Starting divorce or dissolution proceedings can be tricky.

Each case is unique. You’ll want a Sarasota family lawyer to take you through the process, one who knows Florida’s divorce laws and how to ensure you get a fair and equitable ending to your union.

941 Law Help is ready to help you pursue your divorce. Attorney Michael Fayard will listen to your story and offer compassionate and practical advice.

Types of Divorce in Florida

In Florida, there are several ways to end a marriage. Your circumstances will dictate which method you ultimately choose. Some divorces are relatively simple, while others can be contentious. Having an attorney on your side can speed the process along, especially if your spouse is not cooperating.

In Florida, there are no defenses to divorce. In other words, one party cannot prevent a divorce from happening. They can, however, slow the process down if you do not have counsel that knows how to ensure the case is proceeding timely.

No matter which divorce is right for your situation, Attorney Michael Fayard is prepared to help you through the process to complete your case as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Simplified Divorce

If you and your spouse have no minor children, or if neither is pregnant, you can pursue a simplified divorce. Both partners will reach a financial settlement stating the parties agree on how to split assets, debts, and property, and no one is seeking alimony.

With a simplified divorce, both parties give up their right to trial, but the case will be resolved by either attending a final hearing or by completing specialized documents that are submitted to the court in lieu of a final hearing. If the court accepts the forms, then the divorce will be entered and the case completed.

Uncontested Divorce

If you don’t qualify for a simplified divorce, you and your spouse can pursue an uncontested divorce. You can go through an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse see eye-to-eye on everything, including how to divide your finances, child custody, and child support. An uncontested divorce can be handled efficiently with the help of a Sarasota divorce attorney.

Contested Divorce

When you and your spouse don’t agree on one or more significant issues in the divorce, you may need a contested divorce. Most people think of this type of case when the topic of divorce is discussed. But just because a divorce is labeled “contested,” it does not necessarily mean contentious or nasty. This can be as simple as a disagreement or conflict with one area of the divorce.

Issues that may be causing the disagreement can include:

Typically, assets are divided equally between spouses, but a judge can approve an unequal division after considering the case’s circumstances, like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s individual wealth, both spouse’s income or earning capability, or even if either spouse intentionally destroyed or depleted assets before the divorce.

After considering all aspects of the case, the judge will rule on custody, child support, alimony, and property division.

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will work with attorneys, financial professionals, and other individuals to resolve your issues outside the court system. Collaborative divorce differs from uncontested divorce because each party signs a participation agreement to keep the proceedings out of court.

Couples typically end collaborative divorces by signing a settlement agreement. However, court is still an option if the process doesn’t go as planned.

Military Divorce

Are you or your spouse a military service member? Going through a divorce when one or both parents is on active duty can be tough. There are often delays and complications.

As a veteran himself, Michael understands. Michael served in the Army, the Air Force Reserve, and the Army National Guard. He knows how challenging family matters can be when someone is deployed or restationed far away. Let him help you navigate your unique circumstances.

The Divorce Process in Florida

Understanding your divorce options can help you get started on ending your marriage. You don’t have to prove fault to get a divorce in Florida. In most cases, as mentioned before, there isn’t a mechanism for one spouse to prevent the divorce. The bottom line is that if the marriage is irretrievably broken, then that’s enough to get a divorce in Florida. There is no proof or reasons for divorce required other than it is irretrievably broken.

Divorce Consultation

The divorce process typically starts with a consultation wherein basic information is provided. This information includes details about the marriage, the parties, the assets, the children, and other relevant information. After that information is provided, the pleadings and papers are prepared. These are the formal documents that are required to start a Florida Divorce.

Serving Divorce Papers

The Petitioner’s attorney then has the pleadings and papers served on the other party. The Petitioner is what the person filing the divorce is called. The Respondent is the other party. After the Respondent is served, they have 20 days to file a response. They can file an Answer to the Petitioner or they can file a counter-petition if they are seeking affirmative relief (such as alimony or other spousal support).

Divorce Deadlines

Throughout the case, there are certain deadlines that must be met, including filing mandatory disclosure (financial documents that both parties are required to give each other).

Generally, after the mandatory disclosures, the case is set for mediation. Mediation is required in family law cases in Florida. But sometimes, the parties reach an agreement on all issues before mediation, and the case is settled. If the case does not settle, then it goes to mediation. In which case, it is important to have a Sarasota divorce mediation attorney to help you through the process.

