Divorce, Paternity & Family Law

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FAMILY LAW

My practice in the area of Family Law includes the following proceedings.

Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage
Establishment of Paternity, Parental Rights and Parenting Plans
Disestablishment of Paternity
Enforcement and Modification of Child Support and Parenting Plans
Adoptions including Stepparent Adoptions and Second Parent Adoptions
Name Change
 
Divorce: My parents divorced when I was a teenager, so I have personally experienced the trauma and drama divorce can unexpectedly bring into your life and the lives of your family. I understand the importance of approaching these emotionally complex proceedings with as much personal dignity and mutual respect as can be mustered under such difficult circumstances. I am committed to adhering to this philosophy throughout your divorce and all family law proceedings. Florida is a no-fault divorce state. The court does not assign fault to either party. Neither do I. My goal is to get you through the process as quickly and inexpensively as possible. The divorce process resolves issues division of marital property and debts, alimony, timesharing and child support.

Collaborative Divorce is a process that helps you and your spouse resolve your case prior to filing so that you can file it as uncontested.  The parties and their attorneys sign a contract. The contract provides that your attorney may not represent you in further proceedings if you are unable to reach an agreement. Why is this important? Because the more contentious your case and the longer it last the more money your attorney makes. Not all, but some attorneys do not encourage an early resolution just so they can make more money in your case. Using Collaborative Divorce eliminates this possibility. The Collaborative Divorce team includes a Financial Advisor and a Mental Health Counselor. These professionals help you sort out difficult issues concerning alimony, division of assets and parenting plans.  Although it may seem that the use of these experts will add to the expense, the opposite is usually true. This is because these experts usually charge a lower hourly rate than the attorneys and are better qualified to address these issues.

The Collaborative process is not limited to divorce cases, but can be used in other Family Law matters. Call me to discuss whether collaborative process is an option for you.

Paternity:  Fathers who are not married to the mother at the time of their child’s birth have no rights to timesharing with the child until a court enters a Parenting Plan. Mothers who are not married to the father at the time of the child’s birth are the sole legal guardians of the child and legally do not have to consult the father in any decisions concerning the child including relocating. Note, however, that a mother’s failure to involve the father may have negative legal implications if the father seeks timesharing. Child support may also be established in Paternity cases.

Child Custody / Parenting Plan: Florida courts no longer determine custody or child custody. The concept of child custody has been replaced by parental responsibility and timesharing. These are set out in a Parenting Plan. The Parenting Plan can be one agreed to by the parties or determined by the court.

Adoption: I can help with several types of adoptions. Step-parent Adoption is the process of making a step-parent a legal parent. Second Parent Adoption is the process of establishing parental rights for a non-biological or non-legal parent who is not married to the other legal or biological parent. Because this procedure is unusual and not specifically addressed in adoption law, it is important that you retain an attorney experienced in this procedure to represent you in the Second Parent Adoption. I can also help with uncontested adoptions.

Name Change: Individuals have the right to change their name to any name of their choice, as long as they are not doing so for a fraudulent purpose.  While I do not recommend that anyone go before the court without legal representation, I recognize that the process for changing your legal name is fairly straightforward and that many individuals choose to represent themselves through this legal process.  However, due to the personal bias of some judges, some of my transgender clients have experienced difficulties during the change of name process.  If you have experienced difficulties, are concerned about the prospect of such difficulties or just want the peace of mind afforded by legal representation through this process, please contact me.

Domestication of Foreign Change of Name Orders:  If you were born in Florida, but changed your legal name in another state, the Florida Department of Health may require you to have the court order from the foreign state “domesticated” by a Florida court before you can amend your Florida birth certificate to reflect your new name.  This is not a routine procedure, but I can assist you just as I have assisted other clients in several counties in the Tampa Bay area.

Do it Yourself or pro se Family Law. Parties sometimes wish to represent themselves in less complex divorce or family law matters. The necessary forms can be found at the office of your county’s Clerk of Courts or on the Florida State Courts’ website.  However, many self-represented parties find these forms difficult or confusing, leaving them with unanswered questions.  I am here to help.  I can consult with you for a one-time office consultation at a fixed fee to answer your questions and provide advice and instructions to assist you in representing yourself.  I can also provide limited scope representation or limited appearance representation during mediation or court hearings also for a fixed fee.

CALL ME at (850) 520-3050 for a free telephone consultation.

 

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