Family Law and Divorce

What is the typical timeline for a divorce?
The entire process can take as little as several months to as long as several years depending on the couple, the complexity of their situation, and how quickly they are able to come to agreement about the terms of their divorce, custody issues, child support, and property distribution. Some divorce processes like dissolution, divorce mediation, and collaborative divorce tend to be settled more quickly.
What happens to property and assets my spouse and I have accumulated during our marriage?
Most states follow the rules of “equitable distribution” which means the assets and earnings accumulated during marriage are divided equitably (fairly). In Florida, an equitable division of property means the marital property shall be equal unless the court decides it should be unequal for a specific reason allowed by law. Equitable distribution rules apply to divorces in most states except those occurring in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico, where “community property” rules are followed. Divorce under community property rules means that property will be classified either as “community property” (to be divided among the spouses) or “separate property” (to be kept by the spouse who purchased it or owned it previous to the marriage).
What happens if one spouse doesn’t want to get divorced?
Most states have “no fault” policy about divorce and one spouse cannot stop another from obtaining a divorce. Marriage counselors or divorce mediators may be able to help you come to an agreement about the best solution with your spouse. A family law attorney can advise you of your rights and options.
I want to change my name back to my maiden name. How do I go about doing this?
In most states, a formal order requesting the name change can be made to the judge handling your divorce. The name change order can then be included in your final judgment of dissolution of marriage and certified copies of the order can be used to have your name changed on identification and personal records.
How do I prove paternity for my child’s father whom I would like to begin paying child support?
Paternity can be established voluntarily by both parents through an Acknowledgment of Paternity”. The Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, has developed a consenting affidavit acknowledging paternity for use in hospitals, birthing centers, and other facilities responsible for preparing birth certificates. If you are not certain about who the father is or if the alleged father is contesting the paternity, a genetic test may be performed. The Florida Department of Revenue, Division of Child Support Enforcement, may institute actions for child support against any person liable for child support.
What happens if my health benefits were provided by my soon-to-be ex-spouse’s employer?
After divorce, you will no longer be able to remain part of the same policy but you will qualify for Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act or COBRA group coverage benefits, from your spouse’s employer, at your own expense, for up to 36 months. It can be expensive to pay for health benefits through COBRA; if health benefits are available through your current employer or through a future employer, they may be more affordable and worth investigating.
How do I get a marriage license in Florida?
Every marriage license is issued by a county court judge or clerk of the circuit court under his or her hand and seal. Marriage licenses are issued by counties and you can apply for your license at any county clerk's office. You can get married in any county in Florida, regardless of where you obtained your marriage license. To obtain a marriage license you need:
* Identification: a picture ID such as a driver’s license, state ID card, or valid passport; both parties will also have to provide their Social Security numbers, but do not need to provide their Social Security Cards.
* Fees: $93.50. Marriage license fees can be reduced by up to $32.50 if you complete a licensed Florida pre-marital course.
Marriage license is valid for 60 days after issuance. You must perform the ceremony of marriage before this 60 days has expired. Blood Tests are not required. There is a 3-day waiting period after issuance of the license before you can get married, unless you have completed the Florida pre-marital course, in which case the waiting period is waived.