Going through a divorce can be a scary situation. Even the thought of one can cause a person to shudder in fear. Ending a marriage is a major life decision. It is a complicated life event that can impact a person for many years.
While there is a general process in place, no two divorces are the same. Therefore, you may be scared or anxious about what will happen. You will likely have many questions along the way, and that is to be expected.
While you should be addressing your divorce questions to an experienced family law attorney, we can answer some commonly asked questions here to help you prepare for the process. Here are some things you should know if divorce is on your mind.
Are There Requirements to Get a Divorcre?
Each state is different as to what they require. Most require some sort of minimum residency requirement. For example, in Florida, a couple can get divorced only if one party has lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. Other states may require that you be separated for a period of time or go through mediation first. Some may even require marriage counseling or parenting classes.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost?
The average cost of a divorce is roughly $15,000, but this can vary based on the factors involved. If you choose to use mediation and do most of the work yourself, you can save a lot of money. On the other hand, if you choose to fight over everything and drag out the process, then you can expect to pay much more.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce?
This can vary based on the state and the factors involved. It typically takes at least six months to get a divorce finalized. Surveys show that the average time to finalization is 11 months. Cases that go to trial can take 18 months or more. Some nasty divorces take years.
How is Property Divided in a Divorce?
Assets are divided based on the rules in each state. Florida operates under equitable distribution, which means assets and debts are distributed fairly based on the property each person acquired before marriage and what the parties contributed during the marriage. It may be 50/50, 60/40, 70/30 or some other percentage. For example, a person with no kids who barely worked during the marriage would not get as many assets as a spouse who worked full-time and took care of the marital home. Anything acquired during the marriage is subject to split in a divorce. This may include bank accounts, homes, vehicles, furniture, antiques, collectibles and other items of value. Inheritances are not split in a divorce unless they are commingled, which means they were given to or shared with the other spouse.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
Even if you and your spouse agree on everything, you will likely have to go to court at least once. This will be to sign and finalize paperwork and it is often a short and informal court hearing. If you cannot agree on the elements of your divorce, then expect to spend more time in court.
Am I Entitled to Alimony?
Not necessarily. This is primarily based on your income and earning ability. In the past, women were the ones to get alimony. Nowadays, with many women earning more than their spouses, it is not uncommon for women to be the payors of spousal support. In the end, it will depend on the income of both parties and the length of the marriage.
Should I Keep the House in the Divorce?
Many people feel as though they must keep the marital home, especially if there are children involved. You should make your decision based on your financial situation. Houses are expensive to maintain. There is not only the monthly mortgage payment, but also taxes, insurance and upkeep. If you cannot afford these expenses, then it may be a better idea to downsize.
Can I File for Divorce if I Do Not Know My Spouse’s Whereabouts?
While uncommon, there are situations in which a person wants to get divorced but cannot locate their husband or wife. This may happen if the spouse deserted them and left no way to contact them. Once you have made an effort to contact your spouse (such as by using phone directories and contacting the post office, law enforcement officials, and previous employers), you can then publish a notice in a newspaper located in the area of the person’s last known whereabouts. You will keep that notice in the newspaper once a week for four weeks. This is called divorce by publication. If the spouse does not respond within 28 days, the spouse seeking the divorce can then file a notice of default with the court. This allows the spouse to proceed with the divorce. The process can be complicated, though, so get help from a lawyer.
Seek Legal Help
Divorce is a tricky situation. If you have never gone through one, you do not know what to expect. A competent family law attorney can answer your questions and make the process easier.
If you have questions, Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler has answers. He has more than 30 years of experience handling family law matters. Schedule a consultation today. Fill out the online form or call (954) 346-6464.