In some states, there are requirements about how long a couple has to be separated before filing for divorce. However, in Florida there are no requirements about how long you have to be separated before filing for divorce. You can be living in the same house at the same time you divorce.

There is a requirement, however, that at least one of the spouses has been a resident of Florida for at least six months immediately prior to and at the time you file for a divorce.

Although there is no law requiring a separation prior to a Florida divorce, there may be reasons you would want to separate for a time before divorcing, as well as reasons you may not want to separate for a long period of time before divorcing. A separation can sometimes actually lead couples to get back together.

A separation can interrupt emotional drama, which can give spouses time to work on their marriage. A separation can also let both parties see what a divorce may be like, which can help to clarify spouses’ decisions on whether to stay together or not. A trial separation may be best for the children, to ease them into the idea of a split, as well as to get them out of the emotional drama.

If you do decide to separate, both spouses should agree to some ground rules, such as how the finances are handled during the separation and how long the separation will last.

However, there are some bad things that can happen during a separation, most of which involve money. A separation gives spouses a good chance to hide assets and to spend money in a way of which the other spouse may or may not approve.

A long-term separation could give a spouse the chance to move to another state with more beneficial alimony laws. A long separation can be damaging to the children, because they may feel like they are in limbo.

Finally, you may also feel like your life is on hold during the separation.

If you are considering separating from your spouse, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties in Florida, and he can help advise you on whether a separation would be in your best interests or not, as well as what steps you can take to protect yourself during a separation.


It’s understandable to be nervous when you are meeting with a divorce attorney for the first time. You may not have fully accepted the state of your marriage, and you may not have shared any information with anyone about your marriage yet.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that your divorce attorney is on your side. He or she is there to represent you and your interests. Some common things that divorce attorneys may ask you during your meeting include:

  • Your name, date of birth, address, social security number, and contact information.
  • Your spouse’s name, date of birth, address and social security number, and your spouse’s contact information.
  • Your employer, length of employment and salary history, as well as your spouse’s employer, length of employment and salary history.
  • Where and when you were married.
  • The name of your spouse’s attorney.
  • Information about your Florida state residency.
  • The names, dates of birth and social security numbers of your children.
  • Information about with whom the children reside and whether there is likely to be a custody dispute.
  • A list of marital problems.
  • Who provides health insurance for the children.
  • Detailed financial information, including properties, mortgages, assets, debts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc.

Often, before choosing a divorce attorney it’s helpful to meet with two or three to get a feel of their personalities and what their practices are like. After all, you may be spending a lot of time with this person in the months to come, so it’s important that they not only have excellent legal skills, but also that you are compatible.

I am a divorce attorney in Florida and I work with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties on issues involving divorce, child custody, alimony, and more. Call me, Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. I will be happy to speak with you about your case.


For many workers who are paid hourly, a great deal of pay can be obtained through overtime. It may seem unfair to work a lot of extra hours, and to have that extra pay potentially be counted as income when determining the amount of alimony that has to be paid.

In Florida, in deciding whether or not to award alimony, the courts must decide if one spouse has a need for alimony and if the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony. When determining the amount of alimony, if any, that has to be paid, the courts look at a variety of factors, including how long the marriage lasted, the standard of living during the marriage, the age of and condition of each spouse, the income and assets of each party, each party’s contribution to the marriage, and each party’s earning capacity and educational level.

When determining a spouse’s income for the purposes of alimony awards, the court looks at net income. The court takes into consideration all sources of income available to either spouse, including bonuses and overtime.

A Florida appellate court has ruled that a spouse’s overtime pay is included when calculating alimony, if it is a regular occurrence. If the opportunity to earn overtime will not be available in the future, the court should not take that into consideration when calculating income.

If you are divorcing in Florida, one of your top considerations is probably whether or not you will have to pay alimony or will receive alimony, and how much. It’s vital that you work with an experienced divorce attorney. If you don’t work hard to protect your legal rights during a divorce, you will not be happy with the result.

If you need help with your divorce, and live in Pasco County or Hernando County, call Florida alimony attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250.


One scenario many people think of when they think of alimony is a husband who was supported by his wife through the long process of medical school or low-paying jobs while he is working his way up the career ladder, only to divorce her for a younger woman once he reaches the pinnacle of his success.

