Now that your divorce is over in Jacksonville, Florida, there are some divorce questions that many people have after the Jacksonville divorce Judge has made his or her decision:
1. How do I get a certified copy of my divorce papers?
The Clerk of the Court at the Duval County Courthouse is the only place that you can obtain a certified copy of your divorce papers. The cost usually is $1 per page plus $1 to certify the copy. Here is the link to the website. You would have to call them to see if they can send you a copy by mail with a credit card or check or if you have to go in person.
2. My divorce papers say that my spouse (or I ) is supposed to give me a quit claim deed to our house? How do we do that?
A quit claim deed (also sometimes mistakenly called "quick claim" deed) conveys all of a person's interest in a home or other real estate. Even if your final judgment awards ownership, it is essential to have a recorded deed so that you do not have problems later when you try to sell or refinance the home. The person who is required to convey their interest is responsible for taking the necessary steps and the cost of preparing the deed. This is true for any property unless your divorce papers say otherwise. You can find forms online, but it may be best to have your board certified Jacksonville divorce attorney prepare the form to avoid problems later. The cost is typically $150.00 to $300.00 to have it prepared. It has to be recorded with the clerk of the county in which the property is located. There is a small fee to record the new deed. This should be a non-taxable transfer by law.
3. My divorce papers say that my spouse (or I) is supposed to do some things about transferring cars? How do we do that?
You will have to consult your local department of motor vehicles office to learn the current requirements. Here is the link to the Florida website. Typically, it involves signing over the title to your spouse and paying the fee for a new title. You also may have to re-register the car in your name and pay a fee. Don't forget that you will need to contact your insurance agency, so that they can provide a new policy and billing arrangements. It would not be cost effective for your lawyer to do this. You may be able to do this by mail. It is easy to do yourself.
4. My divorce papers say that my spouse (or I) am supposed to transfer part of retirement plan. How do we do that?
This is not something that you will be able to do yourself. Every plan is different and has different requirements. It may be as simple as getting a certifed copy of your divorce papers and sending that with an application to the plan adminstrator or it may require a special court order to transfer the money. Your divorce attorney will charge a fee of at least $750.00 to prepare what is called a "qualified domestic relations order" or QDRO (pronounced "quad-row") to get your money. This money can be transferred to a retirement account for you or you can take it out and spend it. It you take it out, there are penalties and taxes. If you leave it in a retirement account, there will be no taxes or penalties. If you have a good attorney, much of the language will be in your divorce papers; otherwise, even the simple plans will require another court order at additional expense. If you have an attorney who does not know what they are doing, this can get really messed up and you could even lose your money or other rights. I know divorce attorneys who cannot do many of these things correctly. Here are some general links and information to some of our most basic plans:
Federal Employees or FERS (CSRS): It says that you do not need a special form but a written request is required and you also need a certified copy of your final judgment.
Thrift Savings Plan: These are available to U.S. military and federal employees. Here is the link to the pamphlet. It appears that all they need is a certified copy of the final judgment.
Railroad Retirement: Here is the link to the railroad retirement board link. Again, just a certified copy of the final judgment is required.
Florida Retirement System: Note that there may be a DROP component. Contact them directly for information.
5. What happens if my spouse does not do what they are supposed to do?
Typically, your divorce lawyer's retainer ends with the entry of your final judgment. That means that any problems after that time will require a new retainer. If your spouse does not do what they are supposed to do with regard to payment of child support, alimony, attorney fees, or other money; your divorce attorney can file what is called a motion for contempt. The fee typically is a flat rate of $1500.00 plus a $50.00 filing fee and the fee to have them personally served with the notice of the hearing. If your spouse is found to be in contempt, they usually have to reimburse your fees and can even go to jail. If the violation involves property or other non-support issues, the motion is called a motion for enforcement. It costs and works the same way, except the Judge cannot use jail as a remedy.
I hope that this helps. Call me if you need my help.