Divorce is a deeply personal and painful experience for anyone. If you are thinking about, or going through a divorce, there are little things you can do to make the process smoother for your children and yourself. Retaining proper legal counsel and a quality advocate is the first step you should take.
Whether you are considering a divorce, or have just started the process, working with a qualified family law attorney in Miami is in your best interest. By leveraging their particular skills and talents, the chances of coming to a settlement that works in your favor increases. The team of divorce attorneys at the Kirlew Law Firm are here to help. Contact our officers for a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.
As an experienced trial lawyer, Brian Kirlew has years of family law experience. Kirlew is known as a fearless advocate for his clients, ensuring that they are fairly and honestly represented on their day in court. Thanks to his extensive background in both criminal and family law, Kirlew is well-suited to help you manage your divorce proceedings, as well as represent you in complicated matters like child custody, property division, and alimony and spousal support cases. When you work with Kirlew and his team of family lawyers during your divorce, you can rest easy knowing that you have a compassionate and skilled attorney on your side.
Heidi S. Kirlew
The field of family law is a natural fit for Heidi Kirlew, who has years of experience and success as a civil litigation attorney. Kirlew’s background in real estate transactions and her work with banking firms and tort law ensures that she knows how to put people first. Kirlew has successfully settled and negotiated thousands of dollars worth of settlements for her clients while suing insurance companies in personal injury cases. Responsible for the intake and processing of all legal pleadings and filings in family law, civil litigation, real estate, and business transaction cases, Kirlew leverages her experience and skill to best help families in Miami.
Are You Elegible for a Divorce?
Before you can start the divorce process, you first have to determine whether or not you’re eligible to do so in the first place. In Florida, one of the two parties of the divorce has to have lived in the state for a period of at least 6 months before filing for divorce. The divorce filing must occur in the same county where the filing party resides in Florida. The major exception to this, of course, is military personnel who live in the state of Florida but may be stationed elsewhere.
Florida is a No-Fault State
There might be a litany of factors that are motivating your factors: differences in personality, infidelity, changes in career, and even abuse. Your reasons for seeking a divorce are strictly your own, and will not affect the pursuit of a divorce. That’s because Florida is a “no-fault” state. Simply put, you don’t have to tell the court your reasons for wanting a divorce other than you want to end the marriage. That said, just because Florida is a “no-fault” state, that doesn’t mean they will not take factors like adultery and infidelity into account as they carry out decisions like dividing property and establishing support payments. The grounds for your divorce are entirely personal. The only reason you must provide to the courts is that the marriage is broken beyond repair. You must show that your relationship is over.
In certain circumstances, medical issues are also grounds for divorce. For instance, if a spouse has been mentally incapacitated for at least three years, you have grounds for divorce.
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Starting the Divorce Process
Once you’ve determined your eligibility for divorce and established the grounds for doing so, you can begin the divorce process with the courts. Before you begin, it’s best to work with a Miami divorce attorney to assure that you’re filing the correct paperwork.
To begin, one of the two parties in the marriage will need to file a Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage. Whichever spouse files the form is considered the petitioner, and the other the respondent. Once the form has been filed, the petitioner must provide a copy to the respondent, a process called serving.
At this point, you may start down one of two paths. Should the respondent agree to the divorce, they accept the service of the papers. From there, they will need to fill out a form called an Answer and Waiver of Service.
However, if the respondent does not accept the service of the papers, your divorce process will become more complicated. You can work with the county sheriff to serve the papers. Similarly, you can work with a constructive service to serve the respondent if you are not sure of their location.
What You’ll Need to Provide
In order to accelerate the timeline of your divorce, it’s important that you have the right documents and resources on hand. Once you file your petition for divorce, you’ll be asked by the state to submit some information about your finances, including a signed financial affidavit. This affidavit should cover your:
Next Steps in the Process
After you file for divorce, the court might order a mediation. In mediation, a third-party will work with you to establish a divorce agreement that does not need to involve the court. Should mediation come to a standstill, or no agreement can be made, the case will go to trial. Once in trial, you’ll work with your family law attorney to present evidence and call witnesses. Ultimately, a judge will make the final decision on any contentious issues or matters.
Dissolution of Marriage or Divorce?
In some cases, a dissolution of marriage may be a viable option for you rather than a divorce. Unlike divorce, this option doesn’t require you to submit any financial information. However, you have to meet a set of strict criteria in order to qualify for a dissolution of marriage. These requirements include:
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Contested v. Uncontested Divorce
A contested divorce is the more complex of the two. In a contested divorce, sometimes called a litigated divorce, the two spouses are engaged in a lawsuit in which they are subject to disclosure of their finances, taxes and debts, mediation, depositions, and ultimately a trial. A judge will ultimately make the decision on issues like child custody, child support, and property division if the parties do not reach a resolution.
An uncontested divorce is when the parties are in agreement on all the major issues: child custody, child support, and property division. This is obviously much easier and cheaper to attain. It is simply a matter of working with the clients to ensure that they are legally protected in the future and that the plan submitted works best for their children and themselves.
