About Our Firm

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Since 1997 we are experienced and knowledgeable Tampa attorneys practicing exclusively in Divorce, Family, Stepparent/Relative Adoption, Consumer/Personal Bankruptcy & Mediation. We practice primarily in Tampa, Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, Lithia, Carrollwood, North Tampa, Plant City and all of Tampa Bay. Our lawyers have 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 offer a free consultation and we are happy to discuss your case. Call or email to schedule a consult. Our representation of our clients reflects our dedication to them.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What Factors does a Court Consider when Awarding Florida Alimony?

The end of a marriage can be a trying time, both emotionally and financially. For many people, fundamental aspects of their daily life will change dramatically, including where they live, how often they see their children, their day-to-day routine, and even whether or not they have a job. In some cases, one of the parties to a marriage has forgone pursuing a career in order to support his or her spouse, or may have left the workforce early in order to raise a family or manage the marital home.
Florida Alimony
Of course, the parties to a marriage both have financial needs, both during the marriage and afterwards, should it end. The law that governs the way marriages end recognize this fact, and provide for an equitable distribution of the marital assets upon dissolution. Additionally, Florida Courts are authorized by law to award additional financial support based on one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. This type of arrangement is referred to as “alimony” by Florida law, but can also be called “spousal support” or “maintenance.” There are several types of alimony that may be awarded, including bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, permanent, durational, or lump-sum alimony.
Several Factors Considered
In determining whether or how much alimony to award, Florida courts are specifically authorized to consider the adultery and the circumstances under which it occurred. If the court decides to award alimony to either party, it can consider all relevant factors, including the following:
  • The standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage;
  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • Each party’s age and physical condition;
  • Each party’s financial resources, including the distribution of the marital and non-marital assets and debts;
  • Each party’s contribution to the marriage, including caring for children, caring for the home, education, and career building of the other party;
  • The earning potential, education, job skills, and employability of both parties and the time it would take either to obtain education or training that would allow either party to obtain employment;
  • Each party’s responsibility with respect to children;
  • The tax consequences of an alimony award;
  • All sources of income available to either party; and
  • Any other factor necessary to achieve equity and justice between the parties.
As one can see, courts have significant discretion in Florida in determining whether and how much alimony to award. As a result, it is important for anyone seeking alimony to present their case in the strongest light possible. An attorney who understands how Florida family courts operate can help collect and present evidence on your behalf in a way that will maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable result. In some cases, an attorney may even be able to negotiate an alimony settlement with your spouse without intervention by the court.
Contact a Tampa Family Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
Anyone who is seeking to obtain or avoid an alimony payment should discuss their situation with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Contact an experienced Tampa Bay alimony attorney at All Family Law Group, P.A. by calling 813.321.3421 for a consultation at no charge.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google

Friday, September 19, 2014

Obtaining Past Due Child Support in Florida After Children Become Adults

With regard to child support in the state of Florida, the general rule is that child support terminates when a child reaches 18 years of age.  However, the general rule does not apply when child support is still owed for any time prior to the child’s reaching adult legal status. Under these circumstances, the custodial parent generally retains the right to collect on the overdue balance owed.  In terms of procedure, to collect any outstanding child support payments, the custodial parent must obtain a court order.  Even if the debtor parent is not currently able to make the payments, a court order preserves the right of the non-debtor parent to make a claim on future money earned for back child support.  To ensure that a court order is properly obtained, custodial parents in Florida would benefit from retaining the services of an experienced Tampa Bay child support attorney.  

Florida Also Provides an Exception in Instances When a Child Of Legal Age Has Not Yet Graduated From High School

In addition to the exception concerning past due child support, Florida’s child support statute also contains a provision that extends child support until a child graduates from high school, if there is a reasonable expectation of graduating before his or her 19th birthday.  If no reasonable expectation then child support will terminate upon reaching his or her 18th birthday.

