We are all aware of the statistics – almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Regardless of age, race, or social class, almost all of us are affected by divorce at some point in our lives.
A Better Tomorrow
For many people, the decision of whether to divorce a partner is one of the toughest decisions they will ever consider. With divorce comes the prospect of stress, instability, and financial ruin. That being said, you are here – divorce is a reality – but it doesn’t have to be painful or destructive.
In contemplating divorce, most people find themselves with more questions than answers. Am I making the right decision? Will my children be better off? Will I be alone forever? Will I be able to support myself and my family? These concerns are all very real and the answers are not often easy to come by. But you’ve made life-changing decisions before. You may have chosen a new career path, or bought a home, or had a child, or moved to a new city. When faced with any difficult decision, there are two balancing principles at play: the fear of uncertainty and the hope for a better tomorrow.
Take a moment to think about your “better tomorrow.” Do you see a more loving relationship? A higher education? A growing family? Hobbies or interests you want to pursue? This is your dream – we can’t write it for you – but we can help you take the necessary steps to get past the fear of uncertainty and embrace the hope for a better tomorrow.
The Divorce Process
Like most States, Florida is a “no-fault” state, meaning that ether spouse can be granted a divorce without having to prove fault, regardless of whether the other spouse wants a divorce. A legal divorce begins with the spouse known as the “Petitioner” first filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. A divorce is actually a lawsuit, and a response must be filed by the other spouse, known as the “Respondent,” within twenty days. The Respondent can also file a Counterpetition against the Petitioner, which the Petitioner would then have to answer. Since the court cannot award any relief that is not asked for in the Petition or Counterpetition, it is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney to make sure all your bases are covered from the beginning. The way the divorce process begins often sets the tone moving forward.
After the Petitions and supplemental documents are filed, the parties exchange in “discovery” by submitting various financial and other documents to each other. If there are little to no issues, negotiations can take place early on and it is possible to settle your case quickly and cost effectively. However, most divorces are settled through a process known as mediation. Mediation is a process by which each spouse and their attorneys meet with a neutral, unbiased, third-party who is trained in mediation. During the mediation, all of the relevant issues are put on the table and the mediator helps guide the parties closer to the middle, in an attempt to reach a settlement that everyone can live with.
If the parties fail to come to an agreement before or at mediation, we move forward to a final hearing, or trial. Trial preparation is a necessary part of every case, so that each client is able to present his or her case in the most advantageous way. It is important to have a family lawyer who is not afraid to bring your issues before a judge. However, parties should only move forward with trial after carefully considering the costs (both emotional and financial) of going to trial as compared to the benefits of settling the case.
Conflict and Children
As difficult as the divorce process may appear for you, consider for a moment the way it could impact your children. It’s impossible for a child to fully understand the implications and concerns in regard to divorce or why parents make the decisions they do. In fact, recent published studies have shown that heightened conflict during and after the divorce process negatively affects children of the relationship. Children of high-conflict divorces often develop negative self-esteem, behavioral problems, social difficulties, lower academic achievement, and problematic relationships with their parents. For this reason, it is imperative that children be shielded from the divorce process and never be used as leverage during any divorce or family law proceeding.
The attorneys at Levinson & Capuano understand the effect that prolonged litigation and conflict have on families and work hard to minimize conflict and focus on what is important. We’re here to help you protect your family and move on with your life.
- Complex Divorce
- Contested Divorce
- Uncontested Divorce
- Military Divorce
- Custody and Visitation
- Timesharing and Decision Making
- Denial of Timesharing
- Parenting Plan
- Supervised Visitation
- Child Support
- Temporary Support
- Equitable Distribution
- The Marital Home
- Business Valuation
- Parental Alienation
- Parental Kidnapping
- Pre-Filing Negotiations
- Uncontested Divorce Assistance