Family Law

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...

A Difficult Problem

It seems that almost everyday we read about a domestic violence case in the newspaper.  Of course we only read about the cases which involve celebrities.  This is not a problem which only involves celebrities, but an issue which can be found in almost every bedroom community.  Of course a great deal of domestic violence goes unreported. There is also the other side of the coin.  This is a law which can at times be misused to obtain the “upper hand” in a divorce.  Judges will almost always err on the side of caution when required to make a decision about whether or not to issue an injunction for protection against domestic violence, commonly referred to as a restraining order.  This at times can cause an abuse of the judicial system for personal gain. The law concerning domestic violence injunctions is very specific as to what must be proven to obtain an injunction and who may obtain one.  This cannot be obtained because your spouse is being argumentative or disrespectful.  Words, even harmful words, will not rise to the level that is required by law.   An individual seeking an injunction must swear under oath, in a written petition, that he or she has been the victim of domestic violence or has a reasonable belief that he or she is in imminent danger.   This applies to husbands and wives, individuals residing together, couples who have had children together, divorced couples, or any person related by blood or marriage.  I have been involved with cases involving siblings, parents and children and girlfriend and boyfriend.  Domestic violence is defined as a battery...

Federal Law Cannot Be Used to Block Legal Adoption, Justices Say

The heartrending battle over who should gain permanent custody of a three-year old Cherokee girl known in court papers as “Baby Veronica”—her adoptive parents or her biological father—appears to be over after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rehear the case.  The denial clears the way for the child’s transfer from her father in Oklahoma to her adoptive parents in South Carolina. The two side have been fighting for custody for over two years now. Initially, the courts in South Carolina sides with the biological father, Dusten Brown, based on a federal law that makes it difficult for non-Native Americans to adopt a child that has any Indian ancestry. After the decision, Baby Veronica went to live with her father, but her adoptive parents did not give up the fight. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 5 to 4 that the father could not use a federal law to block a legal adoption. The high court also considered and noted the fact the Mr. Brown had not provided financial assistance to his child before the adoption and that he had signed away his parental rights as a...

What Happens When a Divorce Case Goes to Trial?

Most divorce cases are settled without a trial, and this is usually best for everyone. However, sometimes divorcing spouses are unable to come to a settlement and a trial becomes necessary. At the law firm of Evan H. Baron & Associates, we’re able to help you settle without a trial, but will defend you aggressively if a trial is unavoidable. What Is a Divorce Trial Like? Divorce trials do not involve juries, but are held by a Circuit Court Judge in the judge’s chamber. The judge hears evidence from each spouse, your divorce lawyer, and your spouse’s, and renders a decision based on evidence. Once the judge gives a ruling, you should consider the case over, because successful appeals in family court cases are extremely rare. Children and Other Witnesses If your divorce case goes to trial, your children will probably not be witnesses, even though the judge will be making decisions regarding their future. During the trial, expect several hours of testimony, and you will be subject to questions from both your own child support attorney and that of your spouse. Other witnesses will only be called to testify if their testimony is relevant to the divorce case. Trials Are Expensive Divorces can be very expensive, but divorces that go to trial are even more expensive. They take more time to prepare for, and the court date is usually scheduled for a time several months into the future. Financially, most people almost always fare better when they are able to settle the dissolution of the marriage without a trial, if for no other reason than the higher child...

Answers to Frequently Asked Child Custody Questions

Child custody and child support are issues that are important enough that you should never rely on what you’re told by someone without expertise on child custody and support laws. Ideally you should talk to a child custody attorney. At The Law Firm of Evan H. Baron & Associates, we have the skill and experience necessary to give you real facts and real answers (Read more about attorney Evan Baron here). The Other Parent Wants to Move Away with My Children. Can I Prevent This? If the other parent wants to move more than 50 miles away with your children, they must file notice with the court and propose a revised child sharing schedule. You then have 30 days to file an objection with the court. In court, a judge will render a decision about relocating with the children based primarily on the children’s best interests. What Should I Do if I Haven’t Been Receiving Child Support That Was Ordered? If you’re not receiving child support, don’t let this slide. Contact your child support lawyer and explain the situation. He or she will know the best way to proceed in getting the child support your children were promised. If the parent who is in arrears refuses to pay, there are several legal mechanisms for compelling him or her to pay. Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support if the Other Parent Gets a Lucrative Job? If you’re paying child support and the other parent’s income increases significantly, it’s possible to modify the child support order, but there are no guarantees. You need to explain the situation to your...

