The process of getting divorced can take many different forms depending on the parties involved. In its simplest form, an uncontested divorce with no children, property, or support issues can be a quick process with little fanfare. Other times, the parties can settle their issues out of court with a carefully negotiated agreement. Unfortunately, in some cases the parties must resort to litigation in court to resolve their disputes. Regardless of which approach is best for your particular circumstance, we offer guidance and counsel for the most effective ways to deal with the issues facing you and your family. These can include the allocation of parental responsibilities, timesharing, child support, spousal support, and the valuation and division of property. In addition to addressing your legal needs, we also work with a number of outside professionals to meet any other needs that might arise in your case.
The issues of timesharing and parental responsibility together make up what many people think of when they use the term “custody.” Florida law requires that in all cases with children, there be a parenting plan that, at a minimum, addresses timesharing between the parents and child(ren), and the division of responsibility for daily parenting tasks health care and mental health decisions, school-related matters, and communication between the parents and the child. Parenting plans often address additional issues including religion, discipline, sharing of information between the parents, participation in extra-curricular activities, travel issues, and any other issue unique to a particular family. We have the experience necessary to guide you through the establishment of an appropriate parenting plan, whether by agreement or through litigation, that meets your needs and those of your children.
The law requires a certain minimum financial contribution by each parent to the needs of each child. This can be accomplished in private actions for divorce or paternity brought by one of the parties, or through the state by the local child support enforcement agency. Although simple in concept, the proper calculation of child support can become incredibly complex. An accurate calculation requires a detailed analysis of each party’s income, taxes, allowable statutory deductions, and healthcare and childcare expenses for each child, among other factors. In addition to securing the necessary information for an accurate determination of support, we can also assess whether deviations from the mandated minimum support obligations may be justified. Our goal is to achieve the best financial result for our client, regardless of whether they are ultimately the party who pays or receives support.
Paternity actions can be initiated regardless of whether parentage is at issue. Judicial determinations of paternity are often necessary to establish a person’s parental rights if the parents were never married. Like in a divorce case, the process is used to address the allocation of parental responsibilities, timesharing, and child support issues.
The equitable division of assets and debts in a divorce can require an analysis of timing, valuation, and tax issues. This can be further complicated when certain assets, such as a home or retirement plan, were acquired before the marriage, but then grew in value over time. In addition to addressing these issues, we can help you determine how each asset and debt fits into your plan for your future after divorce.
All too often, the breakdown of a relationship can involve domestic violence. Domestic abuse can be perpetrated by either party and is not limited to physical violence. Florida law allows victims of domestic abuse to seek an injunction that prohibits the abuser from having any further contact with the victim. In addition to the physical and emotional impact, domestic abuse can have a substantial effect on the ultimate resolution of parenting and timesharing issues as well.
Spousal support or alimony can take one of several different forms in Florida. The complicated interplay between alimony, child support, and property issues can have a significant impact on the outcome of any case. Unlike child support, there is no set formula to help establish what is appropriate. The determination of whether one party has the right to alimony and, if so, how much and for how long requires an examination of a number of factors including each party’s needs and financial abilities. We understand the intricacies of this analysis and can help assess whether alimony should be awarded in your case.
Post-Judgment matters are those that arise after the original judgment of divorce or paternity has been established. Most often, these involve the enforcement or modification of the parties’ respective support or timesharing rights and obligations. We can help enforce your rights or work to alter your obligations to account for any change in circumstances.
Florida law has specific factors that the court must consider and procedures that must be followed any time a parent wants to relocate with a child more than 50 miles from where they lived when the last timesharing order was entered. Failure to strictly follow the procedures can result in the court denying the request to relocate, requiring the return of the child, and subjecting the offending party to additional sanctions such as the payment of attorney’s fees. Whether you are seeking to relocate or defending against a proposed relocation, we can help ensure that your case is effectively managed in order to give you the greatest chance at success.
Craig Weissberg also has particular experience in advocating for children with developmental disabilities and assisting them and their families in disputes with local school systems.
Developmental Issues and Futures Planning.
Families of children with autism and other neuro-developmental disabilities face unique challenges that are not encountered in the “typical” divorce or paternity case. Educational issues, therapy schedules, and concerns regarding stability and consistency can all greatly impact the establishment of a parenting plan that furthers the best interests of the child. Depending on the impact on development and daily functioning, child support may need to be extended beyond 18 or graduation from high school. The importance of properly addressing these issues is magnified when there are other children in the family who don’t face the same challenges.
Other times, the parents may agree on the best course of action, but may have disputes with schools, medical providers, and other agencies. Further still, any final case resolution, whether or by agreement or court order, should account for the interaction between support awards and eligibility for certain government benefits. In some cases, the most beneficial solution requires that the parties must also plan for the best way to address the needs of the child, including independent living considerations, in adulthood. Lastly, parties should contemplate estate planning strategies that benefit all members of the family far into the future.
Unfortunately, Florida’s divorce and paternity laws do not adequately deal with all of these issues. We have significant experience that enables us to identify and help our clients resolve these issues, whether in litigation or in a more collaborative out-of-court setting.