Stuart Divorce Lawyer
Compassionate, experienced family law attorney in Stuart, Florida
Divorce and other family law issues are fraught with emotion, and it is easy to fall prey to poor judgment during these difficult times. The last thing you need is to choose an inexperienced Stuart divorce attorney who makes critical mistakes in your case that lengthen the process, cause disputes and increase your legal costs. You need a lawyer who has compassion for your situation and is smart and aggressive during negotiations and court proceedings. The best way to achieve that result is to obtain the legal services of Stuart family lawyer Leanne L. Ohle.
Family law cases we handle
At Leanne L. Ohle, P.A., we focus on resolving a wide range of family law issues, many of which are related. We work diligently to help families resolve disputes that involve:
- child custody
- child support
In Florida, divorce is not based on fault. This means that either party can choose to legally end the union if there is no chance of reconciliation. The divorce must either be either handled between the two parties or litigated with the help of a divorce lawyer. The latter is usually necessary when issues like child custody, child support and the distribution of large assets – like property and cryptocurrency – are at play. A divorce attorney from our firm in Stuart is available to provide representation in any of these situations.
Types of divorces
In Florida, there are two types of divorce: a "simplified dissolution of marriage," also called a "simplified divorce," and a regular dissolution of marriage. Simplified divorces can be handled without counsel, provided that all of the following criteria applies:
- the couple does not have minor children together
- the wife must not be pregnant at the time of filing
- both parties must complete a "Financial Affidavit" and a "Property Settlement Agreement"
- both parties must attend the final divorce hearing
For couples that meet the requirements, the simplified option may be appealing as it may seem to be the fastest way to dissolve the marriage. Consulting a lawyer prior to deciding to do a simplified divorce can help you ensure your interests are protected.
Ways to get a divorce in Florida
There are several ways couples can get a divorce in Florida. Some ways are more favorable than others, depending on the couples' unique circumstances. The traditional way of getting a divorce is to call an attorney. We recommend each party have his or her own attorney, who will serve as a personal advocate. When you contact us, we will listen carefully to the facts of your case. Our attorney will work closely with you to file the necessary paperwork and advocate on your behalf in the division of property and resolution of child custody-related issues. Today, there are ways of filing a divorce that may be more convenient for some clients.
Florida residents now have the option of filing for a divorce online. This option is usually most convenient for people who have will an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both parties have already agreed upon the terms of the dissolution of the marriage. Divorcing couples may come to an agreement on their own or in mediation. Online divorces are typically handled over the internet through a service.
It is also possible to handle the divorce process yourself in Florida. If you prefer the self-serve option, you will need to know the legalities, including which forms to use, where to file the documents, and what to do next. Similar to the online filing option, divorces with few complications are usually the best cases for the DIY approach to filing.
Florida divorce requirements
Divorce cases are handled in Florida's Family Court division. These courts can only grant divorces in cases over which the local state courts have jurisdiction. First, at least one partner is required to have resided in Florida for at least six months. Next, the divorce must be based on one of two grounds: 1) the marriage is "irretrievably broken" or 2) one of the parties has been declared mentally incapacitated by a judge for at least three years prior to the other party filing for a divorce.
Challenges to getting divorced in Florida
Marriages that involve domestic abuse can be challenging if one party wants to get a divorce, but the other party is not in agreement. An abusive spouse may try to delay the divorce by arguing the marriage is not irretrievably broken and requesting the judge to order counseling or mediation before granting the divorce. The attorney for the abused party may inform the judge about the domestic violence and suggest that mediation is not an appropriate venue for facilitating reconciliation. The judge may take steps to keep the abused party safe by ruling against counseling or permitting mediation only as a means to resolve matters within the divorce that will allow the marriage to be resolved. If the abused party is ordered to attend mediation, the judge may require the abuser to remain in a separate room in the interest of protecting the abused party's safety.
The divorce process can be especially complex if one spouse is a member of the military. For example, Florida may have jurisdiction over the marriage if one spouse meets the residency requirement. However, if one spouse never resided in Florida and the other spouse is deployed on military service, Florida courts may not have the jurisdiction over the non-resident spouse to order alimony, divide up assets, and decide other matters in the divorce. Military divorces can be even more complicated if the couple had one or more children during the marriage. A Stuart divorce lawyer can help members of the military and their spouses navigate the challenges that can otherwise complicate the divorce process.
Child custody cases
In Florida, custody of children under the age of 18 is typically shared between the parents unless this would prove detrimental to the children. The court looks at several factors when determining custody and bases the decision on what is best for the child's emotional and physical needs.
