What are the necessary grounds for filing for divorce in Florida?
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce so all that you need to allege and prove is that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Those are the words in the statute and the concept is typically extremely easy to prove. The bottom line is that if one side wants to end the marriage, absent very unique circumstances, it will end.
How is the cost of a divorce determined? Who pays for the divorce?
Divorce attorneys typically charge by the hour. Sometimes there are flat fee divorces, but those are usually reserved for cases where the amount of work involved can be predetermined at the beginning. Most flat fee divorce cases are uncontested divorces, meaning that the parties have decided the terms of their divorce between themselves early on. The Anton Legal Group encourages their clients to attempt settlements when possible and thus does many flat fee divorces. Family law contingency fee cases (where you pay a percentage of what you win) are rare because Florida law does not permit them in all but a few circumstances.
Different attorneys charge different per hour rates. How much your divorce will cost largely depends upon how much time is expended on your case by your law firm. Some divorces settle early on and have simple facts and thus cost less. Some never settle and go all the way through the litigation process and have complicated facts, and thus cost more. Many more are of moderate complexity and settle somewhere between these two polar opposites, and thus cost somewhere in the middle.
At the Anton Legal Group we have a variety of different hourly rates for our different associates. Mr. Anton charges the highest hourly rate while associate attorneys and paralegals charge less. As such, work can be delegated in your case either as you direct or as cost efficiently as possible.
Sometimes complex divorces require third party expert witness services such as from accountants, appraisers, timesharing evaluators and vocational evaluators. This will increase the cost.
As far as who pays for the divorce, it depends on your particular circumstances. You start with the proposition the each party pays their own fees and costs. However, one side may be ordered to pay the others fees if they have a superior ability to pay or if they unreasonably and unnecessarily increased the cost of the litigation.
What is divorce mediation?
Mediation is where both parties and their attorneys meet together with a trained professional mediator. Sometimes they are in the same room and sometimes not. Family law mediators are specially trained at bringing two sides together and resolving divorces and other family law disputes. By settling cases in mediation, litigants can avoid a lot of stress and save a lot of time and money. In addition, parties who agree to terms are generally happier with their result than those who have decisions imposed upon them by a Judge.
Divorce mediation is now required in all Courts in this area prior to a contested final hearing. A Judge will not hear your case if it has not first been mediated.
David Anton, Esq. has been a licensed mediator for over 20 years. He has also participated in mediations as a party representative several hundreds of times over the past 30 years. He understands the process well.
Is there a difference between a legal separation and a divorce in the state of Florida?
In Florida, there is really no such thing as a “legal separation.” What is usually meant by a “legal separation” is where two spouses live separate and apart in accordance with a written or verbal agreement.
There may also be what is referred to as a temporary “legal separation” when spouses are going through a divorce, and there is a temporary (not permanent or final) court order confirming that the parties will live separate and apart until the divorce is resolved. There is technically no type of lawsuit in Florida that requests a legal separation as a final result.
If my spouse and I cannot initially agree on the terms of a divorce, does that mean that we have to go to court?
Absolutely not. Most divorce cases have issues to which the parties cannot agree when the case is initially filed. It is common for a client to ask, “If we cannot agree now, does that mean we have to go to court?”
If you cannot agree to the issues in your divorce throughout the entire divorcing process, then you will have to go to court and you will have a contested final hearing or trial. However, though most filed divorce cases include issues to which the spouses originally cannot agree, almost all of those cases are eventually settled prior to the date of a contested trial. Cases can be settled at any time prior to the Judge rendering a decision about a case. Often, issues that initially appear to be impossible to resolve by agreement, are later resolved by agreement for a variety of reasons.
What is the most important reason a person needs an attorney for a divorce?
There are many reasons and not all of them can be easily stated nor predicted in advance. For many people, getting a divorce is the most important business transaction that they will ever encounter during their life, being more important than purchasing a home or a car, or entering into an employment agreement. In addition there may be long lasting minor child issues involved that have no price tag. Also in addition, decisions are typically made under considerable emotional stress. This all points to the need for detached guidance from a trustworthy family law expert.
It is also important to understand that the precise wording of settlement agreements have very specific long term consequences which may not be obvious to a layman who is not trained in the law and more specifically in family law. In addition, the average person does not necessarily understand their rights in a divorce and thus, they do not know what they are entitled to, or what their reasonable obligations should be.
Can a single attorney handle both sides of a divorce case?
Yes and no.
The general rule is that one attorney may not represent both sides of a case. The Florida Bar does not allow for dual representation due to potential conflicts of interest. However, it is common in some simpler cases for an attorney to represent one side and draw up settlement paperwork for the other side to review. Whether this paperwork is reviewed by an attorney is the unrepresented spouse’s decision. Because divorce is such a large and important business transaction at the very least, retaining an attorney to guide you through the process and help you make informed decisions is strongly recommended.
There are a lot of attorneys out there, what makes your firm stand out? Why should people choose the Anton Legal Group?
Again, a divorce is one of the most important business transactions that you will ever enter into in your entire life. Who you hire is incredibly important and can have a large impact on the end result.
The Anton Legal Group is very much a personal-service firm. We are not the fast food restaurant variety of law firms. We give our client’s the time needed to properly administer their case. We do a lot of listening and explaining. We then use our 30 years of continuous experience practicing family law in Tampa (since 1985) to provide guidance and advice. We can see the big picture and our guidance may include aspects of financial planning, accounting, economics, real estate, bankruptcy and the like. Here divorce is not dealt with in a vacuum.
Every divorce case is different. Particular solutions need to be tailor-made for each particular client and case. One of the most important parts of the process is the initial consultation. This is where the attorney learns about the client and the case, and the client learns about the attorney and their case. We encourage second opinions and more than one initial consultation, especially for complicated cases. If you have more than one initial consultation you will find that in our meeting both of us will learn a whole lot more about your case and we will understand you better than almost anyone else.
After 30 continuous years of practicing family law here in Tampa, Mr. Anton knows the way the Courts work. He knows the way the system works. He knows most of the more experienced opposing counsels. He knows what you can expect. He laso knows how you can get the best results as efficiently, quickly, and inexpensively as possible.