Articles Posted in Divorce / Dissolution of Marriage

paperfamily-300x169Splitting up with your partner while having kids is one of the most challenging and grueling experiences that a person can face. Some partnerships do it beautifully, and can get past the differences that each adult may have with one another, and rather, can turn a broken relationship into a cooperative co-parenting structure that puts their children first.  But not all relationships are built equally, and not all personalities can work together past separation to effectively co-parent together.

When couples decide to split, the issues of child rearing become central to the disagreement between the parents.  Topics as simple as haircuts, sleepovers, and extracurricular activities can be a warzone between parents who are trying to gain control, or maintain their parenting structure.  To consider agreeing on larger issues like timesharing, religious decisions, medical choices, and education, seem like an impossibility.

The Florida Supreme Court has provided Forms 12.995(A-C), that are  fill in forms for parents to use in drafting their Parenting Plan for their children.   Form A, is the standard form when there is not a safety risk for children.  Form B is the form used by parents that have safety concerns based on domestic violence or other dangerous conditions that may require a parent to have supervised visitation or other safety measures for the child.  Finally, Form C, is the appropriate form to use when one parent is relocating to an area that will require specialized visitation structures, which is usually more than 150 miles from the child’s home.

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Every parent has an ongoing responsibility to support their child.

All parents have to work together to raise their children to the best of their ability.  There are times of joy and also times of struggle.   Raising a special needs child presents its own victories and challenges, and parents find themselves in many cases with not only having the same pressures that every parent faces, but increased medical expenses, educational costs, and other specialized factors that cannot be imagined in a routine, typical budget.

When you and your co-parent decide to split, either by divorce or paternity action, there are also special considerations that you need to think about when planning how things will work moving forward.   Typically, child support is determined using five factors: the income of the Mother, the income of the Father, the number of overnight time-sharing that each parent has with the minor child, who pays for day care, and health insurance costs.   But, when your child has medical or psychological needs that are significant, Fla. Stat. 61.30 has several avenues for parents to ensure that the financial needs of the child are going to be met for the long term.     Discussing your child’s mental or physical needs with an experienced attorney is important in the proper calculation of the amount and term of child support for your child.    The attorneys at Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A, have represented parents of special needs children in determining if a child support increase, extension beyond the age of eighteen (18) years old, or other factors that may impact the provision of care to special needs children after parents have separated.

      3821753-300x225          Understanding divorce law is a tricky adventure.  When you are going through it, almost everyone has an experience or an opinion about how things should go or what you should do.   The truth is that every case, like every relationship, is different and while there may be some similarities between cases, no two cases will end up the same way.   Judges and lawyers rely on previous court cases to provide guidance in the courtroom based on how appellate, or higher courts, have decided, but in each case there will be some facts that make the case different enough that a new result can be reached.   When friends and family are making their suggestions, it is important to realize that they want to be helpful, but gaining real advice should come from an experienced attorney that can help you to have accurate, updated information in making your decisions.

                At Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A., our experienced family law team has represented clients as diverse and different as the cases, in which they are involved.   From Adoption to Dissolution of Marriage, we hear many of the same questions or misinformation that readers may be pondering, which could have a huge impact on your family law case. So, let’s set the record straight. 

5. “My friend [insert name here] said that she didn’t have to turn over any documents of her financial records in her divorce last year, so I won’t have to either.”

COVID-19-and-Family-Law-300x223The times we are living in are unprecedented.   As “non-essential” businesses are closing and schools seem to be either closing or “going online,” the endless spring break has created a situation where many co-parents lack the necessary guidance that they need to proceed these dark waters in effectively parenting.  Court orders are drafted to provide reasonable guidance for circumstances, but the current status of a national health emergency is not a provision contained in parenting plans.   A recent study of Americans found that the greatest current fear is that of “the unknown,” and when you do not know how to move through this situation regarding your child, that fear of the unknown is amplified.

Living in the eclipse of COVID-19/Corona has made many feel helpless, so what should you do to prepare for the virus with your co-parent?

Below are reasonable steps that every parent should be taking with their spouse or other parent.   Just because you may be living in a shared household, or under a timesharing parenting plan, communicating effectively about your plan, boundaries, and how to address the needs of your children is paramount to having a successful outcome for your minor children.

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In most Florida family law matters, especially those concerning the long term care of shared children, judges prefer to have individuals reach their own agreements about how the divorce is going to structured, including how to share time with their children, divide their property, and decision making about raising their children.   Clients routinely ask, “do we have to go to mediation? If we don’t get along, how on earth will we agree on anything?”   Simply put, mediation is magic in many but certainly not all cases.

Over the years and hundreds of cases, we have seen even the most difficult cases and parties find resolution with their spouse or former spouse through the process of mediation.  Mediation is where the spouses meet with a neutral third party, who acts as a go-between in order to find solutions to the parties’ disputes over their dissolution of marriage, modification, or other issues that may be worked out.  Typically, parties remain separated in two rooms, and may never see one another, or may briefly at the onset of mediation for the mediator to explain the process and the rules.

While getting to an agreement may seem like an insurmountable task, using a trained mediator and having an experienced family law attorney at your side makes mediation an excellent opportunity to have control and input in deciding the most important components of your family law case.  Not only that, mediation discussions are prohibited from coming into court for the judge to consider if your case goes to trial, therefore, people feel more willing to discuss their concerns and also to be open to creative solutions that may not be available should a judge decide your case.

