Tampa Divorce Lawyer | Tampa Family Lawyer | Tampa FL Family Law Firms


A competent Tampa family lawyer or divorce attorney will help you make the right decisions about how to divide your assets and debts in divorce.

Florida Marriage Summarized

There is only one type of marriage in Florida: ceremonial. In a ceremonial marriage, a couple follows laws and procedures specified by the State of Florida so the marriage is officially recognized. The requirements of a ceremonial marriage are that the couple obtain a marriage license and voluntarily participate in a ceremony led by an authorized official. There is a discounted fee for the marriage license in some counties if you can show you had premarital counseling.

A ceremonial marriage is dissolved (ended) by death, divorce, or annulment. There is no common law marriage in Florida, although Florida recognizes common law marriages from another state. A "common law marriage" is one in which the parties hold themselves out as husband and wife and may be considered married under certain circumstances without a marriage license or ceremony. Same sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are not allowed in Florida and Florida does not recognize as valid a same sex marriage from another state.

Florida Divorce Summarized

Ending a marriage (dissolution of marriage) requires at least one of the spouses to file a lawsuit. A lawsuit for the dissolution of marriage includes: (1) divorce, which is the way to end a ceremonial marriage, or (2) a suit for annulment or to declare a marriage void, which is brought when there has been some legal reason why the marriage was not valid. An experienced Tampa family lawyer or divorce attorney can help you understand what you need to file to begin your divorce or annulment.

Grounds for divorce include:

 (1) The marriage is irretrievably broken; or
 (2) One of the parties has mental incapacity for a preceding period of at least 3 years.

When Children Are Involved

In a divorce involving children, when one of the spouses claims the marriage is irretrievably broken and the other says it is not, the court may order the parties to counseling, give them up to three months to reconcile, or take any other action in the interim that is in the best interest of the parties and the child including making appropriate orders for the support and alimony of the parties; the parenting plan, support, maintenance, and education of the child; attorney's fees; and the preservation of the property of the parties. All parties will be required to attend parenting classes, and some courts require the children to attend special classes as well.

If the court finds the marriage is irretrievably broken, it will enter a judgment dissolving the marriage and will consider:

  1. Who pays for child support and health care insurance for the child;
  2. Custody of the child (sole or joint);
  3. Visitation; and
  4. Rights and duties of the parents with regard to the child.

If the court finds the marriage is not irretrievably broken, it will deny the petition for dissolution of marriage.

Division of Marital Property and Debt

Florida is an "equitable distribution state", not a community property state. The division between the spouses of real and personal property and debt is to be made equally unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on:

(a) Each spouse's contribution to the marriage including for care and education of the children and services as homemaker;

(b) The spouses' economic circumstances;

(c) The length of the marriage;

(d) Interruption of careers or education;

(e) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or education of the other;

(f) Retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other spouse;

(g) Each spouse's contribution to income and liabilities;

(h) Retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible provided it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home;

(i) Intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition; and

(j) Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Talk to a dedicated Tampa, FL family law attorney or divorce lawyer about getting money while your divorce is on file and afterwards.

In Florida, all marital property and liabilities acquired during the marriage will be divided on divorce, but property owned before marriage by inheritance or gift (nonmarital property) is not subject to division. Marital property is all property that was acquired during the marriage, whether it was titled in only one spouse’s name or both. The enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets resulting either from a spouse's efforts during the marriage or from the contribution of marital funds or marital assets is also considered marital property. A gift from one spouse to the other is marital property, as are all vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs. All real and personal property held or titled jointly as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired before or during marriage, is presumed to be marital property.

A spouse claiming that certain property is nonmarital or separate property must prove it. To do this, usually he or she must trace the nonmarital property from the date it was acquired to show it legally belonged only to the spouse who is claiming it as his or her own. A spouse often has trouble doing this when the nonmarital property was money that was deposited into an account that also held marital funds. Sometimes the two funds become so commingled that it is not possible or cost-effective to show where the nonmarital property came from or where it went. If the parties cannot agree to a division of property, or whether a particular piece of property is marital or nonmarital, the court will decide. A qualified Tampa divorce lawyer on this page will represent you to get the most favorable property division you can within the bounds of the law. To obtain a fair division, your Tampa family attorney may advise you to hire expert appraisers to determine the value of your home, business, investments, insurance proceeds, real estate, pension, or retirement plan if you and your spouse cannot agree on these numbers.

Temporary Restraining Orders and Temporary Spousal Support

The spouse filing for divorce can request a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or "injunction". The TRO prohibits the parties from taking a child outside the jurisdiction of the court; threatening or attempting to injure, harass, or stalk the other person or a child; or selling or disposing of property that belongs to a party (except in the ordinary course of business). A spouse may get additional help from the court to prevent a parent from showing up at the child’s school, making harassing telephone calls, stealing cars, bank accounts, or mail, or cutting off phone, gas, utilities, credit cards, or insurance.

