By Kenneth V. Mundy, Florida Family Law Attorney
An uncontested divorce in Florida means that the parties agree on all issues in advance of filing for divorce, such as division of property, who pays which debts, child timesharing and child support, as well as who is responsible for attorneys’ fees. The advantage of an uncontested divorce is that a judge will not be tasked with deciding all of the issues between yourself and soon to be ex-spouse.
Though many divorces in Florida can be contentious, many can be resolved amicably without extensive litigation. The more you and your spouse can agree to regarding all issues in your Florida divorce, the less your attorneys will need to appear in court which will ultimately reduce the amount of attorney’s fees needing to be expended.
Division of Marital Property
Though there are a few exceptions, and absent a prenuptial agreement, property customarily obtained and owned by both parties during the marriage is divided equally between them or in a manner satisfactory to the parties in an uncontested divorce. Any assets prior to marriage should not be split between the divorcing parties unless the asset was subsequently titled in both names. The parties should make a thorough inventory of all assets since the date of marriage and designate who will receive each one upon divorce. An experienced family law attorney can most certainly assist with the identification and classification of all assets, both marital and nonmarital.
Debt in an Uncontested Divorce
Any debt accumulated in the marriage is considered owned by both parties, meaning both are equally responsible for the repayment of said debt, even if it is in one party’s name or the other. A court may divide any marital debts evenly but in an uncontested divorce, the parties can divide the debt in a manner they desire to do so. Therefore, it is advantageous to amicably work out all debt and liability issues, along with property division, in advance and without court intervention to minimize the number of issues to be addressed.
An uncontested divorce does not mean that parties are not obligated to disclose their respective financial information. Each party must make full financial discourse to the other such as all income, assets, debts, liabilities, expenses, and any other financial information. The financial disclosure is accomplished by filing a Florida Financial Affidavit with the Court.
Child Support and Timesharing
In Florida, terms such as “custody” or “visitation” are being phased out. Instead, those very important divorce issues are termed as “timesharing.” If the parties cannot agree to a timesharing schedule, then the Court will decide what is in the best interest of the child(ren). The determination of child support largely involves the parties’ income, the number of overnights each parent has with the children, who is responsible for carrying the children’s health insurance, and if day care costs are being incurred. When Florida couples seek an uncontested divorce, child support and timesharing should be calculated in advance, or they will incur more legal fees and stress having the Court to decide this issue for them. A Parenting Plan outlining timesharing and a Florida Child Support Guidelines Worksheet must be filed with the Court for you and your spouse to to finalize your divorce.
Marital Settlement Agreement
In a Florida uncontested divorce, it is extremely beneficial if an attorney drafts a Marital Settlement Agreement after all issues are resolved, which both parties must sign. All parties attend a court hearing to dissolve the marriage, at which time the Marital Settlement Agreement will be adopted by the Court. However, with legal representation, an attorney can arrange for only one party to attend court in an uncontested divorce.
How an Attorney Can Help
A Florida Divorce Attorney can help limit your attorney’s fees in an uncontested divorce by assisting the parties with all proper filings and assuring all issues are addressed and handled at the final hearing.
About the Author
Kenneth V. Mundy is a family law attorney with the law firm of Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. He graduated summa cum laude from Ave Maria School of Law in 2016. Originally from New Jersey, Ken moved to Naples, Florida with his family in 1997 and continues to happily reside here with his wife, Taylor. Ken is a Certified Financial Litigator specializing in family and marital law, including but not limited to, complex divorces, child timesharing disputes, child support and alimony issues, relocation, paternity actions and domestic violence proceedings. Ken is also very involved in the community as he is on the Board of Directors for Meals of Hope and the Naples Junior Chamber, both of which are not-for-profit entities.
About the Firm
Southwest Florida law firm Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. (WPL) provides an array of legal services to individuals, businesses and governmental entities related to Business Law, Community Association Law, Estate Planning, Family Law, Land Use & Zoning Law, Local Government Law, Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Law, Probate and Trust Administration, and Real Estate Law. WPL has served Collier County for over 50 years since 1971, when attorney Arthur V. Woodward founded the first full-time law firm on Marco Island. Today, WPL is in two Florida locations: Naples and Marco Island. For more information, call (239) 649-6555 or see www.wpl-legal.com.