Divorce is not something that people plan for, or anticipate being a part of their lives. However, it is something that almost everyone has experienced, either personally or as a supportive friend or family member for someone who has gone through the process.
People often wonder or ask us if there is an ideal time for divorce, or, if there is there a bad time for divorce. As long as your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” which is the legal standard necessary for Florida Courts to grant a divorce, the answer to both is the same: no. There is no right or wrong time to get a divorce; however, there are things to be aware of when deciding to proceed.
Division of Assets & Debts
The division of your assets and debts, all of your “stuff,” is part of every single divorce case, and this is called equitable distribution. It is important to understand what items are classified as marital, and are therefore subject to being divided.
The determination of what is marital is made by a date range – the date of your marriage through the date of filing for divorce. It does not matter if the items or debts are incurred in just your name, or just your spouse’s name, or if only your income was used to purchase the item, or only your spouse’s name and credit was used to obtain that loan – the only relevant fact is whether it falls within that date range.
Of course, like all things in the law, there are exceptions. Things like inheritances, premarital accounts with increases during the marriage, and premarital homes with upgrades during the marriage to name a few are not as black and white. Before make any major purchase or incurring any major debt, it is important think about the timing of this new purchase or debt and the timing of a divorce, as it could have a large impact on the distribution of the remainder of your assets and liabilities.
Alimony is always a hot topic in divorce cases, and everyone always wants to know “Will I have to pay alimony?” or “How much alimony will I be able to get?” The answers to these questions are also dependent on when you are getting divorced – mainly how long you have been married.
While the laws are ever-changing, alimony laws included, the general rule is that a marriage that lasted 17 or more years has a presumption of permanent alimony if the relevant financial factors are met. Marriages that lasted 7 or less years are considered short-term marriage, and marriages between 7 and 17 years in length are considered moderate length marriages. While there is not much difference between short-term and moderate-length marriages for alimony laws, if all of the other legal factors exist, and the court is going to order alimony, it is likely that the longer the marriage lasted, the longer the alimony payments will last. Timing is also important, as the current financial situation, or income and expenses, of each party is one of the primary factors the court considers when making an alimony determination.
In summary, while no time is ideal or devastating to initiate the divorce process, there are things to consider before doing so. The events currently taking place in your personal life, and choices you make could seriously impact the outcome of your case, and it is important to fully understand the consequences – both positive and negative.
At Robert Sparks Attorneys, our divorce and family law team is available to speak with you about a potential case and issues specific to your situation. Call or contact us online to learn how we can help.