Florida Family Law
Almost every couple that has gotten married, has acquired stuff…. Everything from homes, businesses, cars and boats, right down to the last spaghetti pot and coffee mug must be divided in the event of a divorce. And if you and your spouse can’t figure out amongst yourselves how to divide the marital property, a divorce judge will ultimately make that decision. The good news is that the law says that the judge must make an equitable division of marital property. The bad news is that “equitable” does not always mean “equal,” and a judge has a lot of discretion in deciding what is fair. Once a decision is made it will stand, unless the judge clearly abused his discretion in coming to the result. But before marital property… Continue reading
Often times parents, typically those unrepresented in custody proceedings, will agree on a timesharing schedule with a belief that they can come back later to change it when time or budget permits. However, modifying a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or Paternity can be more difficult than you think.
To modify an existing custody order, a parent would have to prove that there has been an unanticipated change in circumstances, and that modifying the existing order would be in the best interest of the minor children. If the parent can overcome the burden of proving that a change in circumstances exists, the judge will then reconsider the factors set forth in Florida Statutes to determine timesharing with the minor children moving forward. Those factors include:
Today, in a historic 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage is a right granted by the Constitution. Prior to today, the Supreme Court had side stepped the issue which emboldened 36 of the 50 states to pass legislation legalizing same sex marriage.
Justice Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion,
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its… Continue reading
Proponents of Florida Alimony Reform will have to wait at least another year before seeing any changes to current law. This year’s legislative session came and went, and the proposed Alimony Bill never reached the Governor’s desk for signature. The House Bill included provisions that created a formula for determining the amount and duration of alimony based on the length of the marriage and the parties’ respective incomes. It was drafted with the input and endorsement of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. The idea was to give judges a road map for consistency, and directions on how to deviate when circumstances required it.
Although the House voted in favor of their proposed Bill (93-22), things came to a halt when members of the Senate insisted that the Bill include a presumption in favor of 50/50 timesharing when minor… Continue reading
House Bill 943 is up for discussion in the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow, and if it becomes law, it will drastically change alimony as we know it. The Bill would completely change how Courts currently consider alimony awards, by among other things:
1. defining how to determine the parties’ income and whether to impute income to the husband or wife;
2. creating guidelines that the courts should follow based on the years of the marriage and the difference in the parties’ income to determine both the amount of an alimony award and the duration;
3. limiting modifications of alimony to the amount and not the duration; and
4. Setting forth factors a court should consider in deciding if a supportive relationship exists that would warrant a modification or termination of alimony.
If the Bill becomes law this session, courts would have to look… Continue reading
The nature of divorce has historically been contentious. But in recent times, with the introduction of alternative methods such as collaborative divorce and mediation, an increasing number of divorce cases are considered “friendly”. In these types of cases it is tempting to proceed without the assistance of an attorney, but doing so can result in final orders that don’t fit your needs.
There are several reasons you should still use an attorney, even if you are mediating your case or consider your split amicable:
- An attorney will know if the terms you and your soon to be ex are legally binding.
- When you use an attorney to review the agreements made in mediation, or during conversations with your ex, you will learn if the requests made are valid.
- A legal eye can identify any missing items, or things you may have overlooked.
If you make… Continue reading
One of the marks of a successful outcome in a divorce case is that the kids’ lives remain stable and consistent. The Courts and attorneys work hard to reach results that are in the best interests of the children and develop a parenting plan that works for the family. This includes allowing your kids to continue participation in regular activities. While scheduling concerns arise less frequently in the summer months, when school is in session it is more likely you will experience a scheduling conflict with your ex-spouse.
To make sure you are able to maintain the visitation and custody schedule put in place in the Court throughout the year, experts suggest the following:
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. The best scenario is one where the parents remain friendly after the divorce and are able to talk to each other calmly. If this is not your situation,… Continue reading
When the decision to end a marriage is made, the parties must go to Court to obtain a decree of divorce. The decree sets forth the terms of the divorce and specifically spells out decisions on important issues. Who gets the house, or a car are parts of a divorce decree; and where the children will live is also included in the decree. Division of assets and liabilities, and payment of child support are the financial aspects you can expect to see in your final divorce papers. The decree is like a blueprint for how the parties live post-divorce, as far as issues such as the children and property are concerned. But, getting there is a huge task.
Up until recently the law on child custody in Florida made determinations as to who is the primary caregiver, the secondary caregiver, and who has custody. This meant that for the non-custodial parent, issues of visitation also had to be decided. The result of this system was that parents were constantly in Court fighting over who got Thanksgiving and who got Christmas, and which house the children would call “home”. In an effort to find a way to siphon through the cases and reach solutions without the need for Court intervention at every turn, the Florida legislature recently changed the law.
The concept of time-sharing is now the law in Florida. Time-sharing requires the Court to consider many factors when formulating a plan, some of which include:
- The relationship between the parent and child, and the ability of the parent to develop a relationship.… Continue reading
It seems the story on the validity of same sex marriage changes every day. With some states banning same sex unions, then higher courts overturning those bans, it was only a matter of time before there was word on the issue from the U.S. Supreme Court. And, the word is in.
On October 6, 2014 the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a lower court’s decision holding some state bans on same sex marriage constitutional. What this means is:
- The states that were seeking to uphold their bans on same sex marriage will not be allowed to present their case to the Supreme Court.
- This ruling gives validity to requests for marriages in the states that had previously denied applications for marriage to same sex couples.
Almost immediately couples in the impacted states began planning for their future. The first step… Continue reading