Experienced Divorce Attorney in Kissimmee, FL

Orlando and Kissimmee Divorce Attorney providing professional Divorce and Family Law legal services in Orlando, Kissimmee and Central Florida. Contact Lawyer, Lazaro G. Blanco, Esq., today at 407.344.5577.

Divorce proceedings are usually initiated for a myriad of reasons that build up during a relationship. Florida offers "no fault" divorce. The main reason a court of law would look for before granting a divorce are irreconcilable differences and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Once divorce proceedings are commenced, the relationship is usually too far gone to recover.

Information Gathering - Prior to the divorce petition being filed, a person must gather information regarding basic vital statistics to file within the petition (i.e., names, addresses, birth dates, social security numbers, etc.). Some people may need to make plans for the separation with regard to living arrangements for themselves as well as their children during the pending divorce.

Divorce Petition - The petition is the official document that starts the divorce process once it is filed in the courthouse and served on the respondent spouse. It really makes no difference which spouse files for divorce first. The divorce petition is usually written in a one-sided fashion toward the spouse that is initiating the divorce. Dont be too concerned with the contents of the divorce petition as most of those requests can be challenged. The basic divorce petition will address all issues regarding legal separation including equitable distribution of assets and liabilities, child support, time-sharing, alimony, injunction against dissipation of assets, restoration of maiden names, and attorneys fees. There are different types of petitions such as:

  • Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren)

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child(ren)

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent or Minor Child(ren) or Property

Service of Petition - After the divorce petition is served, the respondent spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition by filing an Answer or Answer and Counter-petition. Petitions are usually hand delivered via a certified process server or a sheriff in the county where the respondent lives. After the service is complete, then financial disclosures are required. If no answer is filed, you are in danger of having a default judgment entered against you.

During this 20 day window (and after the response is file), you should begin to prepare documents and information that an attorney can use on your behalf for the upcoming litigation. If your divorce is not a secret, you should contact witnesses (friends and family) that will help you present the best possible case for the goals you are trying to achieve. Some common goals are: Maintain the marital residence (and have the other spouse pay for it), obtain a majority of time sharing, be awarded alimony, be awarded unrestricted visitation with the children, take half of all marital assets, saddle the initiating spouse with all the marital debts, etc. The petition will usually ask for everything including your heart and soul. These petitions are usually biased toward the side that wrote the petition and a judge will rarely award a spouse everything they demanded in the initial petition.

Mandatory Disclosure involves parties involved in the proceedings requesting temporary or permanent financial relief (ie., child support, alimony, equitable distribution) must prepare, file with the court, and serve on the opposing party certain financial documents (a standardized financial affidavit, certain tax returns, etc.) The amount of disclosure may be more burdensome for persons with higher income. Financial Affidavits are the main documents looked at by the Courts to obtain a snapshot summation of the financial situations to base alimony and child supports awards from. This is also a good time to begin gathering documents and information that an attorney would need in order to comply with Mandatory Disclosure. Some of the financial documentation needed include (some of these may not apply to your particular situation):

  • Last 3 years of tax returns

  • Last 6 months of paystubs (or proof of source of income)

  • Last 6 months of Bank and/or Brokerage Statements

  • Copies of mortgage statements

  • Copies of automobile loan statements

  • Deeds to any real estate owned by you or your spouse

  • Copy of residential leases (if you do not own a home)

  • Last 6 months of credit card statements or any other debts

  • Certificate of completion for parenting classes if minor children are involved

There are additional considerations when it comes to possible resolutions in a divorce and some of those include bankruptcy considerations, negative effects on a spouses credit, short selling the marital home, best interests of the child with regard to custody and time sharing.

Discovery Phase - Discovery means that the attorneys and parties to a divorce proceeding is requesting that the other party turn over essential documents that would be used in future litigation. Discovery usually entails serving the other party with written Interrogatories, conducting oral depositions, and requesting that the other party produce many financial documents.

Mediation - Mediation is a voluntary but mandatory process once the information gathering process and discovery process is complete or nearly complete. A formal mediation is conducted by a certified court mediator who will try to reach a settlement that is mutually agreeable to both parties. Mediation is a completely confidential process. Any issues raised in the mediation cannot later be brought up by the other party at trial. The mediator cannot force a settlement. If a settlement is reached, the mediator will draw up all the necessary paperwork, usually a mediated settlement agreement. Once the mediation is resolved, a short 5 minute final hearing will be conducted where the mediated agreement will be incorporated into a Final Judgment that is signed by the Judge.

Motions / Depositions - There are various pretrial motions that can be filed during the pendency of a divorce. Some of the common ones are Motions for Temporary Relief, Motions to Compel, Motions for Subpoena Duces Tecum, Motions to Appoint Guadian Ad Litems for minor children, etc. A short hearing is needed to address the issues and a judge will usually decide the outcome of these short motions. Depositions are usually oral questioning of the opposing spouse and all witnesses that will testify on behalf of the opposing spouse. This is usually done during the discovery process and will be used for impeachment in a future trial if necessary. You would like to have a good idea of what all witnesses will say before entering the trial.

Pretrial Conference / Scheduling Conference - Most judges will schedule a pretrial conference hearing in order to determine the status of the case. Prior to this hearing, the judge will usually require that a Pretrial Statement be filed. A Pretrial Statement will address the issues that are agreed on and the issues that will be litigated in court during a final hearing. The Statement will also list all the witnesses and evidence that will be presented. The judge will narrow down the contested issues and receive a trial date.

Trial / Final hearing - If no settlement can be reached at mediation, then both parties proceed to a bench trial. A bench trial is one that is conducted in front of the judge only and there is no jury involved. This the time to bring any evidence you are going to present and all the witnesses that will be testifying on your behalf. No surprise witnesses are allowed. The petitioner will present their case first usually with an opening statement and then calling witnesses. The respondent will then have a chance to cross examine these witnesses for a myriad of reasons. The respondent then calls their witnesses. At the end of the presentation of witnesses and evidence, both sides will make a closing argument. The Judge will then make a decision regarding equitable distribution of assets and debts, time sharing, child support, and alimony (if applicable).

Our Divorce Legal Services include, but are not limited to:

If you must address divorce or other family law issues in Orlando, Kissimmee, St. Cloud, or the surrounding Central Florida area, speak to an experienced divorce attorney - lawyer at BLANCO LAW CENTER, PA. today by calling 407.344.5577 or by using our online case evaluation form.