Divorce in Brevard County
By Space Coast Daily // May 18, 2020
In general, there are three primary ways to get a divorce in Brevard County, Florida. Unlike most other states, where contested and uncontested divorce can be distinguished, in Florida, there is also the option of a simplified dissolution of marriage.
If the spouses do not have minor children from the marriage, neither spouse is going to request alimony, and the parties have agreed on the terms of their separation (they have signed a Financial Affidavit and Property Settlement Agreement), they are eligible to file for simplified dissolution.
To do so, they will both have to sign the Petition and attend the final hearing at the same time.
Those who are not qualified for simplified dissolution can still have a straightforward, fast, and inexpensive divorce process. If you are armed with relevant information about the dissolution procedure, you can get a divorce in Brevard County, Florida without a lawyer using whichever alternative divorce option suits your case.
How to file for divorce in Brevard county
To get a divorce in Florida, the spouses must obtain a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (a Final Decree of Divorce), which is the court document covering the matters of property division, alimony, and child custody and visitation, if applicable.
Foremost, to obtain a Final Judgment, the spouses have to start a divorce proceeding by filing the required documents with the court.
Since divorce laws and procedures are state-specific in the US, the process of filing for divorce in Brevard County is regulated by the Florida Statutes as well as Brevard County court rules.
Although each divorce case is unique, at this stage of the process, the primary steps are the same for everyone.
The spouse who initiates the case (the petitioner, or plaintiff) shall fill out and file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and other necessary legal forms with the Brevard County Clerk of Court.
In the case of regular divorce, the plaintiff also has to notify the other spouse of the lawsuit, following the serving procedure. However, if the spouses are qualified for the simplified dissolution of marriage, both parties should go to the court to sign the Petition, so there is no need for the serving process.
Then, depending on whether a divorce case is contested or not, the parties have to go to trial before a judge or to prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement and submit it with the court.
Once the Petition is filed, there is a mandatory 20-day waiting period in the state of Florida before the final hearing can be scheduled. When all the terms of the divorce are settled, the judge issues a final divorce decree.
Divorce with a lawyer
In the US, you are not required to hire an attorney to get divorced. Any person is eligible to proceed as a self-represented litigant and arrange a divorce on their own. Nevertheless, it is typically not recommended to choose a do-it-yourself divorce if the case is contested.
Contested cases involve many complex issues that need to be resolved at trial, so a person without any legal background may harm his or her interests if opposed by the other spouse’s lawyer.
If your case is rather complicated and much is at stake, such as property, a family business, or custody of your children, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage if faced off against an experienced attorney on the other side.
Even if not faced with a challenging court trial, it can prove to be difficult to create a fair Settlement Agreement with your spouse without the support of an attorney to negotiate for your best interests.
Divorce with a lawyer’s assistance is a costly event since divorce attorneys typically charge around $300 per hour in Brevard County, Florida. However, the Final Divorce Decree includes fundamental provisions that can affect the rest of life, so you should treat the dissolution process of divorce with attention and caution.
Don’t overestimate your capabilities, but learn more about alternative solutions so that you can find the most time-efficient and affordable option, which would be perfect for your particular case.
Divorce on your own
Divorce without a lawyer can be an especially comfortable solution if the spouses are going to file for a simplified dissolution of marriage.
According to the requirements of this type of divorce, it’s assumed that the spouses who file the Petition jointly do not have minor children of the marriage and have already created a Financial Affidavit and a Property Settlement Agreement.
Thus, the main task that remains is filling out the divorce documents and filing them with the clerk of the Circuit Court’s office. In theory, you do not need to overpay lawyers to arrange this process, since all the necessary divorce forms are available in the Clerk of Courts office and the Florida court provides a free self-help guide on its website.
Online divorce is the middle ground between a DIY divorce and divorce with legal assistance. The assistance of an online divorce service can be invaluable in the case of both simplified dissolution and regular uncontested divorce. Each divorce case is unique, as are the personal circumstances of each couple.
As such, basic divorce forms are not always enough for every case, and some forms may vary by county. For a person that doesn’t want to take the time to sort out and learn all the details about the filing procedure, using an online service is an efficient and inexpensive alternative.
Online divorce implies that, for a reasonable cost, the online service takes on all the paperwork issues of a particular divorce case. The user just has to complete an online questionnaire, providing the necessary information concerning the case, and then he or she will receive the ready-to-print divorce paperwork kit by email.
The best online divorce websites typically prepare divorce documents within one or two days, customizing the papers according to all the requirements of Florida Family Law, and guaranteeing that the ready forms will be approved by any court in Brevard County.
