About Our Firm

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Founded in 1997 we are experienced and knowledgeable Tampa attorneys practicing exclusively in Divorce, Family, Stepparent/Relative Adoption, Criminal Defense, & Personal Bankruptcy. We practice primarily in Tampa, Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, Lithia, Carrollwood, North Tampa, Plant City and all of Tampa Bay. We have offices conveniently located throughout Tampa Bay. Our lawyers have extensive experience practicing in contested and uncontested divorces, including military divorces, and family law, child support, child custody and visitation, relocation of children, alimony, domestic violence, distribution of assets and debts, retirement/pensions (military and private), enforcement and modification of final judgments, paternity actions, adoptions and name changes. We also have attorneys who are very knowledgeable and experienced in all areas of criminal defense. We offer a free consultation to discuss your options. Please call us at 813-672-1900 or email us at info@familymaritallaw.com to schedule a consultation. Our representation of our clients reflects our dedication to them. We look forwarding to hearing from you! Se habla EspaƱol.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New App Aims to Help Parents Post-Divorce

Navigating how to co-parent during and after divorce is one of the biggest stresses single parents have. There is a lot of information that parents need to stay in compliance with the parenting plan, and as a preventative measure in case a dispute arises about parenting time or financial contributions. The current structure of child custody, now referred to as parenting time, is encapsulated in a parenting plan, and requires much more cooperation between divorced parents than in the past. Divorced parents are now expected to share responsibility for a child in the majority of cases, which includes having the child for roughly the same number of overnights, though in practice one parent typically has more, and sharing decision-making responsibility over issues such as education and child care. Consequently, the former clear lines of delineation between each parent’s rights and obligations are less clear, which creates the potential for more disputes. A Florida father created a new parenting app that is designed to help parents better coordinate and document co-parenting duties so there is less confusion about where a child is supposed to be on a given day, and to record important information in case legal disputes occur. Since the components of a parenting plan are now so integral to custody, understanding what exactly is contained within the document, and how courts evaluate the adequacy of a proposed plan, will be discussed below.
Parenting Plans
There are three ways a parenting plan may be created: by agreement of both parties, as presented by one party, or by the court if no plan is offered or the proposed option is insufficient. Courts prefer that both parents agree on their own parenting plan since it greatly impacts their parenting rights and responsibilities, but all parenting plans, whether mutually agreed to or not, must be approved by a court before they are enforceable. In its most basic form, all parenting plans must include the following:
  • how parenting will divide daily caretaking duties for the child;
  • a time-sharing schedule that outlines how much time a child will spend with each parent;
  • which parent will be responsible for medical care, school matters and other activities. Note this authority can be shared, and is not required to rest with just one parent; and
  • how each parent will communicate with the child.
Courts expect parenting plans to take into account the child’s needs, both present and future, and to anticipate potential issues of conflict, as well as how the parents will resolve them. Thus, the less detailed and thorough a proposed plan is, the more likely a court will reject it and come up with its version.
Court’s Evaluation
When a court looks at a parenting plan, the underlying issue the judge is assessing is whether the plan represents an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. This evaluation is accomplished by considering a long list of factors that appear in Florida law. Some of these factors include:
  • the ability of each parent to follow the parenting plan, encourage a relationship with the other parent, and be flexible when changes are necessary;
  • the anticipated division of responsibilities, especially the amount of time the child would be cared for by a third party;
  • the ability of each parent to put the needs of the child first;
  • the geographic viability of the plan, particularly for school-aged children;
  • the ability of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child; and
  • the ability of each parent to keep the other informed about child-related issues and to present a united front on major issues.
Get Help
Child custody issues are crucial matters that need to be dealt with properly to ensure the child is protected, but the law in this area is quite involved. While standard parenting plan forms do exist online, they cannot provide the guidance and knowledge an experienced family law attorney can. The Tampa Bay law firm All Family Law Group, P.A. have years of experience negotiating and litigating solutions to child custody matters, and working with them can give you peace of mind that your parental rights and your child’s welfare will be properly represented.  Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Evaluating the Different Options to Get Divorced

