Sarasota Divorce Lawyer
Navigating through a divorce can be challenging. It may involve others and directly impact friends, family, children, and others which can be painful.
While a divorce lawyer in Sarasota can’t make this process any less emotional, they can help you through the legal, financial, and practical issues. Call Michael Fayard at (941) 306-1310 to talk about the legal process of getting a divorce and how to make sure you reach a fair outcome. You also can use the online form to request a consultation.
Where to File for Divorce
Usually, you’ll file for divorce in the county where you and your spouse live. If you’re in Sarasota, FL, then you’ll file in the Sarasota County Circuit Court which is located at Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center at 2002 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida 34237.
If you or your spouse recently moved, this can impact where you file. Every jurisdiction has a residency requirement, and you or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months before you can file here. If you have any questions about where to file, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Grounds for Divorce
You don’t have to prove fault to get a divorce in Florida. And, generally, there is no mechanism for a spouse to prevent a divorce from happening. To get a divorce, you only have to say the marriage is irretrievably broken. The other option is to argue one of the spouse’s mental incapacity for at least three years.
Types of Divorce in Florida
Florida offers more than one divorce process. Which type of divorce is right for you depends on your circumstances. It’s helpful to talk with an attorney before assuming how you or your spouse might file.
You and your spouse can use the simplified dissolution of marriage process if you have no minor children, and no one is pregnant. You also have to agree to a financial settlement, which means you don’t need the court to gain any financial information from each other, no one is seeking alimony, and you agree on how to divide your assets and debts. You give up your right to a trial, but you both are required to go to the clerk’s office to sign paperwork and attend a final hearing.
You will file different divorce forms if you’re seeking a divorce while you have dependent children and/or property you can’t agree on.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorced
You can go through an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse see eye to eye on everything, including how to divide your finances, child custody, and child support. An uncontested divorce, even if you don’t qualify for a simplified divorce, can be handled efficiently with the help of a Sarasota divorce attorney.
A contested divorce isn’t one where a spouse refuses to end the marriage. Instead, it means you don’t agree on an issue, such as:
- Designating marital vs. separate property
- Valuing marital property
- Dividing marital property and debts
- Child custody
If you know you’re headed toward a difficult divorce, call a divorce lawyer in Sarasota right away. It’s important to have legal advice throughout this process. You need to know your rights and the best way to get a fair outcome, whether you go through mediation or ask the judge to decide.
Another option for getting a divorce is a collaborative process. During a collaborative divorce in Florida, you and your spouse sign a participation agreement, which says you two agree to move forward with good faith negotiations to resolve your issues outside of court. Lawyers, financial professionals, mental health professionals, and others can help you during this process.
Collaborative divorce is a good option for spouses who want to minimize the trauma of a divorce on their family, can set aside their emotions to work together, are willing to be honest, and prefer to keep their divorce proceedings private. If you think this might be the right path for you, talk with Michael Fayard as soon as possible.
The Divorce Process
As an experienced family law and divorce attorney, Michael can guide you through the divorce process from beginning to end. He will help with:
- Gathering financial documentation and other information to prepare
- Writing and filing the divorce petition in court
- Serving your spouse with divorce papers
- Appearing in court before a judge
- Negotiating the many issues associated with divorce
- Arguing on your behalf in divorce hearings
If your spouse is the one to file and you receive divorce papers, give Michael a call right away. He’ll explain how and when you need to respond in court.
Common Disputes During Divorce
It’s common for spouses to disagree on at least one issue during a divorce, which is why it’s best to have an attorney on your side.
Common issues during a divorce include:
Property distribution: Initially, there can be issues surrounding whether some asset or debt is part of the marital estate or an individual’s property. This can be tricky when it comes to a person’s inheritance, items they purchased before marriage, or business ownership interests. Property that was originally individually owned can become marital property based on your actions. Talk with a lawyer if you and your spouse disagree on something. The next common problem is dividing that property equitably between you two. Equitable distribution doesn’t mean 50/50, and you and your spouse can agree—or the judge can order—for one of you to receive a greater portion of the marital estate.
Spousal maintenance: Alimony is often a contentious issue. In Florida, there are several types of alimony: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent, which all serve slightly different purposes. You should talk with a lawyer about whether you’ll need financial support from your spouse who makes more money than you, or whether you’re worried your spouse will ask for alimony. You and your spouse can agree to support, or a judge will award it when it’s appropriate.
Child custody: This is one of the most emotional topics during a divorce. Every parent wants what’s best for their children, but they don’t always agree on what that is. Michael Fayard can help you and your spouse negotiate a parenting plan together during a collaborative divorce or mediation. He’s also ready and willing to fight for you to receive legal and physical custody in court if reaching an agreement with your co-parent is impossible or if there are concerns regarding neglect, abuse, alcoholism, or drug use.
Child support: Child support is based on Florida’s child support guidelines. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays support to the custodial parent, who has the children most of the time. If you and your co-parent will have joint custody, then usually, the parent with the higher income will owe support to the other. In rare cases, parents can agree to deviate from the state’s calculations. Don’t hesitate to talk with Michael Fayard about how support is calculated.
Quick Advice for Divorcing Couples in Florida
There are many benefits to hiring a Sarasota divorce lawyer to help you through this process. But it’s important to prepare for divorce before you hire a lawyer and file.
Here’s some advice you can implement right away:
Be careful on social media: It’s becoming common for spouses to use social media as evidence in court. Limit or stop posting on social media, particularly if photos, videos, or posts show you partying, dating, or spending a lot of money.
Keep talk child-friendly at home: If you have children, research an age-appropriate way to talk with them about the divorce. Other than that, don’t discuss the divorce or your spouse with your children. Badmouthing your spouse in front of your children can cause contention during the divorce or even lead to allegations of parental alienation.
Gather financial documents: To prepare for a divorce, gather documentation of your shared assets and debts, several years’ tax returns, and any other relevant financial information, including for retirement savings, investment accounts, and life insurance policies.
Call a Sarasota Divorce Lawyer Today
If you’re ready to file for divorce or want to know more about your options, reach out to Michael Fayard online or at (941) 306-1310. He has years of experience handling divorce, child custody, and related matters in Sarasota County.