By Rebecca Zung, Esq.
After months or even years of toughing it out, hanging in, late-night fights or frights and maybe even couples' counseling, you've started thinking about the unthinkable — the "D" word.
Here are a few things that commonly arise in divorce cases and a brief overview of current Florida law.
Courts divide the marital property in a divorce by equitable distribution. Three "piles" are created: his, hers and theirs. The his and hers pile are nonmarital assets that belonged to the husband or wife before marriage, or perhaps was a gift or inheritance received during the marriage, which was kept separate and apart from the marital assets.
The "theirs" pile is what is "equitably" distributed. Remember, equitable does not always mean equal! The court can consider a number of factors that make an unequal distribution of assets appropriate.
If one or both parties have a business, it might be necessary to determine fair market value, if the business either was formed during the marriage or was grown within the context of the marriage.
This is a family-law four-letter word, but one that warrants examination. There are several types, with "permanent" alimony being the most well-known. Florida law provides reasons why one spouse should pay and why the other one should receive alimony, including need and the ability to meet that need. Unlike child support, there are no set guidelines for alimony. (They might be coming; stay tuned.)
There is no such thing as "custody" in Florida law anymore. Both mother and father are entitled, barring extenuating circumstances, to timesharing and participation in the big decisions such as education and health care. However, there are many ways to formulate a parenting plan.
Florida statute provides clear guidelines on child support, based on combined income and number of children, plus number of overnight stays with each parent outlined in the parenting plan. Small issue can arise, such as determining a person's true income, child care expenses or insurance premiums.
These are the most common issues that arise in divorces.
A fair application of the law combined with reasonable parties will allow everyone to move forward.
Rebecca Zung, a family law attorney, is a founding partner of the Law Office of Zung Clough, PLLC in Naples. As a divorce authority, she helps clients transform and rebuild their lives. Her book, "Breaking Free: A Step-by-Step Divorce Guide to Emotional, Physical and Spiritual Freedom," is available on amazon.com. Contact Zung at ZungFamilyLaw.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.