There are many different and important things to know about divorce in Florida. If you want to learn more, you should click here.

Studies have shown that 12.6% of married couples in Florida will wind up getting divorced. If you find yourself potentially facing a divorce in Florida, it’s important to know the ins-and-outs of the state’s law to better equip yourself of what may be ahead. Whether your divorce is ending with feelings of betrayal or indifference, you’ll need to know exactly what rights you have under Florida state law in order to come to an amicable agreement in which both parties receive exactly what they deserve.

If you’re going through or about to go through a divorce in Florida and would like to learn more about what to expect read on for some important information on what your divorce proceedings may entail.

1. What to Consider When Going Through a Divorce in Florida

Before diving into the following laws, it’s important to try and have a clear and mature conversation with your former spouse in order to reach a peaceful agreement.

Divorce is known to come with its fair share of hurt feelings, especially when children are involved. For the sake of all parties involved, being able to have a civil conversation is always the best option.

In the event the civil conversation is not possible, it’s best to speak directly with your lawyer to avoid any further confusion or problems from arising.

2. The Amount of Time Spent in Florida

Whether or not Florida state laws on divorce apply to you depends on the amount of time that you’ve been living in Florida. However, this does not necessarily mean that you had to live in Florida as a couple. At least one of the divorcing parties is expected to provide proof of them living in Florida for a minimum of six months before the divorce petition was filed in order for the Florida state laws to apply.

3. Divorce Court or Family Court

When it comes to determining whether or not your divorce is a matter for standard divorce court or family court, it’s a simple matter as to whether or not there are children or minor children involved.

The State of Florida considers the matter of child custody in the best interest of the child to be of the utmost importance and in divorce cases which is why the presence of children or miners would dramatically influence the proceedings of a divorce.  Being able to come to a strong agreement over custody and joint parenting outside of court, with or without the help of legal counsel, is one of the best things you can do to help reduce the emotional effects of the divorce on your children.

If there are no children shared between the married party, then the couple may apply for a simple dissolution of marriage application. From there the divorcing parties can come to an agreement on what will be done with their remaining assets and discuss alimony and further payments. In this case, the family court is not necessary.

If the divorcing party has trouble reaching an agreement on such matters, then divorce court may be an option worth pursuing.

There are still some factors that come into play for whether or not a couple is eligible for a simplified dissolution.

These factors include

  •  whether or not the wife is currently pregnant
  •  whether there any minors or dependent
  •  whether or not both parties can agree that the marriage is broken
  •  no partners are requesting alimony
  •  no partners are requesting information aside from the court-approved financial affidavit (more on this below)
  •  both Partners have surrendered their right to an appeal
  • both partners are willing to go and sign the petition
  • and both partners are present at the final court hearing

If all of these factors are approved, the couple may be eligible to dissolve their marriage.

It’s important to remember that the only two grounds accepted by Florida law for the dissolution of marriage state that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that one of the spouses has been mentally incapacitated for over 3 years.

4. Matters of Custody

In the event that there are children and custody needs to be negotiated, this decision is typically decided among the couple. In the event that the couple cannot come to a shared agreement as to how the custody of the child will be divided, the courts may appoint a mediator or counselor to help make the final decision.

The opinion of the mediator or counselor will then be presented to the judge who will appoint custody to one or both of the parties.

A custody agreement will also include other important decisions such as the amount of child support that may be ordered, visitation schedules, and who will be in charge of primary decision-making over the child.

Once again, if the couple is unable to make this decision together, the court will have to make one on behalf of what is healthiest for the child.

5. The Division of Assets

When it comes to dividing assets between the couple, it’s best to have any documentation that proves liabilities, transactions, and original ownership. These documents will be used to assess what’s fairly divided among the couple.

These documents may also be used with a tax attorney as your current tax status and filing situation may be affected once the divorce is complete.

Some factors the court may look into while determining the division of remaining assets include

  •  the partner’s contributions are sacrifices that were made during the marriage.
  •  how long the marriage lasted
  •  if either partner contributed towards the enhancement of the others career or education
  • Deteriorating a business or home when there is a dependent child
  •  any acts of waste or destruction that were done after filing for divorce or two years prior to filing from one party to another
  •  any additional factors that may be defined as equity

If required, the court may also need to look into testimonies provided as character witnesses or in the form of provided documents.

6. Submitting an Affidavit

Couples divorcing in the state of Florida are required to submit an affidavit. This is a document that contains all of their financial information in order to ensure the division of assets and finances is done so in a clear and transparent manner.

