Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorney
The Fort Lauderdale marital and family law practice at Jennifer Kane Waterway, P.A. includes advising and representing individuals in divorce and related matters. We work to amicably resolve all issues in the divorce wherever possible, providing strong advocacy both in and out of court as necessary.
Florida Divorce Procedure
At least one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months before the Florida divorce process can be initiated. The procedure for a divorce, known as a dissolution of marriage, starts by filing a petition with the court in the county of residence of either spouse. Like most states, Florida recognizes the concept of “no-fault” divorce. It is not necessary for one spouse to prove that the other spouse was unfaithful or did something wrong. If it can be shown that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” the judge likely will grant the divorce.
In addition to dissolving the marriage, the divorce court may make a variety of domestic relations orders, such as requiring one spouse to pay alimony to the other. If there are children, the court also will decide issues of parenting and timesharing and child support. Another major issue to be determined in the divorce is the division of marital property and debt. If the parties cannot agree on these matters themselves, the judge will decide following a trial in court.
How Marital Property is Divided under Florida Law
In a Florida divorce, the judge will make an “equitable distribution” of the marital assets and debt. Marital assets include all the property that was acquired during the marriage, regardless of whether the asset was purchased together or individually. There are some exceptions, such as when one spouse receives an inheritance or a gift specifically to that spouse individually.
Debts acquired during the marriage are considered marital debt as well and also are subject to the “equitable distribution” in family court. The judge does not have to divide all assets and debts equally between the parties; the distribution only has to be equitable, or fair. The judge can consider a wide variety of factors in deciding what would be a fair property division, including:
- The length of the marriage
- How much each spouse contributed financially during the marriage
- The contributions each spouse made to the household
- Whether one spouse paid for or sacrificed for the career or education of the other spouse
If there are children in the family, the court’s determination of parenting plans and timesharing can impact the property division as well. If the judge feels the children should continue to live in the family home as their primary residence, the primary residential parent of the children also may be awarded the home in the property settlement.
Help from an Experienced and Dedicated South Florida Divorce Attorney
Given the judge’s wide discretion in how to split up the property, it is essential to be represented by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who will strive to protect your interests. It is important that all property be located, properly identified as marital or separate property, and accurately valued. The valuation of certain assets, such as stock options or a share in a business, can be complicated and require the expertise of professionals. Jennifer Kane Waterway, P.A. has extensive experience handling divorce and working with expert professionals to meet your needs. In Fort Lauderdale, contact Jennifer Kane Waterway, P.A. for help with your divorce.