Divorce Lawyers in Destin
When someone is going through a divorce, it is one of the most stressful times in their life. There is a great amount of uncertainty about the future – What will happen to the kids? Will I be able to make ends meet financially? Will I be able to survive? Millions of others have been where you are, and you will get through it. But the process will be much smoother for you if you have the right family law attorney in your corner.
At Whibbs, Stone & Barnett, P.A., we understand what you are going through, and we are here to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this difficult time. Our lawyers have several decades of experience representing clients who are facing a divorce in Destin, Pensacola, and communities throughout the Florida Panhandle. We have extensive knowledge of the complexities of this area of the law, and we take the time to listen and understand the specific needs and concerns of each client, so we can develop the most practical and effective legal solution.
What You Need to Know About Divorces in Destin, FL
If you are considering a divorce, there are a lot of steps in the process, and a lot of things that you need to prepare for. Here are some important things you should know about Florida divorces:
In order to get divorced in Florida, at least one of the spouses needs to have been a resident of the state for at least six months; or as is often the case in Destin and other nearby communities, a member of the Armed Forces who is stationed in the Sunshine State.
Because Florida is a no-fault state, there are only two possible grounds for a divorce:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken; or
- One of the spouses has been declared mentally incapacitated at least three years prior to the filing.
The vast majority of cases are filed based on the claim that the marriage is broken beyond repair. If you don’t have children and your spouse agrees to the divorce, the court will grant your petition based on these grounds. If there are minor children involved and/or your spouse does not agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court might order a continuance (i.e., delay) of up to three months to give the parties time to try and reconcile. The court might also order counseling with a psychologist, marriage counselor, priest, minister, or rabbi.
Initiating the Divorce Process
The Florida divorce process begins when one of the spouses files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the local family court. After the filing, the other spouse is served with legal notice and given time to respond. Within 20 days, the spouse who is served must respond to the court by either agreeing to or denying the allegation within the Petition.
If both parties agree on the divorce and they can agree on issues of contention such as property division and parental responsibilities, then the divorce can be finalized without a trial. If there are disagreements over these issues, then litigation may be necessary.
Important Issues to Resolve
A Destin, FL divorce can be completed fairly smoothly and quickly if both spouses agree to the marriage dissolution, there are no children, the duration of the marriage was short, and the couple has limited assets. If, on the other hand, the couple was married for a significant length of time, they have substantial assets, and there are minor children involved, then you will have to resolve important matters such as:
- Child Support: Florida has preset guidelines on how child-support is calculated based on the “income shares model”, which takes into consideration the overall incomes of both parents.
- Child Custody/Visitation: Florida now uses the term “division of parental responsibility” to describe child custody and visitation matters, with a default preference toward both parents taking an active role in the life of the child.
- Division of Assets and Debts: In Florida, marital property is divided “fairly and equitably”. This does not necessarily mean 50/50, just that the asset division is fair for both parties. Some potential complications could include disputes over whether certain property is marital or separate, significant debts that belong to one spouse or the other, family-owned or closely held businesses, and any legally enforceable marital agreements.
- Alimony/Spousal Support: During the divorce, there is no guarantee that spousal support will be paid. Generally, it is awarded when a couple has been married for a long time, there is a significant disparity in income between the two spouses, and the lower earning spouse will have difficulty producing a livable income on their own.
It is generally in everyone’s best interests to resolve issues like these without the need for a costly and lengthy trial. This could be done using various methods such as negotiation and mediation. We will work hard to develop a peaceable and workable settlement that allows you to avoid litigation. If your spouse is unwilling to negotiate in good faith, however, we will be ready and able to advocate aggressively for your best interests inside the courtroom.
Documents You Will Need
Before you begin the divorce process, it is a good idea to gather as much financial information as possible. You will need copies of bank statements, mortgage documents, W-2s, tax returns, and similar documents. You should also compile a detailed household budget and a full inventory of all of the family assets and possessions. Doing this ahead of time will save you a lot of time and headache having to scramble to get this information together later on.
Many divorcing spouses overlook one very important area when it comes to division of marital property – the tax implications. As a divorcee, your taxes will be filed differently (e.g., single or head of household rather than married filing jointly or married filing separately). You might also have to deal with capital gains taxes if you are selling various property (such as stocks or real estate) in order to settle the divorce. Always be sure to consult with your CPA to determine how the divorce will affect your tax situation.
Contact a Knowledgeable and Compassionate Destin, FL Divorce Lawyer
If you are facing a divorce in the Destin, FL area, Whibbs Stone & Barnett is ready to go to work for you. Call our office today at 1-888-219-4561 or message us online for a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys.