Divorces and other family law matters can be stressful and emotional. The decisions that you make during these conflicts can affect you and your children for many years to come, so it’s best to gain an informed perspective on your situation. With 50 years of combined experience, the attorneys of Shapiro, Blasi, Wasserman & Hermann in Boca Raton provide comprehensive counsel for South Florida residents, answering such questions as:
No matter what your particular family law concern might be, it’s best to find a qualified attorney who will examine your specific circumstances and develop a solution tailored to your goals and values.
Shapiro, Blasi, Wasserman & Hermann provides comprehensive family law representation to South Florida residents. To set up a free consultation at our Boca Raton office, please call 561-477-7800 or contact us online.
Under Florida law, a husband or wife does not use traditional fault grounds such as adultery or abandonment when seeking to dissolve the union. Either spouse can file for divorce only on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that the other spouse suffers from mental incapacity. However, evidence of improper behavior might be considered during alimony or asset division determinations.
When parties are close to an agreement, we can assist in assembling and filing what is called an “uncontested” or “simplified” divorce. By working with a lawyer, you will have access to a firm with an ethical responsibility to get the job done for you. It can also be a wise decision to work with a team that is obligated to let you know when certain choices might cause a challenge later on after the divorce or might improperly fail to account for some important matter.
Known as “timesharing” in Florida, decisions on child custody and visitation are made based on what the court believes to be in the child’s best interests. Whenever possible, parents should try to find common ground that fosters healthy communication for the years to come. Factors that judges consider include each parent’s physical, mental and moral fitness, continuity of the child’s routine and the parties’ ability to respect each other’s rights.
Each situation is unique and it takes a full understanding of the circumstances to make an informed assessment regarding alimony. A key factor is how long the marriage lasted, with unions of at least 17 years qualifying for long-term status under state law. Wives or husbands who have taken care of the household and children for long periods of time are more likely to be given some support while they work to regain their earning ability.
As an equitable distribution state, Florida gives its judges wide latitude to decide what is fair when dividing marital assets and debts. Specific factors that are listed within the relevant statute include the length of the marriage, each party’s financial situation, where the children will live and a spouse’s contribution to their partner’s education or career development.
Couples who wish to protect their assets and create clear terms concerning property division and alimony can do so through prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. The language used in these documents is often honored by courts but can be disregarded if the agreement was signed under duress or as a result of fraud. Judges also can refuse to enforce measures that would be unconscionable. Premarital agreements cannot affect child custody or support terms.
Typically, Florida child support payments are set according to a formula based on each parent’s income and other costs associated with raising children. An experienced family lawyer can examine the relevant wage information along with child-care and health insurance expenses to approximate what a non-custodial parent would pay. However, courts maintain the authority to break from the formula if it is in the best interests of the child.
A divorce is a lawsuit, while mediation is simply a way for the parties to work through issues without the formalities of a courtroom. However, it does not simplify the issues that must be addressed, and without a lawyer you will not have anyone paying attention to what is important to you. The mediator is a “neutral” party and is not there to educate you, provide you with legal advice or in any way protect your rights. Unfortunately, mediators tend to focus on “getting done,” even when that is not always the best solution for the parties. Still, the vast majority of cases can benefit from mediation, and we work to provide cost effective support for couples who seek that form of resolution. We want to make sure that you understand what you are entitled to and how to enforce your rights objectively, and also that you are not plowed over by an expedient mediator or a “loud” spouse.
In Florida, you are either married or not. Unlike some other states, legal separation does not exist here, so couples that don’t want to divorce cannot legally alter their relationship status. However, spouses who choose to live apart should establish a framework to address important family and financial matters, especially if they have minor children.