We Take Your Divorce Seriously.
Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. With the right approach and the representation of an attorney experienced in the nuances of Florida’s divorce laws, you can be confident in the outcome of your case. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we take these matters seriously.
We recognize the tremendous impact that decisions regarding custody, support, and property division can have on your life, which is why we give these matters the weight and attention they deserve. Our Tampa divorce attorneys are here to guide you to the best possible outcome.
Expert Counsel for Every Aspect of Your Divorce:
Any divorce will involve difficult choices that will affect every aspect of your life. Divorce cases are even more challenging when children are involved. Our Tampa divorce lawyers know how to help our clients see the bigger picture and offer counsel based on our professional experience, as well as Florida statutes and legal precedents.
No case is too complex for our divorce attorneys in Tampa. Own a business and want to make sure it is protected from your spouse during a divorce? Are you a homemaker who sacrificed your career so your spouse could pursue theirs? Maybe you have a child with special needs who you want to ensure receives the care he or she needs. No matter the circumstances surrounding your divorce, we commit ourselves to every case and get serious results.
How Does Divorce Work in Florida?
Divorce is sometimes a necessary step for a broken marriage. Legally speaking, Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that either side can file for a divorce without providing a reason, as long as the marriage is considered “irretrievably broken.”
In the context of divorce law in Florida, a marriage is considered “irretrievably broken” when there is a significant and permanent breakdown in the marital relationship
“Irretrievably broken” refers to a situation where the spouses have reached a point where they can no longer reconcile their differences or resolve their marital issues. The term acknowledges that attempts at reconciliation or mediation would be unsuccessful, and continuing the marriage is no longer a feasible option.
Collaborative vs Non-Collaborative Divorce:
In Florida, the divorce process can go in two directions: collaborative or non-collaborative. As these terms suggest, a collaborative divorce is one where you and your spouse (and your attorneys) work together to settle the divorce through negotiation and mediation rather than going through the court system.
Non-collaborative divorce is the conventional method of resolving a divorce through litigation in court. In these divorces, you and your spouse reach a point where you can’t agree on issues like child custody, asset division, or alimony and resolve to have these issues settled by a judge. In these types of divorces, the judge will rely on the evidence and arguments presented by the attorneys. These divorces tend to be more adversarial, taking more time and incurring higher costs compared to a collaborative approach. It often involves:
- Multiple court hearings
- Legal motions
- May even proceed to a formal trial process
The choice between a collaborative and non-collaborative divorce depends on the circumstances and dynamics of your relationship with your spouse. Most divorces start as a collaborative effort and then reach an impasse where the legal system has to be involved. Part of being prepared for this process is understanding how common issues are decided in a Florida divorce.
How Does Child Custody Works in a Tampa Divorce?
One of the most sensitive issues in any divorce is child custody. Deciding where your children will live, go to school, and who will be responsible for them is obviously extremely important to their quality of life. In general, custody decisions in a Tampa divorce are based on the child’s best interests. To that end, Florida has two primary types of child custody: legal and physical.
- Legal custody refers to the responsibility of making important decisions on behalf of your child, like where they’ll go to school and how they’ll be cared for.
- Physical custody revolves around where your child will live and how they’ll spend their time.
In both scenarios, custody can be awarded to one spouse, known as “sole” custody, or divided between both spouses. Florida law holds that in issues of child custody in a divorce, both sides must come up with a “parenting plan” that outlines the specific details of the arrangement, like visitation schedules and decision-making processes.
While child custody is unique to each Tampa divorce, there are certain considerations that will be factored into any decision, whether it’s between the spouses or if a judge has to decide. These include:
- The quality of the child’s relationship with each parent and their ability to provide a stable and caring environment.
- The parents’ ability to work together and maintain a positive co-parenting relationship.
- The physical and mental health of each parent.
- If the child is old enough and mature, their preferences may be taken into account.
- The proximity of the parents’ homes for convenient contact and visitation.
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse, which can have a significant impact on custody decisions.
How Does Alimony Works in a Tampa Divorce?
Another common issue that can happen in a Tampa divorce is alimony, also known as “spousal support.” While not automatically awarded in every divorce, it’s common in most divorces in Tampa, particularly when one spouse is more financially stable or advantaged. When deciding on alimony, two elements must be established:
- One spouse needs financial support
- The other spouse has the ability to provide support.