Alimony is not always awarded in any situation – it’s determined on a case by case basis. However, in a situation such as the one described, a Florida divorce court is likely to award alimony, especially if the spouse who earned the degree now has a higher income than the supporting spouse.

In Florida, there are six types of alimony – permanent, rehabilitative, durational, bridge-the-gap, temporary and lump sum. There are also a variety of factors that courts will consider in deciding to award alimony, including the earning capacities of each spouse, the standard of living during the marriage, how long the marriage lasted, and the contribution of each party to the marriage.

In a situation like the one described, a court may be likely to award permanent alimony, depending on the length of the marriage. Permanent alimony is designed to allow a spouse to continue living in the same standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage, particularly if the spouse has a lower earning potential.

Permanent alimony lasts until either spouse dies or the recipient spouse remarries, and can also be modified or terminated if the recipient lives with an unrelated individual in a supportive relationship. If a court chose not to award permanent alimony in the situation described, it would probably award another type of alimony, which may be designed to allow the recipient spouse to have some economic assistance for a set period of time, such as while going back to school.

It’s critical that if you are facing an issue involving alimony in Florida, that you have an advocate fighting for your legal rights on your behalf. If you are in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties, and need a divorce attorney, call Florida alimony attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250.

He is a skilled attorney with the necessary experience to help you with your alimony issues. Call today to schedule your consultation.


One situation that sometimes happens in a Florida divorce is that the wife will have primary custody of the children and will remarry. Her new husband may wish to adopt your biological children, and you may be asked for your consent to the adoption.

In Florida, a parent has the right to contest a stepparent adoption. If a parent contests the adoption, the adoption cannot take place. If the parent has no objections to the adoption and is willing to sign the paperwork, the adoption will most likely be granted.

One reason that some parents are willing to let their children be adopted by their ex-spouse’s new spouse is that the parent will no longer have to pay child support once the adoption is finalized. However, if your children are adopted, you lose all legal rights you have over them.

If a parent refuses to consent to the adoption or cannot be found, and is not involved in the life of the child, you may choose to terminate his or her parental rights. Under Florida law, a parent’s parental rights can be terminated if the parent has either abandoned the child or deserted the child without means of identification, or has been declared incompetent and it’s unlikely that he or she will regain competency.

In either of those cases, the individual’s parental rights can be terminated, which will clear the way for a stepparent adoption.

If you have any legal issues involving custody, child support, or divorce in Florida, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties. Call him today for a free consultation on your case.


If you can no longer pay the entire amount of alimony that you are required to pay under law, you should petition the court for a modification of alimony. In many cases, your alimony can be adjusted because of a change in circumstances. The court will listen to evidence presented by both former spouses and will make a determination on whether an adjustment is warranted.

However, in many cases the hearing for an alimony adjustment can take months. In the meantime, you may consider attempting mediation with your former spouse. If the evidence is strong that an alimony adjustment is warranted, your former spouse may consider voluntarily reducing the amount of alimony in order to avoid a court hearing.

If mediation is not successful and your hearing to modify alimony is months away, and you can no longer afford to make the whole alimony payment in the meantime, do not stop paying entirely. Pay what you can, and ask your attorney to file a motion that would allow you to have a temporary reduction in alimony until the hearing. If you pay nothing and the court believes that you have the ability to do so, you could be found in contempt of court, which may mean you are not only required to pay the back alimony, but also potentially your former spouse’s attorney’s fees.

It can be very frustrating to have a change in your financial circumstances but no immediate relief in paying alimony. You should hire an attorney to help you modify your alimony both on a temporary basis as well as permanently. Call Florida alimony attorney Dale Bernstein, at 727-478-3250. He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, and can provide you with a free consultation. Call to learn more.


If you are going through an uncontested divorce in Pasco County, Florida, normally the final step is the divorce hearing. Many people wonder if they can avoid a hearing, especially if both spouses agree on all of the issues and have signed all of the necessary paperwork.

Unfortunately, a hearing is required. Both spouses do not have to attend, but at least one spouse must be there for the divorce to be granted. Typically, the Petitioner is the one who attends the hearing. At the hearing, the final divorce order will be signed by the judge.

Fortunately, the hearing is normally very simple. The judge will want to make sure that the residency requirements are met, as well as that the paperwork is in proper order. The judge will want to see the agreement(s) that have been signed by both spouses.

