Family Law

Infographic : Common Issues During the Divorce Process

The infographic below describes issues related to divorce: financial conditions, custody arrangements, and more.To begin the divorce process, one spouse will file a divorce petition, and then both spouses will come to an agreement that divides any property or responsibilities, including the custody of a child. Financial issues, such as dividing assets (i.e. bank and investment accounts), or dividing debts (i.e. credit card balances and loans) may arise. Spouses not only divide assets and liabilities amongst them, but also property. If the spouses cannot come to an agreement, the courts will decide on how to distribute the assets. If the spouses can bring the court an agreement thatis considered fair for them, both spouses, and any children, it will likely be approved. To learn more information about the divorce process, refer to the infographic...

Getting Sole Custody in Florida

Although the courts no longer use this term, sole custody refers to the custody agreement where one parent has sole responsibility of their child or children. Typically, Florida courts will rarely award a parent with sole custody. The courts prefer to award shared parental responsibility where both parents have custody of their children, including time sharing and making decisions. If you are determined to fight for sole custody, you will need an experienced child custody attorney Westonto help you. In extreme cases, courts will usually reduce the rights of the other parent, including supervised visitations and less say in critical decisions. This is known as sole parental responsibility with limited time-sharing arrangement. Understanding sole parental responsibility Sole parental responsibility means making decisions or having the authority to overrule the other parent’s decision for your children. It mayalso grant the authority to decide how often, when, and where the other parent sees the child and who will be around to supervise the visit. The courts in Florida rarely award sole custody where the parental rights of one parent are terminated. The exception to this is in certain circumstances where one parent has provided compelling evidence that shows that the other parent is a danger to the child’s wellbeing. Some of these compelling situations are: When the parent has surrendered his or her rights When the child’s well-being is in danger under the supervision of the other parent When the parent is incarcerated When a parent has abandoned the child and has not attempted to get in touch When the child is adjunct dependent When there are extreme circumstances, like neglect...

How to Secure Your Assets During a Divorce

During a divorce Davie settlement, protecting one’s assets is a high priority for both parties. Since Florida enforces ‘equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities,’ your marital assets will be split according to what the court determines an equitable distribution to be. Here are the best ways that you can protect your assets in a divorce: Getting a prenuptial/postnuptial contract If you own substantial assets and properties or have a large income, most attorneys will recommend that you get a prenup before getting married. Doing this can help tremendously in a divorce case. You can also get a postnuptial contract after the marriage to further protect your assets; however, these agreements must be made legally and by an experienced attorney to avoid future complications. Protecting oneself If you do not get a prenup, there are other ways you can try to protect your assets. First, take an inventory of all the valuables and properties you own. Go through ownership pattern in properties and get these evaluated. Get proofs of gifts and inheritances. Make sure that all your business documents are properly documented and transparent. Hire an attorney Hire an experienced divorce Davie attorney. Having a lawyer’s assistance and experience in sorting your documents and determining what would be best for your situation can be a big help during a divorce. Whetheryour case goes to mediation or trial, you should have an experienced lawyer by your side to represent...

The Reality Of Equal Time Sharing

As the law stands today, equal time sharing is not presumed to be in the best interests of the children in all situations. I will however state that it is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. It is believed that frequent contact with both parents will result in better adjusted child. Of course, every case is different and as such, it is difficult to have a set rule for all cases. Parent’s work schedules, travel schedules and locations should be considered. A parent who must leave for work prior to a minor child having to wake up for school, could present a problem. A parent who does not have a set schedule such as pilots or firefighters also require some planning. Parents who choose to live a distance apart can also complicate the situation. Of course, the other factor which is always considered is child support and how equal time sharing affects the monthly amount to be paid. Child Support in Florida is based upon several factors, one of which is the number of overnights a minor child spends with each parent. An equal time-sharing schedule will result in a reduced amount of support, since it is presumed that each parent will have significant “out of pocket” expenses if each has an equal amount of time with the child. This concept of equal time sharing has existed for several years now. I have recently met with prospective clients who seem to share the same issue. A parent has equal time sharing pursuant to their Parenting Plan, but in reality, the parent is not actually exercising his/her 50%. The...

What You May Not Know About Common Law Marriages

What You May Not Know About Common Law Marriages The majority of my Family law practice is devoted to divorce (dissolution of marriage) cases. That however is not the only area of family law that I am involved in. There those cases which do not involve a marriage at all. Here is an example of what I am referring to. Let’s say a couple decides to live together and not get married. During their relationship they have a child, perhaps two. They stay together for several years even after the children are born, but they never get married. After a number of years they grow apart and decide to move on with their lives and separate. The question becomes, what issues might need to be addressed in this relationship. Many of us have heard the term, “Common Law Marriage”. In states that recognize Common Law Marriage, a couple who are together for a number of years are in essence presumed to be married and therefore certain issues would need to be addressed based upon their “break up”. Florida however does not recognize Common Law Marriages. If a couple has not entered into a state sanctioned marriage, whether it be in Florida or any other jurisdiction, they are not considered to be married in Florida. That can be significant in some cases.  Assets or debts will not be addressed in the family court. There will be no provision for spousal support. This is true no matter how many years the parties may have been together. If there are disputed property rights it will be determined in civil court by the...

