Do you need to hire a divorce lawyer?
The answer is most likely, yes. In almost every divorce, with some exceptions, the parties would benefit greatly from hiring a divorce lawyer. The following general scenarios are common examples of situations in which a divorce lawyer is HIGHLY recommended. If one or more of the statements below apply to you, I strongly urge you to contact a divorce lawyer.
- The parties have minor children together.
- The parties have been married for a significant length of time. Florida Statutes classifies length of marriage as follows: under 7 years is a short term marriage; between 7 and 17 years is a moderate length marriage; over 17 years is a long term marriage. Each category provides for a different legal analysis with respect alimony.
- The parties have assets. (e.g. marital home, cars, boats, retirement accounts, pensions.)
- One or both parties have a substantial income.
Common misconceptions many clients have:
- The act of one or both parties hiring a divorce attorney means that the divorce has become nasty or bitter.
- The truth is that although some divorces are bitter and highly contested, hiring a lawyer is usually not the cause of this. Even if the parties agree on most of the issues and the divorce process goes smoothly, attorneys are still necessary for many reasons; for example, to ensure a proper Marital Settlement Agreement or Consent Final Judgment is drafted and signed by the parties, or to ensure that each party receives their equitable share of the marital assets, etc.
- We pretty much agree on everything, our divorce is simple and uncontested.
- In Florida, this is called a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.” Most cases cannot be filed as a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage” because, most importantly, it requires the parties have no minor children together. A Simplified Dissolution also requires the parties not be seeking alimony, and that the parties have agreed on how all the assets will be divided.
- One party wants “sole custody” of the minor children; or alternatively, one party is afraid that the other party will argue for “sole custody” and they will no longer be able to see their children.
- Florida uses the term “time-sharing” instead of the word “custody.” In every divorce that includes minor children in Florida, a “Parenting-Plan” is created, in which a time-sharing schedule is set forth. Both parents have a fundamental right to have a relationship with their children, so one person getting ‘sole-custody’ is not a legitimate possibility.
Other types of Family law cases besides divorce include:
- Time-sharing modifications, child support modifications
- Paternity determinations
- Drafting prenuptial agreements
- Collection of alimony and/or child support arrearages