Tampa Family Law & Divorce Attorney
Divorce is rarely the time to save money and be your own lawyer. If you have children or real property, it is in your best interest to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced Tampa family law attorney.
Attorney Paul Riffel helps clients resolve the following divorce-related issues:
- Collaborative Divorce
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
- Timesharing & Child Custody
Statistics show that many couples are handling their own divorces, utilizing online resources, divorce packets, and other reference guides. DIY divorce may work if your marriage was short, childless, and you did not own any real property together. However, children, assets, and years of accumulated shared interests can make it quite difficult to end a marriage without the help of a Tampa divorce attorney. In other words, you may be in agreement about divorcing, but many other issues need to be resolved before your divorce can be finalized.
Children, for example, are a huge issue in divorce, whether parents agree to share custody or not. You must consider time-sharing, child support, health care, medical insurance, tax deductibility, extra-curricular activities and fees, and travel. Parents must develop a detailed parenting plan that addresses all of these issues, and follow it once it is agreed upon and formalized.
Another important divorce issue is alimony. In most cases, Florida courts require the higher earning spouse to assist the lower earning spouse in maintaining the lifestyle of the marriage—at least for some period of time. However, many people forgo alimony because they do not think they are entitled to this benefit. If you may be eligible to receive or required to pay alimony, you need a lawyer’s assistance to ensure you achieve an appropriate arrangement.
Another issue is real property. Because real property is not easily divisible, determining how its value should be divided between the spouses can become quite complex. In some cases, distribution is especially problematic because many people have no equity or negative equity in the property.
If you are on the fence about hiring a Tampa family law attorney to handle your divorce, consider the following: when you obtain your Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, it is final. You do not get a “do over.” If fact, only a few issues are modifiable, and it is difficult to obtain modifications from a court after you are divorced. It is best to get the Final Judgment you want rather than trying to change it later.
For more information about Tampa family law matters and to schedule a consultation, please contact Paul Riffel, Attorney at Law, at his office in Tampa.
Tampa Family Law FAQs
The more you know about Florida divorce laws, the more likely you will feel confident you have obtained the best situation for yourself and your children at the conclusion of divorce proceedings.
While you can leave divorce-related decisions up to a judge, you can also work out a divorce agreement on your own terms that reflects your needs while also observing Florida law. In either case, it is important to be familiar with Florida divorce laws in order to know what to expect when it comes to resolving the issues arising from your divorce. Remember, you do not get a “do over” if your Final Judgment does not turn out the way you want, so keep reading to learn more about the factors that will shape your divorce agreement.
What is time-sharing?
Florida law recognizes that both parents play an important role in the development of their children. Rather than referring to time spent with one parent as visitation, Florida uses the term “time-sharing” to designate when children will be with one parent or the other. Factors parents should consider when creating a time-sharing schedule include:
- The age and specific needs of the child and any unique social circumstances
- Transportation and travel time to and from scheduled timesharing
- The logistics involved in arranging the timesharing
- Details concerning the exchange of the child, including the parent responsible for transportation and the place and time when the exchange will occur
- The child’s school schedule, including extracurricular activities
- Methods of communication between the parents and between the parents and the child, including phone, email, and text messaging
- Timely notice of cancellation of timesharing or deviation from the timesharing plan
- Itinerary when vacations are scheduled
- Right of first refusal when a parent is out of town or in the hospital
- Religious holidays and schedules
- Whether to agree that the child will be prohibited from calling anyone other than the mother or father names like “Mom,” “Mommy,” “Dad,” or “Daddy.”
- Any other matters that may be unique to the particular needs of the family.
Am I eligible for alimony?
The amount and duration of alimony payments depend on the higher earning spouse’s ability to pay and the lower earning spouse’s need. Once need and ability are established, Florida law provides guidelines for determining what type of alimony to award and for how long. These factors include:
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including separate property and any award of marital property
- All sources of income (including investment income) available to either spouse
- Each spouse’s earning capacity, educational history, vocational skills, and employability
- Any time and expense required by the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain education and training for appropriate employment
- The marital standard of living
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age and physical and emotional condition
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, child care, education, and helping the other spouse build a career
- Any tax consequences of the alimony award
- The responsibilities each spouse will have for any minor children they have in common
How is property divided upon divorce?
Under Florida law, the division of marital property must be equitable. In many cases, however, equitable does not mean equal. A judge who determines that a precisely equal division would be unfair can divide the property in a different proportion after considering all relevant factors, such as:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances
- Any interruption in either spouse’s career or educational opportunities
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including contributions as a homemaker or parent
- Either spouse’s contribution to the career or education opportunities of the other spouse
- Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring or increasing income
- Each spouse’s contribution to improving marital or non-marital assets
- Either spouse’s intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition for divorce or within two years prior to filing