Please, read the Practice Area page that applies to your Family Law situation. This will help you prepare for any initial consultation with a family lawyer or divorce attorney. It will particularly help you articulate the types of questions you should be asking of the attorney.
For your convenience there is a summary of each page below each link to the complete Practice Area page.
Adoptions By Family and Relatives
SUMMARY: AAA Family Law can help you with adoptions by extended family members. This is fairly simple when the biological parents that do not have custody agree to it. First a petition is filed in the circuit curt that corresponds to the child's residence. Non-relatives and stepparents require a favorable report from DCF based on its home study. Written consent from both biological parents is required. If these conditions are met, a court hearing is held where the adopting parents have to answers some question from the judge to complete the process. Please read the Adoptions page for more complete information on this subject.
Alimony In A Florida Divorce
SUMMARY: Florida judges have considerable discretion in deciding the amount and duration of alimony. There are four types of alimony (a) bridge-the-gap, which cover short term need for up to two years and cannot be modified, (b) rehabilitative, which covers a period of job skills training or education and can be later modified, (c) durational, which is for a set period of time not exceeding the length of the marriage and could be modified if there are changes in circumstances and (d) permanent, for a spouse that will need financial help for life, which are reserved for marriages of 17 or more years. The amount of alimony depends on the length of the marriage, the recipients financial needs and the paying spouse's ability to pay. Please read the Alimony page for more complete information.
Child Custody and Support Help
SUMMARY: Child custody and support practices in Florida are set by legal guidance in cases of divorce, paternity actions and modification of final judgment. The greater the number of children, the higher the relative income of the paying parent and the greater that parent's number of overnight custody stays above 20% the larger the payment. In addition the payment is affected by who pays the children's health insurance and day care expenses. If you are separated and not the one caring for children you should start making child support payments to your spouse to avoid having to pay them retroactively at the divorce haring, and keep good records on them. Payments last until age 18 or 19 if the child is still in high school. Non-payment by a parent with ability to pay can result in prison time of up to 180 days.
Department of Children and Families (DCF)
SUMMARY: Most investigations conduced by Florida's DCF do not result in litigation against the parents. But when DCF files with the courts a petition for making a child dependent on the sate the consequences are serious and the legal issues are complex. Therefore the parent or parents need to hire a family law attorney to represent them. All DCF matters involve five phases: the investigation, the shelter hearing, the arraignment, the adjudication and the disposition. To understand what these involve click on the title above to read the complete page on this subject.
Divorce Advice From Your Attorney
SUMMARY: Divorce has four major components: (a) the parenting issues (if the couple has children), (b) the distribution of marital assets between the divorcing spouses, (c) the payment of the attorney retainer fees and (c) the possibility of alimony (spousal support). The parenting issues deal with the type of responsibility of each parent, such as the child support payments to the parent that has most of the custody (See the Child Support and Custody page). Marital assets and debts are those acquired between the date of the marriage and the date of separation or the filing on the divorce petition, and are divided equally. The attorney retainer fees of the party with low ability to pay may have to be paid by the person with the greatest ability to pay. Please read th the Alimony and Divorce apges.
Domestic Violence Injunctions
SUMMARY: A domestic violence injunction is an order to restrain the actions of a person who lives in the same household as the petitioner of that injunctions. A preliminary injunction can be petitioned simply by completing a form with the clerk of the court and alleging that it is to prevent becoming a victim of domestic violence. A judge will review it and can issue it without holding a hearing. This is followed by serving the enjoined person, or respondent, with a petition, and order for the temporary injunction and a notice of the preliminary hearing. Upon being served the documents the respondent must leave the home shared with the petitioner and cease all contacts with that person. Please read the compete Domestic Violence page to learn about what happens at the hearing, how this may affect a divorce case and the need to hire an attorney.
SUMMARY: Mediation is the recommended and most used way to settle the issues that arise in a divorce and it is required before going to court. A mediator is an impartial negotiator that helps divorcing couples to come to a voluntary agreement on the terms of the divorce. Only the document with the agreed terms is seen by the judge. What is spoken during the negotiations is confidential so that it cannot be used against one of the spouses in the court in cases there is no agreement at the mediation. Mediators can be employed by the county or they can be private individuals.
