FAMILY LAW

Divorce

In Florida, a divorce is referred to as a Dissolution of Marriage. Florida recognizes two grounds for divorce:

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken (cannot be fixed) or
  • One of the parites to the marriage has been declared mentally incapacitated for at least 3 years prior to filing the action for divorce.

Furthermore, the law requires proof of Florida residence. The court will require proof that one of the parties to the divorce has resided in Florida for at least 6 smonths prior to filing.

A divorce is rarely ever pleasant. Properly weigh all options and consider the consequences on your family and finances before you proceed with a divorce.

The length of time neded to complete a divorce varies. Several factors affect how the long the process will take, not the least of which is the willingness of the parties to come to an agreement on the issues. Some common issues that arise during a divorce are those involving the children (residence, visitation and support), property division and spousal support (alimony). It is always a good idea to identify the areas that may be in conflict before the divorce starts. If there are minor children, clients are encouraged to discuss where the children will live and how each parent will share time with them. It is also good practice to become familiar with the existence and current value of all property, financial accounts, retirement plans and in general, all assets of the marriage.

Call an Orlando divorce lawyer.

Contact us  for a consultation for your divorce matter.


 

Child Support/Child Custody

Custody

Florida law no longer recognizes the term ?custody? of a child. Instead, the law requires a Parenting Plan which governs the relationship between the child and parent and includes a time-sharing schedule which specifies the times the minor child will spend with each parent.

The Parenting Plan will describe how the parents will be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child and will designate the parent who will be responsible for health care, school related matters and other activited regarding the child.

  • There is a preference in the law for Shared Parental Responsibility.

Shared parental responsibility is where both parents retain all rights and reponsbility for their child and confer with each other to jointly make major decisions affecting his or her welfare. The court will order shared parental responsibility unless it finds that this is detrimental to the child. The court may consider the express desire of the parents and can grant one parent ultimate responsbility over specific aspects of the child welfare. The best interest of the child is paramount to all other considerations.

Child Support

The Law requires that a parent provide support for his or her child. The amount of child support to be paid is determined by guidelines provided by Florida Law and is found in Florida Statute 61.30. The guidelines take into account factors such as:

  • The parties net monthly income.
  • Actual child care costs incurred by a party.
  • Health insurance costs.
  • Non-covered medical, dental and prescription expenses for the child.
  • Susbtantial amount of overnight stays with a parent.

The court may order a different amount than that supported by the guidelines. If the court varies the amount by more than 5%, the law requires that this deviation be supported by a written explanation of why the guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate.

Parties must be aware that an agreement between parents regarding the amount of child support is not binding on the court. As with custody, the court is guided by what is in the best interest of the child or children involved.

Contact us  if you are in need of legal representation for a custody or child support issue.


 

Visitation/Time-Sharing

Florida law favors a time-sharing schedule where a minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents.

  • The best interest of the child is the primary consideration in any time-sharing schedule.

The court will conduct an evaluation of all the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child and the circumstances of the family to determine the best interest of the child.

A parent is not allowed to not refuse time-sharing simply because of a failure to receive child support. If the other parent has cut off access to your child or is not complying with a Court order for time-sharing, we can help.

Contact us  today if you are in need of legal representation for visitation/time-sharing.


 

Relocation of Children

Circumstances may arise that require a parent of a minor child to change his or her prinicpal place of residence from that which existed at the time of the last court order establishing or modifying time-sharing. Court action will be required if the new residence will be 50 miles or more from the current residence and if the change of location will be for at least 60 consecutive days. A relocating parent may proceed in one of two ways:

  • Agreement. The relocating parent obtains a written agreement from the norelocating parent which reflects consent to the relocation. This agreement should also define access to the child or provide a time-sharing schedule for the nonrelocating parent and other persons entitled to time-sharing with the minor child. The agreement should also describe any transportation arrangements that are necessary for the time-sharing. The Court must ratify any such agreement.
  • Petition.  The relocating parent files a Petition to Relocate and serves it on the nonrelocating parent and other persons entitled to time-sharing with the minor child. The Petition must be in accordance with Florida Statute 61.13001.

 

If a petition is filed, a response to the petition must be made within 20 days after service. If there is no timely response objecting to the petition to relocate, the court will grant the relocation. However, if a timely response is filed, the case will proceed to a hearing.

 

Relocating a child requires strict compliance with Florida Statute and noncompliance may result in a finding of contempt.

 

Contact us to ensure compliance with the law.


 

Paternity

A child born during a marriage is presumed to be the child of the husband.  In some circumstances, this presumption can be rebutted by introducing evidence to the contrary.

  • Unmarried fathers have the right to time-sharing with their children and have a duty to support them. 

An establishment of paternity is the legal process by which an umarried father is legally recognized as the father of his minor child. Once paternity is established, Final Judgment will address a parenting plan to govern the relationship between the parent and the child and which will also include a time-sharing schedule. A paternity action, like most actions in family law, requires the filing of a Petition with the court. The court may order scientific testing if the parties are not in agreement as to who is the biological father of the child.

Just as it is possible to petition the court to establish paternity, it is also possible, to file a petition to disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation for a child. This petition must:

  • Include an affidavit that, since the initial paternity determination or child support establishment, newly discovered evidence relating to the paternity of the child has become known to the petitioner.

