Frequently Asked Questions about Family Law

Family Law FAQ:

Yes, the importance of retaining an attorney who knows what he/she is doing is critical in family law. You should ask the lawyer how many cases his office has handled that are factually similar to your case. You should ask how many cases he has handled in front of your judge. Know your lawyer.


Alimony

No, as of this time the Legislature has not enacted guidelines although there have been several bills introduced in recent years.

Essentially, there are several criteria set forth in Section 61.08 and case law. The Court looks at need of the recipient and ability to pay of the payor. The Judge looks at duration of marriage; age, physical and emotional condition of the parties; earning capacities; standard of living during the intact marriage among several other factors.

No, that is not true, at least yet. There have been bills introduced by the Legislature over the last several years which would restrict or eliminate permanent alimony, but so far those bills have not become law. It could happen though and if you are thinking about a divorce, you should keep that in mind. We are happy to discuss the status of the law and the prospects of change with you.

That is the $64,000 question. Because of the common sense notion, that two can live more frugally than one, for many middle-income and upper-middle income people, the answer is probably no. However, the courts have told us that permanent alimony should be available to meet the reasonable, living expenses of the non-earning spouse.

There are several types of alimony. Permanent periodic, durational, bridge the gap, rehabilitative, temporary and lump sum are the various types of alimony.

Probably. The law provides that you have been married for a length of time where durational alimony may be appropriate.


Collaborative Law

Yes, in many cases, using the Collaborative Divorce process will save both parties money in the divorce.

It is a respectful process and saves the parties much of the emotional damage that is the result of litigation. It is better for the children.

Yes, you should be represented by counsel. You need to be advised of your rights and obligations throughout the process.

Not usually. For the most part, the parties agree on and hire one forensics accountant to help them problem solve. This results in cost savings to the parties.

Yes, often in the Collaborative Divorce process, the parties bring in a therapist who can guide them with time sharing decisions and difficult issues for the children.

Not in the typical Collaborative Divorce. One of the reasons this process works is that everyone agrees that the lawyers and the accountant will not be used if the negotiations in the Collaborative Divorce come to an impasse. Rather than go through the expense and time of hiring a new lawyer, this feature makes people work harder to resolve their case during negotiations, if at all possible.


Divorce

Generally, most divorces can be finalized within three to six months of filing. Some divorces which go to trial can take a little longer due to the crowded court dockets.

No. You will not be able to resolve the hurt you received by a cheating spouse in a divorce. You will get a chance to start with a new life and get away from the person who hurt you.

Schedule a meeting with a lawyer. Allow for at least one hour. Try to have some understanding of what assets and liabilities you and your spouse have. Write out a list of questions for which you want answers. Listen to the lawyer as he/she asks questions of you and do your best to answer them. Schedule a second conference with the lawyer and bring with you as many of the records your lawyer asks you to bring to the next meeting.

It depends on your emotional and psychological position. Usually it is not a good idea to discuss settlement without your lawyer’s input and assistance.


Mediation

Yes, every divorce case and any post-divorce case will have to be mediated by order of the court.

It is a very efficient way to resolve cases. It will ultimately save you money and emotional capital.

Yes, some 90-95% of all cases settle at mediation.

No, it was not a waste of time or money. First, mediation is required by the Court. The case cannot proceed without having gone to mediation. Second, many unsuccessful mediations tell your lawyer about your spouse’s position and case. There is much learned at the mediation conference. You can go back to mediation at another time. Many cases require 2 or 3 sessions with a mediator to settle all issues.


Modification and Contempt

The way that courts enforce orders is to hold the person not complying with the court order in contempt of court and threaten to incarcerate the non-compliant party. It is often a very effective tool to gain compliance with a court order.

Yes.

Yes, many times the party not in compliance will have to pay the legal fees of the other party.

Yes.

No. Contempt powers of the court are not used to enforce a property settlement.


Prenuptial and Postnuptial

It is an extremely good idea. While there may be emotional concerns, it is smart to plan ahead.

The more time before the wedding date that the agreement is signed, the better chances are the agreement will be valid. Agreements signed the week of the wedding are at a higher risk of not being held to be valid. Ideally, the agreement would be signed no later than one month before the wedding.

You should know what your assets, liabilities and income are and share records of those with the lawyer.

This is a scenario we have seen especially where there may have been infidelity. The parties can negotiate a division of assets and spousal support and execute a postnuptial agreement which will take effect if later there is a divorce. It alleviates some of the pressure of trying to resolve financial issues so the parties can work on more difficult issues of the marriage.


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