Serving Families in Cape Coral and Naples
Nothing is more important than protecting your family. Our familial relationships enrich our lives, but they can also be a source of immense, life-altering conflict. When these disputes become irreconcilable, you will need a legal advocate well-versed in Florida family law.
At Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, we have been protecting the interests of local families for over 40 years. Our Fort Myers family lawyers understand how to effectively navigate issues of divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, property division, domestic violence, and more. We fully recognize that if you are reaching out, you are probably going through an extremely challenging time, and we are compassionate to the stress and uncertainty you are experiencing. Our team will push for the outcomes you want and make every effort to secure a favorable resolution as quickly and painlessly as possible.
You should not wait to get legal advice if you are contemplating divorce, so call (239) 908-4930 or contact us online today. Se habla español.
How Divorce Works in Florida
In Florida, you do not need a specific reason to divorce your spouse, as you can file for divorce on the ground that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” That does not mean many divorces avoid contentious conflict: A divorce can quickly become a battleground if you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the separation.
In any divorce, you and your spouse will need to determine how to handle:
- Property Division. All assets (with certain exceptions) acquired during a marriage are considered “marital property” subject to Florida’s equitable division rules. This does not mean assets will be split 50/50, as a judge will issue decisions that they believe to be fair based on the unique circumstances of the marriage. There are sometimes disputes over what should be considered marital property versus separate property, which is not subject to property division in a divorce.
- Child Custody. Florida recognizes legal custody, which determines who gets a say in a child’s upbringing, and physical custody, which determines who a child will live with. Often, parents will share legal custody, but only one parent will receive primary physical custody. The parent with physical custody is the custodial parent, while the non-custodial parent will get an enforceable visitation schedule, also known as “parenting time.” Each parent’s relationship with their child and ability to meet their needs, along with a variety of other factors, can influence custody decisions.
- Child Support. Florida courts use state formulas to determine how much the non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent in child support contributions. Judges are permitted to deviate from support guidelines if circumstances demand a modification.
- Spousal Support. Alimony is not automatic in Florida. A spouse must specifically request and prove a genuine need for support and demonstrate that the other spouse has the financial resources needed to provide that support. In deciding whether to grant alimony, a Florida judge may consider the length of the marriage, the financial circumstances of each spouse, and the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage, among other factors.
A Florida divorce may be contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce is ideal, as it does not require much court intervention and can be completed fairly quickly. However, it will require both sides to agree on every element of the separation, which rarely happens in practice. Sometimes, an uncontested divorce can be facilitated through mediation instead of litigation.
In a contested divorce, one or more agreements cannot be reached, forcing a judge to step in. The court will hear arguments and assess evidence before making a determination in each of the contested areas. Contested divorces are thus more protracted proceedings, as you will need to wait for a court date and allow time for trial preparation. A Florida court may first require a couple to attempt mediation to resolve certain issues, but a judge will ultimately have the final say if the couple cannot negotiate a resolution.
You should consider speaking to one of our Fort Myers family law attorneys as soon as possible if you believe your divorce may be contested. You can safely assume your spouse will hire their own representation, and you will need a capable advocate in your corner.
Modifying Divorce Orders in Florida
When a judge makes a decision in a contested divorce, that decision is binding, meaning it cannot be appealed just because you feel it is unfair. Each spouse must honor the terms of these enforceable orders. This is part of the reason why many couples explore mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution before turning to divorce litigation: In mediation, you retain some control over the outcome and can always choose to walk away from negotiations. In a divorce trial, the judge has decision-making authority, and you cannot back out unless you and your spouse can settle the contested issues.
Divorce orders can be modified in Florida, but only under certain circumstances. To change an order involving child custody, child support, or spousal support, you must be able to provide that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that necessitates the modification you are requesting. These requests often lead to additional conflict, as your former spouse will in all likelihood move to block the proposal.
If you are looking to modify a divorce order, get advice from our Fort Myers family lawyers. We will assess your situation and advise whether a judge is likely to accept your request.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Because many marriages do statistically end in divorce, some couples use prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to predetermine how some matters will be handled in the event of a separation. This is especially frequent in situations where one or both spouses are high-net-worth individuals.
Prenuptial agreements (which are signed before a marriage) and postnuptial agreements (which are signed during a marriage but before a divorce) can both regulate property division and spousal support. These contracts cannot touch matters of child custody or child support, and any provisions that attempt to do so will not be enforceable in Florida.
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may also be ruled invalid if:
- One spouse was pressured, coerced, or intimidated into signing
- Both spouses did not voluntarily sign
- The agreement is unfair because one spouse did not make a complete financial disclosure to the other spouse (unless the other spouse explicitly waived their right to a complete financial disclosure)
If you are hoping to challenge or enforce a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement as part of your divorce proceedings, our team at Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano can help. We routinely represent local clients in divorces of all scopes, including high-net-worth divorces.
Not sure about your rights in a divorce? Call (239) 908-4930 or contact us online today.
No Fees Until We WinWe offer Free Consultations, and work on Contingency Fees for Personal Injury cases. This means we ask for nothing from you until your injury case is concluded.
Prioritizing Your Experience
As a member of our community, we want to put your needs first, far ahead of the bottom line. We treat our clients like people, and never just like cases.
In Practice Since 1982We at Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano have been in practice for 40 years, which means you can count on our skill, experience, and community value to help you through your case.
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