Divorce Lawyer Clearwater, FL
Divorce Lawyer in Clearwater, FL
When irreconcilable differences lead to the end of a marriage, you want to make sure you have a trusted and respected divorce lawyer Clearwater, Florida trusts by your side to support you through the situation. Divorce is difficult to go through, and the process often involves a lot of complicated negotiations. For these reasons, it is recommended that you work with a lawyer who can dutifully speak on your behalf. Securing the protection of your rights, money and other key assets is critical when you are going through a divorce. A divorce lawyer such as one from The McKinney Law Group can provide reliable legal assistance to support you at this time.
DIVORCE LAWYER IN CLEARWATER, FL
As an established family law firm that the Clearwater, FL community has depended on for years, The McKinney Law Group has handled a diverse case load. They have assisted clients with cases involving divorce, prenuptial agreements, alimony, and other topics within the realm of family law for over a decade. Through their skills, resources, and insight, Attorney Damien McKinney and the McKinney Law team will assess your individual situation to propose solutions that will uphold your best interests. Working with many clients and families, we understand that your legal matters are deeply personal and will accommodate your concerns and preferences to the best of their ability so that you obtain the outcome you are seeking. Contact them today to learn more about how they can help you with your case.
HOW DO I PROTECT MY ASSETS?
Questions about asset protection strategies are one of the most common concerns raised by clients who are going through divorce. A lawyer will evaluate your assets and recommend various methods of protecting them, such as setting up trusts or new accounts. These methods will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the value and number of each asset. By suggesting and reviewing agreements and forms of asset protection, you can feel more confident as you go through your divorce proceedings.
HOW WILL MY MARITAL ASSETS AND PROPERTY BE DIVIDED IN DIVORCE?
When many people think of property division in a divorce, they imagine that the property is divided in equal proportion to each spouse when the divorce is finalized. While this may be true of couples who live in community property states, it is not necessarily true in Florida. Florida law requires property division in a divorce is to be handled by equitable division.
Ideally, your Clearwater, FL divorce lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer will be able to agree on what is marital property and should be included in any divorce settlement. If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, then the judge who is overseeing the divorce will determine which property is marital property and can therefore be divided using the principles of equitable division. This means that property is divided equitably, or fairly, however, this distribution will not necessarily be one that is equal.
Generally, the court does not consider marital misconduct when dividing marital property. However, an issue like the dissipation of marital assets does affect the equitable division. Dissipation of marital assets relates to the inappropriate use of the assets for non-marital purposes. This can sometimes come up if one spouse starts spending marital property to support a new relationship or to start a new business after the couple’s separation pending divorce. Before the court can consider dissipation, your Clearwater divorce lawyer will have to file a claim alleging dissipation by your spouse and meet other requirements.
FACTORS THE COURT WILL CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION
Other factors that the court can consider in dividing property include the financial situation of the spouses after the divorce. Additionally, the court can also consider the tax implications of the property division, and whether the spouses have other obligations such as paying child support or spousal maintenance coming from a previous relationship.
If the divorcing couple also has children, the court could consider which parent will be primarily responsible for the children in awarding the marital home. This could mean that the court offsets any inequity that results from this in another way, for example by awarding the other spouse other assets, or by not awarding spousal maintenance.
Even when dividing marital assets equitably, the court has to ensure that any valid premarital and postmarital agreements signed by the couple that address property division are followed. Therefore, if under a couple’s agreement, all marital property should be divided equally, the court will follow this, even if it is different from Florida’s default law. The exception to this would be if a court finds that such a method of dividing the property would be against public policy.
WHAT ABOUT MY KIDS?
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to work out child custody matters without judicial intervention. Most of the time, working out your custody arrangements without a judge’s oversight is ideal, because you and your spouse can set the terms of your parenting agreement without leaving your child’s custody and everyday scheduling up to a judge’s determination of what arrangements would best reflect your child’s best interests. With that said, sometimes it is necessary to “fight” for custody and/or the parenting plan arrangements that a parent believes that their child needs because the child’s other parent has fundamental disagreements about what the child custody agreement should entail.
It is the great privilege of The McKinney Law Group legal team to help parents sort out their child custody arrangements in ways that best reflect the best interests of their children – whether judicial intervention is required to achieve this end or not.
CUSTODY AND PARENTING PLAN ISSUES
If you and your child’s other parent are going to share physical and/or legal custody in any capacity, you will likely be required to create a parenting plan as part of your divorce process. Your parenting plan will detail expectations for your co-parenting arrangements moving forward. Issues commonly addressed in parenting plans include: timing of when the child will reside with either parent, how communication will work between co-parents, how communication will work with the parent that the child isn’t residing with, and how holidays and other special occasions will be divided.