There will be a hearing at the court house after a Temporary Restraining Order is issued. The judge will decide which parts of the Temporary Restraining Order to leave in place until the divorce is finalized. At that hearing the judge may also make short term (temporary) orders about temporary custody, visitation and support of the children, payment of bills, and use of the home. The TRO can include a temporary amount of money one spouse pays to the other (temporary spousal support), and payment of attorney's fees.

A Temporary Restraining Order may sound like a good idea in general for all divorces, but it is something that should be done only when it is truly necessary. Talk to your Tampa divorce lawyer about the pros and cons of getting a Temporary Restraining Order.

Spousal Support (Alimony or Separate Maintenance)

Court Ordered Alimony: Once an equitable distribution of the marital assets and liabilities has been made, a judge can consider ordering a spouse to pay alimony (sometimes called separate maintenance or spousal support) before divorce or after divorce.

The type, amount, and length of time alimony will be paid depends on the length of the marriage, the need of one party for support, the ability of the other party to pay the support, and the standard of living the parties have enjoyed together. Alimony is either “rehabilitative” or “permanent”. Rehabilitative alimony helps a spouse go back to school or acquire employment skills. Permanent alimony continues over time until the death of either spouse or the remarriage of the spouse receiving the alimony. Alimony may be ordered to be paid in lump sum.   

Amount and Length of Time Paid: The judge determines how much alimony the spouse will pay and for how long. The court will consider the age of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the health, education, and skills of each party, and other factors. The court will consider marital misconduct, like adultery, only when it has an economic consequence.

Divorce often Necessitates a Career Change or Return to Employment

After a divorce, your financial situation may change drastically. You may find yourself having to support multiple people on a single income, or having to change careers altogether. Whatever the situation, now would be a good time for bettering yourself and your career opportunities. For more information, contact one of these programs:

I CAN! Community Education Coalition
P.O. Box 11484
Tampa, Florida 33680
(813) 527-9991
The Florida Insurance School
3802 Ehrlich Road  Suite 303
Tampa, FL 33624
(813) 962-4297
Keiser University
5225 Memorial Highway
Tampa, FL 33634
(866) 209-2884
Keiser Career College
15453 N. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33618
(866) 209-1778
Everest University
3319 W. Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL 33614
(800) 713-3607
Everest University
3924 Coconut Palm Drive
Tampa, FL 33619
(800) 713-3607
Keller Graduate School of Management
6700 Lakeview Center Drive
Tampa, FL 33619
(877) 268-3879
DeVry University
5540 W Executive Drive  Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33609
(800) 727-4365
Strayer University
6302 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33619
(888) 522-7067
4809 Memorial Highway
Tampa, FL 33634
(888) 766-7820
Remington College
6302 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33619
(813) 935-5700
Bob Hogue Real Estate School
4809 E. Busch Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33617
(813) 962-2881


Tampa Area Banks

You will need to open separate bank accounts after your divorce. Here are some banks in or near Tampa:

AmSouth Bank of Florida
100 North Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33602
Ameritrust Southeast National Association
One Tampa City Center, Suite 2550
Tampa, FL 33602
American Momentum Bank
4830 West Kennedy Boulevard Suite 200
Tampa, FL 33609
Barnett Bank of Tampa
101 East Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33602
Bank of Florida - Tampa Bay
777 South Harbour Island Boulevard, Suites 125
Tampa, FL33602
Atlantic Bank of Tampa
1506 South Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33679
Ellis Bank of North Tampa
205 West Busch Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33612
City First Bank
405 North Westshore Boulevard
Tampa, Florida 33609
Citizens and Southern Bank of Tampa
10050 Florida Avenue
Tampa, FL 33682
First Citizens Bank of Florida
4203 Gandy Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33611
First Bank and Trust Company
2801 West Bush Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33618
Ellis National Bank of Central Florida
3439 West Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL 33684
NCNB National Bank of Florida
600 Florida Avenue
Tampa, FL 33630
Gulfshore Bank
3201 South Macdill Avenue
Tampa, FL 33629
Great American Bank of Tampa
1933 East Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL 33680
Second National Bank of Tampa
4825 West JFK Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33622
Progress Bank of Florida
5537 Sheldon Road, Suite D
Tampa, FL 33615
NCNB National Bank of Florida
400 North Ashley Street
Tampa, FL 33602


An experienced Tampa, Hillsborough County family attorney will zealously pursue your divorce through trial, if necessary. Call now for an explanation of your legal rights and options.

Tampa divorce lawyers serve clients throughout Western Florida, including Bloomingdale, Brandon, Clearwater, Dunedin, Egypt Lake-Leto, Feather Sound, Gibsonton, Largo, Lealman, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Palm River, Pinellas Park, Riverdale, Safety Harbor, St. George, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Temple Terrace, Town ‘N’ Country, Westchase, areas in the vicinity of MacDill AFB, Tampa International Airport, and other communities in Hillsborough County.