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

Last month I wrote an article about the anticipated changes in the alimony laws in Florida. This is a movement that has been in progress for several years. In 2013 both the State House and State Senate overwhelmingly passed an Alimony Reform bill, which was vetoed by Governor Scott just before the end of the legislative session. Since 2014 was an election year, the issue was not addressed. This year however it was everyone’s expectations that a reform bill would in fact finally be passed. The State House passed their version of the bill, which would have ended Permanent Alimony in this state. In addition, there were other changes in the law including certain guidelines that could be followed in computing the amount of alimony that could be awarded. The State Senate however had their own version of alimony reform, the main difference being a provision which was included that would have changed the time sharing law to a presumptive 50-50 division of time. This was not adopted by the House and before a compromise could be reached, the State House of Representatives ended their session early in protest over a totally unrelated issue. This action by the House was never seen before and ultimately was ruled to be unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court. The ruling however did not change the outcome, since the session had already ended. The result being that once again an Alimony Reform bill, which was overwhelmingly approved, did not become law. It is anticipated that this issue will be back before the legislature in 2016. In the meantime I thought it might be...

Back To School

Once again the summer has quickly passed us by and it’s time for the school year to begin again. It is an exciting and often stressful time as children begin a new year with new classes, new teachers and sometimes new schools. For children of divorced parents there can be some additional stress. Of course parents who place the children first can make it much less stressful. These days we are seeing more equal time sharing between mom and dad. This also means equal responsibilities for each parent as well. In an intact marriage parents usually assume certain roles and assist each other. In a one parent household, there are no longer defined roles. Mom and Dad must each make sure that they get the children up on time, ready on time, perhaps pack lunches and most importantly complete homework assignments.  Communication between parents is the key to a successful school year. Each parent must realize that they are on the same team and they should not be looking for a “gotcha” moment. Each should be ready to assist each other rather than try and find fault to be used in a court proceeding. Joint parenting is not a contest; Mom vs. Dad. It is an attempt to have both parents do what’s best for the child as opposed to try and prove who may be the better parent. The most common equal time sharing schedule is two nights with one parent (Monday and Tuesday) and two nights with the other parent (Wednesday and Thursday); with weekend (Friday to Monday) being rotated from week to week. A set schedule...

The Era Of The Gray Divorce

The Baby Boomer generation has had a huge impact on many categories of American life; from music to art to technology.  Those same boomers are now impacting family law as well.  Statistics have shown that the overall divorce rate over the past 20 plus years has actually declined. This could be because the marriage rate has decreased as well.  In spite of this overall decline in divorce, the divorce rate for couples over 50 has doubled over the same span of time.  This increase in the divorce rate of baby boomers, has led to the term “Gray Divorce”. There are probably many factors which have led to this increase in divorce over 50. As this generation increases in age, more and more people are celebrating their 50th birthday and as such the over 50 population has increased. The greater the number of people, the greater the number of divorces.  There are however other factors to be considered as well.  People are generally living longer, which results in potentially very long marital relationships.  As people age their perspective on life sometimes changes as well.  Their mortality comes into issue and couples who are not happy in their marriage no longer wish to remain together for the later part of their lives.   Some couples wait until their children are grown and have established their own lives.  Parents feel that after raising their children it is now “their time” to explore and enjoy life.  Unfortunately in many instances their spouse is not who they wish to share this experience with. Finances are the  most significant issues that accompany divorces for individuals in...

Do You Need An Attorney For A Divorce?

These days many individuals going through a divorce handle the matter without the assistance of an attorney.  They feel that it is better to try and settle the matter without spending large sums of money on legal representation.  In all honesty, simple divorces can easily be handled by the parties.  There is enough assistance through the courthouse or the internet to “walk you through” the process.  HOWEVER, sometimes people can be as they say “penny-wise and pound foolish”. In an effort to save money on attorneys’ fees they may wind up giving up too much or perhaps not receiving his/her share.  I have often reviewed Marital Settlement Agreements which were entered into without the assistance of counsel. Often these individuals come to see me after the fact to request assistance in attempting to “get them out” of the Agreement.  Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to undo what has already been done.  A Marital Settlement Agreement or a Mediation Agreement has the same legal effect as any binding contract.  In addition, individuals are expected to know the law and it is not an excuse to later say “I wasn’t represented by an attorney”. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations; those that don’t usually charge a nominal fee for their time.  If you have any doubts as to the law as it pertains to your situation, it would be in your best interests to consult with an attorney.  However, an attorney cannot ethically represent both parties in a divorce and therefore can only advise one of the parties.  Therefore initial consultations should take place without your spouse. Lastly, if you have...

A New Look For Custody Proceedings

On October 1, 2008 a new law went into effect in Florida which made some important changes in the custody laws. Any dissolution action which is filed after October 1st, will now be decided pursuant to this new law. The purpose of the change is to avoid custody battles in divorce proceedings. Although the changes may seem to the average person to be a significant departure from the previous law, in reality it is not. However, they do make some substantial changes and remove certain terminology which has caused unnecessary litigation in the past. Under the prior law parents were generally designated either as the primary or residential parent or the non custodial parent. The children resided in the home of the primary parent and had “visitation” with the other parent. This designation was confusing to some people, who believed that the residential parent had greater rights. This was not the case. Both of the above terms have now been abolished and the only designation is parent. This now more clearly equalizes the parties. In determining the role of each parent the law now requires the preparation and filing of a “Parenting Plan”. A Parenting Plan is defined as follows: “…a document created to govern the relationship between the parties relating to the decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and shall contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional, well being. In creating the plan, all circumstances between the parties, including the...