You and your child’s other parent can draft a parenting plan and we can help you to finalize it. If you and your spouse disagree about various aspects of how the plan should be constructed, we can negotiate, mediate, or litigate your differences, depending on which approach best reflects your circumstances and best chance for success.
It is important to keep in mind that whether you litigate, negotiate, or mediate your differences, if a judge is required to weigh in, they will rule according to their interpretation of the “best interests of the child” standard. Thus, it is always a good idea to have your child’s best interests (as opposed to other motivations) at the forefront of your mind when constructing a parenting plan and/or custody arrangement.
“But,” you may be wondering, “how can I be expected to draft a parenting plan that will reflect my child’s best interests for many years into the future?” This is an excellent question, as a child’s needs and circumstances will certainly evolve over time. Thankfully, child custody and parenting plan arrangements are not set in stone at the conclusion of a couple’s divorce process. If and when a child’s best interests are no longer served by the original arrangement and/or they are no longer practical (because a parent must move in order to remain employed, the child has become chronically ill, or some other significant change in circumstances), these arrangements can be modified. You and your child’s other parent can modify your arrangements at any time if you both agree. If one of you resists modification, the other will need to file a formal motion to request an adjustment of the terms in question.
WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE A DIVORCE LAWYER
It is highly recommended to hire a divorce lawyer for several reasons. The first is to ensure your rights are fully protected. While representing yourself is always an option, if you do not have a legal background you may risk missing crucial details or mishandling your case. An experienced lawyer has worked on many cases, including those similar to yours, so they have a strong understanding of the best practices and strategies to use for a positive case outcome. In case you are also strongly considering alternatives to divorce to avoid excess costs, stress, and time, then a lawyer can help you go through those as well.
What to Do When Getting a Divorce
Though most marriages begin with the intention of the couple being to stay together forever, a lot of them don’t stay that way and the marriage ends in divorce. If you and your spouse have made the decision to end your marriage and are about to start the process, there are several things you should do.
Do Your Research
Before you begin a huge undertaking such as a divorce, you want to make sure you do your due-diligence in researching things such as hiring a divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL, and what financial steps you need to take in order for the process to go as smoothly as it can from your end.
Hire a Lawyer
One of the first steps you should take in getting a divorce is to meet with and hire a divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL. Hiring an attorney from Mckinney Law Group is a great way to ensure that all the legal proceedings are taken care of and that you don’t have to worry about the majority of the paperwork.
Organize Your Documents
As you begin the divorce proceedings, you’ll want to make a copy of all your documents such as bank statements, your Social Security card, insurance policies, mortgage statements, tax returns and other important documents to have for your divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL.
Get Mental Health Help
Because divorce can be such a heavy burden, it can consume your time as well as your energy. If you are struggling with your divorce and find it weighing you down mentally, it might be a good idea to look into going to see a therapist or a close friend or family member to talk to about all you’re feeling and going through so that you’re not too overwhelmed.
Try to Stay Civil
A great temptation during the divorce process is to unleash your frustrations with your spouse. However, especially if you have children involved, you should try to remain as civil towards your spouse as you can, which can make the process somewhat easier for you both.
Divorce is a very complicated and messy situation, and no one wants to go through it. Even though it is difficult, if you do your research, hire an experienced attorney from Mckinney Law Group, organize your documents, get mental health help and try to stay civil towards your soon-to-be ex, the process may be a little easier for you.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH A DIVORCE LAWYER
If you are planning to get divorced, one of your next steps is to schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL. It is important to come prepared. Here are a few ways to get ready for your consultation.
- Arrive Early: It is best to leave a little early for your initial consultation with a divorce lawyer. This way, you will have a chance to sit down and relax before you have to discuss your divorce.
- Determine what you want from the divorce: Before you arrive at your first consultation with a divorce lawyer, you have to figure out what exactly you want from your divorce. For instance, you may wish to stay in the family home or get full custody of your children. Tell your lawyer about your wishes and include as many details as possible.
- Bring the necessary paperwork: To get the most out of your consultation with a divorce lawyer, you should bring relevant paperwork, such as your bank statements, tax returns, and prenuptial agreements. The more information your lawyer has about your divorce, the better he or she can help you.
