General Divorce Questions
Q: How long does a divorce take?
A: It mostly depends on how many of the P.E.A.C.E. issues of divorce you and your spouse have settled privately. If you’re mostly in agreement, you could opt for a mediated contract, which could take as little as a month to prepare and sign. If you and your spouse can’t agree on major issues, your case will have to be settled by a Judge. This could take several months to a year.
Q: How expensive is a divorce?
A: Divorce always comes with two kinds of expenses. The first is the fee for filing the paperwork, which is currently $408 in Hillsborough County. The second is the fee of the mediator or your legal representative. Our standard retainer is around $3,000 (for representation), and our hourly rate ranges from $200 to $300 (for consultation or mediation).
Q: How much child support will be awarded?
A: The dollar value depends on a number of factors. Chiefly among them are:
1) how many children you have had with your ex
2) your own and your spouse’s incomes
3) routine expenses, like health care or day-care, that are associated with your child.
Q: What if I’ve lost my job, or have new financial burdens?
A: Then you’ll probably be able to successfully petition for a change in the support payments. The divorce contract isn’t set in stone; in fact, it’s expected that you modify it several times over the course of your life.
Q: How much alimony am I entitled to?
A: This depends on your family’s financial situation. If you and your spouse have about the same net income and expenses, no one will receive alimony. If, however, you have demonstrated financial need, and the Court deems that your spouse has the ability to pay, you may be entitled to alimony. Since alimony is meant to be “adjustment money,” the amount is predicated on your lifestyle before divorce and your current income.
Q: How long will the alimony last?
A: That depends on how long you were married for. If you were married for fewer than seventeen years, the duration of the alimony payments may not exceed the length of your marriage.
Q: If I don’t own the car I drive, is it my spouse’s car?
A: No. If your spouse bought the car while married, the car is considered “marital property,” and so belongs to both of you. If you both own cars of approximately equal value, one will be allocated to each of you – even if it’s not technically “your” car. If you only own one car between you, the party who doesn’t get the car must be given something of equal monetary value.
Q: My spouse has a lot of credit card debt, but my name isn’t on the card or account. Am I liable for that debt?
A: Some of it. If the debt was incurred while you were married, it’s considered a joint liability, and so will be split equally between the two of you.
Q: Am I entitled to any of my spouse’s investment accounts?
A: Potentially, yes. If any of the money in the account was earned during the marriage, you could be entitled to half of that amount.