COLETTE HECK IS YOUR DIVORCE LAWYER!
"Until death do us part" -
With regard to divorce, Florida is a "no fault" state. This simply means that you do not have to prove that your spouse is to blame for your marital problems in order to obtain a divorce. In fact, in most cases, the assignment of fault to one party or the other is totally irrelevant. In order to obtain a divorce in Florida: (1) one of the parties must have continuously resided in Florida for the six (6) month period immediately preceding the filing of the divorce; and (2) one of the parties must testify under oath that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" (that is, there is no possibility of reconciliation).
The most common types of divorce are as follows:
Uncontested Divorce -
The simplest, quickest and most cost effective (in terms of attorney fees) type is the uncontested divorce (also known as an agreed divorce). In this type, an agreement has been, or very likely will be, reached between the husband and the wife which amicably resolves all of the issues of their divorce. This includes, but is not limited to, child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and the distribution of assets and debts, as applicable. It is important to note that no one is served papers in an uncontested divorce. The voluntary cooperation of the parties in signing the paperwork is a prerequisite for the filing of this type of divorce.
A single attorney can often be used to draw up the paperwork and thereby save the parties both time and money. Assuming that both parties cooperate by providing all of the necessary information to the attorney and by signing the required documents in a timely manner, the divorce can be filed very quickly and, in most cases, can thereafter be finalized within approximately 30 days. Only one of the parties is required to appear at a hearing in order to get the Final Judgment, which finalizes the divorce. This judgment will incorporate all of the terms of the parties' agreement.
Contested Divorce -
Another type of divorce is the contested divorce. In this type, either one of the parties is unwilling to cooperate or the parties are unable to reach an agreement on one or more important issues. Due to the often complex nature of contested divorces, each party will normally hire their own attorney to assist them with the case.
The first party (the "Petitioner") initiates the divorce by filing a petition and several other necessary documents with the court. The petition is then served on the second party (the "Respondent") by a sheriff or a process server. The Respondent then has 20 days to file a response to the petition. If the response is not filed within the 20 days, then a default may be entered against the Respondent. If this occurs, the divorce can usually be finalized very quickly and the Petitioner will often get everything that he or she is requesting, so long as it is reasonable.
In most cases, however, a response will be filed by the Respondent within the 20 days. The parties then exchange financial documentation (called "discovery") over a period of approximately 30 -
If there are issues that cannot be resolved at the mediation, then the case will typically proceed toward a trial (which may not take place for several weeks or months after mediation) where each party is able to present evidence, call witnesses, and give testimony in front of a judge. After hearing both sides, the judge will make a final decision regarding all of the issues, which will then be written down in the Final Judgment. This judgment will be binding on both parties.
Publication Divorce -
Colette Heck Law Firm Can Help You!
If one party wants to get divorced, but their spouse can no longer be located, he or she can do so by filing a publication divorce. In order for this type of divorce filing to be successful, the "missing" spouse must normally have been gone for a significant amount of time (usually more than one to two months) and the Petitioner (the party who is requesting the divorce) must make a diligent search to locate the spouse. This search normally includes such things as questioning the missing spouse's friends and family, checking the spouse's last known residence and employment addresses, performing an internet "people finder" search, checking local hospitals and prisons/jails, checking with the post office and the
department of motor vehicles, and calling 411 information. Once the diligent search has been completed and the missing spouse has not been located, the publication divorce case can be filed. A notice of the divorce filing is thereafter posted in a local newspaper for four consecutive weeks. Assuming that no response is filed by the missing spouse during this four week period, a default will be entered and the case can quickly proceed to a final hearing, where the judge will sign a Final Judgment divorcing the parties.
FAMILY LAW -
"Family law" is an area of law which, in addition to divorce, covers all aspects of family and domestic relationships. Issues such as child custody/visitation, child support, alimony, asset and debt distribution, prenuptial agreements, restraining orders, paternity actions and adoptions all fall within this area.
Child Custody/Visitation -
Determining which parent a minor child is primarily going to reside with and exactly how the non-
condition, financial status, availability and overall caretaking skills.
Child Support -
Under Florida law, both parents are normally required to financially support a minor child until the child reaches the age of majority (18 years) or, if the child is still in high school at the time, until the child either graduates or reaches the age of 19 years, whichever occurs first. Florida law typically mandates that the non-
There are several types of alimony (a/k/a spousal support) that can be awarded by the court. These are lump sum (usually a single payment), rehabilitative (a/k/a temporary or "bridge the gap"), and permanent periodic (normally paid until the receiving spouse remarries or either party dies). Whether alimony will be awarded in a case is determined based upon a number of factors including, but not limited to, the duration of the marriage, the age and physical/mental/emotional condition of each of the parties, the standard of living established by the parties during the marriage, the financial resources/income of each party, and the liabilities/expenses of each party.
Asset & Debt Distribution -
Assets and debts are typically broken down into two categories: non-
but are not limited to, each parties' relative contribution to the marriage (which is not necessarily restricted only to monetary contributions), the parties' relative financial circumstances, and each parties' non-
Prenuptial Agreements -
A prenuptial agreement is a document that can be executed by couples who are contemplating marriage in order to protect themselves financially in terms of property ownership, asset/debt distribution, and alimony should an eventual separation/divorce occur. Each party must provide full disclosure of their assets and finances to the other and must thereafter sign the document freely and voluntarily.
Restraining Orders -
If domestic violence has occurred or may be likely to occur within a relationship, the threatened party can apply to the court in order to obtain a restraining order (a/k/a an injunction) against the threatening party. The party requesting the restraining order must normally convince the court that they may be in imminent danger of bodily harm. The court will then issue a temporary restraining order, which can thereafter be extended indefinitely if good cause is shown.
Paternity Actions -
If a child is born out of wedlock, a court-
Although there are several different types of adoptions, our offices handle mainly step-