This affidavit is used as the basis for determining the amount of alimony, child support, and how the division of other assets may be computed.

7. Divorce and Taxes

Among the financial documents that may be submitted, tax returns dating up to 3 years ago may also be submitted with the affidavit.

This is to fully take into account all expenses and earnings that may have taken place among the couple.

It’s suggested to speak with a tax accountant if you have any questions on pending tax matters post-divorce.

8. Remaining debt

In the State of Florida, all debt such as mortgages and car payments are typically divided evenly among the divorcing parties.

Still, it’s important to remember the debts that had occurred before the couple came together are typically exempt from being divided. This may include things like student loans or business loans that were taken out and can be easily traced to before the date of marriage.

9. College Payments

While alimony and child support may be enforced by the court, the state of Florida plays no part in determining whether or not either parent is required to pay for college.

This is a matter that must be agreed upon between the couple and must be recorded in the original divorce agreement.

Finding Legal Counsel You Need

Divorce in Florida can be messy enough without issues being dragged into court. However, in the event that your divorce requires a court proceeding or you find it necessary to fight to receive the adequate amount of alimony or child support, it’s in your best interest to find the legal counsel that can help.

It’s important to have a lawyer behind you that understands the ins and outs of the Florida state laws, and that can adequately assess the documents and affidavit provided to help you claim what’s rightfully yours.

From child custody to dealing with issues of alimony our team is here to help you every step of the way. We understand the emotional rollercoaster that comes with divorce and are here to bring you some peace of mind while fighting on your behalf.

If you would like to learn more about how our team can help you both in and out of the divorce court contact us today for more information on how we can be of assistance.

 

 

If you are looking to learn more about child custody cases in Florida, you should click here for information on how a judge will decide who gets custody.

Divorce and child custody are ranked very high on the Holmes and Rahe Life Change Stress Units scale, with divorce ranking number second in terms of the most stressful life events. The only other thing in life more stressful than divorce according to this scale is the death of a spouse.

One of the reasons these breakups are so stressful is because child custody becomes a life-changer.

Parents wonder if they are going to lose their child or see that relationship changed forever.

Under this pressure, you want to be sure you are equipped with the best information possible. Find out here what to expect in your child custody matter when a Florida judge decides the rest of your family’s life.

Florida Child Custody Basics

When it comes to child custody in Florida, there are a few basic terms you need to learn right away. There is legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, and shared or joint custody.

Then you need to understand the differences between custody and responsibilities. Parenting time is not the same as parenting responsibilities.

The one thing that often muddies all of this up for parents is the emotional factor of divorce and custody. Breakups are emotional and painful, and many parents go into a divorce or child custody matter feeling contentious and vengeful.

Going into a custody matter with this mindset will work against you. Florida judges don’t care about how sad you are about a breakup when determining which parent gets custody.

They are only looking for a solution that fits the best interest of the child. And the term “best interest of the child” should be at the top of your mind when you are in the middle of a heated custody battle.

The definition of “best interests of the child” is defined by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

There are exceptions to this, such as abuse and domestic violence. Those factors too will be considered by your Florida judge, when you have evidence to substantiate those claims.

Defining Custody Terms

In Florida, judges will decide who gets legal custody, who gets physical custody, and whether or not joint custody will occur.

Custody is a decision on where the child lives, and when they live there. In addition to custody decisions, judges will determine who has parental responsibilities.

This is different than determining where a child lives. Parental responsibilities decisions involve determining who is responsible for what in the child’s life.

Responsibilities determine who decides what in the child’s life, including school choices, dentist appointments, medical decisions, and more.

So even if your child does not live with you full-time, you can negotiate what responsibilities are yours when it comes to determining child custody.

In most cases, by the time these decisions are made before you go before a judge, the two parents and their lawyers can hash something out that makes everybody happy.

What is Joint Custody?

Joint or shared custody is the most common form of custody in Florida, as Florida judges want to ensure that both parents are taking an active role in a child’s life. Joint custody usually means you share both responsibilities and access times with your child.

It is not called “visitation.” When your child is with you, you are their parent.

You are not visiting them. You are not babysitting them. You are performing your legal responsibilities to your child.

Judges do not look kindly on actions that include shutting a parent out of a child’s life because you are emotionally upset with them.

So it is in your child’s best interests to avoid an acrimonious situation.

