When I have someone coming in to speak with me about a potential divorce, the first thing I ask is, “Is your marriage irretrievably broken?” I always ask that because as much as I am a divorce lawyer, I want to make sure that this is the absolutely last option for your family because if your marriage is not irretrievably broken and there is an opportunity where you could potentially reconcile, we want to point you in that direction and give your marriage and your family that best opportunity.
Sometimes that is just not possible and things are too far gone. So what I do is sit with the client and cover all of the broad issues that are typical in a divorce case. For example, we talk about parental responsibility, which involves custody of a child and time sharing. We discuss equitable distribution, which means the division of assets and debts acquired during the marriage. Oftentimes I’ll have someone who is telling me, “that is not in my name,” and I’ll explain that under Florida equitable distribution, any asset or any debt that was acquired after the marriage — regardless of whose name it might be under — is a marital asset or a marital debt and you are equally responsible. A lot of times this is a big surprise for people.
The next thing we talk about are potential issues with alimony. Sometimes men are entitled to alimony, and sometimes women are entitled to alimony. There is really no gender preference. Then we will discuss child support, and we will discuss any other miscellaneous issues that might pertain to that case.
But we take them through this process because we find that generally it will cover every potential issues. We explain that Florida is a no fault divorce state, so allegations of extramarital affairs or dissipation of assets — none of those things really factor in necessarily in the divorce. They may factor in when it comes to distributing the assets and the debt. There is no way that someone can stop you from getting divorced if that is ultimately what you want.