Getting a divorce in Orlando, Part 1
Experts say domestic violence is first priority; attorney can help in ways beyond the divorce itself
Role of the attorney
For any civil legal action, and many criminal charges, brought against you--unless a court finds you incompetent--you have the right to represent yourself. This is referred to as appearing pro se, that is, without benefit of attorney.
Can be = maybe ?
Divorce can be an action in which you do, in fact, need no attorney.
Let me emphasize those two words: can be.
For instance, in my first divorce, I absolutely was forced to get a really good attorney (a lawyer who had also been a judge). Without him, I would've been stripped to the bare-bone minimum visitation time with my young daughter, which was not acceptable. As a result of our continued time together, and I know without doubt that my now mid-30's daughter agrees that keeping our visitation time to the maximum possible (which was still quite restrictive in those days--that is, nothing like equal time) fueled one of the best battles I ever fought.
One way I know this is that when my daughter reached her mid-teens, she asked me to file for custody. Apparently, she had read up on "children's rights" or "Texas law" or something. To win that case, I was fortunate enough to retain the services of Joe Brent Johnson. Once I hired Joe Brent, everything went my way, as it should have. However, had I not retained both of these attorneys, I would have had much less time with my daughter during her formative years and would've had a more difficult time winning custody in her teen years.
One attorney changed my percepti0n
That being said, you can sort of get the role of the attorney. Once you hook up with a compatible attorney, you also want an attorney who knows this stuff inside-out. By that, I intend a lawyer who not only keeps up with state law but also one who keeps up with local rules and the predilections of local judges.
Here's another take
Do you need counseling? After all, divorce is often rated very high in the grief-quotient.
Many people respond to polls about divorce, saying it's the worst thing they've ever been through.
This is true: statistics and polls alike indicate that splitting the sheets with a long-term partner can easily be as traumatic as just about anything you've you've ever known, including a death in the family. This also applies even if both partners agree the relationship has run its course. So keep in mind that a good divorce attorney can also help with referrals to qualified grief counselors.
Addressing domestic violence
Another thing that family experts and legal authorities recommend is that if domestic violence is part of your family dynamic, you need to address that first. That's not to say you can't begin the divorce process, but the first priority is to make yourself, your children--and even your pets--safe as can be. Your attorney can be invaluable in this arena, helping with safety/escape plans, filing protective/restraining orders and securing emergency shelter.
Residents in the Orlando and Orange County area also have local agencies and facilities that can help, including these online resources:
- Harbor House can help with shelter and the organization works with Orange County Animal Services to care for endangered pets; here's a related press release;
- Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence;
- Orange County Domestic Violence Task Force (Facebook page);
- Courtwatch Florida;
- St. Rita ministry.
Continued in: Getting a divorce in Orlando, Part 2. Look, there's really only two "grounds for divorce" in Florida. You either have a no-fault divorce via "it's broken," or one spouse is mentally ill and has been so adjudged by a court--yes, there's a time restriction. We'll address this in a future post, but most people can move on to Part 2, about Residency Requirements, proper Venue, and Family Court.
No matter your marital situation, we can help. If you're ready to begin the search for a compatible, well trained, experienced divorce attorney, you can start with our free case evaluation. If you need more information, please browse our site, using the tabs at the top of the page.