And that’s a good thing. You are entitled to help from the other parent when you are raising a child.

Joint Custody Example

For example, let’s say enrolling a special needs child in an extracurricular activity would help them socially, emotionally, and behaviorally. But the activity sometimes falls on the access times of the other parent, who isn’t interested in doing this because they are feeling spiteful towards you.

You want a judge telling that parent, this is not okay, wise up.

The more conciliatory and harmonious you are with the other parent, at all times, and in custody court, the more you are going to look like the winning party. And, the more likely you are to get what you want.

Remember that in child custody court, the only party that is supposed to win is the child.

Can I Get Sole Custody?

Sole custody in Florida is possible, but it is often an uphill battle. It is rarely granted unless you can prove to the court that the other parent is simply unable to or unwilling to share responsibilities of parenting.

Sole custody often involves one parent taking on the most time with living with the child, and also becomes the main decision-maker of the child.

But this does not mean that the other parent disappears from the child’s life. If this is the mindset you go in with when seeking sole custody, you are going to be disappointed.

Judges will often grant sole custody in matters that are high conflict, entail abuse or violence, or when a parent is an absentee parent.

Many parents are able to negotiate sound parenting plans with the other parent in a custody matter. Florida requires a parenting plan, and Florida judges expect you to be able to reach this plan in a sound way with all parties.

Sometimes This is Not Possible

If this is impossible, either due to an absentee parent or a high-conflict situation, then you are getting closer to sole custody. Other situations such as abuse, domestic violence, incarceration, or drug abuse could also lead to sole custody.

Judges also look at moral fitness when determining custody. If one parent, for example, has a revolving door of boyfriends or girlfriends, a judge may not be keen on permitting a child to live there most of the time.

At the same time, sole custody does not mean the other parent disappears from the child’s life. It means the child lives with you the most, and you make big decisions.

The other parent is still permitted access time, and judges even expect and encourage this when possible.

Leave Emotions Out of It

How you feel about the other parent is not a factor in determining the best interests of the child in child custody.

But the reality is that sometimes you just can’t do that. As in the example above, if another parent is impeding with your child’s best interests, a Florida judge is not going to have that and will grant sole custody to the parent that is contributing the most to the best interests of the child.

If that is repetitive and consistent behavior by one parent, this could be determined to be a high conflict situation and sole custody could be the outcome.

Judges Are Tie-Breakers

Florida judges consider the law, that stipulates that it is your responsibility to protect your child from pain during divorce and custody matters. If one parent is unable to do that, it is going to harm them in a custody matter.

When that happens, a Florida judge will be the tie-breaker on custody decisions and will do so with protecting the child in mind at all costs.

This is why it is always best to be conciliatory in court, and when mapping out a parenting plan. The last thing you want is for the control of the rest of your life to be taken out of your hands and determined by a judge.

But if you are in a custody matter, this is the risk that you take. Be rational and fact-based, and not emotional.

This is why divorce lawyers are worth it. It gives you peace of mind as someone takes the problem out of your hands while you sort out the specifics and resolve the emotional battles on your own, outside of court.

Determining Best Interests of the Child

Florida judges move to protect the child at all costs at first and will use the legal definition of the best interests of the child to determine sole custody.

That usually involves looking at a child’s life to see what would lead to the least amount of emotional disturbance for a child. If a child has been living in one home their entire life, without frequent moves, for example, that home will likely be the home for primary custody and access.

But that alone is not going to get anyone sole custody, it’s simply used as a guideline by judges when determining the legal specifics of best interests of a child.

At the same time, the judge will want to decide on an environment that ensures the child has regular contact with the non-residential mother or father. This is the legal rights of the child.

Where the child is going to school will also play a role, as most judges do not want this disruption.

The strength of the relationships between the child and parent also plays a role in the best interests of the child. The parent that is providing the most basic necessities to the child will also be the residential parent that is in the child’s best interests.

Moral fitness is also a factor in determining the best interests of the child.

Contact a Custody Lawyer Today

Florida is ranked in the middle of the road when it comes to overall happiness in America. One of the things impacting this rate is its divorce and child custody rates, which rank among the highest in the nation.

Child custody matters are matters that change everybody’s life, in a way that permanently alters them. This is why divorce ranks so high on the Holmes and Rahe scale.

Many Florida residents think representing themselves in court will make the process easier and less expensive. But the truth is, child custody matters are determined by a Florida judge who looks at the facts at hand, and not the emotions.

