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Is there a residency requirement before you can get a divorce in Florida?

Yes. In order to obtain a divorce in Florida, one of the parties must have resided here for at least six months prior to the date of filing a petition for divorce.

Can alimony be awarded while the divorce case is pending?

Yes. The Judge can award temporary alimony while the case is pending. However, certain financial disclosures must be exchanged between the parties before the Judge can evaluate the alimony claim. In many instances, the Judge will require parties to mediate the issue of temporary alimony before a hearing can be set. These requirements may cause some delay before a temporary alimony hearing can be scheduled.

What happens to retirement assets in a divorce?

Marital retirement assets (which includes all vested and non-vested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans) are equally distributed between the parties. This is true regardless of whether they are held only in one party’s name. There are a number of different ways that these assets can be distributed depending on the circumstances of the particular case.

Can one side be required to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees?

Yes. If there is a substantial disparity in the financial positions of the two parties, the Judge can order the spouse with the greater financial ability to pay part or all of the other spouse’s legal fees. However, certain financial disclosures must be exchanged between the parties before the Judge can evaluate the attorney fee issue. In many instances, the Judge will require parties to mediate the issue of attorney’s fees before a hearing can be set. These requirements may cause some delay before a hearing on attorney’s fees can be scheduled.

Can I move out of state with my children?

Florida law has very specific procedures that must be followed before you can move out of state with your children. You must notify the other parent of your intent to relocate, and the other parent must either consent to the relocation or you will have to have a judge authorize the relocation. There are a variety of factors that the judge must consider in determining whether or not to allow the relocation. If you relocate without first getting permission from the other parent or a judge, you will likely be required to move back here until proper procedures have been followed.

How is child support calculated?

Child support is based on a statutory formula. The factors that go into the formula are the respective income of each parent, the number of overnights that the children spend with each parent, the day care expense, and the health insurance expense for the children. Typically, no other factors are considered. However, in exceptional cases (such as where a child has special needs due to a disability), additional factors may be considered. The expenses that a parent may have in addition to child support, such as a mortgage payment, credit card debt, car loan, etc. are not considered in calculating child support.

Has the law recently changed regarding custody?

Yes. The Florida legislature recently rewrote the statutes regarding child custody. They eliminated the use of the terms “custody” and “primary residential parent.” In their place, they use the terms “co-parenting” and “timesharing.” The legislative goal is to promote more equality in co-parenting, although it is still too early to say how this will play out in reality. Under the new legislation, parents must enter into a Parenting Plan Agreement that addresses issues such as decision-making for the children, communication between the parents, the timesharing schedule, and a variety of other parenting issues.

Can my child support continue after my child turns 18?

Under limited circumstances, child support can continue after the age of 18. If your child is still in high school and is performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduating by the age of nineteen, the child support can continue until the child either turns nineteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first. Also, if your child is dependent on you due to a physical or mental incapacity which began prior to the age of eighteen, then child support can continue for so long as the child remains dependent.

My ex-spouse and I cannot agree to a Parenting Plan, or we cannot agree on how to follow a Parenting Plan that we previously agreed to. Is there anything that can be done?

Family law attorneys often work with mental health professionals when issues related to children are hotly contested. The Court can appoint a mental health professional who has been certified as a Parenting Coordinator to assist you. The Parenting Coordinator helps the two parents resolve disputes and makes recommendations to the Court. The Parenting Coordinator typically charges a fee for his/her services, which can be divided between the parties based on the circumstances of the case.

What is “the 40% rule” and how does it apply to child support?

There are two different formulas utilized for calculating child support. One formula applies when the children live most of the time with one parent and visit with the other. The other formula applies when there is “substantial timesharing,” which means that children spend at least 40% of the overnights with the secondary parent. Once the 40% threshold is reached, the child support formula is calculated differently. This typically results in a significant reduction of child support owed to the primary parent.