Common Family Law Issues (Questions and Answers)
As an attorney in St. Petersburg, FL, who practices primarily in the area of Family Law, this is one of the biggest topics currently being discussed in the family law arena. For the second time in 3 years, lawmakers in the state of Florida are looking to completely overhaul the original alimony statute, which means major changes are coming in the area of divorce law.
A concurrent estate is a term used frequently in property law. It describes the various ways in which property is owned by more than one person at a time. The different types of concurrent estates are the following: Tenancy by the Entirety, Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivor-ship and Tenancy in Common. For the purposes of this post, we will talk about the different aspects of Tenancy by Entirety.
As a divorce attorney in St. Petersburg, my practice focuses primarily in Family Law. As a result of this, it is often brought to my attention that there are matters that one parent may feel needs to brought to a judge's attention. One issue that comes up fairly often in a contested paternity or divorce matter with children is emotion abuse.
Here, I will provide a very brief overview of the divorce process in Florida. As a family law attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida, I assist individuals with divorce along with other family law issues in Pinellas County and the surrounding counties.
This was a question that was presented to the Florida Second District Court of Appeal not too long ago. The appellant appealed a civil contempt order entered by the circuit court following his failure to abide by the terms of the marital settlement agreement between former husband and wife. The civil contempt order, was imposed as a sanction in a prospective fashion. The Appellate Court reversed.
As a St. Petersburg Family law attorney, practicing in the area of Family Law, I have come to learn there are a plethora of areas one must be knowledgeable about in order to provide competent services to your client. Whether it be alimony, child support, divorce, paternity or any other family law matter, it is important to choose someone who is up on current law, as it changes often. In this post, I will focus on marital agreements (Pre-marital) specifically. Looking for a St. Petersburg divorce attorney or St. Petersburg divorce lawyer when seeking assistance with drafting these documents is key to have it done correctly.
We are absolutely delighted at the number of people who have inquired about our $199 document preparation services. As an attorney in St. Petersburg, FL, I know first-hand the struggle a lot of potential litigants have when it comes to finding affordable legal services. I have assisted in the preparation of legal documents at Community Law Program in St. Petersburg, Gulfcoast Legal in Clearwater, and Bay Area legal services in Tampa, FL. Whether you are looking to file a divorce on your own, or looking to have a simple will drafted, we can certainly help. We focus on providing affordable, low cost document preparation services in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area. We also provide services remotely throughout the state of Florida, so if you are inquiring about us drafting documents from Tallahassee down to Fort Lauderdale, we can help! Our pricing starts at a very low $199 for most legal documents, and lower for some. We are excited to provide an alternative for those who want to take care of their legal issues themselves, but are just looking for a little guidance. What we do suggest, is that you DO NOT hire a document preparation company to prepare your documents. They are not licensed to render legal advice and I can't tell you how many times I have had to fix a host of problems a potential client has brought to me, as a result of consulting with a document preparation company or having them draft their documents. Please feel free to give us a call, or e-mail to see if we can help and maybe we can save you a little bit of money. We also provide free notary services for our clients that are in the surrounding St. Petersburg, FL area.
Lets look at the following question that a potential client in St. Petersburg, FL asked pertaining to a drafted "Marital Settlement Agreement."
More often than not, you will have parties who were divorced or had a paternity issue resolved in the court, look to modify their time-sharing agreement in the state of Florida (St. Petersburg, FL or any other city in this state). In order to do this, you must file what is known as a "Supplemental Petition to Modify Time-sharing/Parenting Plan." From a legal standpoint, in order to have the appropriate legal grounds to prevail in this type of action, you must prove that there has been a "substantial change in circumstances since the execution of the agreement setting time-sharing in the final dissolution judgment." Let's look at one case that clearly demonstrates the courts' opinion on what they do not deem a "legitimate change in circumstances."
As a Family Law attorney in St. Petersburg, FL, there are a host of issues that I encounter that involve what is known as a Parenting Plan. Many divorce lawyers, including myself, run into potential clients who come in with preconceived notions of "custody." Both parents want to spend all of the time with the children. Yet, with two different households, the reality of the Shared Parental Responsibility Act, unique to Florida must be understood. A good divorce lawyer will have no problem doing this. Furthermore, your divorce lawyer must understand the Shared Parental Responsibility Act and be able to explain it to you and distinguish it from "care, custody, and control."
In most of the family law matters I have dealt with, as an attorney in the St. Petersburg area, child support is often discussed and understandably so. It may be one parent that is questioning how much he/she is entitled to under the circumstances present. Or, on the other hand it may be one parent who is questioning how much he/she should give the other parent under a hypothetical time-sharing scenario. We must note, that there are two factors that are used to determine the amount of child support: (1) the needs of the child; (2) the financial ability of each parent to meet those needs. Florida has established a formula (child support guidelines worksheet) to be used in calculating the needs of the child and each parent's ability to meet those needs. The following steps are used in determining the proper amount of child support:
- You and the other parent each provide proof of your gross incomes.