Self-representing could lead to emotions getting tangled up in your matter, which could lead to decisions that are not in the best interests of your child.

Give yourself and your child some peace of mind. Custody lawyers are worth their weight in gold, and can even pursue costs from the other party for you if this is a concern.

Sleep better tonight and contact a Florida child custody lawyer today.

 

 

You might assume that hiring a divorce attorney isn’t a necessary step if you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce. Many people assume they can handle all the detail and the paperwork, especially if they don’t consider the split to be acrimonious. But this can be a costly misconception. A divorce attorney can be a vital resource for making sure your divorce is handled professionally, responsibly, and will no future unforeseen recourses. In this video, we talk about some of the reasons why hiring a divorce attorney is always a great idea when you are going through a divorce, regardless of how contentious the split will be. We go over some ways that a good divorce attorney will take the burden off of your shoulders, and help make sure that all the necessary legal steps are followed. So check out this video today, and for more info, head here: (insert link here)

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The Law Office of Erin Morse - Family Law Attorneys In Orlando, FL

Even when both parties agree to the terms, a divorce can still mean a major upheaval in a couple’s life. That married relationship has come to an end and it is time for that couple to start rebuilding their lives. However, if there are children that are part of the family, then a co-parenting situation will be starting with the help of a family law attorney in Orlando. This is where the issue of determining custody comes into the equation. On many levels, it is easy to divide assets. Deciding which is the best living environment for a child can be the real difficult decision and not only for the parents but also for the courts.

Every custody case in a divorce presents a family court judge with different factors to consider. That judge will always make their consideration based on the best interests of the child. As a general rule, Florida law would like to see a child maintaining contact with both parents. That would mean that both parents will also share in all the decision-making responsibilities of raising that child. Just because one spouse has moved from the home and is paying alimony and child support doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be involved with issues pertaining to education, religious upbringing, discipline, and college.

Although the prevailing wisdom is that courts favor mothers in custody matters, the reality is that each judge comes into the divorce proceeding with an open mind. Again, it all goes back to what is in the best interests of the child. That is really the only question that matters both to the courts and to a family law attorney in Orlando. Here are some of the factors that might sway a judge in their decision for the best option for custody:

The Health and Safety Environment

Exposing a child to any kind of abuse will have a major impact on a court’s decision as to a custody ruling. That abuse doesn’t have to directly involve a child, but if there are in an environment where they see one parent abuse the other, then it will become a factor with the child custody decision.

Once a court order has been filed, there could be issues of ongoing neglect such as abandonment or physical abuse. A family law attorney in Orlando can trigger an instant revaluation of the child custody ruling leading to one parent forfeiting their rights. A parent who is struggling with any kind of substance abuse would also be creating an unhealthy living environment in the eyes of the court. If it has been demonstrated that the living environment is not safe, then a judge could vacate the original order and order supervised visits for the parent and child.

Emotional Needs

A judge wants to see that parents put their children first. This becomes the foundation for a child’s developmental needs. With regard to a child custody decision, the judge will consider how well the parent knows about their child’s life outside of the house such as with friends and teachers. Are they aware of the child’s current interests and whether they are involved in any extracurricular activities?

A family law attorney in Orlando will try to demonstrate how the child’s emotional needs are being met by providing a structured environment. Does the parent have consistent times for homework, meals, and bedtime? What are the boundaries surrounding discipline? If those routines have been firmly established in the household with one parent, then a judge will consider that as being a preferable living situation. That is not to say that those routines can’t be duplicated in a second household. However, the judge needs to see a clear willingness from both parents to maintain those standards.

The child custody arraignment itself could have an impact on a child’s emotional needs. This is especially true with younger children who might find themselves frequently shuttled between households in between visits.

Co-Parenting Skills

The Florida family court system and the family law attorney in Orlando want to foster positive relationships between divorced couples and their children. That starts with honoring the dictates of the court. That begins with following the alimony and child support requirements. However, a parent who is constantly late with picking up or dropping off their children for a visitation could put their custody status in jeopardy. The same can be said for being late with child support or alimony payments. Obviously, there were always be factors that can cause delays. This is when the issue of communication between the parents is important. As long as the parents are keeping each other informed, then the family can flourish with co-parenting.