- Be completely honest: When you go into your initial divorce consultation, there may be some issues that you feel embarrassed discussing. For example, you may have had a substance abuse issue or were unfaithful to your spouse in your marriage. However, it’s important to be truthful with your divorce lawyer about everything. Your lawyer won’t be able to help you to the best of his or her ability if he or she doesn’t know the complete truth.
- Prepare a list of questions: During your consultation, your divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL shouldn’t be the only one asking questions. It’s also important for you to ask questions. For example, you may want to know how many years of experience your lawyer has in divorce law and how often he or she goes to trial. You may also be curious about what the lawyer’s fees are and approximately how long it will take to settle your case.
- Take notes: At your first consultation, your divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL will tell you a wealth of information. It may be difficult to remember all of the information that’s being thrown your way. That is why you should consider taking notes during the meeting.
What Should You Do With the Marital Home in Divorce?
The marital home often represents the largest asset in a divorce. After building memories, sharing lives and possibly raising a family in your marital home, you could feel torn about what to do next. A divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL, from Mckinney Law Group may help you decide, but here are common options to consider.
Refinance the Mortgage
Some divorcing couples refinance their current mortgage in a single person’s name. While this releases one spouse from the mortgage, both parties must clear that spouse’s name off the title, too. Otherwise, the spouse no longer on the mortgage may benefit if the remaining spouse later sells the property. A divorcing couple may need a quitclaim deed before refining the mortgage.
One thing to keep in mind with this option is the spouse who wants to refinance must qualify for the loan with her or his credit score and income alone. Spousal support and alimony count as income, but lenders only accept it as income as long as the divorce settlement decrees that the borrower receives alimony or spousal support for at least three years.
Sell the Home
Divorcing couples may put their marital home on the market and split the proceeds. Even if neither spouse wants to sell, they may have no choice but to if their divorce agreement states they must put the home on the market if the couple does not refinance the home loan by a specific date. A divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL, could feel it makes more sense to sell the home, pay off the remaining mortgage and use the profits to start the next chapter of life.
Before listing the home, a divorcing couple should find out if they must make upgrades or repairs to the property before selling it. If so, that costs money, and so does working with a real estate professional.
Staying in the Home
Couples may not have the financial resources to move out of their marital home, or they may have shared children they do not want to uproot. Either way, a legal professional from Mckinney Law Group could feel the most favorable option is to remain in the marital home for a while.
Staying in the marital home usually works better if the couple gets along well, knows how to communicate and puts the children first. Antagonistic couples may want to establish more boundaries or divide rooms in the home to help keep the peace.
COMMON MYTHS ABOUT GETTING DIVORCED
If you are planning to get divorced from your spouse, it is important to get your facts straight. There are too many myths surrounding divorce these days and it is easy to get confused. Here are some common myths about divorce that you should not believe.
- Marital assets will be divided 50/50. The state of Florida does not require an equal distribution of assets. It instead requires an equitable split of assets. The court will consider several factors before determining a fair division of marital property, such as the financial condition of each spouse, the overall health of each spouse and the degree to which each spouse contributed to the earning power of the other spouse.
- You must have a reason to get divorced. Florida is a no-fault state, so you do not need a specific reason to get a divorce. If you and your spouse don’t get along anymore, that alone is enough to support a divorce filing.
- It is not worth the money to hire a divorce lawyer. Hiring a skilled divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL certainly is not cheap. If you are getting divorced, you are probably already worried about your finances. However, that does not mean it is not worth the money. It absolutely is. You stand to lose a lot if you do not have an experienced lawyer on your side. This is especially true if your spouse has hired a lawyer. Your lawyer will stand up for your rights and increase your chances of obtaining a fair settlement in your divorce. Your lawyer will also remain objective and prevent you from making costly mistakes.
- Couples always fight in a divorce. It is not uncommon for couples to argue about certain issues during a divorce, such as property division and child custody. However, that does not mean every couple constantly fights during a divorce. It is possible for divorcing couples to be civil toward one another and reach an agreement sooner.
- The mother always gets custody. In many cases, the mother does obtain custody of the children in a divorce. However, it does not always work out this way. If the mother is seen as an unfit parent, whether due to drug addiction or poor mental health, the father is likely to win custody of the children.
3 DIVORCE SETTLEMENT TYPES YOU SHOULD KNOW
Experiencing a divorce is a highly emotional experience. With so many implications for your
children, property, and finances, it is critical that you have a reliable divorce lawyer in Clearwater,
FL to help you along. Since the circumstances of every case are different, it helps to go to the
attorneys at Mckinney Law Group with an idea of what you wish to accomplish. This will give
them the information you need to get you a favorable settlement. These 3 settlement
arrangements are among some of the most common.
