Includes divorce, custody, child support, paternity, alimony and collaborative law.
Every case is unique and our firm will fight tenaciously to ensure that what is fair in light of the law is achieved. The Courts will split every single asset and debt incurred during the course of the marriage and divide it equally and this is called equitable distribution. This seems unfair when dealing with a spouse who has been irresponsible with the family’s finances, so it is imperative that you consider divorce as soon as possible should you find yourself in this situation so as to minimize damage done due to spending habits, refusal to contribute or a multitude of other financial issues that are quite frequently why divorce is filed in the first place. Over the last few years, there has been a change in how the courts view alimony so it is critical to speak to an attorney as quickly as possible to understand what your exposure or entitlement to it may be. Beginning in 2019, the Florida legislature changed the statute with regard to alimony payments, making them taxable to the payor and non-taxable to the payee. There are many different forms and durations of alimony that an attorney can explain to you in further detail.
Children and custody
Both parents are critical to a child’s emotional health and upbringing: a child ultimately needs both of you to grow into their fullest potential. In 2008 the Florida legislature moved away from the term “custody” and now uses what is called “time-sharing” when determining the amount of time a child will spend with each parent. Florida Statute 61.13, presumes that both parents have an equal interest in participating in a child’s upbringing. The courts analyze what is in “the best interests of the minor children” pursuant to 20 different factors the court must consider in making their final determination. The faster the parents can communicate in a healthy way and begin co-parenting in spite of their feelings for one another, the faster a child will heal and adjust to the breakup of their parents. It is always best if the parents who know their children best can reach an agreement, rather than leaving the fate of their children up to a judge who knows nothing about you or your children, but clearly this is impossible in circumstances where one or both parties cannot exercise reason or there is a legitimate safety concern due to lifestyle choices. I have had much success in obtaining 50/50 time-sharing in cases where it is warranted and having time-sharing limited in cases where it is warranted. Generally speaking any parent’s worst day in court is every other weekend and splitting the holidays. The Courts require submittal of a very detailed Parenting Plan and when you are co-parenting well you can be as creative and unique and tailor it specifically to each child’s needs. During the course of litigation the courts require frequent and continuing contact with the non-residential parent and requires each parent to foster and nurture a loving relationship between the child and the other parent. Don’t go into court unrepresented and settle for less than what your children need.
Child support is an algorithm that considers each party’s income, health insurance costs, childcare costs and number of overnights exercised by each parent. This is called a child support guidelines worksheet.
If you are being denied access to your child born outside of the bond of marriage, you unfortunately have no legal rights to see them or have a say in their upbringing even if you are on the birth certificate and are paying child support through the Department of Revenue, although it is always frowned upon when a parent interferes with another parent’s relationship with a child and part of the 20 factors the court considers in Florida Statute 61.13. You must still file for a separate court action establishing paternity and time-sharing.
Collaborative law is relatively new and innovative way of resolving family law matters in a more constructive environment. It has a high rate of success, provides alternatives that a courtroom cannot provide, and has proven to be a faster, less painful mechanism resolving these conflicts, with an emotional recovery rate up to 3 times faster than litigation. It is a unique process I can discuss with you during consultation.
A note on counseling: I am a divorced single mom and will never ask you to consider something I have not done myself. I have found that counseling has been instrumental in helping children recover and process their feelings about the break up and developing healthy coping mechanisms as well as helping parents work together for the sake of their children in even the most heated and contested circumstances. Just as with retaining a lawyer, the sooner counseling begins, the better for the child (and the parents). I have had the pleasure of representing some of the most wonderful parents and have had a front row seat witnessing families in complete chaos, pain and crisis when they first walk into my office to significant healing and personal growth going forward and adjusting into their new lives by the end of litigation.