Family Law Attorneys in Clearwater, FL
Law Office of Johnny D. Drizis P.A. is a boutique law firm focusing in protecting father’s rights and the rights of the children. Many time fathers come in and don’t realize they have a right to spend equal time with their kids. Parents are parenting partners, and our divorce attorneys work for what is best for the children.
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Collaborative Divorce
- Contested Divorce
- Differences in Divorce & Separation
- Dissolution of Marriage
- Divorce Expert Witnesses
- Domestic Violence Injunctions
- Equitable Distribution
- Evaluating a Divorce Attorney
- Fees & Costs for Divorce
- Grounds for Divorce
- High-Asset Divorce
- Marital Agreements
- Marital & Non-Marital Assets
- Mediation Benefits
- Parental Responsibility & Custody
- Postnuptial Agreements
- Property Division
- Settlement Agreements
- Steps for Filing a Divorce
- Time-Sharing (Custody) Evaluations
- Types of Divorce
- Uncontested Divorce
- Visitation Rights
A divorce, referred to in some states as a dissolution of marriage, is a decree by a court that a valid marriage no longer exists. A divorce leaves both parties free to remarry. A judgment of divorce (the formal paper issued by the court) usually provides for division of property and makes arrangements for child custody and support, if applicable.
Although divorces may be emotionally contentious, most divorces (probably more than 95%) do not end up in a contested trial. Usually the parties negotiate and settle such things as division of property, spousal support, and child custody between themselves, often with an attorney’s help.
Unhappy Couple – Family Law
Sometimes parties reach an agreement by mediation, with a trained mediator who tries to help the husband and wife identify and accommodate common interests. The parties then present their negotiated or mediated agreement to a judge. Approval of a mediated agreement is virtually automatic if the agreement appears to meet a minimal standard of fairness. If parties are unable to agree about property, support, and child-parenting times, they may ask the court to decide one or more of those issues.
A threshold requirement for obtaining a divorce in most states is residency or domicile of one or both parties who are to be divorced. “Residency” refers to the state in which a person lives; “domicile” refers to the state that the person regards as “home.”
Usually the state of a person’s residency and domicile are the same, but sometimes they can be different. For example, a couple may reside four months each year in the state of their “summer home,”? but regard another state where they spend the rest of the year as their true home (and that state would be the state of their domicile).
Residency (or domicile) requirements vary. A few states have no residency requirement. That means a person can arrive in a state and seek a divorce on the same day. Residency requirements of other states range from six weeks to one year; In Florida, six months is the time period. In states with a residency requirement, a party must have lived in the state for the specified period before a divorce can be granted.
The party seeking a divorce must state a ground for divorce in the papers filed with the court. The grounds may be based on no-fault or fault, depending on the state. All states now offer no-fault divorces, although some states require a long period of separation before a no-fault-divorce is granted. Approximately thirty-two states also offer fault-based grounds as an additional option.
A no-fault divorce is a divorce in which neither the wife nor husband blames the other for breakdown of the marriage. There are no accusations necessary to obtain a divorce ”” no need to prove “guilt”? or “fault.”? Common bases for a no-fault divorce are “irreconcilable differences,”? “irretrievable breakdown,”? or “incompatibility.”? As those terms imply, the marriage is considered to be over, but the court and the legal documents do not try to assign blame.
Another common basis for a no-fault divorce is that the parties have lived separately for a certain period of time, such as for six months or a year, with the intent that the separation be permanent.
Over the last forty years, “no-fault”? has replaced “fault”? as the dominant basis for obtaining a divorce. No-fault divorces are considered a more humane and realistic way to end a marriage. Husbands and wives who are divorcing usually are suffering enough without adding more fuel to the emotional fires by trying to prove who-did-what-to-whom. The laws of no-fault divorce recognize that human relationships are complex and that it is difficult to prove that a marriage broke down solely because of what one person did.
Some critics of no-fault divorces are concerned that an economically dependent spouse may not be adequately protected when it is so easy for the other spouse to obtain a divorce. The critics argue that no-fault divorces result in lower awards of property and support to economically dependent spouses than fault-based divorces. Proof of cause-and-effect on this issue is far from certain.
In the approximately thirty-two states that allow divorces based on fault (in addition to no-fault divorces), the grounds for fault-based divorces vary. Here is a list of the possible grounds:
- Physical cruelty
- Mental Cruelty
- Attempted Murder
- Habitual Drunkenness
- Use of Addictive Drugs
- Impotency (Usually Unknown to the Partner at the Time of Marriage)
- Infection of One’s Spouse With Venereal Disease.
Tim and Courtney have been married for eight years. They live in a rental apartment and have one child. They each work outside the home and earn $40,000 per year. They have decided to divorce, but their break up is comparatively amicable. They agree between themselves about how to divide the property and debts they have. With the help of a court-affiliated mediator, they have agreed to a joint custody arrangement with their child. Do Courtney or Tim need a lawyer to handle the divorce?
An opening question when faced with a legal problem is: “Is it necessary to hire an attorney?’ The answer — as you probably can guess — is: “It depends.’ The need for an attorney varies with the situation. Many factors should be considered. Among them:
If you have been served with a pile of legal papers from someone who is suing you and you don’t understand what the papers mean or what you should do next, you should consult an attorney. If you do understand the legal issues and the steps you need to take, your need for an attorney may be less.
The old adage goes, “A person who represents himself has a fool for a client.’ Much of the time (maybe most of the time) that is true, but some people are good at representing themselves. A key issue in deciding to represent yourself instead of hiring a lawyer is your level of emotional involvement and ability to take a detached view of the controversy. If you are very angry at the other party (such as in a bitterly contested divorce or contested adoption), it is best to have independent legal help to present the case in an organized, professional way. If you can keep a lid on your emotions and present logical arguments in negotiations or in court, then you may be able to represent yourself effectively. If you already have a lawyer, you may want to consider hiring another lawyer — not for full representation, but for a second opinion. Just as patients often want a second opinion before undertaking major medical treatment, it can be prudent to seek a second legal opinion before taking a major legal action that could impact your life for years to come.
Divorce should be your last option, and we encourage you to consider all avenues to reconcile. We suggest counseling with a pastor, priest, or other professional. Additional suggested help resources are:
- I Promise by Dr. Gary Smalley
- Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
- The Power of a Praying Husband by Stormie Omartian
- The 10 Best Decisions Couple Can Make by Bill and Pat Farrel
Schedule a consultation with our family law attorneys and know you’re in
goods hands. Contact us at (727) 942-1224 in Clearwater, Florida.