Family court judges understand the strain that a divorce can put on a couple. However, they don’t want to see that stress spilling over onto the children. Judges don’t appreciate when one parent belittles the other in front of the child. Even worse, is using the visitation as a kind of emotional “weapon.” There should never be discussions with a child about whether a parent is delinquent with alimony or child support. That is a matter that should be handled by a family law attorney in Orlando.

Moral Fitness

Moral fitness can also be a deciding factor for a family court judge. They can consider a parent who has substance abuses issues or introduces the child to multiple causal relationship partners. General verbal abuse will also be frowned upon by the courts. If infidelity was part of the divorce, then a judge can weigh that against how it might have impacted the child. All of these issues will be presented to the court by the family law attorney in Orlando as part of the hearing.

The Custody Options

There are two levels of child custody: Legal and physical. Often, they are intertwined. Legal custody grants a parent the sole responsibility to make all the decisions regarding their child’s upbringing and general welfare. The physical custody pertains to where the child lives and which parent they are living with.

The ideal situation for the Florida court is to establish a joint child custody arrangement. Although an order of joint custody might be rendered, that doesn’t mean that the child will split evenly the time they spend with each parent. For instance, it might work better if the child stays in the mother’s home during the school week and goes with the father on the weekends. Holidays and vacation times will be divided accordingly.

Developing a Parenting Plan

Divorcing couples can work with their family law attorney in Orlando to help develop a parenting plan. They might be able to present this plan to the judge if it is not contested by the parents. This plan needs to spell out in specific terms just what each parent is responsible for with regard to their children. This is separate from any child support or alimony agreement.

The parenting plan will detail the time-sharing schedule, the ways the parents will communicate with each other and the child and what are the daily responsibilities when the child is in their care. There also needs to be details about who will be responsible for things like taking the child to the dentist or doctor for regular check-ups and who is going to handle the after-school activities. The more that can be agreed to before going to see the judge, the better off the end result will be.

Once the custody issues have been worked out between the courts and the family law attorney in Orlando, families can adjust to their new routines. It might be a bit “bumpy” at first, but soon things can get back to normal. It is important for the parents to watch out for their kids in this transitional time to make sure they aren’t isolating themselves. Yes, the family dynamics have changed, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t all a family.

Relocating With A Child After A Divorce

Florida Statute 61.13001 governs relocating with a child after divorce in Florida. Relocation is moving the child’s principal residence more than 50 miles away for 60 days or more. A vacation, temporary travel, or a necessary trip to a health care facility is not relocation. Before relocating, the parent must consider the child’s entire extended family, parents, stepparents, grandparents, and guardians. A parent who is relocating needs a new child custody order with a new time-sharing plan. The relocation is beneficial to the child if it improves his standard of living, places her in a better school district, or is closer to his or her grandparents.

Mediation After Divorce In Florida

You must decide where and how your child will live and where he or she will go to school. You’ve learned that an amicable relationship between you two parents and a good relationship with each of you is important to your child. Understanding and agreeing with your co-parent is less stressful and less expensive than contesting the relocation.You won’t have to go to court or pay legal fees and court costs. Look at the whole picture. How long did it take you to build your practice? How long did it take you to get into the position you’re in now? Have you
acquired vacation property or opened a new store or office? Your money is better spent on time with your child, on his or her education, or on a future vacation. You two can’t possibly know the future, but you can understand child custody rights. Custody can be:

• Sole
• Joint
• Joint legal
• Joint physical
• Third-party

Child Custody After Divorce in Florida

If one parent has sole custody, the custodial parent makes all legal decisions for your child. The noncustodial parent pays financial support and has specified visitation days and hours with your child. Joint custody allows your child to live with each parent and enjoy all the opportunities each parent provides, but one parent may spend more hours with the child than the other. Joint legal custody allows both parents to make decisions for the children regarding their education, religion, medical care, and choice of friends. Joint physical custody gives both parents equal time with the child. Third-party custody is typically given to a family member. A grandparent can be granted child custody rights if a parent is unfit or died after divorce in Florida. A custodial grandparent needs financial support and medical benefits for the child.

Relocation by Consent

Relocation by consent after divorce in Florida requires the moving parent to obtain the signed consent of all the people entitled to access to the child. The new agreement must be ratified by the court, but a hearing is not necessary. The new agreement must include a new time-sharing schedule and clarify how the children will travel from parent to parent to satisfy the new agreement.

