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Thinking You're Headed Toward Divorce? Here's What You Need To Know

December 20, 2017

By: Derren K. Ciaglia

The Fine Print - Winter 2017

Your marriage is in question and you are contemplating divorce. Before you go down the path, here are a few things to consider:

Q. I’m overwhelmed, where do I even start?
 The divorce process can be foreign and overwhelming to many individuals; you are not alone. A good place to start is by consulting a divorce attorney. A lot of people think that this means that you are filing for divorce or that you have to file for divorce. This is not true. A consultation with an attorney can provide you with a better understanding of the divorce process, it gives you an opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding your specific situation (whether it be financial concerns or parenting concerns) and it helps gauge your expectations. Many individuals leave consultations with a better understanding of the divorce process and what steps they need to take in the future should they choose to proceed with a divorce.

Q. Can I do anything to prepare for a divorce?
 You can begin compiling a list of assets and liabilities, gathering all financial documents (for example; tax returns, pay stubs, bank/investment account statements, deeds to real property, mortgage statements, etc.) and educating yourself on your family’s finances. It helps to have an understanding of your assets and liabilities prior to beginning the divorce process, especially if you are not the spouse who controls and manages your family’s finances. Part of the divorce process involves equitable distribution, which is the division of all marital assets and liabilities. Having a sense of what your assets and liabilities are prior to starting the process allows you to better understand how they may be distributed.

Q. Are there ways to resolve issues in a divorce without going to court and having a judge decide?
 In Florida, you can attend mediation, which is an informal, nonadversarial process where a neutral, impartial third party helps to facilitate the resolution of issues and helps the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement. In many counties, mediation is required prior to proceeding to court on contested issues. Mediation can be a very successful process and in many cases, parties are able to resolve all issues related to their divorce (financial and parenting) through this process and never appear in front of a judge.

Q. I have minor children, how is child support determined?
 In Florida, child support is calculated based on a statutory formula, which takes into consideration both parties’ incomes as well as other factors, some of which include health insurance, daycare, and time-sharing. A Child Support Guidelines Worksheet is completed and filed in cases involving minor children.

Q. I am concerned about co-parenting and what is best for my children. Can my spouse and I decide how we share time with our children?
 As part of the divorce process, you and your spouse can enter into an agreement regarding parenting. This is called a Parenting Plan and it often includes a detailed time-sharing schedule outlining which days and holidays your children will spend with you and with your spouse. The Parenting Plan factors how major decisions regarding your children are made (education, health etc.), and can be tailored to the specific needs of your children and your family. In many cases, parties are able to finalize a Parenting Plan through an agreement or through mediation rather than having a judge decide.


Derren K. Ciaglia is a senior associate in the firm’s Family and Marital Law practice. She devotes her practice to family law matters, including divorce, child support, child custody, alimony, paternity matters and family law litigation involving complex financial and parenting issues.

Trained in the interdisciplinary model of collaborative family law, Derren is passionate about advocating for her clients and providing them with help and counsel during what can be difficult and uncertain times in their lives.

Derren is active in the community, currently serving on the board of directors of the Rosen Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of The Florida Bar, Orange County Bar Association, Central Florida Family Law American Inn of Court and The Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida.

Admitted to practice in Florida and Illinois, Derren earned her law degree cum laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and her undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Michigan. While at law school, she received a Family Law Certificate and three Book Awards in perspectives of family, collaborative law, and intimate partner violence assistance. She also served as a legal extern for the Honorable Judge Maurice M. Paul of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and the Honorable Judge Denise Page Hood of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

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