Child custody is often the most difficult part of a divorce for courts to resolve. Not only do courts consider the parents, but the judge must also consider the child's needs and preferences. Even in relatively amicable divorces, parents may struggle to divide visitation, custody, and financial responsibilities for the children involved. In Florida, every petition of dissolution must come with a parenting plan if the couple has children together. The parenting plan outlines the parents' plan for how they intend to raise their children after the divorce.
In contentious divorces, each partner may have motives that are not in the child's best interest. A Stuart child custody attorney can help parents work out an arrangement that best suits the child. We represent divorcing couples and single parents who are seeking to work out custody and visitation arrangements. Both parties must ultimately come up with a shared plan with which each party is in agreement. Lawyers sometimes mediate child custody discussions between the parents.
Cases involving child support
Strict state guidelines are in place for child support amounts based on the incomes of the parents, and payments continue until the child reaches the age of 18. Child support also encompasses health insurance coverage and out-of-pocket medical expenses for the child.
Child support is an issue divorcing couples and single parents may face. During a divorce trial, the family court judge will typically work out the details of child custody and visitation in addition to calculating the amount of support the non-custodial parent will be required to contribute to the child's upbringing. People who have a child outside of marriage may also utilize the family court process to resolve matters of custody, visitation, and support. Parents should go to court to work out official custody and child support arrangements even if the parents are amicable and one of the parents has agreed outside of court to contribute financial support. There may come a time when the parents have a major disagreement, a parent's life circumstances change, or a parent may otherwise require proof of a legal child support order. Florida family court attorneys are available to help parents work through compensation, health insurance, tuition, and other matters related to the financial support and upbringing of children whose parents are not together.
Paying and receiving spousal support after a Florida divorce
Depending on certain factors within a marriage, a Florida family court will award alimony or spousal support in the event of a divorce. While there are many popular misconceptions about spousal support, courts consider several factors in determining whether to award spousal support and exactly how much the recipient should receive. Currently, Florida courts may order five types of alimony:
Temporary spousal support is available to spouses who need financial assistance during the divorce proceedings. Bridge-the-gap support helps spouses meet short-term needs while transitioning from being married to being single. For example, the lower-earning spouse may need support while waiting for the marital home to sell or while looking for full-time employment after the divorce is finalized. Rehabilitative support is the most common type of spousal support. The recipient spouse may use this type of support while attending school, receiving job training, or gaining work experience to develop skills that will allow the spouse to eventually earn enough income to support his or her household after the marriage. Courts usually award rehabilitative support and put a rehabilitative plan in place. Durational support is similar to rehabilitative support; however, the spouse only receives the support for a pre-determined amount of time. The court will not necessarily create a rehabilitative plan when awarding durational support. Permanent alimony is rare. Florida courts award permanent support to spouses who are unlikely to be able to support themselves in the future. This type of support is most often awarded in cases in which the lower-earning spouse is advanced in age, disabled, or caring for a child who has special needs.
Florida paternity cases
Paternity cases establish the identity of the legal father of a child to allow child support and parental time-sharing arrangements to be negotiated and legally put in place. Either the father or the mother of the child can initiate a paternity action. Paternity is typically proven with DNA testing.
Reasons for establishing paternity
There are several reasons a child's mother or father would seek to establish paternity through a paternity test. People often think of the need to determine or prove paternity arising when a man or woman is unsure of who fathered a child. Perhaps there was suspected infidelity at the time the child was conceived or the child's father may be denying paternity. In some cases, the child's father may have been previously unaware of the child's conception and seeks to determine paternity after learning he could possibly be the father. A mother may request a paternity test to initiate the process of filing to receive child support. A child's father may take a paternity test to prove he is the father of a child if he plans to file an action to receive custody of the child or visitation rights. A man who is not the father of a child may take a paternity test to prove he does not owe child support.
A compassionate lawyer on your side
Divorce attorney Leanne L. Ohle is a dedicated advocate who approaches every case with compassion and commitment to professional excellence. While she deals with legal processes every day, she never forgets that her clients are often intimidated and uncomfortable with lawyers and courts. This is why she takes the time to answer your questions honestly, letting you know with straightforward language what you can expect during each stage of the legal process.
Divorce lawyer 'near me' in Stuart
Finding the right local family law attorney in Stuart is essential to help you uphold your legal rights and obtain what is fair. For divorce attorneys who will work tirelessly to ensure that your voice is heard, contact Leanne L. Ohle, P.A. today to schedule a free, no-obligation legal consultation.
How long will it take to get a divorce?
