Family law, or domestic relations law, covers a variety of issues that relate to family relationships, including but not limited to divorce, paternity, child custody, timesharing, child support and adoptions.
Even if your legal needs do not necessitate a ‘fight,’ everyone should involve an attorney in family law matters. You should understand the law and have an advocate to draft settlement documents, including marital settlement agreements and parenting plans. Our attorneys are trained not only in family law, but in contract law and other related fields such that they can draw on a full array of knowledge to ensure you are well represented. Of course, if litigation is necessary, we are well equipped to guide you down that path as well.
Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage
Typically, parties will each have their own attorney to help navigate a divorce and negotiate on their behalf. An attorney’s goal should always be to avoid a trial and minimize attorney fees such that your issues are resolved quickly, and economically. A divorce attorney can help you divide your assets and liabilities, develop a parenting plan in the bests interests of your children, and assist in the establishment of spousal support and child support if appropriate.
Our attorneys are litigators at heart, so should the need arise to attend a trial because parties are unable to agree on settlement terms, we are experienced court room advocates and will fight for you.
Alimony or Spousal Support
Incident to a divorce, one party may be obligated to pay the other what is called ‘alimony’ or ‘spousal support.’ The parties’ circumstances will determine whether this type of support is appropriate.
There are several types of spousal support, including:
- Bridge-the-Gap: This type of alimony is typically for short term marriages in order for one party to transition to single life.
- Rehabilitative: This type of alimony can assist one party in improving their condition such that they can ultimately provide for themselves. Often this can include provisions for education or job training.
- Durational: When permanent alimony is not appropriate, durational alimony may be the solution. Typically, such awards are for short to moderate term marriages, however it may be appropriate for some long-term marriages as well. This type of alimony can be modified based on a substantial change in circumstances.
- Permanent: Some parties may be entitled to permanent alimony should their needs be proved by clear and convincing evidence. This type of alimony can be modified based on a substantial change in circumstances.
Alimony is always based on one party’s need for the alimony and the other party’s ability to pay. If one of these elements is not found, no alimony will be appropriate.
There are many factors the Court will consider in determining an award of alimony, including: marriage duration, income (from all sources), earning capacity, educational, vocational skills, financial resources, age, physical and emotional condition, contribution to the marriage and child rearing, tax treatment, responsibilities for children, standard of living, and other factors necessary for the Court to do justice.
Child Support and Custody / Timesharing
Incident to a divorce or the establishment of paternity, a parenting plan will be issued (either by agreement or by the Court). This plan will address the responsibilities and decision making each parent has, as well as the specific times that each parent will spend with the children. This is often the biggest fight in a family law matter, which is why an attorney could be pivotal to your case. There are many types of schedules that may be adopted that range from multi week exchanges to daily exchanges. What is best for your family will depend on your circumstances, and the best interests of the children. Let an attorney help you figure this out.
Once a timesharing arrangement has been determined, child support can also be determined. Child support can also change from time to time based on changes in circumstance. Child support is determined primarily from a statutory formula that considers the time spent with each parent along with each parents’ incomes and financial contributions to the children. Ordinarily, child support ends when a child reaches 18, graduates from high school, marries, is emancipated, or joins the armed forces.
If one party intends to move more than 50 miles away, that party needs the court’s permission to do so when the parties have children. This is called a relocation. There are a number of factors that go into the determination of whether a parent or parent and children may relocate. Should a relocation be granted, a new parenting plan will be required. An attorney can help you navigate these issues and fight for you – whether you want to relocate or oppose the other party’s attempt to relocate.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Prenuptial agreements or “prenups” are governed by Florida statute. They are not as simple as entering information into an online form. A prenuptial agreement is typically accomplished in order to protect property or allow/disallow for spousal support/alimony. The prenup can be as simple or as complicated as the parties require depending on their individual needs and circumstances. It is important to know that prenuptial agreements cannot waive child support. In order to establish an agreement that will stand up if challenged, an attorney should be consulted far in advance of a marriage. Of course, the agreement can also be entered into after the parties are married should the need later arise.
Uncontested of Friendly Divorces
Friendly divorces or separations can still be complicated. Settlement agreements and parenting plans need to be established, and the State forms simply do not contemplate the many issues families can go through incident to a divorce. An attorney can help you draft appropriate documents that give you the peace of mind that established rules are in place.