Relocation by Petition

If the relocating parent is unable to get an agreed relocation order, that parent creates and files a petition to relocate in Florida Circuit Court. Every parent, stepparent, grandparent, and guardian involved must be served with a copy of the petition. The petition, signed under oath, must state the physical address of the intended residence and its mailing address, telephone number, and the date of the relocation. If employment is the reason you’re relocating, your job offer is within the petition. The petition must end with a statement in capital letters telling those opposed how to object to the relocation petition.

Objection to Relocation

A parent has 20 days to respond when served with a petition to relocate after divorce in Florida. If you do not file a timely response, the court can order the relocation plan without a hearing. Our child custody rights lawyer in Florida is a trustworthy mediator who can skillfully find creative solutions to your relocation dilemma. Our attorney is also a fierce litigator always ready to go to court to object to the other parent’s relocation with your child. A hearing will be scheduled in 30 days after receipt of your petition to object with a trial in 90 days. The court can reject your objection or the relocation plan itself if either petition does not contain all the facts required by Florida law.

Your objection must be factual. Clearly show your involvement with your child, your contribution to your child’s support, and state how relocation is likely to effect your child. For example, your son is doing well in school, just joined a soccer team, and doesn’t want to leave his half-brother and his friends. The judge will consider your child’s age. If your child is 14 years old or older, the judge may let your child decide where he or she wants to live. Judges keep siblings together for emotional support.

Biological Fathers

In Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762 (1977), the United States Supreme Court ruled that state courts can rule that a man other than your child’s biological father is your child’s dad. Competing presumptions in a highly contested custody case have been won either way. The Uniform Parentage Act gives equal rights to unmarried parents regardless of one parent’s divorce in Florida. DNA and blood tests determine whether a man is a child’s father with 100% accuracy. Our family lawyer in Florida may be able to help you gain a relationship with your child if his or her mother is relocating. A biological parent who never visited his or her child may have no child custody rights or a claim with merit. If you’re the noncustodial parent, you need to stay in your child’s life because you can lose your child custody rights after divorce in Florida.

Modification of Existing Custody Order

Substance abuse and domestic violence are grounds for a custody hearing after divorce in Florida. If you got arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol with your kids in the car, our family conflict lawyer in Florida can help with a domestic order of protection against the at-fault party for the children. Good people make mistakes they later regret. If you’re truly sorry, consider your business and your reputation. Your children need the financial support of both parents. Our family lawyer in Florida may be able to help you negotiate a positive outcome after your conviction.

Relocating Without Consent

If you move more than 50 miles away from home with your child without a new custody order and time sharing plan, our family law attorney can try to help you avoid contempt of court proceedings. You can be ordered to return the child or face sanctions during the modification of your parenting or time-sharing plan. Our child custody lawyer in Florida can help you if you have relocated with your child without consent of the court.

The court considers the child’s age and current needs. How will the relocation impact the child’s development? Will the relocation improve the child’s future? Are both parents current and participating in their obligations to their child after divorce in Florida?

Law Office of Erin Morse

Call our child custody rights attorney to discuss relocating with a child after divorce in our conveniently located Orlando, Florida, law office. Our family law attorney devotes her entire practice to family law: divorce, child custody, child support, military divorce, modifications, paternity, parental time-sharing and visitation. She’ll help you negotiate a brighter future. Our family law lawyer in Florida can also serve as a guardian ad Litem in a contested custody case.

General Family Law Issues

The term family law seems like a misnomer. In a perfect world, the two words would never be required to go together. However, many legal cases fall under the category of family law. These cases are naturally difficult and require an attorney with compassion and understanding for every unique situation.
Family naturally invokes the expectancy for privacy, and it may be tempting to try to work out the legalities of family problems alone. However, the results can be disastrous when emotions and anger take over the situation. An experienced family law attorney has the ability to fully understand your case and the laws surrounding it. This helps to successfully work out the best outcome for you and your family.
While thousands of individual cases fit into the category of family law, there are five broad sections that describe these situations.

Divorce

No matter who made the final decision to file for a divorce, the situation is always painful. A marriage that two people initially expected to last forever fell apart. Unfortunately, the resolution of a marriage is not as easy as simply parting ways.
The legal issues surrounding divorce are complicated and often add stress to an already volatile situation. A family law attorney can help you keep emotions in check to determine the best terms to live by when the divorce is final. The considerations to be made include:

  • Child support
  • Division of assets and debt
  • Alimony
  • Parenting and custody plan

Determining a marital settlement agreement before filing for divorce helps to ensure you make the best decisions for your family. Having a plan in place helps relieve anxiety and ensures you will face no surprises in court.