Mediation takes place and the case is either settled or the parties reach an impasse, and the case is then set for trial.

What’s Settled During a Divorce?

Generally, all matters related to the divorce get settled before the case is resolved. No matter what type of divorce you are going through, be it a contested divorce or seeking a collaborative divorce, the court is always available to rule on issues and make the final decision if the parties cannot reach an agreement, including all issues related to money, property and children’s issues such as custody and support.

Having an attorney assist you can ensure equitable splits after a legal separation.

Property Distribution

When a divorce occurs, most couples have assets, debts, and other financial interests that must be split. There can be marital property, which is property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, which means that the other spouse is entitled to a portion of the asset’s value. The two most common assets are a marital home and retirement accounts earned during the marriage.

There is also separate property. Separate Property is acquired prior to the marriage or through means outside of the marriage (such as inheritance). Generally, this property is not included in the property distribution, but it can be used to offset one party’s entitlement.

Talk with a lawyer if you and your spouse disagree on something. Equitable distribution doesn’t mean 50/50; you and your spouse can agree—or the judge can order—for one of you to receive a greater portion of the marital estate.

Spousal Maintenance

Also known as alimony, spousal maintenance can be a contentious issue. In Florida, there are several types of alimony: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent.

These alimony types serve slightly different purposes. You should talk with a lawyer about whether you’ll need financial support from your spouse or whether you’re worried your spouse will ask for alimony. You and your spouse can agree to support, or a judge will award it when it’s appropriate.

Child Custody

When there are shared children in a marriage coming to an end, things can boil over quickly. We would like to think that every parent wants what’s best for their kids, but sometimes they may not be able to agree on how to achieve that goal. Worst yet, some parents may attempt to use their children as leverage in the divorce.

In Florida, parents share physical and legal custody of their children. In normal circumstances, both parents have the right to visit their children, and make decisions about raising the children (such as schools, doctors, or extracurriculars) and a parenting plan may be reached with an agreement or by court order.

Michael Fayard can help you and your spouse negotiate child custody and parenting plans no matter what kind of divorce you are facing. He’s also ready and willing to fight for you to receive legal and physical custody in court if reaching an agreement with your co-parent is impossible or if there are concerns regarding neglect, abuse, alcoholism, or drug use.

Child Support

Based on Florida’s child support guidelines, child support is based on the amount of overnights the child spends with each parent and their respective incomes and expenses. If you and your co-parent have equal time-sharing, the parent with the higher income will usually owe support to the other.

In rare cases, parents can agree to deviate from the state’s calculations. Don’t hesitate to talk with Michael Fayard about how support is calculated.

Quick Advice for Divorcing Couples in Florida

There are many benefits to hiring a Sarasota divorce attorney to help you through this process. But it’s important to prepare for divorce before you hire a lawyer and file. We have noted a variety of tips and divorce mistakes to avoid when going through a divorce.

Here’s some advice you can implement immediately:

Be Careful on Social Media

It’s common for spouses to use social media as evidence in court. Limit or stop posting on social media, particularly if photos, videos, or posts show you partying, dating, or spending a lot of money.

Keep Talk Child-Friendly at Home

If you have children, research an age-appropriate way to talk with them about the divorce. Other than that, don’t discuss the divorce or your spouse with your children. Badmouthing your spouse in front of your children can cause contention during the divorce or even lead to allegations of parental alienation. This conduct can lead to drastic sanctions, including limiting time with the children or leading to supervised visitations.

Gather Financial Documents

To prepare for a divorce, gather documentation of your shared assets and debts, several years’ tax returns, and any other relevant financial information, including retirement savings, investment accounts, and life insurance policies.

Turn to Michael Fayard with Your Sarasota Divorce Questions

Divorce can be a tricky time in your life as you and your partner separate. While you may be hoping for a quick, clean break so you can move forward, divorces are often messy, as either partner makes vindictive decisions to prolong the process. Having an experienced Sarasota divorce lawyer on your side can help simplify the problems.

Michael Fayard at 941 Law Help is a capable divorce attorney, with experience in Florida courts. He’s prepared to help you reach an equitable outcome for your divorce. He can help you sort out property disputes and establish a fair parenting plan.

Call (941) 241-2453 or reach Michael with the online form.

He was able to handle my case and throughout the whole thing keep me informed so I never felt left out of the loop. After everything was fix and settled, he was still available for a few extra questions I had about the wrap up of everything. Overall, I highly recommend." - Justin