Florida Provides an Additional Exception for Children with Special Needs

Florida provides another exception for the custodial parent of a child with special needs.  If your child has special needs, and is incapable of ever becoming a self-supporting adult, then Florida will not terminate child support.  Under these conditions, the child support will be ordered to last for the life of the child.  Still, even under these circumstances, it is imperative that you follow the requisite legal procedures.  The child’s special needs status must be formally recognized via court order, whether through a first-time order or a later modification.  One last point on this issue is absolutely critical to understand: if you have not obtained a formal court order, even if your child has special needs, and the child reaches age 18 (thereby ending child support), you forfeit the right to reopen the case to continue child support.   

What to do If You Are Owed Past Due Child Support for a Child That Has Reached Adult Legal Status

Is your former spouse refusing to pay child support on the basis that your child is now of legal age?  Know your rights; just because your child has reached the age of 18, a debtor spouse can still be compelled to make good on past due child support payments.  Contact an experienced Tampa Bay child support attorney at All Family Law Group, P.A. by calling 813.902.3624 for a consultation at no charge to ensure that a court order is properly obtained. Doing so will preserve your right to collect on still owed child support in the future. 


 By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Don’t Believe the Hype: Collaborative Law Is Not Without Disadvantages

Collaborative law is an alternate form of dispute resolution in the family law context.  While proponents contend that collaborative law is both less expensive and more effective than traditional, adversarial law, it can actually drag out disputes in matters of divorce and child custody, thereby increasing costs.

The Facts About Collaborative Law

The first thing to know about collaborative law is that it is practiced outside of the courtroom.  The philosophy underlying this basic fact is that, by removing contentious issues from the inherently adversarial context of the courtroom, parties will be more inclined to put aside their differences and work together to compromise and find mutually agreeable arrangements.  However, this does not mean that the parties are without representation; separate attorneys are still retained by each.  After retaining separate legal counsel, the parties agree to several covenants that express the “let’s work together” spirit of collaborative law.  Among these covenants are agreements to treat one another with respect, to fully and honestly disclose all information and documents relevant to the disputed issues, and to shield any children who are party to the dispute from any adverse emotional impact.  However, as even proponents concede, these covenants are bound to ring hollow in many cases.

When Collaborative Law Is the Wrong Approach

Obviously, collaborative law, in its essence, is about working together.  This can be hugely problematic in the context of divorce, which, in its essence, is about ceasing togetherness.  It follows that collaborative law is at risk of sometimes being directly at odds with one of its principal aims: facilitating divorces.  Sure, it might work for the rare pair who can remain amicable through a divorce or child custody dispute.  But what about divorces in which the marriage has been devastated by infidelity, abuse, radical differences of opinion in child-rearing styles, or bitter disputes over finances?  It is these scenarios where a “let’s work together” spirit just isn’t realistic.  For those who delude themselves that it is, the cost can be significant.

The Cost When A Collaborative Law Approach Fails

While an attempt to resolve a family law dispute through collaborative law begins outside of the courtroom, it doesn’t necessarily end that way.  If the parties simply can’t reach an agreement, the collaborative law process ends, and the dispute shifts to the traditional courtroom setting.  Not only that, but the original attorneys are disqualified from continuing their roles outside of the failed collaborative attempt.  What does this mean for the parties?  You guessed it: more attorneys.  More attorneys translates to more costs – a reality that is certain to only further sour the dispute, and potentially make matters even more litigious than they would have been if the first attempt at settling the dispute was in the courtroom rather than the collaborative context.

Mediation Is Still Used In Traditional Family Law

Don’t be fooled into thinking that collaborative law is the only forum for alternate forms of dispute resolution.  Traditional family law, too, attempts to settle cases either prior to, or at mediation.  Finally, the past is the best indicator of the future; if you know a spirit of cooperation and compromise simply isn’t realistic, don’t waste time, money, and stress on an attempt at collaborative law that is likely doomed from the outset.

