Experienced Pensacola Divorce Attorney Answers Frequently Asked Questions on Florida Family Law Matters
If you are contemplating divorce or are facing a divorce filed by your spouse, you probably have lots of questions about how the process works and what happens during and after a marriage dissolution in Florida. Below are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions encountered by the family law attorneys at Spencer Law, P.A. as we help people from Pensacola to Panama City navigate their divorce in the Florida courts. If you have other questions, or if you need advice and representation in your divorce or other family law matter, call Spencer Law, P.A. at 850-912-8080 in Pensacola or 850-424-6683 in Sandestin for assistance.
How long will it be before my divorce is finalized?
Every divorce is different, and the time it takes to get a divorce differs depending upon the complexity of the issues as well as the availability of the courts in your jurisdiction. In a simple divorce, where the couple has no children and agrees on all the issues at hand, a divorce can be finalized in as little as a few weeks to a few months, depending upon the court schedule. In a contested divorce, the process may take six months or more, since a lot of litigation must occur between the filing of the petition and the final hearing in court (petition, answer, discovery process, pre-trial motions, etc.). After an initial consultation, we may be able to give you an estimate of the time it will take to finalize the divorce in your particular situation.
What’s the difference between divorce and annulment?
A divorce is the formal dissolution of a valid marriage. An annulment is the judicial recognition that the marriage was never valid in the first place. For instance, a marriage may be void or voidable if one of the spouses was underage or intoxicated at the time of the marriage, if the parties are too closely related, if one spouse was still legally married to another, if the marriage was based on fraud or some serious misrepresentation, or if the marriage was never consummated. Once a marriage is annulled, it is like it never existed. As in a divorce, the judge in an annulment proceeding can make orders regarding issues such as the division of property and timesharing (child custody).
How will a prenuptial agreement affect my divorce?
A prenuptial or premarital agreement is a contract entered into by two people who are contemplating marriage, and that contract becomes effective upon marriage. If you have a valid prenuptial agreement in place, it will be enforced like any contract, and the terms of the agreement will control what happens in a divorce. Typically, a prenuptial agreement will determine a spouse’s right (or lack thereof) to any alimony payment, and it may also outline aspects of the property division. Child custody (timesharing and parenting plans) and child support are not valid subjects for a premarital agreement.
The validity of a prenuptial agreement may be attacked by the party against whom its enforcement is sought. Typical objections to a prenuptial agreement include allegations that the agreement was not based on a full and fair disclosure of the other party’s assets and liabilities, or that the person was coerced or tricked into signing it. If a prenuptial agreement is found to be so one-sided that its enforcement would be unconscionable (grossly unfair), or if a party did not have the opportunity to review the document with independent counsel before signing it, then the agreement may not be upheld in court.
Can I still spend money while the divorce is pending? What if my spouse controls the finances?
When a divorce petition is filed, the judge typically enters orders that basically require the parties to maintain the status quo regarding finances. This action is done to prevent a spouse from hiding or disposing of assets in a way that would harm the other party. You can also request specific court orders if you have a particular concern. If you cannot afford to live separately while the divorce is pending, the judge can order temporary alimony to be paid to you.