Divorce Lawyer in Weston Can Help with All Aspects of Divorce

Active duty armed services members are entitled to special protections from the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. Active duty members of the armed forces may delay divorce proceedings for up to 60 days after they are no longer on duty. This law prevents a spouse from filing for divorce while a military spouse is away and cannot answer the divorce petition in time to avoid a default ruling. When Alimony Is Appropriate A skilled divorce lawyer in Weston can gauge whether alimony is appropriate in your particular divorce case. Before alimony is granted a court must find that the spouse requesting alimony needs it. This is shown with an affidavit listing the spouse’s expenses and showing that the spouse is unable to pay these expenses. The court must also find that the other spouse has the ability to pay this support. Parental Relocation Parents of minor children who want to relocate cannot simply pack up and leave, whether the children live with that parent or with the other parent. In Florida, other parties with visitation rights (like grandparents who have been granted visitation rights) can contest parental relocation. Parents who want to relocate must come to a written agreement with all involved parties, or petition the court for relocation permission. Mediation in Divorce Cases Mediation works when both spouses are able to agree to divorce terms, and can be beneficial in these cases. By avoiding a court battle, all parties, including children, are less likely to be traumatized by the divorce. The Weston family lawyer at Evan H. Baron & Associates can advise you if it looks like...

Lawyer Answers Common Child Custody Questions

The time sharing plan between divorcing parents should be something both can commit to, because they can be difficult to change. At the law firm of Evan H. Baron and Associates, we can assist you with your parenting plan, based on factors like: ·          Each parent’s ability to put the child’s needs first ·          Geographic viability of time sharing ·          Each parent’s physical and mental health ·          Children’s preferences (once they’re old enough) ·          Each parent’s moral fitness Must Disputes Always Be Settled in Court? While some cases cannot be settled outside of a courtroom, alternative dispute resolution is appropriate in many cases. A child custody attorney can advise you on whether alternative dispute resolution is a good choice in your situation. Mediation and Parental Coordination are two forms of alternative dispute resolution. When Is Supervised Visitation Considered? Where there is evidence of domestic abuse or child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, a judge will order time sharing that protects the child or abused spouse. In some cases, no time sharing with the abusive party is ordered. If you are not currently involved in a court case with the abusive party, speak with a lawyer before asking for supervised visitation. He or she can advise you on how to proceed based on facts of your case. What Happens When One Parent Wants to Relocate? If one parent wants to move with the child more than 50 miles away for longer than 60 days, the other parent must be notified. If the other parent agrees to the move, parents need to file a written agreement with the court. If the other...

A Child Custody Lawyer Discusses Remarriage and Parental Relocation

In Florida, modification of child support may be approved if one parent receives additional income from remarriage. However, just because modification can be approved doesn’t mean it will be approved. Another fairly common scenario is a remarried mother having another child and quitting work to raise it. At Evan H. Baron and Associates, we can advise you on exactly how you can expect remarriage to affect your child support situation. Change in Circumstances and Child Support It’s not possible to list every change in circumstances that could lead to modification of child support. However, some fairly common situations indicate a “substantial change in circumstances” which could lead to modification, such as: ·          Increased income for the receiving party ·          A decrease in child expenses (such as a child leaving daycare and entering public schools) ·          Loss of paying party’s job ·          Long term loss of paying party’s income Modification of Out-of-State Child Support Orders The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) says that the state that originally issued a child support order retains jurisdiction in the case. Only when neither parent lives in the original state can child support orders be modified in another state. Florida Law and Parental Relocation When a custodial parent wants to move more than 50 miles away, he or she must notify the other parent. If the other parent doesn’t object to the move, they must file an agreement with the court. If the other parent does object, either parent may petition the court and have a judge decide whether the child’s move is approved. Parents usually need to modify their time sharing agreement...

Broward Lawyer Explains Important Family Law Facts

No fault divorce dissolves a marriage without requiring that either party prove wrongdoing on the part of the other spouse. The person requesting the divorce does not have to show that their spouse committed a breach of marriage such as adultery or abandonment. While divorce can be accomplished in Florida without legal representation, hiring a Broward lawyer from Evan H. Baron & Associates is wise if divorce is inevitable (Read our FAQs section here). Eligibility for Filing for Divorce in Florida To be eligible to file for divorce in Florida, at least one spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months leading up to the filing of divorce papers. You can prove Florida residency with a valid Florida driver’s license showing residency of at least six months, with a voter registration card, or with a sworn affidavit from someone who can verify residency. Costs Associated with Divorce in Florida Filing fees run between $400 and $500. If you hire a lawyer in Broward or Weston to represent you, your lawyer will bill you on an hourly basis. The more complicated your divorce is (if it includes numerous marital assets, children, or one spouse who deliberately tries to complicate things), the more expensive the divorce will ultimately be. We offer expert services at a reasonable rate. Division of Marital Property Both assets and debts acquired during the marriage are divided in a divorce. While Florida requires “equitable” distribution, this does not necessarily mean “exactly equal” distribution of either assets or debts. Assets include things like real estate, furniture, cars, bank accounts, and also retirement accounts and other...