No simple answer exists to this question. Variables, such as disputes between splitting spouses, child custody and even the availability of court dates, influence the time frame of a divorce. An uncontested divorce with easily resolved issues may be wrapped up in roughly 3 months. However, many divorces have some contested elements that require the parties to negotiate, mediate or litigate in some way. The divorce time line then may extend to 1 to 2 years.
What is the difference between an uncontested and contested divorce?
The two parties in an uncontested divorce are not hindered by disagreements about how to dissolve their marriage. They come to terms and process the legal filings. As a result, an uncontested divorce is naturally quicker and less costly. On the other hand, a contested divorce involves working through disagreements regarding asset division, child custody, child support and/or spousal support. Physical or emotional abuse may also be an issue during a contested divorce. The representation of a divorce attorney can be especially important when an abuse survivor needs to overcome the threats and intimidation of a former partner who is pushing for an unfair divorce settlement.
How do I start a divorce in Florida?
As a Florida resident for at least 6 months, you can initiate a divorce by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the appropriate family court in your area. If you qualify and desire to do so, you may file the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. The petition must state that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." It also sets forth your initial claims regarding division of property and debts, child custody, child support and possibly spousal support. After filing the petition with the court, your spouse must be served the divorce papers before proceeding to the next steps.
Can I file for divorce in Florida if my spouse left the state?
As long as you can prove that you have been a Florida resident for at least 6 months, you may petition for divorce even without your spouse in the state. Although your state residency grants Florida the legal authority to dissolve your marriage, your spouse's residency elsewhere removes the state's jurisdiction over matters related to distribution of marital assets or payment of spousal support. The advice of a divorce attorney may help you understand the limitations and make decisions that promote your needs.
When would Florida have jurisdiction in a divorce with an out-of-state spouse?
When couples split, sometimes one of the people move out of state. This situation does not always prevent Florida from having jurisdiction over the terms of the divorce filed within the state. A couple that maintained a marital home in the state would be subject to Florida jurisdiction. Serving the divorce papers on the spouse when he or she is physically in the state activates jurisdiction as well. An out-of-state spouse may also waive the right to contest jurisdiction.
How is marital property divided?
Financial issues are a large concern for people getting divorces. State law calls for an equitable distribution of marital assets. In some cases, equitable might mean equal, but a fair distribution that is not fully equal may result in other cases. Splitting spouses have the option to work out the division between themselves and according to their preferences. However, unresolved disputes could end up before a judge, who will rule based on the principle of equitable distribution. Property owned prior to a marriage may be excluded from divorce property division. Other factors, such as a spouse interrupting a career to care for children or paying for the other spouse's education, can influence the division as well.
Does Florida require the payment of alimony?
State law does recognize that alimony, also known as spousal support, is appropriate in some divorces. Depending on the economic circumstances of the marriage, either party regardless of gender may have to pay the other alimony. The divorce settlement will establish whether alimony is paid as a single lump sum, in payments over a predetermined period of time or as an ongoing and permanent payment obligation. Legal support can be very important for a person pursuing spousal support or contesting demands for unjustifiable levels of support.
How can I get a divorce if I don't know where my spouse is?
State law asks that people conduct a good faith search to locate an absent spouse prior to filing for divorce. A diligent search will include making inquiries at the Department of Motor Vehicles and asking family and friends for information about a spouse's whereabouts. Publication of a notice in a newspaper regarding the upcoming divorce filing is also necessary. These efforts should eventually locate your spouse. Finding your spouse is important so that person can be served with divorce papers. This is essential before a court can move forward with the division of property.
How is marital property defined?
Any assets acquired by a married couple during the marriage and prior to the divorce filing will likely be counted as marital assets. These include real estate, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, businesses, vehicles, jewelry and much more. Some assets may require a professional appraisal to determine current value before the parties can proceed with division. The sums in the spouses' checking and savings accounts are subject to division as well. Debts also comprise part of the marital estate, and loans incurred during a marriage often obligate both spouses to repay them.
What makes an asset nonmarital?
Although marriage combines the financial lives of two people, the law may not view all assets as marital and therefore subject to division in divorce. Someone who owned an asset before the marriage and who kept it separate from the marital estate could designate the asset as nonmarital. Gifts from third parties, including an inheritance, may be an individual asset as long as it was not mingled with marital assets. Earnings after filing divorce papers are generally exempt as well. The deciding factor on many questions revolving around the designation of marital or nonmarital is often whether or not the funds or assets were co-mingled with marital assets. For example, an inheritance deposited into a joint marital account may transform it into a marital asset.