Obtaining a divorce requires a couple to make a series of important decisions that will have long-term impacts on their future, including selecting which process to use to end the marriage. It may seem like the path chosen to arrive at divorce is an incidental factor, but it can have substantial implications for the settlement that is ultimately reached. Most couples are aware and have some notion of the traditional process of getting divorce – litigation, and many even assume this is their only option for ending the marriage. However, two other options that couples may want to consider if they are looking for a less contentious way to work out their issues, namely alternative dispute resolution – usually mediation, and collaborative divorce. A discussion of how each process works, including the positive and negative features of each, will follow below.
Traditional Divorce
Traditional divorce is the type one sees depicted on television, and involves a judge making all the decisions for the couple. This is the most adversarial method of ending a marriage, and parties generally have less contact with one another and use lawyers to prepare and present all aspects of the case. Further, due to the demands on court systems generally, the time and expense of a traditional divorce is much lengthier and higher. However, a traditional divorce provides an important service to some couples. The matters at issue in divorce are sensitive and complicated, and parties are not always able to come to an agreement because their points of view are too far apart. In this situation, a court can step in to resolve the couple’s outstanding issues, and bring closure to the case. Further, in divorces where is there are issues of violence or wasting of assets by a spouse, court supervision is usually necessary to secure the other spouse’s safety and rights. Thus, a traditional divorce does provide important protections and direction that are needed in some cases.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution routinely used in family courts to resolve issues. Mediation is a less adversarial method of resolving divorce-related issues, and is led by a mediator who facilitates negotiations between the parties. The mediator is a neutral third party who cannot make decisions for the couple, but can offer suggestions and help them find ways to compromise on points of contention. Mediation sessions may be conducted with both parties in one room, or in separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth with each party’s demands until agreement is reached, or an impasse halts the process. This process allows the parties to have control over the outcome, and is typically cheaper and faster than a standard divorce case. Mediation is voluntary, and if the parties cannot settle all relevant matters, they can return to court to continue the divorce. Importantly, mediation participants often have attorneys present at mediation sessions, or at least to review any divorce settlement before signing, to advise them on the legal implications of any agreement.
Collaborative Divorce
Finally, a relatively new divorce option is collaborative divorce. This is a completely non-adversarial process that is designed to preserve a civil and working relationship between the parties, which is important if they plan to co-parent. Additionally, the parties must agree at the outset to suspend or opt out of court involvement during the collaborative process. Collaborative divorce involves attorneys specially trained in the collaborative law process to handle the legalities of drafting a settlement and explaining what the agreement means long-term and mental health and financial professionals to help the parties resolve child custody issues and property division. The parties communicate directly with one another, and have full control over the outcome, which typically lessens the likelihood of going to court resolve issues in the future.
Get Help
How you choose to get divorced is often as important as the decision to end the marriage. Every divorce case is unique, and an experienced divorce attorney can advise on the method that best serves your needs and desires. The Tampa law firm All Family Law Group, P.A. understands how overwhelming the divorce can be and can provide the guidance you need to start the next phase of your life.  Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

Friday, February 9, 2018

Is Posting Information about Your Divorce on Social Media a Good Idea?

Many people view their online social media accounts as an extension of themselves, and sometimes without thinking, post information about personal matters that is best left private. Posting about major life events online, and providing all the details, is not necessarily prudent. Divorce is one those areas where information should be kept to a minimum to avoid it affecting the outcome of the case and inflicting unintentional harm on other people, especially children. Emotions tend to run high around the issue of divorce, and those going through it understandably want to vent about frustrations and other unresolved issues. However, posting information about one’s divorce, including why/how the divorce happened, is not a good idea. Unlike relaying information to a trusted friend or family member, things posted online are available for others to see, including the other spouse and his/her attorney. The husband of the R&B singer, Keke Wyatt, recently posted a video on social media explaining his decision to divorce, including remarks about living in a “toxic environment.” While he may have made the statements with no ill intent, one could view his comments as references to behavior that creates an unsafe environment for their children. This example of one possible interpretation of his comments illustrates how online posts have the potential to affect issues like child custody and property division. An exploration of how social media can impact divorce cases, and the most effective method of mitigating this risk, will follow below.
How Social Media Posts Influence Divorce Settlements/Decrees
One crucial point divorcing spouses need to understand about social media is that such information is admissible as evidence in their case. Even if an account is set to private, a court may allow the other party to gain access to posts as part of the discovery process (procedure that permits parties to gather evidence). Thus, using social media during an active divorce should at least involve some thought on how it may be construed. Specifically, if spouses are in a dispute over finances, posts indicating monetary expenditures, such as going out for dinner or attending a show, no matter how innocuous, can be used to argue for a greater share of the marital assets or more alimony. Further, social media can have particularly damaging effects on child custody disputes. Courts look at the best interests of the child when deciding how to divide parental responsibilities, and parties that post negative comments about the child or other parent could be viewed by the court as signaling the parent will not be willing or capable of cooperating on child custody matters. This inference could lead to the court to give the other parent greater decision-making authority and the majority of the parenting time.
Limiting the Impact
As alluded to above, social media should be used sparingly, if at all, while the divorce is pending. While it may be difficult to refrain from using this communication medium, the potential for negative consequences is typically greater than the benefit social media confers. If abstaining is not possible, taking pains to keep posts as neutral as possible is critical to minimizing their impact. An experienced divorce attorney can advise how to handle social media in divorce and other family law matters, which is especially important if negative content is already posted.
Contact a Florida Divorce Attorney
Putting together a divorce case requires more than merely filing certain documents with the court. An experienced divorce attorney can help you gather and present the information you need to get a fair and appropriate result. Tampa Bay’s All Family Law Group, P.A. understands the stresses of divorce, and is available to help you negotiate a settlement, or litigate the case in court, if necessary.  Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Who Pays for the Divorce?

