June 3, 2021
As a parent living in Florida that has come to know and love it as your own home for years, you’re probably familiar with the fact also commonly referred to as a no-fault divorce state.
Compared to some other states, Florida allows residents to file for divorce without the need for additional proof of documentation, making it easy for those who desire a divorce to receive immediate help. According to the Florida Statutes, all that’s needed is proof the marriage is irretrievably broken and proof that either you or spouse has been a continuous resident of Florida for the six (6) months preceding filing for divorce. A copy of your Florida Driver’s License is proof enough of residency.
If you’ve been having trouble with your spouse, you’re likely set on going your separate ways to resume a happier life without the shackles of bad marriage weighing you down. However, the problem lies in the fact that navigating the court system itself during the filing process can be especially difficult, even if you have a skilled lawyer by your side.
Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about the complications of the divorce process affecting your long-awaited freedom because this is where the “P.E.A.C.E.” principle comes into play.
Dissecting the P.E.A.C.E. Principle
The experience of navigating the divorce process in Florida has become increasingly difficult because the end result of the process can have a long-lasting effect on both your children and your finances. However, it’s worth noting that knowing the steps of the legal process will allow you to make the right decisions moving forward to help you minimize the degree of complications you’ll run into along the way.
To ensure that you go through the divorce process error-free, here’s a quick guide to the P.E.A.C.E. principle that represents all the steps the Court exclusively follows in entering a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
P: Parenting Plan
Typically, the Florida divorce process begins when the parents involved work towards reaching an agreement on how to address parenting (if they have children in their marriage).
When the parties reach an agreement, a judge will ratify the terms of the agreement to ensure that all commitments are upheld and both parties are set to experience amenable conditions in terms of their parenting requests. If parents cannot agree to a settlement, the Court will decide based on the children’s best interests without any preference towards either parent because of the gender. There must be a Parenting Plan in all divorce judgments with children. (See: Williams v. Williams).
E: Equitable Distribution
After the Parenting Plan, the next step is an equitable distribution of the marital assets and liabilities. Marital assets and liabilities will be subject to an equitable distribution. Although the courts will start dividing both marital assets and marital debts with a 50-50 split (See: Hitchcock v. Hitchcock.) Unequal distribution may be determined based on relevant statutory factors.
Alternatively known as spousal support, alimony in Florida divorces is concerned with establishing the payment of support from one spouse to another. Alimony is primarily based on the premise of the disparity in the financial resources of two parties, the fundamental principle that guides the award of alimony is typically irrefutable unless contested with a sufficient basis. The following are different types of periodic alimony:
- Bridge the Gap
- Permanent Rehabilitative
C: Child Support
After settling the alimony, Florida courts will establish how much child support will be required by each parent. Based on the Florida Child Support Guidelines, the amount one or both parents must pay is calculated using these factors:
- The net income of each parent
- The number of children involved
- The overnight timesharing arrangement (or the agreement established during the “P” stage of the process)
- Whether either party is paying for health insurance and/or childcare for the child(ren)
E: Everything Else
Once important matters like parenting plans, equitable distribution, alimony, and child support are settled, Florida courts will assist couples in handling miscellaneous concerns about the divorce process such as health insurance, life insurance, claiming the child(ren) as a dependent on the annual income tax returns and attorney’s fees and costs.
Going through a divorce in Florida may not have any legal hindrances like processes in other states, but the logistics of the whole process can be difficult when it comes to understanding everything in full detail. Once you become well-aware of the P.E.A.C.E. principle, it will be easier to make the right decisions moving forward as you overcome the hurdles that lie ahead of you!
At Dorsey Law Firm, we have more than 35 years of experience handling family law in Jacksonville, Florida. If you’re about to file for divorce and need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process, please contact us today to see how we can help!