It seems that DIVORCE is often misunderstood. Unfortunately everyone seems to know someone who is either going through a divorce or has been divorced. Everyone has heard various “horror stories” about someone’s divorce case. Many people who come to my office for a consultation are lost or confused as to what may lie ahead. A common question is “how do I start this?” Even though every case is obviously different from the next, most cases deal with the same general issues one might encounter in a divorce. I thought it might be helpful to briefly touch upon each one of these.
1. Equitable Distribution: This is the principle by which assets accumulated and debts incurred during the marriage are divided. In most cases the division will be an equal division of both assets and debts. This however is not always true. Florida Statutes allows a Judge to consider various factors in determining the possibility of an unequal distribution. In addition, non marital assets (assets owned prior to the marriage or received from a source unconnected with the marriage; such as an inheritance) will not be divided unless these assets were co-mingled with marital assets or gifted to the other spouse.
2. Alimony: Alimony is not an issue in every case. There are a number of factors which must be considered in addressing alimony. There are several different kinds of alimony which are contained within the law. The one most people think of is “permanent alimony”, which is a sum of money paid on a monthly income until death or remarriage by the receiving spouse. This is based upon, among other factors, length of marriage, lifestyle of the parties and need and ability.
There are however other forms of alimony which can be addressed. These are usually for a specific time period, with a beginning and ending date. These payments can be classified under Rehabilitative Alimony (a sum of money to allow a spouse to further his/her education or training), “Bridge the Gap Alimony” (a sum of money paid monthly for a term of months or years) or Lump Sum Alimony (a lump sum payment).
3. Child Support: To be paid by the non custodial parent (parent who generally has visitation rights) to the custodial parent based upon the “net” income of both parties and the Child Support Guidelines. Day care, after school care and health insurance costs for the minor children are additional. Child Support in Florida ends when a child turns 18, or if he/she has not yet graduated from High School, it can continue until either graduation or the child’s 19th birthday.
Neither parent has a legal obligation to support a child after graduation from High School. There is therefore, no legal basis to request child support to assist for a college education. If however, either parent agrees to assist a child through college and it is contained within a written settlement agreement, such a provision is enforceable through the courts.
The above are some issues which generally arise in a divorce/dissolution case. It is not all inclusive and as stated before, each case is different. If you have any questions about your rights and or obligations please give my office a call to schedule a free consultation.