The Most Common Issues in Divorce
Ending a marriage is never a simple process. In an ideal situation, assets would be divided right down the middle and both parties would leave the marriage financially and emotionally sound. However, the complexities and nuances of divorce in the state of Florida don’t always create ideal situations. In particular, determining who will have custody over any children, and who will support them are some of the most common issues that those going through a divorce face. Almost equally so the frustrations of managing your changes in finances after a divorce can cause a lot of headaches.
Child Custody and Support
The most common issues that come up in a divorce are child custody, child support, and property division. These three issues are the ones that provide the most contention and are the hardest to resolve. There’s a misconception that the law favors the mother over the father in most divorce and child custody cases. That is not true. The law makes no such distinction. Both the mother and the father are on equal footing when it comes to these divorce issues.
In Florida, both parties are treated equally when it comes to child custody, access to the child(ren), and overnight timesharing with the child(ren). Courts are reluctant to award full custody to any parent unless there is evidence that the other parent is unfit or incapable of caring for the child(ren) because of their work schedule, lack of stable residence or the location of their residence.
Child support is often a source of contention in divorce cases. One party in a marriage usually earns significantly more income than the other party. When going through a divorce, there is an inclination on the spouse earning more income to make threats of not paying child support or only paying what they want to pay. When couples divorce, child support becomes a major issue because the loss of income created by the divorce usually puts one, if not both, parties in a worse financial position than they were in before. It’s important to remember that proper preparation and aggressive litigation is the only way to ensure that child support payments are just and equitable. Regardless of what your soon-to-be-former-spouse threatens, child support is statutory and mandatory. Our lawyers will make sure you get a fair child support award.
Ideally, courts in Florida would prefer if the parents were to develop an appropriate care plan independently of the courts. However, in the event that the parties cannot do so, the state will base their child custody decision on the best interests of the child. Their decision will also be in compliance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
Property and Asset Division
The other main issue that comes up in a divorce is property division. The biggest asset that most couples own is their home. Depending on who will have more overnights with the child(ren), there is usually an argument to be made that one party should maintain exclusive use and possession of the marital home. But overnights alone are not determinative as to who will possess the home or who will gain more from the sale of the home. It is important to speak with our lawyers to get personalized answers to your personalized issues. Generally speaking, property and assets are divided equally in a divorce absent a showing that one party is entitled to more because of rehabilitation or temporary support needs.
Make Sure You Get Your Equitable Share
The division of assets and property can be complicated at first glance. The court assesses the value of any non-monetary property. The court then divides the property. In Florida, the division must be equitably distributed, which means your property may not be split down the middle. The court will consider the following factors when distributing property:
During the divorce, the courts will also examine any marital financial assets and debts. Any assets or debts acquired during the marriage by either spouse are considered marital assets by the court. Non-marital assets are considered anything that was purchased or obtained before the marriage, or anything that either party may have received as a gift or inheritance during the course of the marriage.
Issues of Support and Compensation
In the state of Florida, the court may order that one party grants a permanent, or a rehabilitative, alimony to the other. These payments can be made in a lump sum, or monthly. Despite being a no-fault state, any issues of adultery or infidelity that can be proven will impact how much alimony is awarded to a party. The court will consider a wide variety of factors in order to come to a fair conclusion on how much support needs to be paid and on what timeline. These factors can include:
Why You Need a Divorce Attorney
When you first start the process of a divorce, your first instinct may be to do it on your own. While some successfully represent themselves during a divorce, working with an experienced divorce attorney in Miami improves your chances of coming to a settlement that benefits everyone.
By partnering with a divorce and family law attorney at the Kirlew Law Firm, you’ll enjoy our experience, insights, and advice that will help you make sound decisions in your case. An attorney can also take some of the stress of your divorce off your shoulders. They’ll work with you to ensure that you and your family are cared for during and after the court case finalizes. They’ll also ensure that all of the paperwork you file and that your case in court is airtight, which takes many of the complications of the legal system off of your plate.
Get the Help You Need During Your Divorce
An amicable resolution is not always possible. Sometimes the parties involved are in a toxic place and require aggressive litigation to resolve the pending issues in their marriage. Our lawyers are highly skilled in divorce litigation. We conduct thorough and complete discovery of all the issues pending in your case. When appropriate, we utilized forensic accountants, psychologists, and other experts to strengthen our client’s position in court. We will not allow our clients to accept a bad deal because it is easy and convenient. We are prepared to litigate our client’s cases and seek a just resolution.
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At the Kirlew Law Firm, our lawyers are experienced and highly skilled in divorce pre-suit preparation and contested divorce litigation. Our first objective in any divorce case is to get an intimate understanding of our client’s needs, desires, and concerns. We want to understand your family dynamic and the issues that matter most to you. It is always preferable to reach an amicable resolution in a divorce case. That will always be less stressful, less painful — and less costly — than a contested divorce. As your lawyers, we will help you understand your options and answer your questions.
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