April 2011 Archives

April 29, 2011

Developmentally Disabled Children become Developmentally Disabled Adults, what is a Parent to Do?

Having a family member with a developmental disability who is now an adult may cause some future obstacles. Although you may be the natural parent, when your child becomes an adult, you are no longer able to make health care or financial decisions for him or her.

The Florida Guardianship Statutes allows for a Guardian Advocate to be appointed as a less restrictive form of guardianship.

A Guardian Advocate can be appointed for a person who has been diagnosed with a developmental disability. The Guardian Advocate will then be given certain powers and legal authority to act on behalf of and in the best interest of the person with a developmental disability.

If you would like to learn more about how becoming a guardian advocate may benefit someone in your life who has a developmental disability, contact a Jacksonville Attorney who has experience in handling Guardianship matters.

April 20, 2011

Annulments or Divorce?

graveyard.jpgSometimes as a family law attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, I get people who inquire about obtaining an annulment in Florida.

What exactly is an annulment? It is a way to formally terminate a marriage.

Marriages can be terminated by either a divorce in Florida or an annulment in Florida. Annulments are mostly sought for religious reasons and are accompanied by an annulment procedure from a church. An annulment is based on the argument that the marriage never legally existed in the first place. There are many reasons why a marriage may be deemed legally void or voidable. Please contact a divorce lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida if you are considering a Florida annulment or a Florida divorce.
April 18, 2011

Paternity And Cohabitation In Florida

chicago_penthouse_with_copper_roof.jpgAs a Jacksonville, Florida divorce lawyer and Florida child custody attorney, I have a lot of clients who have not married but have lived together and have a child together. When these relationships come to an end, many times the couple has acquired some property together. The property acquired during the relationship can be a home or car or credit card debt, etc. Florida law states that when parties are not married, the courts do not have the authority to address the division of assets or liabilities. To properly ensure protection of items acquired during the relationship, you should contact a Jacksonville, Florida custody lawyer or a Florida paternity attorney.

April 15, 2011

Getting A Divorce? Watch Out For Hidden Assets!

asset paperwork.jpgWhen going through a divorce in Jacksonville, Florida, it is so important to hire a Florida divorce lawyer because spouses have to deal with so many issues such as child custody, child support and alimony in Florida. Those issues do not address the division of assets and debts in Florida which the parties will have to address. This division can be especially difficult when a spouse is hiding assets. Many times in a Florida divorce, one spouse is the primary money manager, and the other spouse has very little or nothing to do with the finances in the marriage. But in divorce in Jacksonville, Florida, both spouses have to know about all of the assets and liabilities as this will affect how the parties' property is divided and determine the amount of alimony to which a spouse may be entitled. You should contact a Florida divorce attorney to ensure proper reporting of all assets and debts so that the final outcome is truly fair and equitable for you.

April 14, 2011

Contempt of Court in a Divorce

jail.jpgIn Florida, if a parent does not pay their court ordered child support they could likely find themselves behind bars. However, to put a non-paying parent in jail the court must:

(1) Find that the parent is willfully failing to pay the ordered child support amounts, (2) make the affirmative finding that the non-paying parent possesses the ability to comply with the purge amount and (3) put the above two requirements in a written order.

Contact a Jacksonville Beach Divorce Lawyer today if you are worried you may be found in contempt of court for non-payment of child support.

April 13, 2011

Another Adoption Victory for Same-Sex Couples in Arkansas

love my rainbow family.jpg
Florida same-sex couples that want to adopt, the movement is on. The Arkansas Supreme Court recently ruled that the state's ban on adoption and foster parenting by any person cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage is a violation of the Arkansas Constitution.

As in Florida, the best interest of the child criteria was the focus. The Plaintiffs in the
Arkansas case involved:• a lesbian couple adopting a special-needs child;

• a lesbian grandmother wanting to adopt a grandchild, currently in state care;

• three teenagers in the foster care system awaiting placement;

• several heterosexual couples prevented from designating certain gay or lesbian friends or relatives to adopt their children in the case of the parent's death.

Equality for Florida gay and lesbian individuals wanting the right to adopt has happened, hopefully, the Florida and Arkansas rulings will permeate to all states who currently do not allow a gay or lesbian person from adopting. 

Speak with a Jacksonville Adoption Attorney about your desire to adopt.

April 13, 2011

Same-Sex Couples Adopt; Same-Sex Couples Marry Elsewhere

gay marriage.jpgLegal progress, although slow, continues for gay and lesbian individuals and same-sex couples in Florida and all over the country. The entertainment industry has had and continues to express sentiments about gay and lesbian issues through their characters in prime time television shows, in movies which focus on gay relationships, and in music.