Other Alternatives

Are you considering a divorce? The family law attorneys at All Family Law Group will work towards settling your case in amicable manner with your spouse, if feasible. Call or email All Family Law Group at 813.902.3624 for a consultation at no charge with an experienced Tampa divorce lawyer to discuss your case.

 By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Divorce, Annulment and Separation in Florida

Florida is known for being one of the states with the highest divorce rates. The decision to divorce your spouse should be given much thought and consideration, and it is important to be familiar with Florida law regarding divorce and whether there are any other available options. It’s quite possible you will have a lot of questions that consider the possible grounds for divorce, whether or not you can get your marriage annulled, and even the specifics of a legal separation if you are not fully ready for a divorce. It is important to understand the difference between divorce, annulment and separation in Florida.

Divorce

According to Florida Statute, there are only two grounds for a divorce: the marriage is irretrievably broken or one of the parties is deemed mentally incapacitated. A judgment of dissolution of marriage cannot be granted on any other basis.

An irretrievably broken marriage exists is when you and your spouse agree that the marriage is broken and there is no possible way of fixing the marriage. If there are no minor children and the spouses do not deny the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will enter a judgment for dissolution. The process is different if there is a minor child born in the marriage and/or the spouses deny the marriage to be irretrievably broken.  Under either circumstance, the court can do any of the following:

-          Order the spouses consult with a marriage counselor, psychologist, etc;
-          Provide a length of time, not to exceed 3 months, to allow the spouses to reconcile; or
-          Take any other action that may be in the best interest of the parties.

Keep in mind that the court has the discretion to deny the request to dissolve the marriage if the court does not find the marriage is irretrievably broken; however, it is very rare that a divorce will not be granted even if there are children or the other party does not agree to it.  The court in most cases will accept one party’s claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Mental incapacity is the second grounds for divorce, but there is a very important accompanying limitation. A dissolution of a marriage will not be granted unless the alleged mentally incapacitated spouse has been adjudged as incapacitated for the prior three years. 

Annulment

An annulment is an order to terminate a marriage because the marriage is void. Unlike a marriage where the request to dissolve is not based on the validity of the union, an annulment questions whether the marriage was every valid to begin with. Florida case law provides that a marriage can be annulled when a person was under the qualifying age. If parental consent is never obtained, then that is grounds for annulment. Also, a marriage can be annulled for mental incapacitation or if one or both of the parties were under the influence, and thereby unable to provide valid consent. Physical inability to consummate the marriage or consent of marriage through fraud or deception is grounds for annulment, as well. Many parties seek a divorce over an annulment because Florida statutes specifically provide a step-by-step procedure for divorce. And since annulments are governed by common law court rulings, it can be difficult to establish the burden of proof and adhere to the court proceedings.

Separation

Unlike other states, Florida does not allow spouses to file for legal separation, which is an arrangement between the spouses to remain married but live apart. However, there are ways a person can achieve a similar result while utilizing a different avenue.

Partner with a Tampa Bay divorce attorney at All Family Law Group, P.A. to get effective solutions to your family law issues. Call us to discuss your situation at 813-672-1900 or contact us online for an initial consultation at no charge.


 By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Proposed Alimony Revision Legislation in Florida

Florida legislation currently creates a presumption of permanent alimony for long-term marriages, while simultaneously creating a presumption against permanent alimony in short-term marriages. This legislation has drawn the attention of numerous family law attorneys, legislators, and members of the public.  In the summer of the 2013, the Florida legislature attempted to revise the current alimony laws but with no success – the bill did not become law. The proposed changes are likely to be heard again during the next legislative session.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is exactly what it sounds like: upon dissolution of a marriage, one spouse pays alimony to the other spouse for the rest of their natural life, or until the other spouse dies – whichever comes first. Permanent alimony also terminates when the receiving spouse remarries, but many opt for cohabiting with a new lover, rather than re-marrying, so they can continue to receive payments. A paying spouse can seek an award modification or termination if able to present evidence of a substantial change in their circumstances.

