Hello and thanks for choosing Just Answer®. I am a licensed Florida family law attorney, and I will be glad to try and assist you.
To provide you with accurate information, could you please clarify these points so I can best address your inquiry:
Once I hear back from you, I will be glad to let you know my answer. There may be some delay as I am assisting other customers or am away from my computer. Please rest assured, however, that I will get back to you as soon as possible.
While I can certainly understand your desire to not get divorced, so long as you are married, your husband is legally tied to you and his assets will be used against you in any request for financial support. So, your options are to have his assets be included in any request OR file for divorce.
I can also sympathize with your concerns as to the cost of a divorce. However, you do have some options available that may help you resolve the situation.
First, you should begin with your state bar association. The Florida State Bar has a website, it is located at www.floridabar.org.
I do not know your county of residence but your county bar association likely has a similar site that will be more specific to your location.
Additionally, Martindale Hubbell is a national organization that rates attorneys across the country. Their website is located at http://www.martindale.com/.
Another nationwide website is located at http://www.avvo.com/. This site lists attorneys by geographic location and area of practice.
Additionally, there is quite likely a legal aid society in your area. A quick internet search and/or phone book search should locate the society closest to you.
Each of these resources will have a wealth of information as to attorneys in your area that handle such cases and that would provide services for free or at a reduced cost. I would suggest you check each site out and you will surely find a great number of attorneys that meet your needs. Pick a few to meet with in person so that you can thoroughly explain your situation and then retain the one that you feel can best represent your interests.
I've been handling divorce cases for over a decade. As such, I'm very aware that the fees charged by attorneys vary greatly. Use the resources I've provided and I'm certain you will find an attorney that meets your needs and your budget. Keep in mind too, your husband may be ordered to contribute towards your fees as well.
Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.
I am going off-line for the evening. Please feel free to respond, if necessary, and know that I will be back on-line tomorrow.
Thank you for your patience.
I apologize, I certainly could have answered that issue more clearly. At any rate, no, the legal separation will most likely be deemed insufficient. If you intend to obtain benefits in Florida, you will likely need to proceed with a divorce.
For what it's worth, I would think you could accomplish the divorce fairly cheaply. I say this as there appear to be no minor children and, I suspect, all your personal property has long since been divided, meaning, the divorce should be fairly simply. In fact, you might even consider doing the divorce yourself. You can go to your local clerk of court and pick up template forms to get the process started. All you would need to pay is the filing fee, probably a few hundred dollars.
I don't have a phone number, but you can contact customer service on-line. They can certainly answer any billing questions that you may have.
The time for a divorce can vary widely, I've had them completed in as little as two weeks or as long as three years. I would suggest that your's should be fairly simple as you've been apart for so long. With that in mind, and hugely in the realm of speculation, I would think three to six months would be a realistic expectation.
When seeking benefits of just about any kind, your assets, wherever they may be, would most likely be used in making a determination as to whether you qualify. So yes, I suspect the property/assets you obtain in the divorce would be taken into consideration.
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