Emotional and Financial Issues in a Pinellas County Divorce
The marriage dissolution rate has dropped some in recent decades, but it is still over 40 percent. Additionally, the divorce rate is much higher for subsequent marriages.
So, at some point, divorce will touch every family in Clearwater, either directly or indirectly. Unless the marriage only lasted a few months or the couple had a very solid premarital agreement, these marriage dissolutions usually involve complex emotional and financial issues, as outlined below.
No one can eliminate these costs. But a good Clearwater divorce attorney can control these emotional and financial costs. Usually, that means working to resolve the divorce out of court on favorable terms.
The emotional issues in a marriage dissolution usually involve the parenting time division. Florida’s co-parenting law presumes that children benefit from frequent and meaningful contact with both parents. Of course, words like “meaningful” and “frequent” are quite subjective. To offer some additional guidance, Florida law sets forth a number of factors, including:
- Parent’s Preference: Some parents express a preference directly during the divorce proceedings. Many people are happy to be weekend parents. More often, however, the expression is indirect. Many parents show little interest in school plays and piano recitals during the marriage. And, in this case, a leopard usually does not change its spots.
- Status Quo: Most parents separate several months, or several years, before one of them files for divorce. If the current, informal parenting time arrangement is flawed but functional, many judges are reluctant to change things radically.
- Child’s Environment: Children have physical needs. They deserve to live in a secure neighborhood with good educational and medical facilities. Children also have emotional needs. Some parents have the wherewithal and temperament to address these needs, and some don’t.
- History of Violence: If there are verified allegations of serious domestic abuse and the child either witnessed the abuse or was a victim of it, the judge usually orders limited visitation. That violence could be emotional, physical, or verbal.
The aforementioned radical change usually involves a social study. After the temporary hearing, a social worker investigates the case and makes a parenting time recommendation. This recommendation is not legally binding, but it does carry significant weight with most judges.
If the couple had children, the judge almost always orders child support. In many cases, these issues are relatively straightforward, because of Florida’s child support guidelines. But the guideline amount is not always appropriate in all cases.
Spousal support is much more subjective in the Sunshine State. Judges may consider a number of factors when they determine both the amount and duration of payments. Generally, the judge takes into account the obligee’s economic need and the obligor’s ability to pay.
Finally, in terms of property division, Florida is an equitable distribution state. The marital estate, which includes both debts and assets, must be distributed in such a way that the divorce is not an unfair financial burden on either party.
A 50-50 division is presumptively equitable. Some factors which might justify a disproportionate division include the conservatorship of minor children, one spouse’s dissipation (waste) of marital assets, and a spouse’s noneconomic contributions to the marriage.
Count on an Effective Lawyer
Most divorces involve emotional and financial issues. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Clearwater, contact Cairns Law, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Pinellas County and nearby jurisdictions.