Marital-Home-Florida-Family-LawAs experienced family law attorneys, we get many questions from prospective and current clients about moving out of their shared home and their concerns about “abandoning” the home.  As with any relationship, the answer is usually “it depends” but in reality, it’s important to realize that certain circumstances make the answer very simple, and courts quickly step in to help parties to deal with the temporary “split up” in the face of divorce.

Under Florida law, if you are married and residing in home that you purchased together, the marital home is a shared asset.  Simply moving out of the house does not mean that you have abandoned the property. In instances where your ex spouse or potential ex spouse has been violent or threatened  you with accusations (even false) of domestic violence that could have devastating impacts on your life, leaving the marital home is with good reason and would not result in you being viewed as an “abandoner.” In addition, courts recognize that when parties are going through a split up and tensions are high, getting out of the shared residence may be the best way for people to start working together to either co-parent or start the process of dividing to lead to resolution.

You do not lose your legal or property interest in the marital home, and while you should continue to make sure that the residence is continuing to be maintained, you can come to agreements with your separated spouse to divide the associated expenses to maintain the property.  If you are “breadwinner” spouse or the spouse who traditionally has paid for the home, ensuring that you are maintaining the financial status quo while occupying another place to live, is a reasonable approach to continue consistency and showing your ongoing interest in the marital home.

Spy-Snoop-Florida-Family-Law-300x225Divorce makes married people do amazing things to one another.  In many cases, spouses both realize that a relationship is broken and need to move forward.  Some cases, however, present where one spouse is blissfully unaware that the other spouse is having an affair or hiding assets. That is, of course, until reality strikes and the truth comes out.

In those situations, many unaware spouses begin to go down a path to uncover the entire truth.  Soon, the possibility of hacking emails, hiring private investigators, and following your spouse on social media becomes a temptation few are able to ignore. But is it worth it?

For many spouses, so long as they do not break privacy laws, this is a short lived exercise where they try to find out information that they do not already know, and quickly realize that they have the facts, or that information has been so blocked it will be impossible for them to find out the truth.   Conversely, there are times where some spouses flaunt their new paramour on social media or around the children, already fueling the fires of resentment and pushing the drive for more information to its apex.

Copurt-Order-300x242Dissolving your marriage in the State of Florida , in many cases, is a lengthy process.   Issues of property division and child timesharing cause couples to have conflicts without a great deal of guidance when they are attempting to finalize their plans moving forward. If you are divorcing in Florida, and specifically in the Jacksonville area, courts enter a standing family law order, once a divorce is filed with the clerk of court. This order provides some guidance on how couples should conduct themselves during the pendency of a divorce.

First, these orders prohibit one spouse from selling or hiding property, owned either individually or as a couple.   This order will typically hold off a spouse from cleaning out the bank accounts, selling off personal or real property, or hiding assets that ultimately need to be divided in the divorce. One tip that is essential to moving forward is to take a copy of this order to your bank upon receiving it, so that your financial institution is aware of the current status of your marriage, and protections can be put in place for your money.

One exception to this provision to the taking of assets is when a spouse needs to sell an asset for usual household expenses or attorney’s fees. In these cases, your spouse may be able to sell an asset without your consent in order to make financial obligations. This is another area that may cause continuing conflict, and could be avoided through communication or representation by an experienced family law attorney.

Marital-Home-300x205A question that commonly comes up in Florida Divorce consultations and cases is whether a client should move out of the marital home once one of the parties has filed for divorce. While many times spouses recognize that if there has been a divorce filing, eventually the time will come where they will no longer live together, this is a decision that should be made with planning and careful consideration.

The marital home is often the largest asset that the parties share, and its division in extremely important when considering how assets and debt will be allocated in a divorce case. In some cases, a spouse bought the house years prior to the marriage, or before even knowing the other spouse, in those cases, the house may be considered a non-marital asset. Conversely, many times, a home is purchased either right before or during a marriage, with the anticipation that the parties will live together as a married couple and ultimately a family, which would then make the house a marital asset.  In Florida, when a married couple buys a home, the property is held in a “tenancy by the entireties”. Only married couples can hold property in this manner, and the deed will reflect that the parties are married at the time of purchase, and that is how the property is deeded to the couple. Being married is a prerequisite to the property being held in this manner. When the parties divorce, the “tenancy by the entireties” is destroyed, and both parties are joint tenants of the property. In both cases, the parties own 100% of the property, but when the house is sold, equity is divided in half, unless special circumstances permit that a party is awarded a more significant share of the proceeds.

A Florida Family Law Lawyer can advise you as to your legal rights prior to and during a divorce proceeding.  Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. based in Jacksonville Florida has represented parties in divorce and post divorce proceedings since 1957.  At Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A., we are On Your Side – At Your Side.

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Life after a divorce can be very difficult both for the co-parents and for the children of the former marriage.  Part of what makes it easier is that children are still seeing both parents regularly and have the same social circles, schools, and sometimes home that they already know. But then life strikes, and the need to relocate has reared its head. Someone has to move, and that means that the children will be thrown into massive change again.  No matter how you slice it, when a parent has to move with or without the children, it is a huge change for a child. Making the decision to relocate is not one to take lightly or make out of haste.

In most cases, Florida law requires that if you are relocating that you must follow the very specific procedures set forth in Fla. Stat. 61.13001.  These relocation procedures become applicable when either parents who is entitled to timesharing with the minor children intends to move more than fifty (50) miles away.  You can obtain permission to relocate either through the agreement with the other party, or by filing a Petition with your family court.

When co-parents agree to the relocation, you still must make sure that you agreement conforms to Florida Law.  In order to comply, your agreement must be in writing, must consider transportation and related expenses, must specify a new parenting plan, and ultimately be sanctioned by the Court to be considered valid.

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