Current Alimony Law

Title VI, Chapter 61, Section 8 of the current Florida Statute provides that permanent alimony may be awarded for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties. In Florida, the award of alimony is dependent upon the duration of the marriage. A marriage of less than 7 years is considered short-term, a duration of 7-17 years is considered medium-term, and a marriage that lasts 17 years or more is considered long-term. Florida law provides that permanent alimony is presumed in long-term marriages, but not in short-term marriages. The court can also award durational (rather than permanent) alimony that can last up to the length of the marriage.

Proposed Alimony Law

The proposed law changes the duration of marriage requirement. For example, the proposed law request the following changes regarding duration of marriage: A short-term marriage would be considered less than 11 years, medium-term would be 11-20 years, while a long-term marriage would be over 20 years. Furthermore, the proposed law would create a rebuttable presumption against any form of alimony in short-term marriages, so this means that there can be alimony awarded in a short term marriage; however, the spouse in need of the alimony would have to prove a need and that the other spouse has the ability to pay it. There would continue to be a presumption in favor of a form of alimony in long-term marriages; however, and most notably, permanent alimony would be completely eliminated. This means that in a long-term marriage the spouse from whom alimony is requested would have to prove that he or she does not have the ability to pay alimony or that the other spouse does not have the need for the alimony. 



There is no presumption in favor of alimony for either party in a medium-term marriage. Rather the court has the discretion to determine and award a monthly alimony amount, but the award cannot exceed 30% of the spouse's gross income -- a new guideline incorporated in the proposed law (see below). The proposed law allows for an award of durational alimony with limitations. Durational alimony could be awarded up to half the duration of the marriage. Under exceptional circumstances, the court would have discretion to award more alimony, but most cases will fall under the parameters of the proposed law, so ideally this court discretion would be used at a minimum.

Proposed Law and Alimony Guidelines

Currently, the Florida Statute does not have strict guidelines pertaining to the amount and payment of alimony, compared to how it handles child support. The proposals then present the following limitation on the amount of alimony payments as it relates to the paying spouse: no more than 25% of the gross income for short-term marriages, no more than 35% of the gross income for medium-term marriages, and no more than 38% of the gross income for long-term marriages.

Get Help

Partner with a Tampa Bay divorce attorney at All Family Law Group, P.A. to get effective solutions to your family law issues. Call us to discuss your situation at 813-672-1900 or contact us online.for an initial consultation at no charge.

 By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Later in Life Divorce & Finances

America’s divorce rate might be on the decline for most age groups, but amongst one group it’s hitting record highs. Who’s behind the spike? Baby boomers. The divorce rate for the over-50 crowd has more than tripled in the past 20 years, and the trend shows little chance of slowing. With Americans living longer and looking for more from their marriages, many are choosing to jettison an unloved spouse rather than spend their golden years with someone they no longer care for.

Unfortunately, many boomers are divorcing first and thinking later. Adjusting to life after a divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances, but divorce after 50 can have serious financial repercussions. Boomers need to understand the risks of late-in-life divorce, and take steps to prepare themselves before they file.

Financial Repercussions of Divorce

First, boomers need to consider their retirement. Have you and your spouse been saving money? Investing in a retirement plan? Whatever money you saved will now have to fund two separate retirements, which means that it likely won’t go as far. At best, this could mean that a person has to adjust their lifestyle and expectations; at worst, it could mean that a person would have to work much longer than anticipated.

Second, health care costs will likely rise. Health spending tends to increase as a person ages, but married couples are often able to defray some of these costs by caring for each other rather than hiring a nurse or a caregiver. Divorcing boomers need to consider who will care for them–and how much it will cost–before they experience a major health event.

Third, though some divorcees may anticipate short-term financial losses, older couples need to consider the long-term as well. If a person in their 30s goes through a divorce, they have decades to continue working, to make up any losses, and to prepare for their retirement. If a person in their late 60s chooses to divorce, they’ll have far less time to recuperate.