  • Include the results of scientific tests administered within 90 days of the filing of the petition which indicates that the petitioner cannot be the father of the child, or an affidavit executed by the petititioner stating that he did not have access to the child in order to have the scientific testing performed.

If the petitioner had no access to the child, he may request that the court order the scientific testing. The petitioner must also include an affidavit that he is current on all child support obligations or explaining that any inability to comply with child support was due to his inability to do so and was for just cause.

Contact us regarding your Paternity matter. We will fight to protect your rights.


 

Modification of Orders

New circumstances may arise after a final judgment or final order. In family law, almost all final orders or judgments can be modified. If the parties do not agree to the change, the party seeking the change may apply to the court by the filing of a Motion with the court for a Modification. All modification concerning a minor child must be in the child?s best interest.

Child Support-   A party may seek to modify a child support obligation for various reasons. The reasons for a modification request include

  • Proof that the modification is in the best interest of the child.
  • Proof of a ?substantial change in the circumstances? of either party. This proof may include a change in the income, living expenses or financial obligation of either party.

  • Proof that the child for whom support is being paid has reached the age of majority, has become emancipated, has married, has joined the armed services or has died;or

  • With a child over 18 years of age - Proof that the child is mentally or physically incapacitated and was so prior to reaching the age of majority or that the child is in fact dependent, has not yet reached 19, is still in high school performing in good faith, and is reasonably expected to graduate before turning 19.

Each application for a Modification of Child Support must be accompanied by a Financial Affidavit in conformity with Florida Statutes.

Parental Responsibility, Parenting Plan-   Unlike Child Support, a court will not modify Parental Responsibility, Parenting Plan or a Time-Sharing Schedule without proof that there is a substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances and that the modification is in the best interest of the child.

Alimony -  The form of alimony awarded in the original dissolution, determines whether or not it can be modified or terminated. Permanent alimony, for example, terminates on the death of either the paying party or the receiving party or upon the remarriage of the receiving party. Otherwise, this type of alimony may only be modified or terminated based on a substantial change in circumstances or upon a finding that the party entitled to receive alimony is in a supportive relationship. Not every relationship will qualify as a supportive one. The court will examine the specific facts of each case to see whether the parties have held themselves out as husband and wife or have behaved in a manner to suggest a permanent relationship with economic support.

On the other hand, Bridge-the-gap Alimony, alimony awarded to assist in the transition from being married to single, may not be modified.

If you have been served with a Petition for Modification or desire to Modify a Current court order for Support, Time-Sharing or any other family matters, please Contact us  for a consultation.


 

Injunctions

If you are the victim of domestic violence or have reason to believe that you are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence, we can assist you with filing to obtain an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence.

Domestic violence includes acts of battery, assault, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any criminal act that results in physical injury or death by a family or household member against another family or household member.

  • You do not have to be married to the respondent (the person against whom you are filing) to seek this type of Injunction. 

  • You must however show that you are residing with the respondent or that you have resided with the respondent in a single dwelling unit as if a family. *If you have a child in common with the respondent, current or previous residence together is not required. 

The injunction will serve to restrain further acts of violence and can contain provisions for treatment or counseling for the respondent. You may also seek to obtain exclusive use and possession of any shared residence.  If there are children involved, the injunction order can set a parenting plan with time-sharing to govern the relationship between you and the other parent as it relates to the children and can also address child support.  If you are married, an injunction may also contain provisions for spousal support (alimony). 

Violation of an injunction for Domestic Violence is a serious matter. The court may enforce a violation with civil or criminal contempt or the State Attorney can pursue criminal charges. If criminal charges are pursued, the accused faces up to a year in jail.

Other types of injunction are: Petition for Injunction Against Repeat Violence, Petition for Injunction Against Dating Violence and Petition for Injunction Against Sexual Violence.

Contact us  if you are seeking to file an Injunction or if you have been served with a Petition for Injunction.


 

Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreement – Also referred to as a Premarital Agreement, A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is an Agreement between two individuals prior to their marriage and in contemplation of it.  This agreement typically adresses issues such as property distribution, support and financial distribution in the event of separation or divorce.  To be enforceable, Florida law requires:

  • A written agreement, and
  • The voluntary signature of both paties.

Furthermore, the agreement must not be obtained by fraud, duress or overreaching.  It is good practice to provide full property and financial disclosure in order to reduce the possibility of later invalidation of the agreement.

Postnuptial Agreement- This is an Agreement between spouses during a marriage. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, this agreement contains provision for support, property distribution and any children of the marriage in the event the marriage terminates. This agreement must be written and voluntarily executed by both parties to the marriage. A court will set aside a postnuptial agreement obtained through fraud, deceit, duress, coercion, misrepresentation or overrreaching. The parties should engage in full financial and property disclosure to reduce the risk of a court setting aside the agreement or modifying its terms.

Note- Provisions in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement regarding a child may be set aside by a Florida court if determined to not be in the best interest of the child.

We will review all property and financial documents and work to ensure that the Agreement is 0one properly suited to your current situation and future needs.

Contact us  today for assistance with drafting your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

 

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