Child Custody

There is no such thing as a perfect custody arrangement. After all, no one wants to give up time with their child. However, child custody in Florida is determined by “the best interests of the child” and this often means a joint custody agreement. There are 4 main types of child custody in Florida including:

  • Physical custody – Physical custody refers to the home in which the child resides. Physical custody can be joint custody (when the child’s time is divided between both parents) or sole custody (when the child resides with one parent). Sole physical custody is often awarded when the parents live far apart.
  • Legal custody – Legal custody is the authority to make important decisions regarding the child. This includes healthcare, education, religion, and upbringing. Joint legal custody is usually awarded.
  • Sole custody – Sole custody may refer to legal or physical custody. This means one parent has full legal and/or physical custody. This usually occurs when one parent is unfit to care for the child.
  • Joint custody – Joint custody is an arrangement where parents work together to share legal and/or physical custody of the child. Joint legal custody may require meetings to make major decisions regarding the child’s future. Joint physical custody usually revolves on a schedule where each parent will spend time with the child.

It is vital to make these decisions in a professional setting. A united controlled plan will help children feel at ease with the situation.

Property Division

When couples separate, the property they owned together must be separated. The biggest part of this decision is often the home shared by the couple. There are several ways to consider working out the decision, including:

  • Selling the home – If neither spouse wants to keep the home, this decision makes division easy. The profits from the sale will be equally divided.
  • Buyout – If one spouse wants to stay in the home, they might buy the other spouse’s share of the residence.
  • Refinance – If a spouse decides on a plan to buy out the home, refinance can free up equity to pay for the full property.

All assets acquired during the marriage must be divided. Debts are divided as well. There are different ways the court works to divide these things fairly in Florida. If children are involved, the best interests of the children is a major factor in the division of assets. Sometimes, couples can agree on how to divide property. More often, a family law attorney or mediator is necessary.

Child Support

The agreement of child support is often a hotly contested issue in child custody cases. However, child support has nothing to do with either parent. In all states, child support is required because it is the right of the child. Child support is used to supply children with basic needs including food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and education.
Child support is calculated in Florida based on the total earnings of both parents. However, the non-custodial parent is expected to make payments determined by a basic child support calculator. There are other issues surrounding child support which your family law attorney can help you to understand.

Spousal Support

After a divorce, both spouses should have the expectation to continue with the same quality of life they enjoyed while living together. It is not uncommon for one spouse to take care of most of the home duties while the other achieves a successful career. In the event of a divorce, the high wage earner is often expected to pay alimony (spousal support payments) to the spouse with lower earnings.
Alimony calculation has always been a fuzzy science in Florida. However, new changes to legislation may mean big changes for payments. Current statutes include a list of factors to be considered to receive payment. The technical process can be made easier with help from your family law attorney.
There are no easy answers surrounding the issues of family law. However, learning the laws surrounding your situation can help you make important decisions. A family law attorney can help calm tense negotiations and guide you to make decisions for an easier future. If you are facing legal issues and are located in Orlando or the surrounding areas, contact us today for a free consultation. The Law Office of Erin Morse is ready to take care of your unique case with the care you give to your own family.

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The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time of year spent with loved ones. Some families have a little more stress during this season, however. Split families have to share child custody during the holidays. This can be a stressful situation for parents to decide on and, with some many emotions involved, may require help from an Orlando divorce attorney.

With the holidays quickly approaching, now is the time to begin working out a time sharing and visitation schedule for child custody during the holidays. By getting it all figured out now, it can prevent unnecessary stress, confusion, and arguments with the other parent when the time comes. Even if you have joint custody or pay child support, you still need to have a holiday schedule in place.

When the courts become involved in a child custody or Orlando divorce case, the judge almost always grants joint custody or shared custody of the child. This means shared holidays, too. The only time this isn’t the case is when the judge believes it would be detrimental to the child to have to spend more time with a certain parent.

How to Split Child Custody During the Holidays

Most often, a judge will split time during the holidays so that both parents are able to spend an adequate amount of time with the child. This usually means that the judge will grant some kind of time sharing order to the parents that is different than their normal joint custody schedule.

The child custody agreement will likely be different during the holidays than during the rest of the year. Even if the parents have joint custody, one parent pays child support, or one parent only gets one weekend a month, the agreement during the holidays will probably be different.

