Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer
Standing by you during your contested, highly litigated Fort Lauderdale divorce
If you are facing a stressful, emotionally draining contested divorce, our Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer may be your best option for your dissolution of marriage. At Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, we are experienced in high-profile divorces and realize the importance of preparation and choosing battles wisely. We represent you with the right mix of professionalism and aggression to pursue your best interests.
What is dissolution of marriage?
Divorce in Florida is referred to as “dissolution of marriage.” Florida is a “no-fault” dissolution of marriage state, which means that you no longer have to show, and prove, a reason for the divorce. You can simply request a divorce from the court by stating that either the marriage is irretrievably broken or your spouse has a mental incapacity. The adoption of no-fault prevents abusive relationships from continuing and provides expedient closure in the Florida divorce process for the rest of the family.
Though you no longer have to show fault in a divorce case in Florida, there are some additional requirements in order to have your marriage effectively dissolved. For example, every state has a residency requirement when filing for divorce, and Florida is no different. The individual filing the divorce petition must have resided within the state of Florida for at least six months prior to the date of filing. If you have not lived in Florida for six months, you will have to delay your filing if you want to use the Florida courts. The are additional residency guidelines and requirements for divorces when one or both spouses are in the military and anyone who is seeking a military divorce should seek assistance from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer to ensure they comply will all of the relevant laws.
In addition to satisfying a residency requirement, Florida also requires a waiting period between when the divorce is filed and when it is granted. While some states can make certain couples wait as long as two years to obtain a divorce, the waiting period in Florida is only 20 days after filing. This does not mean that your divorce will necessarily be finalized after 20 days, however, as few are. In most cases, there are many issues to settle that take longer than the 20-day waiting period.
What to expect during your Fort Lauderdale divorce proceedings
While each divorce proceeding is different, the most important factor in determining the general contours of your divorce is whether you can cooperate with your spouse on the terms or require a court to dictate the terms. While collaborative divorce and uncontested divorces are typically quick, simple affairs, a contested divorce can be an extended, arduous ordeal:
- Collaborative divorce — A collaborative divorce is a relatively new type of divorce in Florida. The goal of a collaborative divorce is to reach a settlement before the proceeding goes to court. Collaborative divorce requires both parties to be represented by a lawyer and to agree mutually that neither party files in court except for filings of stipulations. The parties meet and work together to find an equitable settlement for both of them. Collaborative divorce is favored by many clients because it is fast, avoids costly litigation and avoids the possibility of a judge imposing his or her will on the parties. However, if the collaborative process fails, both parties have to start over and file a standard divorce with a new attorney.
- Uncontested divorce — An uncontested divorce is also known as a simplified divorce or a simple dissolution of marriage in Florida. To qualify for a simple dissolution of marriage, you and your spouse must:
- Have resided in Florida for a minimum of six months
- Have no dependent children or current pregnancy
- Have mutual consent to the agreement
- Not seek spousal support (alimony)
- Not seek trial or appeal
Both parties must agree on the particulars of the divorce, and the lawyers then draft a marital settlement agreement (MSA). While MSAs are typically accepted by the court, the court is not required to accept an MSA if it is unfair to one party. Contact our Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyers for more information.
Even if you do not completely agree on every issue in your divorce, there still may be a way to encourage you and your spouse to work together to avoid adversarial litigation. Specifically, divorce mediation can be very effective in facilitating couples to cooperate and reach agreements that are mutually agreeable. Coming to a mediation agreement regarding divorce matters can avoid the time, stress, and expense of court hearings or trials and you have a greater amount of control over the results of your case. It is important to have an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer representing you throughout mediation proceedings to ensure your rights are protected and the final agreement is as favorable as possible for you and your children.
What to do if your Fort Lauderdale divorce is contested
When emotions get in the way, you could find yourself in a draining contested divorce process. Unlike a collaborative divorce or a simple dissolution of marriage, a contested divorce can take a significant amount of time and money.
The first sign that you may have a contested divorce is if your spouse has replied to your divorce petition by stating that the marriage is not irretrievably broken. Generally, except in cases of domestic violence or abuse, the court requires a three-month period when both parties can attend counseling and try to repair the marriage. If after three months one spouse still states that the marriage is irretrievably broken, then a divorce is typically permitted to proceed. Unfortunately, this can potentially be only the beginning of your dissolution of marriage proceeding. Depending on the relationship between the parties, your spouse can challenge nearly all aspects of the divorce, including child support, child custody, division of marital assets, potential relocation expenses, paternity, allegations of domestic violence and spousal support (alimony).
Contesting issues in a divorce can be extremely time-consuming and emotionally taxing. When spouses cannot agree, the court will have to make the decisions for them. In order to do so, the court must hear arguments and review evidence from both sides. More often than not, this can result in personal information, indiscretions, criticisms, and sensitive financial information being aired in open court. As experienced divorce litigators, our attorneys can work to keep negotiating with your spouse and their attorney to avoid as much emotional distress as possible. We can also work to challenge the arguments of your spouse in court and provide support for your assertions regarding property division, spousal support, child custody, among many other issues. We approach contested divorces with your well-being in mind and seek to achieve the best results for you in the most cost-effective way possible. Whether you are facing an uncontested or contested divorce, our office can help you.
Contact us today to discuss your Fort Lauderdale Divorce
Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer Vanessa L. Prieto has the experience you need to go through your divorce process. Our office is open from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and, for your convenience, we offer Saturday appointments upon request. We are located conveniently in downtown Fort Lauderdale, north of Davie Boulevard, close to Broward Hospital and just three blocks from the county courthouse. For a free initial consultation, call us today at 954-800-2362 or contact us online.