Experts estimate divorce occurs in 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the U.S. Divorce is governed by state law, and a basic understanding can help ease the process.
Those who find themselves considering a divorce are not alone. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports an estimated 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Although those considering a split are not alone, a divorce can still be a daunting process.
A recent article in Today highlights some of the basic questions to review before moving forward with a divorce. Some of the highlights include taking a moment to review both your financial and emotional well being. When it comes to finances, take a moment to review your finances and come up with an idea of how to cover financial obligations after a divorce. Also consider your emotions. Are you prepared to move on with life without your spouse? Taking the time to feel comfortable with the answers to these questions can help to make the divorce process more manageable.
Divorce and Florida law
It is also wise to have a basic understanding of governing law before moving forward with a divorce. Divorce law varies by state. In Florida, divorce is referred to as "dissolution of marriage." State law does not consider fault as a ground for divorce. There are some circumstances where the presence of fault may be taken into consideration to determine alimony, distribution of property and child custody issues. The only requirement for a couple to move forward with a divorce is the ability to establish that the marriage is "irretrievably broken."
Generally, legal experts with the Florida State Bar Association note that a typical dissolution of marriage process proceeds as follows:
- Petition. One party files a petition for dissolution of marriage with the circuit court in the county the couple last resided in or the county either party currently resides.
- Service. The other party is served and must file an answer within 20 days. This can include a counter-petition if this party wishes to raise any issues not initially addressed in the original petition.
- Filing documents. Financial documents, a completed financial affidavit and if children are present a child support guidelines worksheet must be filed with the court.
The resolution can occur in three basic ways:
- Agreement. The couple can come to an agreement without aid and file an agreement with the court.
- Mediation. Mediation is a procedure that uses a neutral third-party to help guide the couple to an agreeable solution.
- Court. Couples that are unable to come to an agreement will likely move forward with a contentious divorce proceeding using a judge to make the final decision.
Even a straight forward, noncontentious divorce involves complex issues of property division, child support and child custody. As a result, those moving forward with a dissolution of marriage proceeding are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced divorce lawyer.
Keywords: family law divorce