A divorce, or in legal terms, a dissolution of marriage, is often the most difficult experience any person will have to endure in their lifetime. A divorce involves numerous competing issues such as time sharing with the children, distribution of the marital property, financial support for a spouse and the children, and other critical areas. Having a competent and qualified attorney on your side is critical to obtaining the best results in a divorce scenario.
A paternity action is used to establish child support and time sharing with the children when the parties were never married to each other. In paternity cases, the court can determine child support and time sharing. However, other issues such as alimony and equitable distribution of property, although common in divorce cases, are not subject to determination by the court in a paternity case. Due to the possible consequences on time sharing and child support, unmarried parents should legally establish paternity as soon as possible after birth.
The rights of parents in a paternity case are significantly different than those in a divorce case. Therefore, if you have a child born out of wedlock, it is imperative to discuss your options and rights with an attorney who is well versed in Florida paternity law.
They often say that the only constant is change. And when there has been a substantial change in your life, often times that necessitates a change in time sharing or support, both spousal and for your children. Although many believe that once your divorce is over, everything is final, nothing could be further from the truth. Time sharing, alimony, and child support are all subject to change by the court whenever there is a substantial change in circumstances. Therefore, it is critical to discuss any major life changes with an attorney to determine whether the change can affect your rights and obligations, whether it be a change in your children’s schedules, a lost job or an increase in your former spouse’s income.
A Final Judgment generally grants both parties certain rights and obligations. Unfortunately, often times one or both parties will fail to fulfill their obligations pursuant to the Final Judgment. When this occurs, whether it be the non-payment of support or the failure to equitably divide property as ordered, your recourse is to seek an order of enforcement from the Court. An order of enforcement can include the imposition of sanctions against the non-compliant party such as payment by the other party of your attorney’s fees and even imprisonment for failing to abide by the Court’s orders.
Domestic Violence is a societal problem that does not discriminate based on race, gender, nationality, or socio-economic status. Although it may be embarrassing to admit to being the victim of threats or violence as the hands of a supposed loved one, no one should ever have to live in fear of their mate. If you believe you may be at risk for imminent harm, or if you are the victim of false allegations of domestic violence, you should immediately contact an attorney with substantial experience in the area of domestic violence. The procedures and presumptions in domestic violence cases can be substantially different than those in a standard family law case and therefore it is imperative to have someone on your side who is well versed in domestic violence statutes and case law. When your safety, reputation, and contact with your children are on the line, you need an experienced advocate who can assist you in navigating the domestic violence systems.
TIME SHARING (CUSTODY)
If you are like most parents, your children are your world. Therefore, you only want what is best for them. In a divorce or paternity situation, your children are your most important consideration. Several substantial changes in Florida law over the past few years have greatly changed the way judges determine how you and your former mate will exercise time with the children. One of those changes is the establishment of a Parenting Plan, either by agreement or by court order. A Parenting Plan delineates various aspects of raising your children, from time-sharing on a regular basis, time-sharing on holidays, extra-curricular activities, schooling, medical decisions, and so forth. A properly prepared Parenting Plan is the key to avoiding ongoing hassles with your former partner, thereby reducing the stress on you and your children in the years that follow. A poorly prepared Parenting Plan is a recipe for disaster, stress, and hassle. Be certain to utilize the services of an experienced attorney, preferably one who is intimately familiar with the problems that arise in parenting relationships over time.
ALIMONY AND CHILD SUPPORT
As part of divorce proceedings, the spouse in the superior financial position may be required to provide support to his or her former spouse. This spousal support, or alimony, can take any number or combination of forms such as temporary alimony, bridge the gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, lump sum alimony and/or permanent periodic alimony. Due to the long lasting effects of alimony, often well beyond the entry of your final judgment, it is critical that you are made aware of your rights and given a realistic review of your alimony situation.
When you have children, the court will establish child support in order to provide for the necessary expenses involved in raising children. There are many variables that affect child support including income, investments, taxes, alimony, child care expenses, health and dental insurance expenses, and the overall time sharing schedule. Therefore, you should consult an attorney familiar with the statutory guidelines for the establishment and modification of child support, as well as the possible manipulation of the numerous variables involved in determining child support.
PRE AND POST NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
As people wait until later in life or have children from previous relationships, the need for a prenuptial agreements has increased. While no one enters a marriage planning on divorce, the ugly truth is that many first marriages, and the majority of second and third marriages, will end in divorce. Therefore, it is imperative that you plan for the day you hope never comes. A properly drafted agreement can help to protect your interests in the event of divorce, while reducing your divorce litigation costs. Furthermore, it can also serve to protect your children’s interests in the event of your premature death. However, in order to properly protect your interests, you should discuss a prenuptial agreement with an attorney well before your marriage date. Waiting until shortly before the marriage to enter into an agreement can expose the agreement to nullification by the court.
COHABITATION AND RELATIONSHIP AGREEMENTS
For couples who do not want to get married, whether for philosophical or religious reasons or in order to preserve an alimony award, couples can enter into agreements that will establish their rights and obligations in the event of a demise of the relationship. These rights and obligations can include financial support, division of property obtained before and during the relationship, and more.
WILLS AND OTHER ANCILLARY MATTERS
Life changing events such as marriage, divorce, and the birth of children, often have far reaching effects. Therefore, you should use these times as opportunities to ensure your affairs are in order. This may include the preparation of a new last will and testament as well as the preparation of other ancillary documents, such as living wills, healthcare surrogacy designation, and powers of attorney.