December 30, 2020

Divorce in Florida – 4 Requirements You Need to Fulfill

Among the different experiences that one may encounter in their daily lives, divorce is one process that can take the most significant toll on a person’s emotions and mental health. 

If you’ve been married for a while now and fear that it may all be meeting its end, now is the time to start preparing for the possibility that you may have to file for a divorce. Compared to a regular break-up or an annulment, the process in question can easily make for a rather complicated process because of all the different facts that must be considered. 

By now, you’ve probably done all the necessary research and gone over a handful of debates in your head over making the separation official or trying to work things out. However, in most cases, the final smart move will be to break things off before they get even messier. 

Once you’ve gotten all the necessary details and acquainted yourself with the fundamentals of divorce procedures, it may seem like nearly every detail that must be accounted for is taken care of. Yet, amid all the confusion and anxiety that you may be having, there’s one factor above all else that you must know about: The must-have requirements of a divorce in Florida.

Different requirements of divorce that you must comply with

Generally, filing for a divorce in Florida involves meeting and taking note of four specific requirements and details: 

  1. The residency requirement
  2. Florida statute 196.012 (17)
  3. Florida statute 61.052 (1)
  4. Florida statute 61.052 (2)

Let’s go over each specific component and jurisdictional requirement in further detail so that you can best prepare for the proceedings and filing process: 

1. The residency requirement

One of the primary jurisdictional requirements of filing for a divorce is a minimum residency requirement that applies to all civil unions. Based on Florida law, spouses that are looking to obtain a divorce must have resided in any city within the area for at least six (6) months before filing their petition for dissolution of marriage. 


2. Florida statute 196.012 (17)

Based on this specific statute, the bottom line is that those looking to separate legally must maintain an actual presence in the state with the intention to remain in the state. When it comes to satisfying this specific statute, it’s worth noting that the qualified documentation for doing so are as follows:

  • Florida voter registration card
  • Florida driver’s license
  • Florida identification card
  • Testimony or affidavit of a third party

The excerpt from the statute is as follows: 

‘Permanent residence’ means that place where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which, whenever absent, he or she has the intention of returning. A person may have only one permanent residence at a time.

3. Florida Statute 61.052(2)

After the residency requirement is complied with, couples must subscribe to the set terms that are expounded upon in Florida Statute 61.052(2)—also known as the legally-acknowledged grounds for divorce. The specific accepted grounds for divorce by law (according to the statute) are as follows: 

No judgment of dissolution of marriage shall be granted unless one of the following facts appears, which shall be pleaded generally:

    1. The marriage is irretrievably broken.
    2. Mental incapacity of one of the parties. However, no dissolution shall be allowed unless the party alleged to be incapacitated shall have been adjudged incapacitated according to the provisions of s. 744.331 for a preceding period of at least 3 years.

4. Florida Statute 61.052(1)

Apart from the specific grounds mentioned above, additional guidelines for unions are in place wherein only one party agrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Although couples may be granted a divorce even if only a one-sided decision, the law requires that they follow this specific set guideline: 

When there is a minor child of the marriage, or when the responding party denies by answer to the petition for dissolution that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may:

  1. Order either or both parties to consult with a marriage counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, minister, priest, rabbi, or any other person deemed qualified by the court and acceptable to the party or parties ordered to seek consultation
  2. Continue the proceedings for a reasonable length of time not to exceed 3 months, to enable the parties themselves to effect a reconciliation
  3. Take such other action as may be in the best interest of the parties and the minor child of the marriage”

Conclusion

Going through a divorce in Florida can prove to be a rather difficult process because of all the factors to consider before any major task or process is undertaken. With the help of this guide, you can be best guided during your filing experience to ensure that no unwanted hurdles or constraints appear and put you in a predicament.

At Dorsey Law JAX, we hold 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, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

December 22, 2020

Understanding Custody and Visitation Rights as a Grandparent

Watching your child endure a divorce is no easy feat. From cushioning their emotional turmoil to assisting in their paperwork, you’re likely also mulling over your visitation rights. Fortunately, as per the Florida Supreme Court, grandparent visitation makes for a healthy and well-maintained family. Still, grandparents must maintain counsel throughout the divorce process should they need to pursue a petition. 

What Does the Court Consider?

For a grandparent to be granted visitation rights, the courts must find that it is in the child’s best interest. As such, they will consider factors such as: 

  • The willingness of the grandparent to encourage a positive relationship between the grandchild and parent
  • The length and quality of the relationship between the grandchild and grandparent
  • What the child prefers, should they be old enough to express a preference
  • The mental and physical health of both the grandchild and grandparent

What are a Grandparent’s Rights?

In Florida, only natural parents have absolute rights—not grandparents. Thus, if a parent decides that their grandchild shouldn’t interact with their grandparents, Florida courts don’t offer much leniency. 

