About Fort Lauderdale Divorce Law
When most consumers think about attorneys, their mind automatically jumps to personal injury, criminal and divorce attorneys. For most people, these are the lawyers they may need to seek out at some point in their daily life. Currently, in the United States, 39% of all marriages end in divorce. With the end of a marriage, comes the time to employ the use of a divorce attorney to navigate through the division of property, the determination of parenting time and the legal obstacles to permanently dissolve a marriage.
The practice of divorce law is a specialty of the family law sector. While family law can deal with many other areas that touch a “family” including elder law and adoption, the niche of divorce law centers around the dissolution of a marriage and the legal complexities that can arise prior to and after the dissolution of a marriage.
Most people assume you would only engage a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney when a marriage is about to end. In fact, most divorce practitioners would advice couples to engage their services before the vows. Couples that enter into prenuptial agreements with the advice of a divorce attorney prior to signing their marriage certificate are able to better exit the marriage if life leads to that scenario.
Divorce attorneys, at this stage, are able to sit down with the couple and discuss how they would like to handle finances throughout their marriage and how they would want to divide those assets if their marriage were to end. Similarly, the couple would be able to consider how they’d like to handle the division of parenting time between any current or future children.
Taking the time with the help of an attorney prior to getting married, will allow a married couple to make sound decisions while in a positive mental place.
The Divorce Process
The process of divorce is quite complex and can follow various different routes depending on the desires and needs of the separating spouses and their families. Below are some of the more common trends in divorce as well as some of the considerations you may need to research when looking to employ the services of a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney.
Collaborative Divorce & Mediation
In recent years, to avoid the costly impact of divorce, many couples are turning to mediations and/or new processes like collaborative divorce where they are able to avoid family court and instead reach an agreement on the division of their assets and parenting time with their children. Many divorce lawyers and family court judges are advocates of collaborative divorce and mediation processes for such a big decision that will impact the lives of the individuals as well as their families for years to come.
In addition to be more cost-effective and typically resulting in a more equitable outcome, the clients will avoid the longevity of a case before a judge and the potential appeals and/or minimize modifications.
Child Custody or Parenting Time
Child custody is an outdated term. Now, most will refer to this as “parenting time.” Previously, when divorces were awarded physical custody was almost exclusively awarded to the mother with visitation assigned to the father (the every other weekend and/or Wednesdays were common schedules). Currently, the standard is to apply 50% parenting time to both parents unless a different scenario is better for the well-being of the child. For most judges and mediators, the child’s well-being is the main goal in assessing how the family should be severed.
Additionally, today’s family is no longer the standard “nuclear” family of years passed. As the meaning of family has evolved so divorce law has had to adapt to the new members and their important role in the child’s upbringing. Considerations are now given to grandparents and in some cases stepparents.
In addition to the division of time between divorcing spouses, the consideration of child support will also be discussed. If one parent will be taking the burden of physical custody, the other parent may be asked to provide financial support to that parent to ensure equal responsibility between the two.
Division of Assets
In addition to the discussion of parenting time, one of the largest obstacles to a divorce is the division of assets from the marriage. This can be quite an exhaustive list and the “categorization” of assets as an individual asset or community property is quite technical. The help of a divorce lawyer and sometimes an accountant or other financial professional will be necessary to assess all the financial and physical assets of the marriage such as real estate, retirement accounts, savings accounts, vehicles, personal items (valuable and sentimental), business interests, inheritances, and more.
Typically the more financially endowed a couple, the more complex this process will become.
Additionally, for those contentious divorces, the process of the division of assets can become challenging for the individuals. Divorce attorneys will sometimes recommend that the individuals speak to someone about their mental health during this process to make the division of property smoother.
Alimony or Spousal Maintenance
Previously this was referred to exclusively as alimony. Today, the term in fashion is spousal maintenance. Most states have specific guidelines when it comes to the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. In the past, when women were primarily homemakers, spousal maintenance was almost exclusively provided to the wife to ensure that her standard of living was not unduly affected by the separation. Now, with men and women more equally represented in the workplace as well as the passage of gay marriage in the United States, this trend has shifted.
It is still done, however, for the spouse with the higher income to compensate the spouse with the lesser income to some degree. In some cases, this is a spousal maintenance award. In other cases, the spouse with the lesser income is given preference in the division of physical or financial assets.
This is one area that is frequently addressed in modifications.
Just as a couple could decide to negotiate a prenuptial agreement before entering into matrimony, an individual can submit a modification if the agreements of the divorce are no longer acceptable. There are several occasions that may require an individual to submit a modification, including a change in the custody arrangement, a relocation, a new marriage, etc.
In this case, a divorce attorney will again be engaged if the parties are unable to come to an agreement on their own, and a formal modification of the divorce degree will be requested.
A Glimpse into Marriage and Divorce in the United States
Currently, the divorce rate in the United States is actually dropping. Many hypothesize that the drop-off is not actually due to lowering divorce rates but the trend in younger generations – millennials and GenX – to marry later in adulthood. As they are delaying marriage until 30 (men) and 28 (women) – three years older than in 2003 – we can assume that the divorces will similarly be delayed.
Even in these scenarios where a couple chooses to cohabitate rather than marry, divorce attorneys can eventually be pulled into the scene should a couple decide to part ways after mixing finances and/or bringing children into the world.
Divorce is an intricate process with a lot of moving pieces. Individuals considering divorce are encouraged to seek the advice and representation of a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney to ensure that they can navigate the divorce process and emerge on the other side with an equitable agreement.