With those conditions set, many different types of alimony could potentially be awarded, such as:
- Temporary Alimony
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony
- Rehabilitative Alimony
- Durational Alimony
- Permanent Alimony
The actual type of alimony that’s awarded depends on the circumstances that exist between you and your spouse, like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and contributions that both you and your spouse made during the marriage.
It’s important to understand that even with alimony in place, it could change as circumstances change. Thus, staying alert and recognizing any lifestyle or financial changes is key to making sure your interests are protected in any alimony decision.
How Does Asset Division Work in a Tampa Divorce?
Another common yet significant issue in most Tampa divorces is asset division. Florida is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to how assets are divided between you and your spouse. This means that assets are divided in a way that’s fair but not necessarily equal. Several factors influence how marital assets are divided, including:
- The duration of the marriage.
- Each spouse’s present and future earning capacity.
- The property owned by both spouses and how it was acquired.
- Any squandering of assets or financial misconduct.
- Family ties and obligations.
- Tax implications for each party.
- Other factors considered relevant by the court.
Florida law also distinguishes between marital and non-marital property:
Marital property encompasses assets, property, and debts acquired during the marriage, such as the following:
- Marital home
- Joint bank accounts
- Retirement accounts and investments
Non-marital, or “separate” property, refers to any asset you or your spouse owned before marriage. Typically, this includes things like:
- Separate bank accounts
- Inheritances held separately
- Settlement proceeds
- Property acquired after the marriage ends
Typically, the non-marital property remains with the original owner, but it can become marital property if it becomes intertwined with marital assets. Understanding the available assets in a Florida divorce helps in protecting your interests, but the final decision on asset division rests with the court.
In Florida, there is no specific requirement for a separation period to get a divorce. Rather, you can file for a divorce at any time, as long as you believe the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
Generally, you’re entitled to any assets you had prior to your marriage. However, a judge will attempt to divide any marital assets in a fair way, not necessarily 50/50.
The first step in starting a divorce process in Florida is to file with the court. This legal document, known as a “Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage,” initiates the divorce proceedings and provides information about the marriage, children (if any), and desired outcomes.
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What to Expect at Your Divorce Consultation
If you are considering divorce, an initial consultation with our firm could provide you with vital information about the process ahead. We can go over the divorce process as it applies to your unique situation, ensuring you are aware of your rights and have a thorough understanding of the court process. If we accomplish that, your case will run as smoothly as possible.
Even if you and your spouse decide not to divorce at this time, the team at Robert Sparks Attorneys can provide you and your spouse with a plan for the future and helpful guidelines on how to avoid conflict in the future if, later on, the marriage doesn’t work out.
Discussing Case-Specific Aspects of Your Divorce
Just as no two families are identical, no two divorces are the same. You and your spouse might have questions that apply specifically to your unique situation. During your divorce consultation, your attorney will discuss any and all case-specific issues, including relocation, modification of previous divorce orders, division of specific assets and more.
Other important factors you may wish to discuss include:
- Timelines and procedures for your divorce
- The jurisdictional aspect of your Florida divorce
- Child and family issues, such as custody and support
- How your assets and debts are likely to be distributed
- Attorney’s fees (one spouse can pay for the other’s)
- Whether or not alimony would be appropriate
With highly experienced divorce lawyers on the team, Robert Sparks Attorneys is here to provide vital and necessary information that you can use and apply to make your divorce less stressful and complicated. Knowledge is very important, and it is paramount that you educate yourself so that you can make informed decisions and take action when necessary.
Can I Get a Second Opinion On a Current Divorce?
Our divorce lawyers are always happy to provide second opinions to individuals who may already have retained a divorce lawyer, but are unsure if they are getting the best deal. It is in your best interests to ensure that every aspect of your divorce is handled appropriately.
Our team at Robert Sparks Attorneys can give you a second opinion consultation if you have any type of question or concern about your divorce, including if:
- You are filing for divorce pro se (doing it yourself).
- You are filing for divorce and using a different attorney.
- Your son or daughter is the one filing for divorce.
Contact a Tampa Divorce Lawyer Today.
When you meet with one of the divorce lawyers at Robert Sparks Attorneys, you will be able to make sure that the process is going smoothly and as it should be. The Florida legal system can be difficult to navigate; let our experience work for you when you need it most.
The knowledge you will gain in a one-hour consultation with a Tampa divorce attorney is priceless. Discussing your problems and receiving solutions and information on how to face them is invaluable when you are considering a divorce or going through a divorce.