Finally, consider the difference between a “fair” division of marital property and an “equitable” one. While it might seem “fair” to split everything 50/50, it might be more “equitable” for a spouse who forewent their career to care for a family to take a greater share of the marital estate. Also consider which assets are easy to liquidate, should the need arise, and which assets might take longer to sell.

How to Prepare for Later in Life Divorce

The most important thing you can do before a divorce is initiated is to make sure that you have a handle on your finances. Do you know where your money is, and how to access it? Are your bills paid? Do your credit cards have a low balance? Does it seem like there should be more money in your joint account than actually is there? Find out now, if you don’t know.

Contact a Tampa Bay Divorce Attorney

If you are considering a divorce and are concerned about the effect it could have on your finances, contact our Experienced  Attorneys & Counselors at Law since 1997 Serving all of Tampa Bay. Call 813-672-1900 now for a free initial consultation www.familymaritallaw.com.

 By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Til Death Do Us Part, Whether We Like It Or Not: Same Sex Divorce in Florida

In March, a Tampa-area couple made headlines when they filed for a divorce. What made their divorce so special? Their gender. The couple, both women, had been married in Massachusetts years before. When they decided to end their union, they thought nothing of filing their divorce action in the state where they lived. But the judge–and the state of Florida–had other plans.

Same-Sex Marriage in Florida
           
In 2008, Florida voters passed an amendment to the state constitution that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. State law also holds that marriages between same-sex couples that were entered into in other jurisdictions are invalid in Florida.
           
These laws have frequently been challenged. In mid-July 2014, a judge in Monroe County struck down the 2008 ban and stated that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. Just one week later, a judge in Miami made a similar ruling, holding that the ban was discriminatory and violated same-sex couples’ right to equal protection under the law. Both decisions have been appealed by the state Attorney General, Pamela Bondi.

Same-Sex Divorce in Florida

While those seeking to marry have made gains, those looking to leave their marriages have a long way to go. Several Florida courts have granted divorces to same-sex couples, but Laurel Lee, the judge in the Tampa case, refused to do so. In Lees view, because the state did not recognize the couple’s marriage, the court had no authority to end the union.
           
This ruling has serious implications. Generally, couples are required to divorce in the state and county that has jurisdiction over them. Jurisdiction is typically established by residence, or how long a person has lived in a particular state. This means that if Florida refuses to allow same-sex couples to divorce, they have two unsatisfactory options. First, one or both partners may choose to go to a state that recognizes their marriage and establish residency. Obviously, this is problematic­; it’s rare that a spouse would have the ability (let alone the willingness) to uproot their lives and move to another state for a number of months before they can even consider filing for a divorce. Second, the couple can choose to “self separate” and live as though they are divorced. Because Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages, agreements on child custody and alimony cannot be enforced. Furthermore, because the couple was never actually divorced, they can never remarry. Thus, many couples are being forced to spend their lives together–even if they don’t want to.
           
The Tampa couple is gearing up for a fight. Their attorneys claim that Florida laws prohibit same-sex marriage, not same-sex divorce. The Florida Bar Family Law Section is jumping into the ring as well, arguing that the couple is being "denied equal access to the courts."

Contact a Tampa Bay Divorce Attorney
           
For now, same-sex marriage and divorce are in a state of flux in Florida. It’s unclear how long the Attorney General’s appeals will take, and it’s uncertain of what will happen next. In such an unsettled atmosphere, it’s crucial that those considering a divorce get all the help they can. If you have questions about same-sex divorce, contact our Experienced  Attorneys & Counselors at Law since 1997 Serving all of Tampa Bay. Call 813-672-1900 now for a free initial consultation www.familymaritallaw.com.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google

Saturday, August 2, 2014

You Keep the Car - I Want the Cat: Divorce in Florida

Divorcing couples may expect a fight over who gets the car, the house, or custody of the kids–but do they expect a fight over Fido?

With more and more Americans viewing their fluffy friends as family members, it should come as no surprise that their squabbles over who gets to keep the cat are ending up in family court. But family law courts don’t always see animals the way that their owners see them. Pet owners must understand how the courts view animal custody, and learn how they can prepare themselves for a dispute.

