After you have filed your case, the next step is the Discovery Phase—the process of gathering information about what you know, what your spouse knows, and what third parties may know about your case. Discovery reaches not only financial information but any information necessary to your case. It can include information available from the other party or third parties regarding issues surrounding the divorce, including facts concerning your financial life or those related to the children, adultery, possible abuse and neglect and other issues.
After more than 20 years of being a practicing attorney focused primarily on family law, I would like to share some important insights about the divorce process.
Time-sharing is a schedule of how the children will spend time with each parent. Unless otherwise notified, the court assumes that both parents are “good parents” and have no issues that affect their ability to parent their children. However, if your spouse has problems that call into question his or her ability to parent the children safely, you may need to think about a supervised or safety-focused parenting plan.
Many people routinely share personal details about their lives online, where countless numbers of people can see them. When you’re going through a divorce or other family law proceeding, it might be tempting to post insults about your ex or vent to your online “friends.” But keep in mind that unless you have configured privacy settings on your social media profiles, chances are your ex and his or her attorney also are reading your posts.
Mediation is a settlement process where a neutral third party, a mediator, assists the parties by facilitating settlement discussions to resolve the outstanding issues in the divorce case. During mediation, the parties remain in control of the outcome, and if they can come to a mutual agreement, the case resolves voluntarily on terms approved by the parties. In contrast to mediation, a trial is a completely different ball field, where parties lose the control to decide the elements of their divorce and instead opt to have a judge make those determinations.
Support paid for the benefit the children is called child support.
Child support is a right that belongs to the children, not the parents, and you cannot waive it.
In Florida, every parent is responsible for the support of his or her child or children. A parent’s child support obligation is presumptively determined by a statutory formula known as the child support guidelines, and it is based on several factors such as the respective net income of each parent, cost of health care insurance for the children, cost of daycare and the number of overnights each parent has with the children.
In divorce cases involving children, the court is required to order a parenting plan that addresses time-sharing when minor children are involved, and the plan ordered will be based on the circumstances of the case. The parties can agree on a plan and the court can approve it, or the court can decide the whole parenting plan through a final judgment or court order. A parenting plan describes what each parent’s relationship will be with their children and how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child. In addition, the parenting plan will: