Reasons for a name change can vary widely.  The reasons a for a name change could be as unique as snowflakes or fingerprints.  Sometimes a woman going through a divorce wants to change her name back to her maiden name, or someone with dreams of becoming a big shot movie director may want a name that is worthy of success.  The most common is a name change associated with a stepparent adoption or adoption in general.  Whatever your reason for a name change, the process of getting a name change in Florida is pretty simple and straight forward.  A name change is also a relatively inexpensive process.  Our experienced Jacksonville name change lawyers at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC can help.  The Process has three parts: (1) The Petition for Name Change; (2) Fingerprinting/Criminal History Check; and (3) The Hearing.

whats in a nameThe petition submitted to the court must have certain information about the petitioner, including current name, the name you wish to use, prior addresses, mother’s and father’s names, professional license, information, criminal history, and bankruptcy information, among other things.  The petitioner must swear that his or her name is not being changed for some illegal or improper purpose, such as to escape an outstanding warrant or to avoid creditors.

A petitioner has to have his or her fingerprints taken and a criminal history records investigation done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).  The results will be sent directly to the court.  Being dishonest about your criminal history can be a reason to have the Petition for Name Change denied.

Once the results of the fingerprint/criminal history check have been sent to the court, your case can be set for a hearing.  Testimony must be submitted to the court about the basic information contained in the petition for name change and the reason for the name change.  If the court is satisfied that the request for name change is legitimate, the court will grant the petition and sign an order changing your name.  Certified copies of the order must be provided to agencies like Vital Statistics so that your personal records, such as your driver’s license, can be updated. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation.

 

Can children choose what parent to live with after a divorce?  The short answer is probably “no”.  Most child custody lawyers would agree that custody and visitation are probably the most highly contested issues between people when relationships don’t work and the couple has had children.  Whether there is a genuine belief by a parent that children will be better off with him or her, or whether a parent is being spiteful when requesting majority timesharing, one argument that comes up is that the children prefer to live with one parent over the other.

Section 61.13, Florida Statutes states that a child’s reasonable preference about what parent to live with may be considered; however, the child’s choice will not control the court’s decision.  The court will weigh and relevant factors and decide what is in the child’s best interest.  A child’s desire to live with the “fun parent” won’t simply be taken at face value.  A child’s preference doesn’t always come into the equation, but when the preference is at issue, a child’s age, maturity level, and so on will be taken into account.  In practice, the child’s preference is likely to have little bearing on the court’s decision without there being more objective evidence that shows that the child’s preference is in line with the child’s best interest.  There are many things that come into play when the child’s best interest is being decided.  Typically, giving a child continuity and stability will be high on the priority list.  Things like whether one parent is likely to encourage a loving and nurturing relationship between the children and the other parent is important too.

For more information on child custody, visitation, divorce, and family law issues, called the experienced family lawyers at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation.

150502_hand-in-handI live life with the blessing of being fascinated by small, simple things.  I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the new seedlings that have sprouted in my garden.  It’s a very warm and fuzzy feeling, but It’s not quite like bringing a new child into the world.  If you are a parent yourself or have shared in the experience of welcoming a child to life, you know that the new addition to the family brings in an avalanche of beautiful emotion.  What you may not be aware of is that Stepparents often feel a similar sense of elation when they adopt their spouse’s children.

I’ve had the pleasure to assist many families with stepparent adoptions as a Jacksonville family lawyer.  Although in every situation that I’ve been a part of, the stepmother or stepfather has been a part of the child’s life for years, when the adoption is final, the new parent is overwhelmed with joy.  Once the adoption is final, a legal parent-child relationship is created to go along with the emotional bond that already exists.  The child even gets a new birth certificate with the stepparent’s name on it.  The court records are then sealed, as all adoptions are private matters. Continue reading

498955_holding_moneyAlimony Reduction and Termination: Alimony is often one of the most contested issues in divorce cases.  For many people, the idea of paying money to financially support an ex-spouse is a disgusting idea.  When the love and reverence turns to hate and disdain, making alimony payments to the ex-spouse is painful.  The pain is only magnified by a judge’s ruling that the payments are to be permanent.  An award of permanent alimony normally stays in place until the re-marriage of the recipient or the death of one of the parties.  However, under some circumstances, modification or termination of permanent alimony payments can be accomplished.

Florida Statute 61.14 authorizes the circuit court to reconsider alimony when the parties’ circumstances or financial ability change.  Courts interpret this by requiring three things: (1) a substantial change in circumstances; (2) the change was not anticipated at the time of the final judgment; and (3) the change is sufficient, material, permanent, and involuntary.  Applying this test, alimony can be either decreased or increased.

Florida courts have deemed that a former wife’s increased living expenses related to her condominium were enough to justify an increase in alimony.  It has also been determined that a former husband who voluntarily retires after reaching retirement age and has less income as a result should have that fact considered when the former husband asks for a reduction in alimony payments.  For more information, or for a free initial consultation regarding the specific facts in your case, call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC at (904) 685-1200.  Our experienced Jacksonville alimony lawyers and divorce lawyers can help you or a loved one work toward the best outcome in your case.

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Social media has become an everyday part of life for many people, including Florida residents.  Oftentimes, conflicts between people begin on social media platforms.  Other times, issues begin in the “real world”, but are carried out in forums like Facebook and Twitter.  Recently, I encountered a situation that falls into the latter category.  Most Jacksonville injunction and family lawyers are all too familiar with the story of the old spouse  and the new spouse having issues with each other.  Petitions for injunctions or restraining orders end up being filed in many cases.  Physical violence is not always what prompts the petitions being filed.  When the feud manages to stay verbal, rather than become physical, the next best way to elevate the conflict for many is often to turn to social media.  Mean and nasty things are said, sometimes even threatening things, with a very large social media audience watching and weighing in themselves.

So what happens when one person harasses, stalks, threatens, or cyberstalks the other on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…?  If both parties live in Florida, the answer is simple: an injunction petition or a petition for a restraining order may be filed.  Florida laws allows for the petition for protection against stalking to be filed in the Florida county where the defendant lives or in the county where the action accrues , meaning the place where the acts are committed.  Florida Statute 784.0485 creates a cause of action that specifically allows an individual, or an adult on behalf of a child, to file a petition for protection against stalking.  The petitioner, through the petition for a protective order, will ask the court to order the violator to have no contact with and stay away from the petitioner.  The court will weigh the evidence and make a decision whether to grant the request for an injunction.  However, when the conduct that is complained about takes place entirely on social media, like Facebook or Twitter, the court may have more of an issue when determining whether the injunction should or can be issued if the violator is a resident of another state.

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As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I am familiar with how messy things can get in a divorce case. People tend to have emotional responses during divorces that can sometimes cloud their judgement. For instance, the Florida Family Law Rules come right out and tell us what financial disclosures must be provided to the other side, yet there will still be disputes regarding what information has to be provided. Oftentimes, the motivation not to provide information as required under the Florida Family Law Rules stems from spite. Divorces are understandably very emotionally draining and tough events to endure for most people. It is your divorce lawyer’s role to help by being your legal counsel and help you make the best decisions in your case.

Thumbnail image for 150130_accounting-calculator-9-90373-m.jpgRule 12.285, entitled Mandatory Disclosure, lists the disclosures that must be made, such as pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and more. There can be sanctions for parties that refuse to comply with the rules. You could end up paying your spouse’s attorney fees associated with asking the court to compel you to comply. It is important to only refuse to produce the information if there is a valid objection to be made. Any objection must be timely. If your objection is not made five (5) days or more before the due date of the disclosure, your objection is considered waived.

Working with your attorney to quickly comply with the rules and time limits can save you time, money, and stress. At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville divorce and family lawyers that can help guide you through the divorce process with care and understanding. It is our pleasure to help with a stressful situation in your time of need. Call us today (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation regarding your divorce case.

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There are numerous reasons that spouses cite when filing for divorce. These reasons vary greatly. However no matter what the reason, in recent years a new trend has developed on when spouses actually file for divorce- and it is right after New Years Day.

The most common time of year for filing for divorce is the month of January, which is now nicknamed divorce month. In the month of January, the most popular day to file is January 2nd and January 3rd, which is right after the New Years’s Day holiday.

There are probably many reasons why divorce filings double during this period of time. Many spouses report wanting to stick it through the holidays because they feel it will be easier on the family and/or the children. Some couples believe that the togetherness and emphasis on family that comes with the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas will solve all of the preceding year’s problems. Sometimes the stress of the holidays makes an already declining marriage much worse.

Since the New Year’s Holiday seems to bring with it a period of reflection and review of the previous year, it may be the last reflection that a spouse needs in order to get them to file. No matter what the reason for the split is, divorce filings double in January. Statistics show that approximately 10 percent of couples don’t make it to their fifth wedding anniversary and roughly 25 percent divorce before they make it to their tenth wedding anniversary.
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Dan Marino, probably the greatest quarterback the NFL ever produced, and champion of autism awareness, cheated on his wife of 28 years and fathered a child with an attractive television personality. Always seen as a clean cut family man and all around good guy, he’s had four children with his wife and adopted two children, and inspired by his autistic son developed the Dan Marino Autism Center with his fortune.

How could someone everyone sees as so good do something so bad? Generally 50 percent of men are assumed to cheat on their significant others and in a study of 400 women, 39 percent admitted to physically cheating on their husbands.

So why is cheating so rampant? It may be that we crave emotional connection. In study after study only around 7 percent of cheating men said all they were after was sex as compared to 48 percent who reported it was the desire to have an emotional connection. Eighty Eight percent of cheaters said the object of their carnal desires was not more attractive than their spouses. It seems that most cheating occurs after someone has formed some close friendship with the person they eventually have an affair with.

Americans don’t seem to protect their marriages. Chemistry is a powerful force and someone with seemingly everything can still be left feeling wanting companionship and love.

Since cheating is so common, it is a good idea to ask yourself before you contemplate a divorce, should I try to reconcile with my unfaithful spouse? We all make mistakes of some degree, and the longer one is married, the more difficult both emotionally and financially it can be to walk away from a relationship.

However, the other side of that coin reads, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. How can you ever trust again?

In order to make a decision to reconcile, it is important to separate emotion from logic. Infidelity is a highly emotional issue surrounded by feelings of betrayal and jealousy. Separate those emotions from the logic of the situation, no matter how hard that may be. It may be helpful to decide at this point to figure out what your dealbreakers are. It is also important to think about your safety and financial security.

It may also help to discuss your feelings with a family law attorney who is not just concerned with getting your divorce dollars. Such a lawyer can explain to yo the pros and cons of a divorce and reconciliation and what your options are to protect yourself in the future.

1. “I brought my ‘friend’ with me to the interview.”

You and I have an attorney client privilege. But once you bring in a third party, whether it’s a friend, a lover or whoever, the benefit of the attorney client privilege is gone. Unless that third party is named in the case or otherwise officially associated with the case, there is no attorney client privilege.. If a friend or a lover is in a meeting with attorney and the case goes sour, in the event of a trial or deposition, there is no privilege and all those secrets can spill out in a deposition or in court.

2. “I am so depressed over this.”

If you need to cry on someone’s shoulder, don’t use your attorney’s. He or she is billing you by the hour, and while they may sympathize with your problems, they have to bill you for the time you spend with them commiserating on the telephone or in person. If you tell all your troubles to your attorney, you’ll really be crying when you see the bill.

3. I know he or she is cheating on me because I’ve been following him/her everywhere.

If you say this to your attorney, one of the things you might be saying to your attorney in the near future is “get me out of jail.”

4. I just got into an altercation with my spouse and the police arrested me.

When going through a divorce, keep things civil. While things may have been stormy right before you decided on a divorce, now is the time to be on your very best behavior.

Family law can be expensive, both emotionally and financially. When clients come to see a family law attorney, rarely are they happy or in a good frame of mind. With this in mind, here are a few things that are often said to family law attorneys, that in hindsight, were better left unsaid:

1. “I don’t care what it costs, I would rather give you everything than give my wife/husband anything.”

No matter what you pay your family law attorney, you are going to give something to your spouse when the marriage is over. You may want revenge but that rarely happens in a divorce. Things said when you are angry will later be taken back, especially when the client receives my final bill for their act of “revenge.” Wouldn’t you rather spend your money on your children’s education than on legal fees?

2. “My friend or neighbor’s divorce worked that way and they told me to do it this way.”

There is nothing worse than asking for advice from people who have nothing to lose when you have everything to lose, and you hired a professional to advise you. Each family law case is different and unique. What makes sense to your well-meaning friends may make no sense for you. Sideline quarterbacking will only be detrimental to your divorce.

3. “I’m in a hurry to get this done”

When you say this, you immediately put yourself at a disadvantage. Compromise is critical in any family law case. Without compromise, you can never come to a resolution, and in Florida, the Judge will make all the decisions absent a compromise. If you tip your hand and let your spouse know you want to get the divorce in a hurry, your spouse’s attorney will know this as well. These cases come up when a client is eager to move forward because of a new relationship. In cases like this the divorce is going to cost you much more than initially anticipated and you will rue the day you told everyone you wanted this over quickly. Don’t rush. Hurrying will be costly.

4. “Never say Never.”

Never say your spouse can have everything. Never say you will pay your spouse nothing. Never say you are going to leave your children. Each case has an n upside and a downside. Saying never is one the worst things you can do. An attorney is here not just to give you legal advice, but to counsel you on how to rebuild your life after the storm is over.

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