The primary focus of our firm is in the area of Divorce. Our goal is to provide the best possible resolution for our clients. We will work in the collective best interests of your family to come to an agreement that gives you the best opportunity to move forward with your life. If your case ends up in litigation or if an amicable agreement can be settled with your ex-spouse, our firm is prepared to handle a full range of possibilities.
In the state of Florida, a divorce is referred to as a Dissolution of Marriage. In most cases, once the divorce is granted, all issues regarding money, property and children are resolved. Agreements can often be reached through mediation or otherwise, on one or more issues. Only those that remain unresolved are decided in court by a judge.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
The state of Florida is a No-Fault state. There is no need to prove adultery, cruelty, emotional abuse or anything else of that nature. To obtain a divorce in Florida, one spouse must simply say that the marriage is over or that it is “irretrievably broken.”
The state of Florida does require that one of the spouses has had to live in the state for at least 6 consecutive months prior to filing for divorce.
In addition to the residency requirement, a final judgment of dissolution of marriage may not be entered until at least 20 days have elapsed from the date of filing the original petition for divorce. However, on a showing that injustice would result from this delay, the court may enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage at an earlier date.
The spouse filing the petition, also known as the petitioner, must pay the Court’s filing fee to begin the process. In Hillsborough County it is approximately $418.00.
Public Sector Employees, such as Firefighters and Police Officers, typically have unique benefit and pension plans which have to be dealt with in a special manner. Factors that may further complicate the division of assets and benefits depend on whether if you work for a local, state or federal government; and if the pension system you are vested in recognizes Qualified Domestic Relations Orders or some other variant. Yet another issue that needs to be considered is if you also are subject to the terms of a contract. All of these concerns need to be factored in when you are going through a divorce.
Our firm has the experience and knowledge to help you navigate through the common obstacles that may be encountered with these issues. For public sector workers with many years on the job, pensions, deferred compensation, health insurance, accrued vacation and other benefits become critical in the division of assets. This is especially true today when employment benefits and retirement accounts may be the only valuable asset left. Some of the specific examples are inclusive of:
Even in complex divorces, the vast majority of cases are resolved out of court. However, it is imperative that your attorney be ready and willing to litigate if negotiations break down and know when to barter and when to fight.
Typically, in the state of Florida, if a parent wishes to move away or relocate with his or her minor child to a new residence 50 miles or more away from the current residence, the relocating parent must provide advance notice of the intent to relocate to the non-relocating parent who has a right to agree or contest the relocation. If the non-relocating parent contests the relocation and notifies the Court, the relocating parent must obtain the Court’s permission in order to relocate.
If the parents are not in agreement on the relocation of the minor child, the Court may hold a preliminary hearing and issue a temporary order either granting or denying the relocation on a temporary basis until a final hearing can be held by the Court.
Parental relocation matters are specifically governed by Florida Statute 61.13001. Section 61.13001 of the Florida Statutes states that “If a parent attempts to relocate with a child and fails to comply with section 61.13001(3) of the Florida Statutes regarding the petition to relocate, such parent may be subject to contempt and other proceedings to compel the return of the child, and such non-compliance may be taken into account by the court in a subsequent determination or modification of the parenting plan, access, or the time-sharing schedule.” Depending on the circumstances a hasty decision can have lasting consequences.
Due to this change in circumstances and because a parental relocation will inevitably interfere with court approved visitation arrangements, child custody or time sharing, any parental relocation proposal will need to be approved by the court.You generally don’t have a lot of time to respond to a proposed move and hearings are given precedent by statute for relocations as they are required to take priority in scheduling. If you object to the move, or if you are a parent seeking to relocate with your child seeking legal advice is important to preserve your rights.
In the state of Florida, a child is entitled to be supported by their parent, regardless of their marital status. In any divorce with minor children (under 18) the court will order the parents to pay child support. Every parent should count on this due to the state of Florida placing a high priority on requiring parents to support their children. Child support guidelines and case law for the state of Florida require the calculations for child support to be based on the income of both parents. A parent’s monthly expenses are typically not considered in the final child support determination.
Child support is based on Florida Child Support Guidelines. There are factors that act as an offset in the final calculation of support; some of those being total overnights, insurance and daycare. However, the guidelines are fairly rigid and deviation can only be made if good cause can be shown to the court. The court’s position is that child support payments are a property right of the children, not the parents. This means that parents cannot make a mutual agreement for child support that is vastly different then the amounts shown on this chart.
The Florida child support formula does not consider your child’s other expenses or extracurricular activities. If for example, your child plays travel hockey, figure skates, or attends a private school these costs are typically split by the parents equally. The parents often have to weigh what is financially feasible and consider discontinuing some activities. Medical co-pays, orthodontia and other like expenses are also dealt with separately by the court.
What is a GAL?
A Guardian ad Litem is useful in cases where there is significant conflict between the parties regarding children’s issues or if there are concerns regarding the well-being of the children.
What does a GAL do?
The Guardian ad Litem’s job in a divorce or parental rights matter is to be “the voice” of the child or children and to act in the best interests of the child or children’s, by investigating the facts of the case for the Judge, and to reporting his findings back to the Court by filing written reports and in some cases testifying.
In all cases, I will meet with both parents individually, will meet with the child or children, and will schedule at least one home visit to observe the children in the home of each parent. In some cases, I may interview teachers, pediatricians, psychologists, therapists, coaches, neighbors, third party caregivers, or other family members about the children or any issue that affects the children.
As your case progresses, I will be asked to produce a report, or sometimes, several reports for the Court. The report will outline my investigation and note any issues or facts that may need to be considered by the Court in a final ruling. I may also provide specific recommendations for custody based on the issues and, or, facts I uncover during my investigation. This report will be provided to you through your attorney prior to your final hearing or trial.