The Current State of the Law
           
In many states across the country, including Florida, animals in divorce cases are seen as objects. Like toasters, silverware, and other inanimate objects, deciding who gets to keep a pet is seen as a matter of distributing personal property, not one of determining custody and visitation rights.
           
This view, which could potentially be traced to the days when animals were means of production and not companions, was cemented by the 1995 Florida case Bennett v. Bennett. When the couple divorced, they found themselves with one major problem: who would get custody of the family dog, Roddy. The trial court set a visitation schedule that elicited yet more legal wrangling between the parties. The case eventually wound its way to the appellate court, who dealt with the issue in just a few paragraphs. “While a dog may be considered by many to be a member of the family,” the court said, “under Florida law, animals are considered to be personal property.” It went on to hold that the trial court had “no authority” to grant visitation rights for personal property, and concluded that “Our courts are overwhelmed with the supervision of custody, visitation, and support matters related to the protection of our children. We cannot undertake the same responsibility as to animals.”

What to Do if You’re Concerned About Pet Custody
           
Despite the precedent set by Bennett, some courts are starting to acknowledge that a person’s relationship with their beloved pet is more complicated than their relationship with their vacuum cleaner. Pet owners who are concerned about what will happen to their animal when they divorce now have a chance of convincing a judge to order custody.
           
If you’re involved in an animal custody dispute, think first about who bought or adopted your pet. Because courts have traditionally seen animals as personal property, they may be more likely to award custody to the animal’s purchaser.
           
Regardless of whether you bought or adopted the pet, you should be prepared to show the judge that you are its primary caregiver and that it is in the animal’s best interests to remain in your custody. Gather evidence that you are the one who exercises the pet, feeds it, takes it to the vet and pays the bills for its care. Ask friends and neighbors for affidavits that demonstrate the animal’s bond to you. If your pet has ever shown signs of distress when you’ve been away from it for a significant time, present that evidence in court as well.
           
Finally, make it clear to the court that your concern is for the animal, and not for revenge. A judge will not look kindly on a person who never showed any interest in the family dog until they realized how much losing the animal would hurt their soon-to-be-ex spouse.

Talk to a Tampa Bay Family Law Attorney
           
If you’re going through a divorce or separation and are worried about what could happen to your animals, contact a Tampa family law attorney. Pet custody is a new and uncharted area of the law, but an attorney will be in the best position to understand the developments and present your case. Contact our Experienced  Attorneys & Counselors at Law since 1997 Serving all of Tampa Bay. Call 813-672-1900 now for a free initial consultation www.familymaritallaw.com.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When Does Child Support End in Florida?

Many divorcing parents are aware of their obligation to support their children, and some are familiar with how the amount they have to pay is decided. Fewer are aware of how long their obligation to support their children continues.

Payment Lasts Until Child Reaches Majority Age

In general, a parent must pay child support until their child is 18. This is considered the age of majority, when the child is legally recognized as an adult. However, a child's eighteenth birthday isn't always the cutoff date for support payments. According to Florida law, a parent's duty to continue paying child support may be extended when the child has not finished high school by their eighteenth birthday; when the child has special needs; and when there is an agreement that says otherwise.

First, parents of children who have not finished high school by their eighteenth birthday are obligated to support their children until the children complete their education. This doesn't mean that a child can stay in high school forever. Support will only continue if the child is still enrolled in school, has a reasonable expectation of finishing their education, and expects to graduate before their nineteenth birthday. Showing a "reasonable expectation" is often the key to qualifying for this exception. The child would most likely have to show that they are and have been enrolled in a school, that they have been regularly attending, and that they will meet the requirements for graduation. Under this statute a child who dropped out of high school at 17, or who is several years away from graduating, would not qualify for continued support. In contrast, a child who turned 18 several months before their graduation would be entitled to receive support until their graduation.