- Taxes and certain other deductions are allowed to determine each of your net income
- The combined income and the number of children you have are used to establish the children's needs.
- extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses;
- independent income of the child, but not including supplemental security income for a child;
- the payment of support for a parent (that is, the parent of one of the parties) which regularly has been paid and for which there is a demonstrated need;
- seasonal variations in one or both parent's incomes or expenses;
- the age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children; and many other factors.
Participating in pro-bono clinics gave me a great and unique opportunity to discover an ongoing epidemic: the fact that there are a lot of people out there that cannot afford traditional legal services. I have assisted many individuals with the preparation of their legal documents, especially in the area of Family Law for free. As a result, I have decided to add an additional service that has been requested time and time again by potential clients. For the low cost of $200, we will prepare your legal documents and file them for you (limited representation). If you choose to have us represent you in your legal matter, we will reduce our hourly rate as an incentive. We understand that times are tough and there are a lot of people out there struggling. Some, have decided that they will approach their legal matter without an attorney. While in some instances, especially when it involves a large sum of money, children or finances, I strongly advise against this, I understand that sometimes the money just isn't there. With this service provided, we will prepare your legal documents and give you legal advice. We urge you to stay far away from "document preparation services," where the person or people providing the service is/are not a licensed attorney. They cannot give legal advice (which I'm sure they do) and may pose a danger to your case. Please take a look at the following matters we can assist you with pertaining to document preparation:
ALL OTHER MATTERS, INCLUDING:
*DEMAND LETTERS & MUCH MORE
As a divorce attorney, that practices primarily in the St. Petersburg area, one of the questions that typically comes up during a consultation, is "can I get a divorce?" The answer, invariably under most circumstances is yes. With most scenarios, the most common ground to obtain a divorce is that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." Specifically, a marriage is irretrievably broken when the parties can no longer live together because their difficulties are so deep and substantial that no reasonable effort could eradicate them and enable the parties to live together in a normal marital relationship. [Please see Riley v. Riley, 271, So. 2d 181 (Fla 1st DCA 1972).] Although the court is to inquire whether the marriage is broken beyond repair and why, there is no requirement that a written finding be made that the marriage is irretrievably broken in an order dissolving the marriage.
In order to obtain a quick divorce, you and your spouse must file what is known as a "Petition for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage." In order to qualify for this type of divorce, both parties must certify under oath that:
- The parties do not have any minor or dependent children together, the wife does not have any minor or dependent children who were born during the marriage, and the wife is not pregnant.
- The parties have made a satisfactory division of their property and have agreed as to the payment of their joint obligations.
- Both parties waive their right to alimony.
- You are willing to give up your right to trial and appeal.
- Both parties must join in the petition and appear at the final hearing together.
As a lawyer in St. Petersburg, that focuses primarily in Family Law, this is an issue that comes up fairly often. We live in an era now, in which many parents choose to have a child or children, and decide to not get wed. People's perceptions of what they deem a family have also changed and as a result, less and less people are getting married. However, what if you find yourself in a situation where you and your significant other no longer see eye to eye, and decide to part ways? This is where it gets interesting.
As an attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida that focuses primarily in the area of Family Law, this is a topic that comes up from time to time, and understandably so. Both parties may reside as husband and wife in one state, and upon determining that their marriage is irretrievably broken, one party may believe that moving to another state may benefit him/her and or the children (if applicable). The first thing you need to determine, is whether subject matter jurisdiction exists. More specifically, the residence requirement must be met. Either party must be a resident of Florida for at least six consecutive months prior to the filing of the petition, per FL. Stat. 61.021. In order to satisfy this requirement, residency must be corroborated one of three ways: Valid Florida Driver's License (most common), a Florida Voter Registration Card or the testimony or affidavit of a third party. Please note that either party (Petitioner or Respondent) can satisfy this requirement, as it does not have to be the petitioning party. Personal Jurisdiction over the non-resident is not required to grant a divorce. However, if there are other issues pertinent to the case such as (child support, time-sharing/parental responsibility, equitable distribution, etc.), it becomes a little bit more complicated. In all of the secondary issues mentioned above, Florida must have both subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. If either one is missing, Florida will not and cannot render a decision/Final Judgment addressing that issue. If they do, I can almost guarantee it will be overturned in an appellate court. Please do not hesitate to give us a call if you find yourself in the situation described above and we would be happy to set up a low-cost, no obligation consultation. Not only are issues that revolve around one spouse being a non-resident of this state pretty difficult to deal with, but throw in other issues such as child support, time-sharing, etc., and even competent attorneys can get tripped up.
