the summons?You start the divorce action by serving a summons and a verified petition and your spouse has 20 days to serve his or her answer to your petition. The Answer may also contain counterclaims against you. You have 10 days to reply to the counterclaim.
e. Do I have a right to see my spouse’s financial records?In Tampa, both spouses have the right to complete Financial Disclosure as to the other spouse’s income, assets and expenses before the case can proceed to trial or amicable settlement negotiations.
f. How do I prove my divorce case?Whatever ground, or reasons you rely on to file for divorce, it will have to be proved. The evidence necessary to prove a certain ground is established by prior cases. If your spouse contests the action for divorce, there must be a trial or hearing at which at least one witness (it may be you) will have to testify about your allegations. Florida does not require much proof that the marriage is irretrievable broken and will often take the parties statement about the condition of the marriage as proof.
g. What are the grounds for a divorce in Tampa?A party must show that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that irreconcilable differences exist between the parties. This is a very low burden to prove.
h. Am I required to reside in Tampa before I can begin my divorce action?There are a number of factors to consider in regard to venue and jurisdiction, but generally a case is proper in Florida if you reside in Florida for six month prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage. A case is proper in Hillsborough when your resided as husband and wife last in the county.
I. How long will it take to get divorced in TampaA simple uncontested divorce can be processed within 30-90 days. A complex contested divorce action, involving contested custody, support, valuation and property issues can take from 6-9 months or longer.