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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law and Divorce in Florida

If you are considering divorce or have been served with divorce papers, you may have many valid concerns about how the divorce will affect your future in areas such as your personal finances and access to your children. Below are answers to some questions the attorneys at Whibbs & Stone frequently get asked when advising clients about the Florida divorce process. If you have other questions, or if you need advice and representation in a divorce in Pensacola, Fort Walton or Mobile, Alabama, call us toll-free at 1-888-219-4561 to speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys.

I’m worried that if I file for divorce, my spouse will freeze me out of the bank account or cancel my credit cards. What can I do?

The judge handling your divorce can issue temporary orders regarding child custody and the payment of support, directing use of the family home, and ordering the parties not to make any significant changes to the family finances, such as selling a home or car, making a major purchase, or opening or closing any bank accounts or cancelling credit cards. The idea is to maintain the status quo until a final decision is reached in the divorce. If you have any particular concerns regarding property, finances, custody or support, talk to your attorney, and he or she will make sure these concerns are addressed by the judge though enforceable, temporary court orders.

Does the husband always have to pay alimony in a divorce?

First of all, alimony is not automatic and is only awarded if one party requests it and the judge decides it is warranted. Second, the court could require either the husband or the wife to pay alimony. Several factors go into determining whether alimony should be awarded and if so, for how long. These factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage
  • The earning capacity and financial resources of each party
  • How the court divides the marital property
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage in areas such as working, household management or taking care of the children while the other spouse worked or went to school

Whether requesting or challenging an alimony award, it is important to have strong, effective legal representation from an experienced attorney who can present a valid, persuasive case to the judge in support of your position.

Is alimony forever? How long does alimony last?

There are different types of alimony. A permanent alimony award may be considered appropriate after a long-term marriage to allow a non-working spouse to maintain the same standard of living established during the marriage. Other types of alimony may be granted in one lump sum or over a certain period of time to ease the transition from married life to single life or to enable a non-working spouse to gain education or job skills. Alimony of this type is usually granted according to a written plan that shows how much alimony will be needed and for how long.

Can I move and take the kids with me if I have primary custody?

Neither parent should move out of state or a significant distance away without first talking to an attorney. A move-away may require a modification of the parenting plan and timesharing arrangement, which requires approval by the court and a determination that the relocation and modification will be in the child’s best interests.

What does a prenuptial agreement do?

A prenuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement, is a legal contract that can be signed by a couple who are going to be married. The prenuptial agreement can set out how certain matters will be handled in the event the couple later separates or divorces, or in the event of the death of one of the spouses. Usually, the prenuptial agreement addresses the division of property and the payment of alimony or spousal support. If the couple does later divorce, the terms of the prenuptial agreement decide these matters, and the parties do not have to go to court and fight over them. A few issues cannot be addressed in a prenuptial agreement, such as any provision that would negatively affect child support.

Prenuptial agreements are generally favored where there is a large disparity in the assets or income between the couple. The wealthier spouse wants to know that the wealth he or she has worked so hard to obtain will be protected, and the less wealthy spouse wants assurance that he or she will be adequately taken care of in the event of a divorce or separation. The prenuptial agreement can accomplish both goals. An attractive feature of the prenuptial agreement is that it is a private, confidential document, and the terms of the divorce do not need to be disclosed to other family members, the media or the general public. A legal divorce proceeding, on the other hand, is a public proceeding, and matters discussed in open court are a matter of public record for anyone to see.

Prenups are also often used where one or both of the prospective spouses has been married before and been through a difficult divorce. The prenuptial agreement lets them enter into marriage without the worry that there could be another tough legal battle looming ahead or that one would get taken advantage of in the event the marriage doesn’t work out.

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