Divorce can be one of the most stressful events in your life. Sometimes, it can be devastating both emotionally and financially. Divorce involves government intervention (through the Court system and Judge) into your life and the lives of your children. Basically, a total stranger to you and your family– the Judge– will be making important decisions affecting your life. It is best to have a Board Certified divorce attorney on your side who can help guide you through the complex legal maze and speak up for you and your interests. If children are involved, it is especially important that you safeguard the relationship you have with your children and ensure them the best possible future. However, you must also make sure you take care of yourself.
Divorce cases come in one of two different forms:
Uncontested or Contested.
If you have already been served with divorce papers, then skip straight to Contested Divorce. But don’t worry: not all contested cases mean there will involve years of fighting in court and huge legal bills. Read on and we will tell you how we can help maximize your chances for a positive outcome while trying to minimize your legal expenses in a divorce. That’s where an experienced expert like Mr. Radeline is invaluable.
If you think that you and your spouse may be able to work things out and agree to each of the issues involved– how to split up your assets and debts, what to do about the cars, whether or not to keep the house (or, if you rent, whether you can break the lease), whether there should be alimony, and many other issues that may come up– then an Uncontested Divorce may be right for you. If you have children, you and your spouse would also need to be able to agree to who your children are going to live with on which days of the week, who makes medical and educational decisions, who gets the children on which holidays, how to calculate child support, and a number of other important issues that will impact your life and the life of your children for many years to come.
If you and your spouse are like most couples that are splitting up, there will probably be a number of issues that you just cannot agreed upon. Sometimes people fight over silly, little things: I have seen cases hung up over who gets an old stereo set worth $20. Many times, however, there are significant legal issues that come up and the spouses can’t seem to agree as to how things should go.
Whether it’s alimony, division of retirement accounts such as a 401(k), IRA, or pension, division of other assets, what to do about debt, including credit cards or the mortgage on the house, how to handle IRS debt, what to do about a house that’s under water, what to do about a house that has equity, or any number of other issues that may come up, you should have a Board Certified divorce attorney by your side you can look out for you and protect your interests.
Special Issues If You Have Children:
If you have children, it is especially important that you maximize the time that you spend with your child. A document called a Parenting Plan will be an important part of your case. It deals with a number of issues, including parental responsibility (who makes important life decisions for the children regarding health care, school, and religious upbringing), timesharing (saying where the children will be staying each night of the week), holiday timesharing (directing who gets the children for which holidays), relocation (setting ground rules on what happens if one parent wants to move away after the case is over), and a number of other issues.
Want to hear a secret?
Although it can be an “open secret” among divorce attorneys in Florida, many divorcing parents don’t realize there are two critical “side effects” of timesharing (or to use the older term, child custody): First, how much time you get with your children now will have a HUGE impact on how much time you have with your children all the way up until they are 18 years old. Second, how much time you get with your children can have a HUGE impact on child support. That is why it is critical that you maximize the time you have with your children now.
Here is how the time in the Parenting Plan can affect how much time you have with your kids for years to come: The law in Florida says you need to show there was a “substantial change in circumstances” to increase the time you spend with your children in the future if you are awarded a certain amount of time now. And the legal definition of a “substantial change in circumstances” is usually pretty hard to obtain. For example, let’s say the judge orders that you get every other weekend with your children. The rest of the time the kids are with your spouse. Say that goes ok for a year or two, and now things are different. Your children are a few years older, and they would really like to see you more than every other weekend. (They even offer to come to court and tell the judge. Check out our blog to find out why that probably isn’t going to fly). Or maybe your job is what was originally keeping you from being able to have the kids overnight on weeknights, but now you have a different job and that wouldn’t be a problem anymore. You talk to your ex about it and your ex says no. Well, you can go back to court and ask the judge to change things. The rub is this: some judges wouldn’t think either of those situations is a “substantial change in circumstances.” In fact, if you went back to court on that under those circumstances, the judge could sock you with having to pay your ex’s attorney’s fees. To make things worse, the “substantial change in circumstances” must have unanticipated. So, if there was a chance at the end of your original case that your work schedule would change in the future, then you won’t be able to use that as a reason to change your timesharing.
So you may be wondering, “What does count as a substantial change in circumstances”? Well, every case is different, and there is not really a comprehensive list somewhere of what is and what is not a substantial change. But most judges would agree that some of these would count as a substantial change: your ex has become a drug addict, your ex had 3 DUIs in the last month, your ex is now in prison, or your ex is moving away to Sioux City, Iowa. Pretty dramatic things, right? That’s my point. Unless your ex belongs on an episode of Jerry Springer, you might be stuck with the original timesharing. That’s why you need to get it right the first time. We can help. We can help you maximize your time with your children. It really is important that you do so. You need to show the judge what is best for your children. There are rules of evidence and certain procedures that must be followed in order to get this point across to the judge.