A Summons is a legal document which gives notice to your spouse (the Respondent) that an action was started and sets forth the time by which he or she must respond.
The Petition is a legal document in the action for Divorce or Modification. It contains the basic details and reasons for the relief requested it also contains other requests such as child custody, visitation, child support and alimony, equitable distribution of marital property, health insurance, life insurance, payment of legal fees and experts' fees, exclusive possession of the marital residence, orders of protection, etc.
If you start the divorce action by filing and then serving a summons upon your spouse with a Petition for Dissolution, your spouse then has twenty days to file a "responsive pleading" with the Clerk of the Court and upon you (or your Divorce Attorney). Your spouse may not only file a responsive pleading but may also file and serve upon you or your attorney a counter-petition for divorce. The practice of filing and serving a counter-petition is common.
In Florida, both spouses have the right to complete Financial Disclosure as to the other spouse's income, assets and expenses.
You do not need to generally prove anything except that your marriage is irretrievably broken. That takes one spouses testimony only. One of you raise your right hand in Court and state that: "Your marriage is irrretrievably Broken". That's it, you win. Thats all it takes. BUT, that does not resolve any issues regarding children, property, debts, support, attorneys fees, etc. It ONLY gets you two legally divorced, ie. you and him/her are no longer married! The legal divorce is the easy part!
It is Alimony. Alimony can be awarded to EITHER spouse based on, Primarily, the need and ability of the parties. Alimony is a very inexact area of Florida Family Law. There are numerous types of alimony: Permanent (Until one of you die or remarry, ouch, or great, depending on who you are), Temporary (while the divorce is going on to keep things status quo, ie., mortgage payments paid, electricity paid, cable and phone paid, car payments and insurance paid, lawn guy paid, food on the table, you get the idea), lump sum (I will take it, or give it, all now, so I do not have to write or receive your checks monthly), Rehabilitative, (help me get educated or trained to get a good job so I can be self supporting), Permanent (for marriages 17 years or more), Bridge the Gap (Bridging the financial gap between being a married individual and an unmarried individual), etc. The variations/combinations are endless.
The Court must consider the standard of living of both spouses that was established during the marriage, length of the marriage, the circumstances of the case and of the parties, whether the spouse who is getting the award lacks sufficient income to provide for his/her reasonable needs and whether the party paying the alimony has sufficient income to provide for the other's reasonable needs.
Factors which must be considered in determining amount and duration are:
It is a method for distributing property acquired by either spouse upon the divorce. The Court must distribute "equitably" all "marital property" (equitable distribution, not necessarily equal distribution) regardless of the manner in which title is held, considering the following factors:
No, equitable does not mean equal. Marital property must be distributed equitably between the spouses, considering the circumstances of the case and of each spouse.
Marital Settlement Agreements include Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements, Separation Agreements and Settlement Agreements made by the two spouses.
Before or during the marriage.
Agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties.
Provisions for the ownership, division or distribution of separate property; Provisions for the ownership, division or distribution of marital property; Provisions for the amount and duration of maintenance; these provisions must be fair and reasonable at the time of making the agreement and must not be unconscionable at the time of entry of final judgment
Other terms and conditions of the marriage relationship; these provisions must be fair and reasonable at the time of making the agreement and must not be unconscionable at the time of entry of final judgment.
Provisions for custody, care, education and support of any child of the parties, other provisions may also include terms regarding alimony and attorney fees. A key element, is that a spouse have adequate financial knowledge of the other spouse or the agreement may be subject to attack at a later date.
Anyone can request "child support enforcement services". Florida Law provides that these services be made available, upon application, to persons receiving or not receiving aid to dependent children. The agency tasked with this obligation is the Department of Revenue, child support enforcement. Mr. Hannan, was previously a child support enforcement attorney for the Department of Revenue.
Where a settlement agreement is incorporated in a judgment of divorce and continues to exist as a separate agreement after the divorce judgment is made, the Court cannot reallocate the child support obligations between the parents if the agreement is fair, unless there is an unanticipated and permanent change in circumstances resulting in a showing of decreased financial ability, or for that matter, an increased financial ability. In that event, a spouse may be required to pay an increased, or decreased, amount of child support. Child support may be modified upwards or downwards depending on the circumstances of the party - sometimes both parties.
Any arrears which have accrued under a judgment or order prior to the making of an application for modification are not subject to modification or annulment.