How Much Does a Florida Divorce Cost?
Divorce is expensive, both in terms of money and time. These two costs are related, and they are also difficult to calculate.
Financially, the average divorce costs a staggering $15,000. That’s an average cost. When power couples like Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos split up, they will probably spend a lot more than $15,000. On the other end of the scale, if a young couple with no children or property breaks up, they will probably pay a lot less than $15,000.
Likewise, the average divorce case usually lasts about one year. The exact length depends on the issues involved, as set forth below.
So, when you ask a Port St. Lucie divorce attorney “How much will this cost” or “How long will it take,” the only honest answer is “It will be more costly than you think.” Lawyers who give other responses are probably just telling you what they think you want to hear.
In some ways, Florida’s child custody laws have changed a lot since the 1990s. The last vestiges of the “tender years” doctrine, which almost always meant that mothers received custody and fathers received visitation rights, is gone. Instead, the law expects both parents to take active child rearing roles.
The child custody factors, however, have remained much the same. To designate a residential and nonresidential parent, the law sets forth a number of factors, such as:
- Child’s educational history,
- Parents’ physical and moral fitness,
- Child’s preference, if any,
- Continuity of the present living arrangements, and
- Any history of domestic violence.
These factors often change over time. A parent’s fitness is a good example. Many parents develop, or overcome, substance abuse issues. When that happens, it’s normally in the child’s best interests to expand, or restrict, contact between that parent and the child.
Florida is an equitable division state. So, marital assets and debts must be divided equitably, or fairly. Frequently, husbands and wives have radically different opinions of what constitutes a “fair” settlement. Some factors include:
- Standard of living during the marriage,
- Relative age and health of each spouse,
- Length of the marriage,
- Future earning ability of each spouse, and
- Noneconomic contributions to the marriage.
Generally, an “equitable” division means that the divorce is not an unfair financial burden for either party.
Attorneys must be mindful of property division and child custody factors during court hearings and settlement negotiations. Arguments based on the factors often resonate very well with the judge. And, if an out-of-court settlement does not reflect these factors, the judge might not approve it.
Agreements between the parties are also significant. In fact, most St. Lucie County judges uphold most property or premarital agreements, as long as they are not blatantly one-sided and both spouses had separate counsel.
Contact a Tenacious Lawyer
Marriage dissolution is generally never cheap. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie divorce lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.