However, a grandparent might receive visitation or custody rights should the court find a valid concern regarding the parents’ ability to care for the child properly. In some cases, a grandparent may be granted rights if:

  • One or both parents become arrested.
  • The child is a proven victim of abuse.
  • The child is out of school and experiencing neglect.
  • The child is living in a property rife with illegal drugs. 

If a grandparent is willing and able, they can legally become the child’s new guardian recommended by the Florida courts. 

About the Juvenile Dependency Court

If there is any danger surrounding the child, the Juvenile Dependency Court opens a case. This court is responsible for ensuring that the child is safe and protected and focuses on providing direct help for the family in question. 

Their mission is that they are big believers in crafting workable solutions instead of penalizing and prosecuting parents. If your case goes to Juvenile Dependency Court, you might anticipate the following outcomes. 

  1. If the state believes that it is in the child’s best interest to return to their natural parents, they may remain in the household with the possibility of occasional inspections. 
  2. If the court pursues a hearing, both parents and grandparents will have an opportunity to present their case. Should a judge believe there is not enough evidence demonstrating that the child should be removed from their home, they will be returned to their natural parents. 
  3. If the court believes that one or both parents require services before the child can be safely returned to their home, they must craft a case plan. This case plan pertains to the child returning only once the home is safe and stable. 
  4. If the circumstances are detrimental to the child’s health, and the parents are unwilling to collaborate on a case plan, the grandparents can seek custody. Alternatively, if the parents end up losing their rights, the child may be placed for adoption or petitioned to reside with another family member. 

Conclusion

In Florida, the courts favor shared parental responsibility unless proven detrimental to the child’s health. Whether grandparents can become involved will ultimately depend on the circumstances and what will most benefit the child.  

At Dorsey Law Firm, we have over 35 years of experience in family law. We promote shared parenting and open communication and work towards creating the best possible parenting plan. 

December 13, 2020

On Divorce: What to Do When Your Spouse Hides an Asset

When going through a divorce, the parties will need to divide their assets and liabilities. After all, they will need to resolve child custody, child support, parenting roles, and property division, among other things. While the other aspects are heavily based on their role as parents and their relationship with their children, property distribution is different! Distribution of assets and liabilities can be complicated to argue about.

For a couple starting over, the division of property is a crucial way to start life again. But what will you do if your spouse is trying to hide assets from the court? This article will help you understand more about your case. 

What Happens When an Asset is Hidden

Trying to conceal an asset from the law has serious consequences. In the eyes of the court, it is seen as a fraudulent act. 

  • When Your Spouse Lies Under Oath

Your spouse who lied under oath may be subjected to penalties from the court or even criminal charges, depending on the severity of the case. Either way, if assets are concealed the guilty spouse needs to pay back for what they did, particularly if the concealment is done intentionally!

  • When the Lie Gets Discovered and Proven

If the hidden asset gets discovered and proven in court, the proving party will have the right to whatever is at stake. The court will even grant them the expenses and attorney’s fees they spent to verify the committed deception. 

  • When You are Unaware of the Hidden Assets at First

There are scenarios where a spouse only learns about their partner’s hidden asset until the divorce is finalized. If you find yourself in this situation, here are the things you can do:

  1. Check your settlement agreement. If you find a statement that says you both made an honest and full disclosure of all your assets and signed it, then you have a fighting chance. You can use it to reopen your divorce case and pursue a fair settlement. 
  2. If the divorce judgment is not yet finalized, you can also raise the issue to the court. The judge may ask for another division of assets based on your proven facts. 

How to Prove That Your Spouse Has Hidden Assets

Evidence is crucial for any case. You will have more advantage if you can prove to the court that your claim is valid. Here is how you can prove that your spouse is hiding an asset from everyone:

  • Consult with your divorce lawyer! They are the best person to tell you what types of documents or evidence you will need to prove your claim. They can also help you request records that you do not have personal access to, such as bank statements, tax returns, pension plan documents, and other such documents.
  • In case you have access to any of your spouse’s documents, you need to make copies of them and hand them over to your lawyer. 
  • If situations get trickier and gathering documented proof is out of the question, then your lawyer can challenge your spouse extensively under oath. Your attorney can also request documents directly from your spouse during this interrogation process. Your attorney can conduct other discovery including subpoenaing records. 

Conclusion

It is best to alert your divorce lawyer as soon as you suspect that your spouse is hiding any assets from you. Your lawyer can help you deal with it as early as possible. Doing so will leave you with fewer expenses and less time wasted during the whole divorce process. 

If you need a firm that offers family law advice in Jacksonville, The Dorsey Law Firm will be glad to assist you. Our services include all family law matters, whether you’re looking at a divorce, dissolution of marriage, property division, child custody, or domestic violence injunctions, among other things. Call us today to learn how we can help your case! 

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