Family is the most important thing in your life. That is why legal issues surrounding your family can feel so burdensome, causing considerable anxiety and frustration. Unfortunately, these situations often become emotionally charged and unnecessarily adversarial. As a result, people often make decisions out of fear or anger, leading to detrimental outcomes for themselves and their families. To make matters worse, the legal process is overwhelming and difficult to manage without an experienced attorney in your corner. At Gonzalez Law Offices, P.A., we help our clients manage these difficult issues and work towards a favorable resolution.
What is Family Law?
Family law is the area of law dedicated to legal issues involving family relationships, such as those between spouses, parents, and children. Family law issues include but are not limited to dissolution of marriage (divorce), alimony (spousal support), parental responsibility (child custody), and time-sharing.
Family law issues are considered civil matters and are assigned to the Family Division. Family law cases are governed by rules and deadlines. Family law cases can be complex and require professional legal advice and guidance through every phase. Failure to timely comply with the rules that govern the process can result in severe consequences and be costly.
Full-Service Family Law Representation
At Gonzalez Law Offices, P.A., we offer a full range of legal services related to family law. This includes the following:
Divorce: We work with clients who have decided to end their marriages. Whether the divorce is contested or amicable, complex or straightforward, we can guide you through the process and help you avoid pitfalls so that you can start your new life on the right foot.
Child Support: Nothing is more important than your relationship with your child and ensuring they have the support they need. We are dedicated to ensuring that your minor children have the secure relationships and financial support they need.
Spousal Support: Spousal support, or alimony, can be an important issue in a divorce. We can help you obtain the financial support needed to support the standard of living established during your marriage.
Timesharing & Parenting Plans: The law recognizes that children should have a relationship with both parents and to that end, strives to reach time-sharing arrangements that are in the best interests of the minor children. However, every situation poses unique challenges that must be addressed, and the wrong parenting plan can generate a significant amount of conflict. We use our knowledge of the law and our experience to help our clients establish the right parenting plans for their family.
Equitable Distribution: Property owned by both spouses is deemed either marital or nonmarital. Marital property is then distributed by the court in a way that is considered equal. Our firm is well-versed in assisting our clients and helping to ensure they receive their fair share of marital property.
Paternity: If a child is born out of wedlock, it’s important for fathers to establish paternity as it grants them legal rights over the child. Without paternity established, fathers may not be able to have a say in important decisions regarding their child’s upbringing, such as education and healthcare. Similarly, mothers may need to establish paternity to obtain a court-ordered child support. This financial support is crucial for the well-being of both the mother and the child.
Whatever family law issue you may be facing, we can discuss your options and help you find a solution.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Can I file for dissolution of marriage (divorce) in Florida?
In order to file for dissolution of marriage (divorce) in Florida, at least one of the parties must reside in Florida for at least 6 months prior to filing the petition.
How do I file for dissolution of marriage (divorce)?
To initiate a dissolution of marriage (divorce) proceeding, one of the parties to the marriage must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. The party that files the petition is considered the Petitioner, and the other party is considered the Respondent.
How is a Respondent informed that a petition has been filed against him/her?
A Petitioner must provide the Respondent with a copy of the petition. In legal terminology, the Petitioner must “serve” the Respondent with the process. Generally, service of process is accomplished by arranging for a physical copy of the petition to be hand-delivered to the Respondent by a process server.
How long does a Respondent have to respond to a petition?
A Respondent has 20 days from the date of service to respond to a petition by filing a document with the court.
What happens if a Respondent does not respond to a petition?
Failure to file a response is considered an admission by the Respondent of the claims raised against him/her, and the Respondent will be prohibited from raising defenses.
In a divorce, who gets custody of the minor child(ren)?
The term “custody” is no longer found in Florida law and was replaced with the term “parental responsibility.” Florida courts are in favor of “shared parental responsibility” unless a court finds that ordering so would be detrimental to the minor child. Shared parental responsibility means that both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities and requires both parents to work together so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the minor child(ren) can be determined jointly. In establishing or modifying parental responsibility, the primary consideration is the best interest of the minor child(ren).
What is time-sharing?
Florida courts will require a parenting plan when minor children are involved. A parenting plan establishes how parents exercise shared parental responsibility. A parenting plan includes a time-sharing schedule. A time-sharing schedule establishes how much time each parent spends with the minor child(ren) and when the time-sharing occurs for each parent. Once the parenting plan is ordered by the court, it becomes legally binding and must be followed by both parents. In establishing or modifying time-sharing, the primary consideration is the best interest of the minor child(ren).
How is child support determined?
In Florida, parents are obligated to provide support for their minor child(ren). The general principle is that both parents bear equal financial responsibility for their children. Child support is a right that belongs to the minor child(ren) and may not be contracted away.
The amount of child support established is based on guidelines defined by Florida law. Florida follows the “Income Shares Model” for determining child support. This means that courts estimate the amount of money the parents would spend on their minor child(ren) if they were not divorcing and remained living together. That amount is then divided between the parents according to their respective income and the amount of time-sharing established for each parent. The court has the discretion to deviate from the guidelines to adjust the amount of child support up or down by a certain percentage if warranted.
What is retroactive child support?
Retroactive child support refers to child support for a period of time prior to the filing of a petition for child support. A Florida court can order a parent to pay child support for up to 24 months prior to the date of filing the petition.
How can I enforce child support payments?
Florida has strict laws to ensure minor children have the support they need. In order to enforce child support payments, you must first have a child support order signed by a judge and filed with the court. Once you have your order and it is filed with the court, you can enforce your child support payments by filing the appropriate motion with the court. The court will then set your motion for a hearing. At a hearing on your motion, you will have the opportunity to prove your case for enforcement of child support payments.
Can my alimony, time-sharing, and/or child support be modified?
Yes. Florida laws allow parties to modify alimony, time-sharing, and/or child support after the original judgment by filing the appropriate documents with the court and proving your case at a hearing. In order to be successful, the party requesting the modification must prove there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the date of the original final judgment or the last modification thereof.
What are the parents’ rights if their child was born out of wedlock?
In Florida, a mother is the natural guardian of her child born out of wedlock. The unmarried mother automatically has legal parental rights to the child.
In Florida, an unmarried father is not automatically recognized as the child’s legal father. An unmarried father who is not recognized as the legal father and claims to be the biological father of a child is referred to as a putative father. For an unmarried father to have legal parental rights, he must first establish his paternity.
Paternity may be established out of court if the parties agree to execute an Acknowledgment of Paternity. Florida law states that an unchallenged voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity can establish paternity. In this case, judicial or administrative proceedings are not required or permitted to ratify an unchallenged Acknowledgment of Paternity. If the parties disagree, the unmarried father must establish his paternity through the courts. An unmarried father’s name on a birth certificate alone does not establish paternity. Paternity is established by written agreement between the parties or by court order.
Facing a Family Law Matter? Contact Gonzalez Law Offices, P.A.
Whether it involves your spouse, your child, or someone else, legal issues involving your familial relationships are never easy. At Gonzalez Law Offices, P, A., we help our clients move through some of the most difficult times in their lives and on to a better future. To discuss your case and how we can help, contact us today at 305-676-6677 or online to schedule a free consultation.