The movie "The Kids are all Right" depicted a same-sex couple who had 2 children through a sperm donor, and the ensuing complications that arose when the sperm donor was identified. Most recently, a renowned bestselling author has released a new novel.

"Sing You Home" written by Jodi Picoult is a book about the challenges that same-sex couples face when marrying and adopting. It is encouraging to know that the difficult issues faced by same-sex couples are being explored and shared through a "mainstream" author. This St. Augustine Family Law Attorney looks forward to reading this book.

April 13, 2011

What is a Default Judgment in a Divorce?

default.jpgI recently received a question from an individual who just had a default judgment entered against him. He simply asked, what was a default judgment and what can he do about it.

A default judgment is a binding judgment in favor of either party based on failure to take action. Most often a default judgment is entered against a party based on failure to respond to a summons or failure to appear before court. The default judgment usually encompasses the relief requested in the serving party's original petition.

When a party files for divorce a summons is served along with a copy of the divorce petition on the other party. The receiving party then has twenty days to file an answer. If no answer is filed a default judgment can be ordered against them.

However, there are ways to get a default judgment set aside or vacated. If you were just served with divorce papers or a motion for default contact a Jacksonville Area Divorce Attorney today.

April 12, 2011

What To Do When Communication Stops

mobile_phone_in_hand.jpgOne of the most important parts of being a divorce lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida is communicating with clients. Often I get clients who have had other divorce lawyers in Florida in the past, and the primary complaint is that they cannot get in touch with them after paying them money a.k.a. "a retainer fee". What can you do if you cannot reach your Jacksonville divorce attorney? The first step would be to send the attorney a certified letter indicating your attempts to reach him or her and requesting a return communication. If that fails, you can contact the Florida Bar at www.flabar.org to inquire as to whether the attorney is still in practice. The Florida Bar can help you in locating your Florida divorce lawyer. However, if you call your divorce attorney on one day and do not hear from him or her in the same day or within a couple of days after your message, this is not good reason to call the Florida bar. Repeated and numerous attempts at communication without response is required. Although your case is important to your divorce lawyer, your case is not the only case that he or she may have. Thus, patience is important. Most likely, your "emergency" is not a legal emergency. Give your divorce attorney a chance to get back with you before filing any complaints.

April 11, 2011

What Florida Courts Can Consider In Calculating Florida Child Support

take_my_hand.jpgAs a Florida child support lawyer, many people ask me if their new spouse's income can be used in calculating a child support obligation or in increasing a child support obligation in Florida. The answer is no. The only factors the courts normally use in calculating child support obligations in Florida is the gross income of the mother and the father as well as any employment related daycare expenses, insurance payments for the child, insurance payments for each parent and how much time each party spends with the child. Sometimes a court will consider new children from a subsequent marriage, but the new spouse's income is not used to calculate or to increase a child support obligation.

April 8, 2011

Florida Child Support Revisions: New Child Support Law In Florida As Of 2011

money_02.jpgAs a Florida child support lawyer and a Florida child custody attorney, I deal with the percentages of overnights that a parent may spend with their child and how that effects Florida child support laws. The old law used to be that if a non majority time-sharing parent had 40% or more overnights with the child then the child support obligation for that parent would be reduced. Thus, this would lead to one parent fighting for more time with the child and the other parent fighting not to allow it. The true fight was over the money. Now, as of January 2011, the new Florida child support law states that if the non-majority time-sharing parent has 20% or more of the overnights with the child then that will qualify for an alternate child support calculation. The alternate child support calculation is called "Substantial Time Sharing". Please contact a Florida child support attorney to correctly calculate the amount of support that the alternate support calculation may trigger.

April 7, 2011

Florida brings April Showers and Awareness of Autism!

Autism.gifApril is National Autism Awareness Month. For many Floridians living in the Jacksonville and Orange Park area, this has a profound and personal meaning. Autism is a developmental disability that affects the way a person (child or adult) interacts and communicates with the world around them. Autism affects people in varying degrees from a simple disassociation with the environment to those who have little or no spoken language and severe developmental delays.

It has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the incidence of autism has risen 200% in the last 20 years. Florida has its share of individuals who suffer from this disability. When it comes to a Florida adult with autism, it is often necessary for a Florida circuit court to appoint a Florida legal guardian or guardian advocate to represent and act in the best interest of the autistic person.