Uncontested divorce settlements can be quick and cost-effective. In this scenario, both parties
come to an amicable split among themselves. This requires them to agree on what should
happen regarding child custody, assets, and finances going forward. While many filers still
choose to be represented by a divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL, an uncontested divorce will not
require the court to mediate a settlement. While this method can be quick and painless, it can be
difficult for both spouses to be on the same page.
A contested divorce settlement is the arrangement that most people will be familiar with. When
the spouses in a divorce cannot agree on how their affairs should be handled, they ask the court
to step in as a mediator. In contested divorces, a divorce lawyer in Clearwater, FL will step in to
represent the spouses and negotiate on their behalf. This option may be beneficial to spouses
who are not on speaking terms, or couples who find it too difficult to negotiate among themselves.
Based on the circumstances of the case and the negotiations between parties, the judge over the
case will pass down a court-ordered arrangement. While many filers can be wary about this style
of settlement, it should always be considered in order to achieve an equitable split.
Summary dissolutions are handy for ending marriages where there are few assets, and no
children involved. While there are a number of stipulations like residency, debt limits, and
restrictions on child support, this arrangement is a quick way to exit a marriage. This method can
be very attractive to filers, but the reality is that it is not always practical or feasible.
The circumstances of every divorce case are unique. Considering the personal and emotional
matters that are at play, an attorney from Mckinney Law Group on your side can help ease the
administrative burdens. This will give you peace of mind while saving you time, energy, and
A divorce lawyer Clearwater, FL residents rely on can share that ending a marriage involves several elements. In addition to the many decisions couples must make, they are likely to experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Even when people agree with divorce, the process can be deeply contentious. Deciding to divorce is not easy for couples, and once this decision has been made, several next steps will need to be taken. The McKinney Law Group has represented many couples going through this process and is available to answer questions regarding the process and develop a strategy for moving forward.
How much does a divorce cost?
The cost of divorce can vary and largely depends upon the details of the divorce and whether parties are agreeable to making arrangements with one another. The more litigious the divorce becomes, the more costly it can be. Divorces can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars; because of this, couples should be motivated to reach amicable agreements.
How long does it take before a divorce can be finalized?
Again, this can vary depending upon several factors, such as whether couples agree to the divorce and can effectively negotiate how assets are divided and custody of children will be shared. A divorce in Florida can take anywhere from a few short months to a few years (in the most contentious of situations). However, in some cases, couples may file a simplified dissolution of marriage, which can take about 30 days to complete from start to finish.
Is there a waiting period for divorce in Florida?
As a Clearwater, FL divorce lawyer can share, there is a mandatory waiting period after a person files for divorce. The waiting period before a divorce can be finalized is 20 days.
What steps should be taken if one party doesn’t want a divorce?
There may be times when both parties are not in agreement over ending the relationship. When one person wants to remain in the relationship, this can, at times, make the process of divorce even more challenging. However, be aware that just because a person refuses to sign the divorce papers doesn’t mean that they can stop the process from happening altogether. When one party refuses to sign documents, the process becomes a contested divorce. Mediation may be an appropriate way of moving forward, but you may choose to go to trial if that doesn’t happen.
Why is a lawyer necessary for a divorce?
For more straightforward, simple situations, it may be possible to divorce without the need for a lawyer. However, at times, this may not be possible. It’s essential to consider a lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. Also, keep in mind that if your spouse has a lawyer, it might be a good idea to retain one for yourself to ensure a level playing field.
The McKinney Law Group has ample experience in matters involving family law, which will be necessary for those in the process of divorce. Once a decision to divorce has been made, the process to follow can be complicated, which is why a lawyer is necessary to move through proceedings as efficiently as possible. Contact our Clearwater, Florida divorce lawyer to receive the legal guidance and representation you need.
LEGAL ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE
No one plans for divorce on their wedding day. This decision should be seriously made. If divorce seems to be the only resolution, know that you deserve to have access to trusted legal assistance and nothing less. Divorce is challenging and can take a heavy emotional toll, so it is best to have that extra guidance and legal support. Explore what legal options are available for you by contacting a Clearwater, FL divorce lawyer and schedule a risk-free consultation to get started.
Client Review“I have worked with Mr. McKinney for several years. I respect his level of professionalism and the attention his devotes to his client. Mr. McKinney and his staff are top notch.” Ann-Eliza Taylor