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Keeping the lights on: Paying your spouse’s bills during your Florida divorce

| Mar 27, 2021 | Firm News |

Life in the time between filing for divorce and getting the final court order granting it can feel like limbo – not the life you lived before, but not the new one yet, either. And it’s not just from an emotional standpoint. What about the soon-to-be exes’ living arrangements, expenses and bills during the transitional period? Can one spouse move out of the family home and stop paying the mortgage? The children’s school tuition? Everyone’s health insurance?

Family law status quo orders

Fortunately, Florida courts have a way to deal with these temporary issues – the status quo order. This is a standing order issued by the chief judge in almost all Florida counties to deal with these kinds of important family matters until the proceedings are over and permanent solutions ordered. Each county has its own order and they do vary, although they deal with similar issues.

Basically, the orders require the parties to maintain the status quo arrangements of the family to give the parties and especially any children stability during this time. Having the order in place also helps to prevent logistical and financial emergencies that would otherwise require emergency court hearings and further temporary orders.

Flexibility

In each divorce, the presiding judge can modify the order’s provisions to better meet the family’s needs, either on the judge’s own volition or at the request of a party. Or, the parties may agree to opt-out of the automatic provisions or modify them. However, if a status quo order is in effect in a divorce proceeding, if one party fails to abide by it, the other can pursue enforcement through the court, including a request for sanctions or contempt of court. 

Broward County Administrative Order No. 2019-15-UFC

The administrative order in effect in Broward County applies to dissolution of marriage and paternity actions. Each judge has the discretion whether to use it and may amend it to suit the circumstances.

Through its provisions, the court seeks to assist the divorcing parties to “pattern their behavior and conduct in ways that reduce the negative impact that such proceedings have on the children and all parties involved.” The order seeks to preserve assets and guide parents to act in their children’s best interests during the proceedings.

The Broward County order as it pertains to divorce proceedings deals with:

  • Relocation with children
  • Child support
  • Shared parenting standards, including a required parenting class
  • Mediation
  • Spousal behavior guidelines forbidding mutual harassment, violence or threats
  • Preservation of and accountability for marital and separate assets
  • Continuation of utilities
  • Restrictions on spending to that in the “ordinary course of … business, personal, and family affairs”
  • Preservation of records
  • Freezing of insurance policies and their beneficiaries
  • Restrictions on taking on unreasonable debt or debt for which the other party would be liable

A Florida family lawyer can answer questions about legal requirements for behavior and spending during the pendency of divorce proceedings.

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The Law Office of Forrest & Forrest, PLLC represents individuals in Fort Lauderdale in high-asset divorce matters. Daniel Forrest is board-certified family lawyer and mediator serving the South Florida area.

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