The two parents can decide how to split up the holidays themselves, but sometimes there will be a disagreement. When this happens, the courts typically have to get involved to make sure that the shared custody schedule is fair for the holidays.

There are a couple different ways that you could split up holidays. One method may work better for your family than the other method, so it is important to think all factors through before deciding. Orlando divorce courts do what they think is best for the child, so if you and your child’s other parent can come to a fair agreement, it is one less step to do in court. The different options include:

  • Switch holidays every other year

One parent would have the child on Christmas in 2018, and the other parent would get to spend Christmas of 2019 with the child. You would do this for every holiday. If you choose to divide up visitation this way, you won’t have to miss seeing your child on a holiday for two years in a row.

  • Split the holiday in half

One parent will get the child in the morning, and the other parent will get to have the child for the rest of the day. This option requires the most planning because you will have to figure in traveling. If you live far from the other parent, a portion of your child’s holiday will be spent traveling, and that isn’t always best.

  • Have the same scheduled holiday every year

This would mean that the parent who gets Christmas gets it every year, and the other parent never gets to spend Christmas with the child. This is important to think about, as well, because both parents will have to sacrifice some of the holidays.

Final Thoughts on Sharing Parenting Time During the Holidays

Both parents want to spend the holidays with their child, but in the case of Orlando divorce, parents are required to split the holidays in some way. If you are struggling to set up a joint custody or child support agreement during the holidays, an Orlando divorce attorney might be the way to go.

How To Establish Paternity In Florida

Studies show children with involved fathers have an advantage compared to children with distant relationships with their dads. Whether the relationship is biological, adopted, or unmarried consummated devotion these factors play a critical role in establishing the father’s paternity.

Fathers have been fighting for neutral custody of their children for years. Still today, paternity in Florida isn’t any easier, but with the help of an Orlando divorce attorney, child custody and child support is awarded fairly.

Matrimonial Paternal Rights

Paternity in Florida represents over 16,000 family court action filings each year. To legally recognize a father’s rights of child custody he needs to file a paternity action establishing paternity.

It’s presumed the husband is the biological father for children born during a marriage. The statute of limitations for challenging the father’s paternity begins when he signs the hospital’s paternity acknowledgment form after the child’s birth.

Each year the Florida Office of the State Court Administrator reports family court filings. Orlando divorce attorneys handle the largest percent of court filings (paternity) compared to civil, criminal or probate.

  • YE 2016 -2017 Florida family court filings (paternity) rose to 38.5 percent, up from 2008 at 28.2 percent.
  • Fathers are blocked or severely limited to time-sharing with their children during the divorce proceedings or separations.
  • Florida encourages a father’s involvement and his legal responsibilities to child support.

Cohabitating Paternity

The percentage of couples choosing to cohabitate before and after the birth of a child continues to rise. Establishing paternity gets complicated when the couple separates.

In most cases, unwed fathers have absolutely no legal rights to their children. The biological mother has full physical and legal custody of the children until the father can legally establish paternity.

  • U.S. Census reported almost 25 percent of Florida household were unmarried adults in 2001.
  • In 2018, 8.5 million unmarried couples were living together in the U.S.
  • Cohabitating partners represent more than 1 million homes with at least two children.

Merely being identified on the birth certificate as the father, does not lawfully prove parental rights in the eyes of the court. Before paternity in Florida can be ascertained, an affidavit of paternity is needed to begin the paternity action. Experienced Orlando divorce attorneys work with the father to authenticate his claims of fatherhood.

Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement

Sometimes voluntary paternity occurs for married or unwed couples with children. Orlando attorneys ensure a father’s rights to have a healthy relationship with the child or children.

Here, the mother and legally recognized father will sign under oath a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. In Florida, the document is an admission of the child’s legal father for establishing paternity. The action supports parental legal rights, child custody responsibilities including visitations, active participation in raising the child and child support.

  • Fathers failing to exercise paternity rights could lose custodial rights.
  • More important, the child’s development is impacted without the emotional bonds and financially support.

Before signing the acknowledgment document, each parent needs to consider the consequences because it is irrevocable in most situations. After signing, the courts accept the father as the person with legal rights to the child.

For more information on paternity situations and strategies valued by the State of Florida to support a father’s parental rights, please contact our office.

Fathers believing, they have lawful rights to participate in a child’s life and need assistance in establishing paternity, or wish to contest the court orders, should discuss the circumstances, and consider trustworthy counsel on legal paternity resolutions.