Some online divorce websites even provide an additional filing service, allowing you to avoid the court all together, until it comes time to attend the final hearing.
Online divorce is a cheap and easy solution available for all uncontested cases, regardless of if the spouses have children or property. The trusted online divorce companies have all the necessary legal forms that may need to be filed for a divorce in Brevard County.
So by using an online service to obtain a divorce in Brevard County, you can save time and effort, and have the peace of mind of knowing that all the documents are completed correctly.
Valid grounds to get divorce
Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that fault-based grounds for divorce are not recognized by the Florida Statute. Neither spouse has to prove the other party’s misconduct before the court to apply for divorce in Brevard County.
The only two valid grounds for dissolution are “Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” and “Mental incapacity of one of the spouses for at least three years”. The latter ground must be proven by competent medical or psychiatric testimony.
Custody of the child
In a divorce case with children involved, Brevard County courts are guided by the regulations provided by the Florida Statutes.
Either sole or joint custody can be ordered, depending on what meets the best interest of the child. Though there is a presumption that co-parenting is better for a child’s well-being unless it’s proven otherwise.
The court considers each divorce case and each parenting plan separately by weighing numerous factors which can help to determine the best interests of the particular child.
These factors typically include the moral fitness of both parents, the mental and physical health of all the parties involved, and the spouses’ will and capacity to cooperate, share parental rights, and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship with the other parent. Each parent’s capacity to provide the child with food, medical care, and other basic needs is also essential.
The preference of the child can be taken into account if the judge deems the child is mature enough to express a preference. And any evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect will be an undeniable argument against joint custody.
All these factors and more will be considered by the court in a particular case when determining a fair parenting plan and visitation schedule.
Rules for child support
Either parent can be ordered to pay child support in Brevard County.
Although an exact amount of child support shall be determined on a case-by-case basis, Florida follows the Income Shares Model, meaning that each spouse’s income, retirement contributions, and taxes paid are taken into account in the calculation.
Using a Child Support Worksheet the spouses should evaluate the amount of support that would have been available for the child if the parents had not divorced.
Then, the resulting amount of child support obligation is to be divided proportionally between the parents based on each party’s income.
Rules for spousal support
In a divorce in Brevard County, any spouse can seek alimony. However, this payment is not mandatory, and a person should prove he or she needs support.
To decide whether alimony is appropriate in a particular divorce case (as well as to determine an amount and duration of spousal support), the judge typically considers the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and financial capacity, the age and health of the spouses, each spouse’s contribution to the marital property and well-being, and the standard of living established during the marriage.
The judge also takes into account the time the spouse with a lower income may need to find appropriate employment and become financially self-sufficient, as well as any other factors and circumstances which can help to make an equitable decision.
In Brevard County, the marital property of divorcing spouses is divided following equitable distribution rules. The spouses may divide their property independently (creating the Settlement Agreement), or the court will allocate the division of property at its discretion. The property shall be distributed equitably, but not necessarily equally between the parties.
Along with it, separate property of each spouse (including anything acquired before the marriage, as well as any personal gifts and inheritances, etc.) is not subject to division.
To determine what property division would be equitable in a particular divorce case, the court takes into account the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial capacity, the amount of separate property, and the contributions of each party to the acquisition of assets.
The contribution of each spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other party also plays a role, as well as any other factors the judge considers to be significant.
Mediation is a process that allows spouses to resolve the terms of their dissolution peacefully as an alternative way to litigation. During the mediation session, the spouses work jointly, under the guidance of a neutral mediator who helps the couple to compromise and find mutually beneficial solutions.
In general, mediation is a voluntary process in Brevard County, though it can be ordered by the court in some cases as a last resort before the spouses have to go to trial.
Unlike mediation, taking parenting classes in Brevard County is required for all divorcing spouses who have children under 18 years old. These classes aim to consult and assist divorcing parents regarding the consequences of divorce on the parents and the children.
Each dissolution case starts by paying a mandatory court filing fee at the moment the Petition of Dissolution is submitted to the court. In Brevard County, the filing fee for a civil action, including divorce, is $401.
The spouses who cannot afford to pay this fee have the right to file an application for determination of the civil indigent status and request a fee waiver.
How long will it take
It is hard to predict how long it may take to finalize a divorce in Brevard County because the length of the dissolution process varies depending on numerous factors and the personal circumstances of each couple.
The minimum timeline of a dissolution of marriage in Florida is 21 days, given the fact that Florida Family Law requires a 20-day waiting period once the Petition is filed.
On average, an uncontested divorce in Brevard County takes 30 days if the spouses have managed to reach an agreement on the main issues of their separation.
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