Second, child support may continue indefinitely if the child is mentally or physically disabled. In determining the length of time that support will continue, the courts will generally look at whether the child will ever be able to earn enough money to support themselves or whether their disability will prevent them from providing for themselves. It does not matter whether the child was born with their disability or whether they became afflicted with it at a later age. For the support to continue, all that matters is that the disability began before the child reached the age of majority, and that the disability will prevent the child from being financially self-sufficient.

Third, though parents have no legal obligation to continue supporting their children after the aforementioned circumstances, the courts will enforce voluntarily entered agreements that extend the period of support. Parents are prevented from contractually decreasing their child's right to support (because the right to be supported belongs to the child, and not to either parent), but there is no legal stipulation against providing more support than one is asked to. Thus, parents who decide to create a binding agreement to help their child beyond what is required will generally be held to the terms of that agreement.

Talk to a Tampa Bay Family Law Attorney
           
Whether you're contemplating a divorce or a paternity action, are in the middle of the process, or already have an order in place, a Tampa family law attorney can help answer your questions about child support. Contact our Experienced  Attorneys & Counselors at Law since 1997 Serving all of Tampa Bay. Call 813-672-1900 now for a free initial consultation www.familymaritallaw.com.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Divorced and Moving On….with the Court’s Permission in Florida

Picture this: you’re divorced from your former spouse with whom you have a minor child. During the divorce proceedings, you are deemed the custodial parent. You and your former spouse get along amicably and follow the child visitation plans without issue. A few years following the divorce, you get an offer for your dream job in Denver, CO. You are ready to go, but before you do, you may need to get the court’s permission.

Relocating Outside of Florida

Florida has a specific statute that provides the rules for relocating 50 miles or more when a minor child is involved. The legal term for moving the child out of state is “relocation.” The statute requires that the relocating parent receive written agreement to the move by the noncustodial parent, or request the court’s permission. As a practical matter, it will be easier if you can get your former spouse’s agreement to the relocation. However, even if they do not agree with the move, the court still has the power to grant permission for the move.

How the Court Decides

One of the most important phrases in the realm of family law is “the best interests of the child.”  The court will generally allow relocation, even if one parent objects, if it determines that it is in the best interest of the child. The court’s primary concern is your child’s best interests, not yours or your former spouse’s. Thus, a great career opportunity alone may not be a good enough reason to allow relocation if the court finds that uprooting the child from their home, established routine, and support system would be harmful to the child’s well-being. After all, moving can be tough on children. This is one of many reasons why you need a strong advocate explaining your position to the court.

The judge will make the decision on a case by case basis. Every case, like every family, is different. However, the law provides some guidance as to factors that should be considered. These factors include, but are not limited to:

      The child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent, siblings, and other relatives;
      The child’s age, development, and the likely emotional impact of the move;
      The possibility of preserving long-term relationships even after the move;
      The child’s personal preferences (if they can be meaningfully obtained); and
      The overall potential benefit of the move on the child’s quality of life.

It’s important to remember that none of these factors are determinative; the judge weighs and reviews them to help decide whether the relocation would be in the child’s best interest. Also, in most cases the burden of proof is on the parent wishing to relocate to show by a preponderance of the evidence that that move is in the child’s best interest.

Contact a Tampa Bay Divorce Attorney

No matter the specifics of your family situation, there are complex procedural rules that must be followed when relocating with a child. For this reason, the safest course of action is to have a Florida family law attorney analyze your situation prior to your move and help you through the process.

At the All Family Law Group, P.A. we understand that family decisions, like relocation inside or outside the state of Florida, are about more than just the law.  The goal of our family law attorneys is to ensure that you understand both the legal and practical implications of your decisions. If you or your spouse is considering relocation, contact our Experienced Attorneys & Counselors at Law since 1997 Serving all of Tampa Bay. Call 813-672-1900 now for a free initial consultation www.familymaritallaw.com. We can help you understand the law and develop a plan of action that is in the best interest of you and your child.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google