As a Family Law/Divorce attorney in St. Petersburg, FL, a question that arises from time to time is, "Should my Minor Child(ren) testify in this matter?" Well to begin, in order to climb this hurdle, you need to first obtain the judge's permission. It's difficult to determine on a broad scale whether it's a good or bad idea to have a child testify in a Family Law matter. It can depend on a number of factors, such as the Judge, the allegations made, what type of hearing, etc. More often than not, when a child testifies, it can cause the child great emotional stress, due to being placed in the middle of an argument between their parents and due to the stress of appearing in court and testifying. Circumstances where it may be almost necessary to have a child provide testimony in a Family Law case is when you are dealing with allegations of child abuse, or perhaps a change in custody. If you decide that in your case that your minor child should testify, you will need to prepare and file a MOTION FOR TESTIMONY AND ATTENDANCE OF MINOR CHILD(REN). This form asks the judge's permission for a minor child to be subpoenaed to appear at a hearing or deposition. You will have the opportunity to state what the child will testify about and why the child's testimony is necessary. Of-course, you will have to notify the other party of your motion, by mailing or delivering a copy of the motion to the other party. After that is completed, you must then obtain a few dates from the judge's assistant to schedule a hearing and confer with the other party which dates/times will work for him/her. If you find yourself in a situation where you believe your child may need to testify in your legal matter, please contact us to schedule a low cost, no obligation consultation.
As a law firm located primarily in the St. Petersburg, FL area, we have the unique opportunity to represent clients in the following areas of law: Family/Matrimonial Law & Landlord/Tenant. Throughout the past 3 years, we have been fortunate enough to represent clients in specific Family Law matters, including but not limited to: Paternity, Alimony, Child Support, and Dissolution of Marriage. We do offer our prospective clients low cost in office consultations, in order to give them the best experience and most practical advice upon their initial consultation. In addition, if a client chooses to retain me to represent them in their legal matter, the consultation fee is applied towards their initial retainer, or flat fee payment, so in essence you have not lost your initial investment. Depending on your circumstances, we may be able to work with you where you would be on a monthly payment plan. We would just ask for $500 down to begin work on your case and then request the agreed upon amount per month, for X amount of months. Some potential clients feel that initial consultations should be free (some areas it's mandatory). I completely understand the notion behind that. However, let's look at the following numbers. Client 1 comes in for an initial consultation in our St. Petersburg, Fl office and decides to retain us for legal services (divorce without property & no children). The $150 paid will be applied towards the flat fee charge or hourly fee (for the purposes of this hypothetical let's say Client 1 opts for the Flat fee), so it's $2,500-$150. The payment would be $2,350 (+ court costs, etc.). That's it and you're done! Client 2 comes in to Law Firm X that offers free consultations. Client 2 decides to retain Law Firm X and as a result is told that they must have $3,000-$5,000 just to start on their case, and that's being charged at a rate of $200-$400 per hour. At that rate, you will blow through your retainer in 2-3 months, depending on how contested your legal matter is or becomes. Your attorney will then ask for an additional $3,000-$5,000 minimum. At our law firm, you just pay the one fee and you're done! If you find yourself in a situation where you are seeking guidance or potential representation regarding your legal matter, please feel free to give me a ring to set up a no-obligation low cost consultation.
As a Family Law attorney in the state of Florida, this is a question that comes up very often. Additionally, a Family Lawyer when dealing with any kind of divorce will first want to determine what is considered marital property and non-marital property. "Non-Marital Assets/property" include the following: 1) Assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party prior to the marriage, or 2) Any gift, bequest, or inheritance received before the marriage or during the marriage. Specifically in Robinson v. Robinson, 34 FLW d751 (Fla 1st DCA 2009) (abuse of discretion to treat husband's five shares of stock, acquired prior to the marriage, as a marital asset; non marital stock was not transferred into a marital asset merely because the husband derived the family income from his work for the corporation). In Mills v. Mills, 845 So 2d 230 (Fla 3d DCA 2003) (trial court erred in finding that stock in husband's business, which had been given to husband by his grandmother was marital asset subject to equitable distribution; three elements must be shown to support finding of intent of gift: donative intent, delivery or possession of gift, and relinquishment of all possession and control of gift; there was no evidence to support finding that husband received stock in business from his grandmother as compensation for services; there was no evidence presented to indicate that stock transfer was anything other than gift). Family Law attorneys (divorce attorneys) are trained to spot these issues. Determining and classifying what valuable asset(s) is/are not marital property can protect you from having it exposed to the other party. Whether it be an expensive car, real property, or a very profitable business, make sure that you are protected. Hiring the right divorce attorney can help you avoid this costly and detrimental mistake.