In addition to the emotional challenges of divorce, there is the very concerning issue of how to handle the financial fallout of this decision. Finances play a huge role in people’s lives, and can force couples to stay together for fear of financial collapse. Once the wheels are put in motion to form separate lives, each spouse must figure out how to support him/herself independently, before any court orders are issued regarding alimony or property division. Even the process of divorce itself can cause concern, especially if litigation is necessary to resolve points of dispute. Parties in divorce usually do not want to cut corners on legal representation or pursuing legal action, but such efforts do come with a cost. Further, even if alternative dispute resolutions options are explored, such as mediation, which are less expensive than a traditional divorce, this process has an associated cost as well. While parties are generally expected to cover these expenses on their own, it is possible to ask a court to order the other spouse to pay for legal fees and court costs in certain circumstances. Costs for family law mediations are handled somewhat differently. A discussion of how costs for traditionally litigated divorce cases and divorce mediation can be shifted will follow below.
Mediation Costs
Couples entering into divorce, especially if children are involved, are becoming more open to the possibility of alternative processes to work out unresolved issues. Mediation in family law and divorce cases is one frequently chosen option due to its brevity, lower cost and control it gives to the parties. Further, ordering divorcing spouses to attempt mediation before formally beginning the legal process of divorce is a standard requirement. Thus, most divorcing couples will have some exposure to mediation. The cost will depend on the provider chosen for this service, but it is generally shared between the parties. If the parties’ combined annual income is $100,000 or less, the cost may be based on Florida statute, which sets a flat rate, though the court can waive the fee if circumstances justify it. Further, a point of negotiation could be who will bear the fees if there is a concern about paying, and a court could order one party to cover any associated costs of mediation if there is an ability to pay.
Recovering Attorney Fees in Divorce Cases
Anytime a court decides a dispute, the costs of seeing the case through to the end quickly multiply. If one party has more financial resources from which to pull, this process can easily become unfair. However, Florida statutes permit a court to order a party to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees or other costs incurred in the divorce case. These awards are authorized to ensure one party does not gain an unfair advantage simply due to having more money. However, a request for attorney fees and costs must be made in the first filing a party makes with court. Requests made a later time are rarely considered. A judge will consider a number of factors when deciding whether to grant such a request, including:
  • the financial resources of both parties, which goes beyond looking at income and additionally explores the assets each party owns;
  • the scope and history of the case, especially if a relatively simple dispute turns into a complicated case involving multiple issues;
  • whether one party is using court procedure to harass the other party or stall progression of the case; and
  • the actual need for the award, usually taken to mean a party would have to use resources allocated for basic expenses in order to pay for legal representation.
Talk to a Florida Divorce Attorney
Figuring out how to pay for divorce is a source of significant concern for many people, but know there are options to share costs or shift the burden to the spouse with the greater ability to pay. The Tampa Bay law firm All Family Law Group, P.A. has years of experience counseling clients on their rights in a divorce.  Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-672-1900 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+