When “I Do!” becomes “Do I?”

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We work with men and women who are getting married, breaking up/divorcing or modifying a prior agreement by giving good commonsense advice that often resolves their issues without the ugly battle typical in family law cases.  What is unique about our practice is that we try to minimize the financial and emotional impact of their matter. Also, clients expect the experience to be tense and nasty, but our team’s empathy, accessibility and even humor puts them at ease – often leading us to become their lawyer for life.

Are you in an unsalvageable marriage?
Are you contemplating divorce?
Do you have more questions than answers?

At JUPITER LAW CENTER, we can’t tell you if you should get divorced. We leave that decision to you, your spouse, and possibly a licensed marriage counselor. What we can do – and do well – is provide you with a clear understanding of the divorce process and what you can expect before, during and after the dissolution of your marriage.  It’s this professional insight that will help you weigh your options and make the most informed decision.

Although just the word divorce conjures up thoughts of bitterness, anger and resentment, the actual process itself doesn’t have to result in these feelings. Our goal is to draft agreements for the parties to sign on an amicable basis, with minimal or no hostility.

Many divorces are marred by a spouse taking the “do it yourself” approach.  Trust us, DIY may be fine for home repairs, but not for divorce. Should you decide to go it alone, be aware that additional problems may arise from ignoring issues you were unaware of or addressing issues incorrectly due to lack of knowledge.

Before you sign any agreement acquiescing to your spouse’s demands in an effort to be “done,” contact JUPITER LAW CENTER and discuss your options.

Either party may petition the Court for a Divorce based upon his/her testimony that the marriage is irretrievably broken or by a showing that one of the parties is mentally incompetent and has been adjudged so for at least three (3) years prior to the filing of the action.

An Uncontested case is where the parties agree on how to divide their Assets and Liabilities (i.e., Equitable Distribution) and are able to resolve all of the other issues in their case (i.e., Custody, Timesharing, Child Support, Alimony, Attorneys’ Fees, etc.). When, on the other hand, parties are unable to resolve their issues without a Court determination, then an adversarial Evidentiary Hearing (with witnesses, documents, etc.) is necessary and the matter is said to be Contested. 95%+ of all cases settle without having to go to Trial.

Alimony is financial support which can be awarded to either spouse based upon the poorer spouse’s “needs” and the wealthier spouse’s “ability to pay” for same. Where there is a substantial disparity between the parties’ earnings, an award of Temporary, Bridge-the-Gap, Rehabilitative, Durational, Lump Sum or Permanent Alimony may be appropriate.

Equitable Distribution (“ED”) is the process of dividing the Real and Personal Property acquired during the marriage in a fair manner (which is not necessarily always a 50/50 division). The Court also considers each party’s pre-marital and non-marital assets in fashioning an appropriate ED.

Yes and No. Regarding children’s issues, Timesharing and Child Support are handled in the same manner as if the child’s parents were married. However, since Florida does not acknowledge common law marriage in relationships after 1968, non-married couples are not afforded some of the rights that married couples have; and, therefore, the division of property and many other concepts (including Alimony, which is not available to non-married couples) are handled much differently.

Both parents are required to support their child commensurate with their financial abilities (earnings/income/ability to earn) and their specific timesharing arrangement (usually by calculating the number of overnight stays the child has with each parent). The Child Support statute is gender neutral, meaning that support can be awarded to either the Mother or the Father. In addition to Child Support, each parent is required to pay his/her pro-rata share of the child’s Health Insurance and Daycare/Aftercare expenses, in addition to resolving how Extracurricular Activities, Summer Camp and Tax Deductions are going to be handled.

No and Yes. The right to receive Child Support is the child’s right and, therefore, cannot be waived by his/her parents. The right to receive Alimony, however, is the spouse’s own right and may be waived or, in certain circumstances, terminated due to cohabitation with another person in a financially supportive relationship.

The filing party (the Petitioner) files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage as well as a host of other documents (including, among other things, a Financial Affidavit).

No, but it is urged that you retain an attorney at the very least for an initial consultation, even if it is not our firm, to explain your rights and obligations to you and/or to review legal documents prepared by the other party and/or his/her attorney. Too often what appears to be simple turns out to be more involved. You do not want to be surprised down the road when what you thought you agreed to is NOT actually the case, because then it might be too late or too expensive to do anything about it.

Whether your case is Uncontested or Contested plays a huge role in the expense of your case. Obviously, the more complex the issues, the more time is expended and hence, the greater the cost. Although we cannot predict what will happen in your case, we do our best to evaluate the case based upon the information you provide us so that you know your options and responsibilities from the beginning of your case to its conclusion.

A Court might order one party to pay all or part of the other party’s attorneys’ fees and costs if it determines that one party has substantially more income/earnings/assets than the other or as a sanction for non-compliance or for bringing a frivolous claim. However, since that decision might come many months after the commencement of the case, it is likely that each party shall have to pay his/her own attorney at the outset of the case and subsequently seek to recoup such payments if the Court ultimately decides to award fees.

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