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Lewert Law – Divorce FAQs

1. Can you and your spouse have the same attorney for your divorce?

No. You should not hire one attorney for both spouses during a divorce. Each of you has unique interests and protecting those isn’t possible if you are using the same legal service. In this case, the lawyer would be in a situation where there was a “conflict of interest.”

It’s not required by law that you hire a lawyer to file for divorce. You can opt for neither spouse being represented by an attorney, just one spouse can have a lawyer and the other can represent themselves, or both can hire a lawyer.

2. How can you get a dissolution of marriage in the state of Florida?

In most cases, you have to state that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” This means there’s no way to put it back together using marriage counseling or by another method. If a marriage is really irretrievably broken, few people contest it. As a result, you can request a get just by asking for it and there isn’t much your spouse can do to stop it.

It’s also necessary for one person involved in the marriage to have been a resident in the state of Florida for a period of six months (minimum) right after the petition for divorce is filed. In this state, there isn’t anything else that you have to prove to get the divorce. This process is different than in other states where you may have to prove violence, adultery, or some other grounds for the divorce.

3. What is mediation and how is it used during a divorce?

Mediation offers a way to help individuals going through a divorce reach an agreement so they can avoid having to spend money and time fighting it in court. The mediator who handles the mediation process is a law expert who looks at the weaknesses and strengths on both sides and helps them reach an agreement to settle the case.

There are some counties in the state of Florida that require you to attend mediation before you are able to schedule a trail. The exception for this is if your case involves domestic violence. The purpose of mediation is to resolve cases faster, with a lower monetary and emotional cost than a long court battle would require.

4. What happens during mediation for a divorce?

During mediation, you along with your spouse and your attorneys (if you have hired them), and the mediator is going to meet together. To begin the meeting, the mediator will introduce themselves and explain how the process will go. Once the meeting is over, everyone in the room with you and your spouse will go to another room and the mediator will spend time with each person asking questions about the situation and talking about the case’s weaknesses and strengths.

The first person the mediator speaks with is the one who filed the petition for the dissolution of the marriage, and they will start to negotiate the case in an effort to settle it. The goal of the mediator is to help the couple reach an agreement about the things that they had not agreed on before the mediation began, which may mean going to and from each room several times.

With a successful mediation process, you and your spouse may agree on some or at least a few issues, sign a written agreement, and submit the settlement agreement to the court. After the agreement is created and signed by everyone at the conclusion of the mediation, it is considered a legal and binding contract. After signing this, the parties are unable to change their minds and may complain want to change what they aged to; however, these matters are considered settled at this point and you are bound by the agreement you signed.

If you are unable to achieve an agreement through mediation, it is referred to as an “impasse.” If you do agree, you can finalize your divorce faster than if it were a contested agreement, but the parties are often more likely to agree to the terms agreed on than if a judge ordered for something without an agreement in place.

Pro tip for mediation: The actual mediation process is often lengthy, so it’s a good idea to bring something along to do while you are waiting.

5. Who covers the cost for mediation?

You and your spouse will each pay for half of the mediation costs. The only time this is different is if you have negotiated a different arrangement. In many cases, one person pays more or even all of the cost of mediation as a part of the negotiated settlement.

6. Can you bring a family member (or someone else) to the mediation process?

You don’t have the right to bring someone with you to the mediation, unless you have received permission from your spouse. If your spouse agrees to this, you can bring a family member with you. However, if the mediator ever believes that after the mediation process is being hindered by the individual who has come along, they have the right to get them to leave.

7. In Florida, are same sex divorces handled differently than others?

No, they follow the same laws, processes, and regulations.

8. What if you are unable to afford an attorney to represent you during your divorce?

Besides the possibility of seeking Legal Aid representation if your income is too high for you to qualify, there are some cases where the court will require your spouse to pay your lawyer fees. This usually occurs if your spouse makes more than you. If this is your situation, you need to speak with a divorce attorney about receiving payment if or when the court orders your spouse to pay the fees.

Understand, though, if you have the money to cover the costs of an attorney, even if this is less than what your spouse has, the attorney will likely not agree to this arrangement because the court may not order that you are reimbursed for their fees.

Also, a lawyer (like most other people) doesn’t want to work if they won’t receive payment in a timely manner. The possibility of your attorney agreeing to wait for payment increases if there are assets or money they can put a lien on or if your spouse has an established job with a good paycheck and you don’t have the money to cover their fees.

9. Will a jury or judge hear your divorce case?

Your case will be heard by a judge.

10. How will your property be divided?

During a divorce, debts and assets have to be divided. The assets are the items you own that have any value, such as personal property, vehicles, pensions, bank accounts, etc., and your debts refer to any monies that you owe, such as your credit cards, loans, mortgage, etc. In the state of Florida, any debts and properties are divided according to “equitable distribution,” which means a fair division. There are some things that may not be considered marital property, which would not be divided because they only belong to one spouse – for example, just one spouse owned something before they got married.

You and your spouse can agree on how you will divide our property. However, if you are unable to reach an agreement on your own or through mediation, the court is going to make a decision regarding how the property is going to be divided. While the court will begin with the presumption that property is going to be divided, it also takes other factors into consideration, including the length of the marriage, the contribution by each spouse, if one spouse wasted any marital assets, and if one person helped the other’s career or education by interrupting their own.

11. Can you revert to your maiden name after the divorce?

If you want to revert back to your maiden name after your divorce, you must put this in the petition. The court can order this, as long as you aren’t changing the name to avoid creditors.

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