Q: I have been served with legal paperwork, what should I do?
If you have been served, you normally will have 20 days to file an answer and thus preserve your legal rights. If you do not file an answer, there may be a default filed against you in your case. Legal proceedings can often be time sensitive, therefore it is important to pay attention to your deadlines when you have been served. If you are unsure as to your next step, don’t wait, find out how to file an answer or consult an attorney today.
Q: I want to begin the inital legal proceedings in a family law matter, will it matter that I am the “Petitioner”?
No, because Florida is a “no fault” divorce state, judges do not take sides according to which spouse files or is the “Petitioner” or the other spouse, who would be the “Respondent”.
Q: I have a child with a person to whom I am not married, we simply cannot agree on anything having to do with the child, is there anything I can do to better organize our relationship with our child?
It sounds like you would need to file a Paternity case. During the course of a paternity case, a Parenting Plan will need to be established, which will determine parental responsibility and a timesharing schedule between you, the child and the child’s other parent. This type of case will help allow you to establish consistency and stability and allow for less conflict between parents. At the resolution of these types of cases, parties are often happy to finally have a Parenting Plan that is in writing and enforceable
Q: How does the court determine the amount of child support that will be paid from one parent to another?
In Florida, child support must be calculated according to a formula, which we call the Florida Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines, for example, require each party’s income, the number of children, the number of overnights the child(ren) spends with each parent, if applicable, the amount of health insurance paid, if any, and the amount child care expenses paid, if any, among other factors. The parties normally cannot agree on just any child support amount, Guidelines must be run for every case.
Q: My spouse and I both agree we are getting a divorce, does this mean the divorce is uncontested?
Not necessarily. Just because both spouses agree that a divorce may be necessary, it doesn’t mean that the divorce is automatically considred “uncontested”. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree as to how ALL marital assets and liabilites will be divided AND a full Parenting Plan if the couple has children. It is important to note that if there are any issues that have not yet been resolved, the the divorce does not yet fall into the “uncontested” category. When couples mistakenly think that there divorce is uncontested, they can often spend much more time with informal negotiations than they would by just attending a formal mediation. Therefore, if you are unsure as to whether all issues are resolved between your spouse and you, it may be more cost effective to begin a contested divorce with hopes of a full settlement at or before mediation.
Q: I have a child and I am remarried, my spouse wants to adopt my child, how do I know if this is possible?
It may be possible for your spouse to adopt your child, depending on the circumstances. First, if the child’s other parent will sign a consent allowing your spouse to legally adopt your child, there is generally no issue with the court allowing an adoption to take place. If you do not think the child’s other parent will sign a consent, the adoption is still possible, depending relationship that the other parent has with your child. If you feel that the other parent has abandoned your child, both emotionally/physically and financially, then it may be possible for the court to allow your spouse to step in and fill the other parent’s shoes, so long as you follow the correct procedure to preserve the other parent’s rights.