There are more ways to leave a marriage than hiring a lawyer and filing for divorce. Ask for information and resources pertaining to separation, annulments, contested divorce, adversarial divorce, uncontested divorce, mediation, quickie divorce.
Divorce is stressful enough without wondering if you have the right attorney. Here are a few tips to help in selecting an attorney:
- If you have friends, relatives or business associates who have been divorced, ask for their recommendations.
- Make a list of questions you would like answered. Make the most of your visit. Don't get off track and use up the time on non-essential conversation.
Suggested questions for your attorney:
- Will he or she return your phone calls promptly?
- Will he or she keep you informed as your case progresses?
- Is he or she trained in custody and other issues?
- Does he or she have experience in handling all types of divorce cases?
- Will you be charged for phone calls? If so, how much?
- What is his or her fee schedule?
- Does he or she offer a payment plan?
- What is his or her primary caseload focus?
Remember: Your attorney works for you.
A separation agreement (sometimes called a Pendente Lite Order) is a formal agreement between you and your spouse. It provides for support and other financial conditions until the divorce is final. In order for the agreement to be binding, it must come in the form of a court order.
CHILD CUSTODY AND SUPPORT
Child custody and guardianship are legal terms which are sometimes used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child. Child support or child maintenance is the ongoing obligation for a periodic payment made by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent, caregiver or guardian, for the care and support of children of a relationship or marriage that has been terminated. In family law, child support is often arranged as part of a divorce, marital separation, dissolution, annulment, determination of parentage and may supplement alimony (spousal support) arrangements.
Florida has very strict laws concerning child support. To better understand how the state manages and enforces child support, refer to Florida Department of Revenue.
Alimony, maintenance or spousal support is an obligation established by law that is based on the premise that both spouses have an absolute obligation to support each other during the marriage unless they are legally separated, though in some instances the obligation to support may continue after separation. Once dissolution proceedings commence either party may seek interim, temporary, bridge-the-gap or rehabilitative support during the course of the litigation.
Where a divorce or dissolution of marriage is granted, either party may ask for post-marital alimony. It is not an absolute right, but may be granted, the amount and terms varying with the circumstances. If one party is already receiving support at the time of the divorce, the previous order is not automatically continued (although this can be requested), as the arguments for support during and after the marriage can be different.
Historically, alimony arose as a result of the indissoluble nature of marriage. Because divorce was rare, husband and wife remained married after their physical separation and the husband's obligation to support his wife continued. With the growing view that men and women should be treated equally the law recognized that both husbands and wives owed each other a similar duty of support. Accordingly, courts now may order either the husband or wife to pay alimony.
Possible factors that bear on the amount and duration of the support are:
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Time separated while still married
- Age of the parties, physical and emotional condition of each party
- Relative income of the parties
- Future financial prospects of the parties
Unless the parties agree on the terms of their divorce in a binding written instrument, the court will make a fair determination based on the legal argument and the testimony submitted by both parties. This can be modified at any future date based on a change of circumstances by either party on proper notice to the other party and application to the court. The courts are generally reluctant to modify an existing agreement unless the reasons are compelling. In some jurisdictions the court always has jurisdiction to grant maintenance should one of the former spouses become a public charge.
In law, Paternity is the legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a father and his child usually based on biological factors, but sometimes based on social factors.
At common law, a child born to the wife during the marriage is presumed to be the husband's child, as determined by law. This concept is the "presumption of lawful paternity", and assigns to the husband complete rights, duties and obligations as to the child, regardless of whether he is the biological parent or not. The presumption, however, can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary, at least before a court issues a formal adjudication of paternity in the husband's favor, or a duty of support is established by a decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation. Florida now has a process by which a man can seek to disestablish paternity under certain circumstances.
In the case of an unwed mother a man may come forward and accept the paternity of the child, the mother may petition the court for a determination if she can identify the likely candidate(s).
POST DIVORCE MODIFICATION
After the divorce is final, the parties may wish to modify the final judgment. There may be reasons to do so based on a change of circumstances such as change of income, remarriage, change of residence, change of scheduling or any of a number of life changes.
If the parties agree to the change, an agreement can be written and entered with the court and it will modify the provision of the judgment. It will then have the same force and effect as the judgment.
WILLS AND PROBATE
A will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his or her property or family after death. For the devolution of property not disposed of by will, see inheritance and intestacy. In the strictest sense, "will" is a general term, while "testament" applies only to dispositions of personal property (this distinction is seldom observed).
Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person; specifically, resolving all claims and distributing the decedent's property.
A trust is a relationship in which a person or entity (the trustee) holds legal title to certain property (the trust property or trust corpus), but is bound by a fiduciary duty to exercise that legal control for the benefit of one or more individuals or organizations (the beneficiary), who hold "beneficial" or "equitable" title. The trust is governed by the terms of the (usually) written trust agreement and local law.
Estate planning is the process of accumulating and disposing of an estate to maximize the goals of the estate owner. The various goals of estate planning include making sure the greatest amount of the estate passes to the estate owner's intended beneficiaries, often including paying the least amount of taxes and avoiding or minimizing probate court involvement. Additional goals typically include providing for and designating guardians for minor children and planning for incapacity.
The tools involved in estate planning include the will, various types of trusts, beneficiary designations, powers of appointment, various forms of property ownership (Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety, etc.), gifting, and powers of attorney, specifically the durable financial power of attorney and the durable medical power of attorney.
DUI / DWI
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is an excellent resource for FAQs regarding Florida DUI.
ASSAULT AND BATTERY
If you are currently a victim of domestic violence and feel you are in danger, please contact your local law enforcement immediately or the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline immediately.
Florida Domestic Violence Hotline
You can find additional domestic violence resources at the Florida Department of Children and Families website. If you are looking for legal representation regarding Assault and Battery, please call to schedule an appointment to speak with our attorney.
Selling or buying real estate can be a complicated, involved process. If you are selling or buying property with or without a qualified real estate agent, there are many mistakes or oversights that could cause frustration or harm. Hiring an attorney to handle contracts and associated real estate endeavors can help protect you and your investments.
A sample of helpful services an attorney can provide for real estate is: negotiation of contracts and repairs, writing contracts, reviewing financial options, title commitments, settlement statements, lender compliance, closing documents, title policies post closure, attend closings.
A deed is a legal instrument used to grant a right. The deed is best known as the method of transferring title to real estate from one person to another, often using a description of its "metes and bounds."
The most commonly used deed is the quit claim deed. A quit claim deed is a legal document by which a person releases or "quits" any claim that they may have had to property. Of the different types of deeds, the quit-claim has the least assurance that the person receiving it will actually get any rights. The person who provides a quit-claim deed makes no warranty or representation that they actually own anything. The quit-claim merely provides that whatever they had or may have had, they are conveying it.
Other types of deeds are judicial deeds, warranty deeds, deeds of trust, will deeds, and sheriff's deeds.