I have been practicing Marital and Family Law in Florida since 1984. I am also licensed to practice in New York. I have been a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law in the State of Florida since 1998. My practice is limited to Marital and Family Law, and I have been exclusively practicing Marital and Family Law since 1990.

Is Florida A No-Fault State In Regards To Divorce?

Florida is a no fault state. The operative language in Florida is that the marriage is irretrievably broken and if one party believes that the marriage is irretrievably broken, they should be entitled to a divorce and dissolution of their marriage.

Why Is It Critical To Hire An Experienced Family Law Attorney To Handle A Divorce?

Some people may be successful in handling a divorce on their own without legal counsel. If, in fact, the marriage is short term, and if the parties to the marriage do not own anything together, the parties may possibly successfully obtain a divorce on their own without legal counsel. The vast majority of married couples, even if they have been married for a relatively short period, have financial matters that need to be resolved. These families may have debts, bank accounts, and real estate that they own.

Thus, just on financial matters alone it would be important and in their best interest to have a lawyer represent them in resolving their divorce. Inevitably, if self-represented parties try to protect themselves in a legal forum, they are most likely doomed to failure.

When parties to a divorce do hire a lawyer to resolve the issues that were improperly handled in the first place, it generally costs them more money and time; and that is just when the issues to be resolved are purely financial. Often, you have child related issues, and in dealing with child related issues in a divorce settlement, by necessity will have to plan for future contingencies. I have seen few self-represented parties who are able to properly agree on a resolution regarding their children, which is not going to be problematic in the future. Generally, when child related issues are not properly handled, the family inevitably faces problems, which need to eventually be handled by lawyers. You want to select a lawyer who is experienced, and be sure that any settlement that you enter into, which may have to be relied upon for 15 or more years, will protect the parties to the agreement as well as the children.

Are There Any Benefits To Filing First For Divorce In Florida?

Florida, being a no fault divorce state, generally does not grant any benefit to the party that files first. The party that does file first for the divorce, is called the Petitioner. In Florida the legal document that initiates the divorce is called a Petition, as opposed to a general lawsuit in which the initial document is called a Complaint. The Florida Legislature encourages divorcing couples to be civil so they named the document a Petition instead of a Compliant. The person against whom the divorce is filed is called a Respondent, but generally, the Respondent will file his or her own Petition and that party then becomes a Counter-Petitioner as well as the Respondent.

Therefore, there is generally no advantage to be the first to file, unless there is a specific time in which you want to file. For example, if you are a wage earner and you think that you are going to be getting a new job, or that your job will be offering you a raise in salary, or if you think that there is going to be some type of economic advance in the near future, you may want to file for the divorce. Other than that, there is generally no advantage to being the first to file.

What Things Do You Recommend That Your Clients Do Prior To Filing For Divorce?

Ethics is at the very heart of everything that we do in this office. Therefore, we do not suggest that our clients attempt to somehow obtain an ethical “leg up” on the other party by acting improperly prior to the divorce. For example, hiding assets is not a smart idea. The hiding of assets is clearly unethical and we do not advise our clients to hide assets or to do anything else that the clients might think is advantageous to them in the short run, but will inevitably hurt them in the long run once their deceit is discovered. Having said that, we do encourage our clients to be well educated as to the current state of the law, as well as being well educated as to all financial issues which effect the family.

Other than educating our clients as to the law and to their individual situation, we counsel our clients to behave in a reasonable and ethical manner. When it comes to financial issues, we counsel our clients to be honest and accurate in disclosing the financial details of the family. When it comes to parenting matters, our clients are advised to keep the children as far removed from the conflict as possible, and to not attempt to in any way discuss pending divorce matters with the children. The exception to this rule, of course, is when the time is appropriate, both parents may explain to the children that although a divorce is pending, that both parties will continue to love and care for the children, and that even though the parents are obtaining a divorce one from the other, that both parents are good parents, and that each parent respects the other parent’s ability to provide a loving and nurturing home for the children.

If the parents are unable or unwilling to have such a conversation with the children, such a conversation may take place with the assistance of counselors or other appropriate professionals that can assist the family through this transition.

For more information on Divorce Cases In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 755-0126 today.

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  • 5.0/5.0

    I don't know where to begin. Steve helped me through an absolute nightmare. He jumped right in and got my kids back to me, and genuinely cared for our well-being. He protected and guided me through the entire divorce process when I could ha...
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    — Client

  • 5.0/5.0

    Mr. Brenners got me custody through a horrible divorce in which my ex would manufacture evidence and her attorney would even lie for her and cover up. Mr. Brenners proved I was a better parent and helped the judge see through all the lies b...
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    — Client