The party who is present at the hearing will be asked basic questions about the marriage, such as whether there were children involved, when the parties were married and how long the marriage lasted, and whether or not the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Although typically uncontested divorce hearings are straightforward, this is not true in all cases. It’s usually better to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing in order to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that the divorce is finalized.

A mistake can cost you not only time but also money, and an experienced family law attorney can advise you on the proper steps to take. If you are in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He will be happy to speak with you about your case. Call to schedule a consultation.


Under Florida law, you are allowed to represent yourself in your divorce or alimony proceedings. Fortunately, Florida has family law forms online and at local courthouses throughout the state. However, just because you can legally represent yourself doesn’t mean you should.

If you are seeking to adjust your alimony, either the amount you pay or the amount you receive, it means that you have already gone through a divorce which may have been lengthy and expensive. It’s understandable that you may not want to hire an attorney again.

However, representing yourself is usually not wise. The forms provided for free to the public may appear simple; however, many clients end up using those forms only to spend more money in the long run than they would have spent if they had hired an attorney from the outset of the case. Alimony adjustment is not a simple issue, and there are very specific requirements that must be followed in handling the case.

You will need to introduce evidence showing why the alimony should be adjusted. The stronger your case, the better the odds are that the court will grant you the relief that you are seeking. An attorney can help advise you on the best way to build a strong case.

In addition, although attorney’s fees and court costs may seem high, if you end up losing your case, the amount of alimony that you either miss out on collecting, or that you have to pay, could exceed the attorney’s fees by a great deal. It’s almost always best to hire an attorney in your Florida alimony dispute.

Call Florida alimony attorney Dale Bernstein, at 727-478-3250 to discuss your options. I work in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties in Florida, and will be happy to help you learn more about your options.


How Can You Tell If You’re Ready For A Divorce?

Although I am a divorce attorney and not a psychologist, I work on a daily basis with clients who are divorcing. Some clients aren’t quite sure if they want to divorce, but they want to discuss their legal options before they make any decision. Other clients are completely sure they want to divorce, and need an attorney’s help with the process. Some clients do not want a divorce at all, but their spouse has filed for divorce, and they seek my legal guidance with the process.

If you are not sure if you truly want a divorce, ask yourself if you have tried everything possible to save your marriage. If you are willing to work towards a better marriage, and your spouse is willing to put in the work too, the odds are good that the marriage can be saved. You should also consider how the divorce will affect the entire family, especially the kids, but also your parents and your siblings. Divorce can affect everyone in an extended family.

You should also consider what your life will be like without being married to your spouse. You need to think about the fact that you will be alone, and that there’s a chance that your life could actually become worse. Although you shouldn’t stay in a miserable marriage just for money, there’s a good chance that you will be worse off financially after a divorce. It’s easy to fantasize about a great future once your spouse is gone, but is that realistic?

If it’s possible that your marriage can be saved, do not hastily file for divorce. Instead, attempt to work things out. If, however, the marriage cannot be saved, hire an experienced Florida divorce attorney to help you receive the assets, alimony, child support, and child custody rights to which you are entitled under Florida law.

I work in the divorce courts in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties in Florida. Call me, Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein, at 727-478-3250 to discuss your case.


A pension earned during a marriage is a typically considered a joint asset of both spouses in a Florida divorce. A Florida divorce court will decide how and whether pensions are divided. If a court does decide to divide a pension in a divorce, it usually must be done at the time of the divorce when all of the other assets are being divided.

Typically, pension rights, either vested or unvested, are split equally between the parties. However, if you want to withdraw them early, it can be a complex process to try to avoid facing penalties and/or additional taxes because of the early withdrawal.

In order for the pension benefits to be paid directly to divorced spouses, the court order dividing the pension must meet certain requirements. If it does meet those requirements, it is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. Typically, payments can be made for the lifetime of the employee, and also after death.

In some state, city, and county retirement plans, they are forbidden from making payments directly to a former spouse. Dividing a pension can be complicated and the rules can vary a lot, depending on the circumstances and when the divorce occurred. Many couples who are divorcing overlook the pension, with retirement being far into the future.

However, pensions are worth fighting for – aside from the house, retirement assets are usually the largest asset in a marriage. If a spouse forgets to fight for a part of his or her ex-spouse’s retirement plan during the divorce, he or she can’t try to claim a part of it later.

If you are divorcing in Florida and you have questions about your right to a spouse’s pension, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He works in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties in Florida and will be happy to speak with you about your case.