Family Law FAQ

Divorce & Family Law Frequently Asked Questions

How can I obtain a legal divorce/dissolution of marriage?
In the State of Florida there are only two, basic, legal requirements to obtain a divorce, now called a “dissolution of marriage.” These basic requirements are:

  1. That one of the parties, either the husband or wife, is or was a Florida resident for the immediate six months prior to the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
  2. That one of the parties alleges that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or that one of the parties has been adjudged mentally incapacitated for at least three years.
What if my spouse cheated on me?
There is no longer an “at fault” requirement to obtain a dissolution of marriage in the State of Florida. In 1971, the Florida Legislature eliminated the requirement that fault of either party be alleged in order to sustain an action for dissolution.
What are the different types of divorce or dissolution of marriage?
In Florida there are different types of divorce or dissolution of marriage:

  1. Simplified dissolution
  2. Regular dissolution
    1. Regular dissolution without property or dependant or minor children
    2. Regular dissolution with dependent or minor children
    3. Regular dissolution with property but no dependent or minor childen
Can I get a simplified divorce/dissolution of marriage?
In a simplified dissolution of marriage, both the husband and wife, together, file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage and there is no trial and no appeal. At Denoncourt & Warenyk, we understand that not everyone can file for a simplified dissolution. The simplified procedure is only for couples who meet the following requirements:

  1. have no minor children (and the wife is not pregnant);
  2. who agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken;
  3. who have decided how their assets and debts are to be divided (usually through a marital settlement agreement);
  4. who are not seeking alimony; and,
  5. who are able to appear before the judge or magistrate at the final hearing.
What if I do not qualify to file a simplified petition for divorce/dissolution of marriage?
The attorneys at Denoncourt & Warenyk can assist you in filing a regular dissolution action. A regular dissolution action differs from a simplified dissolution in that the parties do not file a joint petition. Usually, but not always, a regular dissolution is filed when there is no agreement about division of property, division of assets/debts, or other matters. A regular dissolution is also filed when the parties have minor children in common. In this type of action a judge will conduct a trial or hearing, typically called the final hearing.
How much does it cost to file for divorce/dissolution of marriage?
The filing fees for a divorce or dissolution of marriage are set by the clerk of court for the county within which the petition is filed. In Hillsborough County, Florida and most surrounding Tampa Bay area counties the filing fee for any divorce/ dissolution action is approximately $400.00. In a regular divorce action the initiating party, or petitioner, must also serve a copy of the divorce papers on the other side. This requires the clerk of court to issue a summons, for a cost of $10.00, and for formal service of that petition, usually by the Sheriff, for the cost of $20.00.
How much will it cost to hire an attorney at Denoncourt & Warenyk?
At Denoncourt & Warenyk we understand that most people who file for divorce may not have unfettered access to unlimited financial resources; therefore, we offer payment plans and accept all major credit cards. Further, our retainer fees are reduced for clients who cannot afford to pay large lump sums for legal expenses. Our clients will find that our retainer fees are about one-half of what other firms charge.
What documents or other information will I have to file?
There are various documents that must be filed with the clerk of court after you file a petition for divorce. Many of these documents may be filed without the assistance of an attorney; however, many are also difficult to understand or navigate without the assistance of an attorney. Generally, most petitioners, or those who file a petition for divorce, will need to file the following documents:

  1. Proof of residency (usually a driver’s license)
  2. A financial affidavit
  3. A notice of current address
  4. A notice of social security number
  5. A notice of current address
  6. Mandatory disclosure (financial disclosure and documents)
  7. A certificate of completion of parenting class (if minor children involved)
  8. A completed child support guidelines worksheet (if minor children involved)
  9. A completed Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act form (if minor children involved)
  10. A final disposition form
  11. A final judgment for signature of the judge
What will happen to my property after I file for divorce?
The distribution of marital assets and liabilities are governed by Florida law. Most states in the United States are “equitable distribution” states, while few jurisdictions, such as California, are community property states where the assets are automatically divided 50-50. The attorneys at Denoncourt & Warenyk understand the concept of equitable distribution and the law in the State of Florida and will assist you in order to maintain all your rights to non-marital and marital property.Equitable distribution does not always mean “equal” distribution. Courts in Florida generally try to start with an equal distribution of assets and then make an unequal distribution based on the parties’ specific circumstances and justifications.

Some of the factors the court will consider in awarding property to one party or the other include:

  1. contributions to the marriage by each spouse, including care and education of the children and services as a homemaker;
  2. economic circumstances of both spouses;
  3. the duration of the marriage; and
  4. any interruptions of personal careers or educational opportunities, by either spouse.
Can I get alimony or spousal support?
After the equitable distribution of assets and liabilities of the parties, the court may grant alimony to either spouse who requests it. There are different kinds of alimony as follows:

  1. Temporary alimony, which would allow for support for a spouse during the pendency of the divorce;
  2. Rehabilitative alimony, which is temporary support to allow for continued education or for training so that a spouse can become self-sufficient; and
  3. Permanent alimony, which can be awarded for the life of a spouse or until that spouse remarries.

Alimony can also be awarded in a lump sum, in periodic payments, or both. Primarily, the first consideration that a judge may make in awarding alimony is the length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the greater the possibility of an award of alimony. There are other factors to consider which include, but are not limited to:

  1. the standard of living established during the marriage;
  2. the age and physical and emotional condition of each party;
  3. all sources or available income to either party; and
  4. the ability of the spouse to earn a living without assistance.

Florida law should be consulted for more information regarding alimony. Adultery by either spouse can also be considered by the court.

Will I lose my home?
At Denoncourt & Warenyk, we know that one of the major marital assets in need of distribution by the court is the marital home. Distribution of the marital home rests on the specific circumstances of the parties.When minor children are involved, the primary residential parent may receive the home. In some instances, the primary residential parent may be awarded the marital home just until the youngest child reaches the age of 18. Afterward, the home may be ordered to be sold and the husband and wife will then divide the proceeds. To avoid a sale of the marital home, one party could “buy out” the other party’s share by relinquishing other assets during the distribution.

What is “marital property?”
Marital assets and liabilities are those that are acquired during the marriage and used during that time by the husband and wife. Of course, non-marital assets are the opposite of marital assets. Non-marital assets were either acquired before the marital relationship, or during the marriage and not comingled with other marital assets, such as through inheritance or as a gift. Property or money earned or received after the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage is also classified as a non-marital asset. Both the assets and liabilities of the parties can be determined from either the petition for dissolution or from the financial affidavits of the parties.
Where can I look for other information about divorce/dissolution of marriage?