Jacksonville, Florida Divorce Lawyer
Elrod & Elrod: Serving Northeast Florida Since 1966
The decision to end your marriage can be a difficult one. The Jacksonville, Florida law firm of Elrod & Elrod is here to help, and has been counseling and advising people who are considering filing for divorce since 1966.
You may not be sure whether divorce is right for you. Perhaps you have questions about the financial impact of the decision to end your marriage. Or maybe you know your marriage is over and it’s time to take action.
Wherever you are in the process of deciding whether to end your marriage, it’s important to have a skilled and experienced northeast Florida divorce lawyer on your side. Serving Jacksonville, Florida since 1966, Elrod & Elrod is here to help.
How to Choose a Northeast Florida Divorce Lawyer
Choosing a lawyer to represent you in your Florida divorce is an important decision. You should choose someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing personal issues. Your Florida divorce lawyer should be someone you trust. You need a Florida divorce attorney who has the experience and expertise to handle the variety of legal issues that come up during a divorce.
You also need a lawyer who is a caring and compassionate advocate, and who understands the difficulty of what you may be going through.
Elrod & Elrod has extensive experience counseling and advising people who are considering divorce. At Elrod & Elrod, a skilled and experienced Florida divorce lawyer will evaluate your case, and will draw on years of experience representing people going through divorce in Florida to advise you on the variety of issues that may arise during a Florida divorce.
Elrod & Elrod has a robust family law practice that covers a wide range of family law issues, including:
- Flat Fee, Low Cost Uncontested Divorce
- Military Divorce
- Property Division
- Child Custody/Time Sharing
- Child Support Enforcement
- Domestic Violence Injunctions
Divorce can be complicated and often involves many diverse aspects of family law. Depending on whether you own your home, own a business, have children, or are in the military, many different elements of family law can come into play. Serving Jacksonville, Florida since 1966, Elrod & Elrod has the experience and expertise to understand these complex issues advise you on all aspects of a Florida divorce.
Preparing to File for Divorce in Florida
To prepare for your Florida divorce you will need copies of your tax returns, bank statements, mortgage documents, and other financial information. Your Florida divorce lawyer will analyze it and, eventually, present it to the court.
Gathering these documents early will save you time and money down the road. You should also take inventory of your major household and family possessions, and create a detailed budget to help the court determine how much support can be paid, and whether either spouse can realistically remain in the marital home.
Filing for Divorce in Florida
To file for divorce in Florida, one spouse must have been a Florida resident for at least six months before filing for divorce, or must be a member of the armed forces stationed in Florida.
In Florida, divorce is referred to as dissolution of marriage. Either spouse can file. In order to file for dissolution of marriage, you must be able to prove that a marriage exists, and meet the residency requirements.
If both spouses agree that there are “irreconcilable differences” and that there should be a divorce, you can agree in writing to end the marriage. If one of you does not agree, the court may order counseling for up to three months.
Like many states, Florida has abolished the need for grounds to end a marriage. Instead, one of the parties must indicate that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
While Florida has abolished fault based divorce, that does not mean the court will not consider what caused the breakdown in the marriage. This is especially true when the court determines alimony, the distribution of marital assets, and the development of a shared parenting plan.
A dissolution of marriage proceeding begins when one party files for divorce. The other party must respond within 20 days of being served, and must address the matters raised in the initial petition. The responding spouse can also file a cross-petition and raise any additional issues that the responding spouse wants the court to address.
The court requires that each party to a Florida divorce make certain financial disclosures and complete a financial affidavit within 45 days after service of the initial petition, or several days before any hearing. Failure to provide this financial information can result in the court dismissing the case or not considering that party’s requests. If there are children involved, each party must also include a child support guidelines worksheet.
Distribution of Assets in a Florida Divorce
Generally, the court will try to divide marital assets evenly, unless there are reasons for an unequal distribution. The judge will consider you and your spouse’s financial situation and the contributions each of you made to the marriage, including care for children and of the marital home. If either of you wishes to stay in the marital home with a child from the marriage, that might be the basis for an unequal division of assets.
Children and Divorce in Florida
If you are going through a divorce and have minor children (under the age of 18), Florida requires that you complete an approved 4 hour Parent Education and Family Stabilization course that is designed to educate, train, and assist Florida parents in ways that minimize the emotional impact of divorce on you and your children. Each parent must take the course individually before the court will grant dissolution of marriage.
Uncontested Divorce in Florida
If you and your spouse agree on how to divide property, debt, and responsibility for any children, you may be eligible for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce may avoid a court appearance. However, if there are any issues you and your spouse cannot agree on, the court will schedule your divorce for a hearing.
Many times couples wish to dissolve their marriage amicably with the assistance of trained professionals in a collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce is a voluntary dispute resolution process that can begin at any time, before or after a party has filed for divorce. Generally, the parties mutually agree to voluntarily disclose all relevant and material information, to use good faith efforts to negotiate and may engage the services of a joint neutral health and/or financial professional to assist with the negotiations.
The goal of a collaborative divorce is to craft a written settlement agreement that addresses all issues, including a parenting plan (if applicable), division of assets and debts, alimony, child support, and attorney’s fees. If the collaborative divorce is not successful, the parties must discharge their attorneys and other professionals and begin a contested dissolution process through the court.
Mediation and Divorce in Florida
Most judges will refer a divorce proceeding to mediation. This is not to attempt to save the marriage; rather, the goal of mediation is to reach an agreement without the lengthy process of preparing for a trial.
If you and your spouse are able to agree on some of all of the issues in your divorce before or after the petition is filed, you may be able to enter into an agreement that will be signed by both parties and presented to the court.
If there are issues upon which the parties are not able to reach consensus, the court will schedule a trial during which each side will present evidence and testimony and ask the judge to decide any contested issues.
Elrod & Elrod - Helping People in Northeast Florida Since 1966
If you are considering filing for divorce in Florida, contact Elrod & Elrod today.
Based in Jacksonville, the Florida family law firm of Elrod & Elrod has been serving the Jacksonville, Florida metropolitan area since 1966. The firm proudly represents people throughout northeast Florida in Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Hamilton, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St.Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, and Union counties.
Elrod & Elrod will handle your divorce matter with care, compassion, and expertise. Contact an experienced northeast Florida divorce lawyer at Elrod & Elrod today. Call 904-356-1282, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online form.