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Divorce & Family Law FAQs

At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., we understand how highly emotional and complex family law matters can be. Understandably, you might have several questions regarding your situation, whether it’s about divorce, child custody, division of property, alimony or domestic abuse. We encourage you to read answers to some of the most common family law questions below. If you don’t see your question answered, contact our Panama City family lawyers today.

Call (800) 822-5170 or contact us online to get in touch with us today.

1. How long does it take to get a divorce in Florida?

The length of the divorce process hinges on whether your case is contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, both parties have to reach an agreement regarding all matters, like division of property, child support, visitation, and alimony. Altogether, an uncontested divorce can take as little as 4 to 5 weeks. However, if the matter is contested, you’re looking at 6 months to a year or more from the time of filing, especially if young children are involved.

2. What are the requirements for filing for divorce in Florida?

In Florida, either spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 6 months preceding the filing of the petition for dissolution. If you are currently in the military and are stationed outside of Florida, you are still considered a resident and your status remains intact.

3. How much does it cost to file for divorce?

Attorney fees aside, you must pay $408 for filing fees in a divorce case, whether it’s contested or uncontested. Additional costs may be included if there is a service of process, mediation, or a “Parent Education and Family Stabilization” course (if minor children are involved).

4. Can I relocate with my children out of state during a divorce?

You cannot change the residence of your children from the school zone in which the marital home is currently located without a written agreement signed by both parties, or an order of the court. Relocation is defined as a move of at least 50 miles from the marital residence and for at least 60 consecutive days, which means you’ll need permission even if you try and leave to another city. If one parent objects, the matter will be taken to court, where the judge will make a decision based on the child’s best interests. Attempting to move without complying with the requirements can result in the return of the child and other consequences.

5. How is property divided?

The general rule is that Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property—or property acquired during the marriage with marital funds or labor—is divided equally upon divorce (unless there is a reason for unequal division). Non-marital property, which are assets and liabilities acquired before the marriage, remain the sole and separate property of the spouse upon divorce.

6. How is alimony calculated?

If a spouse faces financial hardship due to a divorce, spousal support or alimony may be ordered. According to the law, an individual has the right to maintain the standard of living that they were accustomed to during their marriage. However, if both spouses are employed and self-sufficient, or married for a very short period, alimony may not be awarded.

7. Who pays child support and how is it determined?

The spouse who is ordered to pay child support is the one with whom the child does not legally reside with, known as the non-custodial parent. Child support payments are then determined on each parent’s income and the amount of time they spend with the child.

8. Can I stay at home during my divorce?

In Florida, if you and your spouse own your home together, it’s considered a marital asset and neither you nor your spouse would abandon any rights to the property by moving out. If you decide to stay in your home, you may potentially receive assistance from your spouse, including child support or alimony, to help offset the mortgage payments and other home-related expenses.

9. What if my spouse becomes violent?

If you or your child are harmed due to abuse, you need to contact the police or 911 immediately. As soon as it’s safe, find somewhere else to stay—like your family’s house—or contact your local center for victims of domestic violence. You can also file a restraining order by contacting the clerk of court or an attorney. A temporary domestic violence restraining order can be issued in a matter of hours.

10. Do I really need a family law and divorce attorney?

A family law and divorce attorney can protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair and just outcome for your case. An experienced professional understands the complexities surrounding family law issues, and as a result, they can assist you with all the required documentation that must be filed with the courts. A mistake can result in more stress and a drawn-out conclusion.

If you are thinking about or are going through a divorce, please contact our Florida family lawyers at The Virga Law Firm, P.A. today. Call (800) 822-5170 or contact us online.

Meet Our Attorneys

  • Gerard Virga
    Gerard Virga Founder
    Gerard Virga

    Attorney Gerard Virga is the founder at The Virga Law Firm, P.A. He truly understands that dealing with family law issues can be one of the most stressful experiences that a person can face, which can create a great deal of anxiety. This is why we have devoted our practice to helping individuals who need help working towards an effective resolution for their family law case. When it comes to protecting the rights of my clients, Attorney Virga is relentless and steadfast, from start to finish. Read More

  • Michael Ray Goodson
    Michael Ray Goodson Attorney
    Michael Ray Goodson

    Michael Ray Goodson is a distinguished Attorney and Counselor at Law at The Virga Law Firm, P.A. An Orlando native, Michael studied Psychology and Music Performance at the University of Florida. He later studied Family Law and Criminal law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. After graduation, Michael worked as an Assistant State Attorney in Panama City, where he was able to help victims and their families who were affected by crime. He later joined the team at The Virga Law Firm, P.A., where he now practices criminal defense and family law. Additionally, Michael is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator. Read More

  • Christopher Melendez
    Christopher Melendez Attorney
    Christopher Melendez

    Christopher Melendez joined The Virga Law Firm in 2016. He brings years of conflict resolution skills he learned a business manager, superb legal writing and research ability, and previous experience in saving both homes and families in counties all over the state of Florida. Read More

  • Robert Boyette
    Robert Boyette Attorney
    Robert Boyette

    Robert Grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and is the oldest son to a Panama City Native. He spent his summers as a child vacationing with his parents and visiting relatives in Panama City Beach. He attended the University of Florida where he received his Bachelor’s degree. After receiving his Bachelor’s Robert attended Law School at Florida Coastal School of Law where he completed his Juris Doctorate in 2005. After Law School, Robert accepted a position with the Public Defender’s Office in Panama City where he worked to tirelessly defend people with no means to defend themselves. Robert began working at The Virga Law Firm in Spring of 2016. Read More

  • William J. “West” Ritchie
    William J. “West” Ritchie Attorney
    William J. “West” Ritchie

    William J. “West” Ritchie is a managing attorney for The Virga Law Firm’s Pensacola office. He is well-versed in storm and hurricane insurance claims, construction defect litigation, BP oil spill claims, and insurance defense litigation. Mr. Ritchie has represented clients in the Panhandle for the past 28 years. Some of his current practice areas include Hurricane claims, Construction Defect Litigation, B.P. claims and Insurance Defense Litigation. After Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle in October 2018, he got right to work to hear the stories of claimants who needed to file homeowners’ insurance claims but did not know where to begin. Read More

  • Gerard Virga
    Gerard Virga Founder
  • Michael Ray Goodson
    Michael Ray Goodson Attorney
  • Christopher Melendez
    Christopher Melendez Attorney
  • Robert Boyette
    Robert Boyette Attorney
  • William J. “West” Ritchie
    William J. “West” Ritchie Attorney

What Our Clients Say

Mother and Daughter
  • “It was a blessing for me to have Gerard on my side during the divorce!”

    Visi, A Divorce Client

  • “Gerard is smarter than 95% of people I know, including lawyers. ”

    Adam Ellis, Litigation Lawyer

  • “Mr. Virga not only accepted me as a client, but he took my case to heart.”

    A Litigation Client

  • “The clients I refer to Mr. Virga are always satisfied with and complimentary of his services.”

    Joseph Turner, Criminal Defense Attorney

  • “Gerard is a brilliant attorney and he's the one you want on your side! ”

    Rusty Shepard, Criminal Defense Attorney

  • “Mr. Virga treated me with professionalism and fought my case well!”

    A Divorce Client

  • Top 10 Family Law Law Firm
  • Attorney Top 40 Under 40
  • Best of Bay
  • The National Advocates
  • Super Lawyers Rising Star
  • Lawyers of Distinction 2018
  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb
  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Lawyers
  • 10 Best by American Institute of Family Law Attorneys | 2016

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