Paternity Rights and Responsibilities
SUMMARY: Adults (not wives involved in a divorce) can only legally change their names by filing a signed and notarized petition for a name change that must state twelve separate facts about the petitioner, starting with (a) that the petitioner is a resident of the county, (b) birth place and date, father's name, mother's maiden name and their address. Restoring a previous name can be done at a hearing right after the petition is turned in to the court. But changing to a new name requires also submitting fingerprints to be checked against criminal records. If the judge finds no evidence of fraudulent purpose, the court must grant the request for the name change.
Enforceable Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
SUMMARY: Prenuptial agreements define rights and responsibilities of each party in a marriage. They are a good way to avoid future misunderstanding that can lead to conflicts and disappointments. They protect the existing assets of each person, prevent excessive alimony payments and keep attorney fees lower in case of a divorce. They also have these limitations: they cannot allocate attorney fees to each partner during the divorce (they can in cases that arise after the divorce), they cannot set the amount of any child support or time sharing. There are some stipulations of prenuptial agreements that are not enforceable, which is one reason why it is important to have them drafted by an experienced family law attorney. Please read the full text of the Prenuptial Agreements page for more information.
Post-Judgment Enforcement of Decrees
SUMMARY: Many divorce couples are back in court after the divorce trying to get their ex-spouses to comply with the terms and provisions of the divorce agreed to during mediation and/or decreed by a judge. The three most common cases of post-judgment enforcement are those related to child support, alimony and transfer of assets. In child support and alimony cases most of the time in court is spent on the issue of the paying parent's ability to pay. This is because a court can only imprison a parent for non-payment if that parent has the ability to pay. But the enforcing the transfer of assets cannot use a prison term as leverage because they are considered a debt to be paid, and Florida law does not allow the imprisonment of debtors. There are other legal procedures that can be use to enforce the asset transfer that are mentioned in the complete page of Post-Judgment Enforcement of Decrees.
Post Judgment Modifications of Divorce & Paternity
SUMMARY: Mere dissatisfaction with the terms of a divorce or paternity settlement is not grounds for its modification, and the property distribution cannot be modified. For modifications of alimony or child support there have to be substantial changes in circumstances that are permanent, involuntary and unforeseeable. And modifications of time-sharing of child custody must also be in the interest of the child. If you want an honest appraisal of your modification case, please call me at (407) 260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation.
Property Distribution In Divorce
SUMMARY: If a divorcing couple cannot come up with an agreement on property distribution, it will be decided in court. The judge will determine which asses are marital and which are individual, and the marital assets will be divided equally between the spouses. Assets and debts acquired before the marriage are individual and those acquired after the marriage are marital. Increases in the value of individual assets during the marriage are also divided equally. Divorcing spouses are not allowed to sell assets for a period before the filing up to the time the divorce has gone into effect.
Relocations By Divorced Parents
SUMMARY: Custodial parents planning to move more than fifty miles from where they live with their children must file a notice of relocation with their county court. The non-custodial parents can also file with the court a written objection to their children's relocation within thirty days of being served the relocation notice. Read a lists of actions you need to take and actions you should avoid before you attempt a relocation.
Uncontested Divorce, Is Attorney Needed?
SUMMARY: An uncontested divorce in Florida could be done in either of two ways: with the simplified form, or the regular way. Using the simplified form is easier and takes less time. However, it only applies to couples with no dependent children and no request for alimony and has several other restrictions explained on the full page. A regular uncontested divorce has more forms to complete and takes longer. Most people in a this type of divorce would benefit from having a consultation with a lawyer to make sure that the terms they agreed on do not contain unexpected adverse consequences that are not understood. But a lawyer is not allowed by the rules of ethics to consult with both parties. Of course, you would not hire a lawyer to represent you in court in this type of divorce. Since it is uncontested, meaning with both parties agreed to it its terms in writing, there are no legal issues for lawyers to argue in court.
Preparing for a Divorce
SUMMARY: To prepare for a divorce you must first complete the Financial Affidavits form supported by the Mandatory Disclosure Documents. These documents are the basis for determining the terms of the divorce, such as alimony or child support (if applicable) and the distribution of assets and debts. You should also consult with an experienced family lawyer to protect your rights.
Family Law Appeals in Florida
Family law appeal cases are rare and involved a very different set of procedures than those heard in family courts. For this reason some family lawyers prefer to transfer their cases to other lawyers with experience in appeals. At AAA Family Law we have this experience and are ready to handle any family law appeal cases.
Grandparents' Family Law Rights
Grandparents interested in taking custody of their grandchildren have two options in court: (a) applying for temporary custody, either with the consent of the parents or by demonstrating that they are unfit to be parents, or (b) adopting the children, if both parents consent.