The most common acronym we use is the divorce process is P-E-A-C-E. It is how divorce is arranged from most important to less important (not least important but just "less"). If the case cannot be settled by negotiation or by mediation, then the Court would address the parties divorce issues in this order. So what does the alphabet soup mean?
P= Parenting Plan. We don't have visitation or custody in our Statutes anymore. We have 2 parents and children. We have Parenting plans that divide up the time that each parent can spend with the child. These time sharing arrangements are called Parenting Plans. They are extremely detailed documents that tell the court and the parties who is going to be responsible for what with regards to the children.
E= Equitable Distribution. Once we have divided up the children's time we now have to divide up the parties assets and debts. This is often more complicated than it seems. There could be houses, cars, credit card debts, loans to parents or other family members, student loans, retirement accounts. Regardless, any asset or any debt that was acquired during the marriage (regardless of whose name it's in) is going to be divided. That means that the $10,000 of credit debt, the student loans, the notes on the cars are going to be divided regardless of whose name in on loan. Then there are pre-marial assets that are generally not divided. But there are exceptions to this as well. Equitable Distribution is not always equal, so it's very important to speak to a lawyer about your rights and obligations.
A= Alimony. Alimony is not a hard-fast formula It is governed by Florida Statute 61.08 Most commonly, Alimony is awarded in long-term marriages where there is income disparity between the spouses. Long-term marriages have been defined by being married (not just "living together") for more than 15 years. But there are other kinds of alimony available to help get one spouse back on his/her feet for a short period of time. Some typical types of alimony include bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and short term alimony. Spousal support is often times appropriate during the beginning stages of the divorce until the end. We can usually get some temporary relief in the form of temporary alimony going from the beginning of the case.
C=Child Support. Child support, unlike Alimony, is a fairly straight forward mathematical calculation based on the combined income of both parents. One of the most important factors in determining child support is the time-sharing of parents. The more equal the time-sharing the less child support one parent will pay to the other. Generally, over 40% overnights, will greatly reduce the amount of child support paid.
E= Everything else. The issues that don't fall neatly into these other categories are placed in this "catch all" category. Those issues could include pre-marital property or investments, 401K/retirement accounts, gifts from parents or family members, inheritances and lastly attorneys fees.
It is important to preserve and know your rights during the divorce process. Most people do not realize that a divorce is still very important civil litigation. To understand your right and what you are entitled to and want more information, please visit our website or call the office to schedule your initial consultation.