A Guardian Advocate may be appointed without an adjudication of incapacity and will be giving the authority required to protect the interests of and care for the person, property or both of the autistic person as delegated by the court.

To learn more about the role and function of a Guardian Advocate for an autistic loved one in your life, contact a Jacksonville Guardian Attorney.

April 7, 2011

Adoption In Florida: Know What Or Who You're Getting!

system_failure.jpgAs a Florida Adoption Lawyer, I can tell you that adoption is one of the most rewarding areas of law in which Jacksonville family law attorneys practice. It is the one area where everyone is happy and people feel as though something very good is being done. However, there are some horror stories regarding adoption in Florida. In my role as a Jacksonville adoption lawyer, I have seen some cases where the adoption agency has not fully revealed the child's abuse background and as such, the parents are adopting children with far more issues than relayed to them. Many times, these parents are not equipped to give these children the proper psychological counseling or medical care that the children need. As such, the children can and have ended up back in the foster care system with a failed adoption in Florida. It is imperative to utilize a Florida adoption attorney when choosing the adopt a child or children in Florida.

April 6, 2011

Child Custody Issues

custody.jpegAs a Jacksonville Child Custody Attorney I often see cases where one party will do everything in their power to sabotage the other party. This is the worst thing a parent can do who is involved in a child custody battle. Not only can certain actions put that parent in a bad light in front of the Judge but it can also be detrimental to the child.

Therefore, when I begin a case, whether it be a divorce case or a paternity case, among other things I tell the parent the following:

• Do not make disparaging remarks regarding the other parent in the presence of the minor child.
• Do not talk about the case in the presence of the minor child.
• Do not disrupt or interfere with the other parent's timesharing with the minor child.
• Do not relay messages to the other parent through the minor child.

Should you find yourself in a child custody dispute and are concerned about the effects the case may be having on your child contact a Jacksonville Child Custody Attorney today.

April 5, 2011

Divorce and Taxes

taxes.jpgTax day is right around the corner and as an Orange Park Family Law Attorney I tell my divorced clients that its important to be aware of the following things:

• Child support is not deductable.
• Child support is not income.
• Single parents may be eligible for the Earned Income Credit, depending on their income.
• Single parents may be eligible for Head of Household based on caring for child for more than 1/2 the year and paying more than 1/2 the expenses of a home.

To learn more about how divorce and taxes can relate contact an Orange Park Family Law Attorney today.

April 4, 2011

Dissipation of Marital Assets

money.jpgAs a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer the majority of my clients tend to be concerned about what will happen to their marital finances during their divorce proceedings. These clients are rightfully concerned because many individuals going through a divorce take the opportunity to start dissipating marital assets, by either selling items that would likely be equally distributed during the divorce or charging large amounts on credit cards.

However, as I tell all my divorcing clients, with every divorce proceeding in Duval County a Standing Family Law Court Order in entered. Among other things, this Order includes the following provisions:

"Neither party shall sell, transfer, encumber, conceal, assign, remove or in any way dispose of, without the consent of the other party in writing, or without an order of the court, any property, individually or jointly held by parties, except in the usual course of business or for customary and usual household expenses or for reasonable attorney's fees in connection with this action."

"Neither party shall incur any unreasonable debts, including but not limited to, further borrowing against any credit line secured by the family residence, further encumbrancing any assets, or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit or bank cards."

If you have recently filed for divorce or are thinking about divorce and are concerned about your spouse dissipating marital assets call a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer today.

April 3, 2011

Military Divorce Options

army.jpgA military divorce in Jacksonville, Florida creates some special needs that a Jacksonville divorce lawyer should be familiar with. Military divorces create certain issues that do not arise in civilian divorces. There are special laws enacted that are designed to protect a military member on active duty from having to respond to a legal action begun while he or she is deployed. Also, military retirement pay is handled differently than civilian retirement. Contacting a Jacksonville military divorce lawyer is crucial if you are a military member experiencing a divorce.

April 2, 2011

Obtaining Florida Legal Custody of a Child not Yours

DSC_3469 copy copy-thumb.jpgIn Orange Park there are adults raising and caring for children who are neither their own, nor related to them. Biological parents may have issues with drugs, alcohol, or association with others not meant to be around children. Unfortunately, it happens, biological mothers and fathers do not have the capacity to care for their own children.

If you have a friend or acquaintance who has entrusted you with taking in their baby or child, what legal authority do you have with respect to that child? Consulting with an Orange Park Guardianship Attorney may be your first step. Obtaining legal guardianship over a minor will give you the power to act in the best interest of the child, whether that includes providing insurance coverage, consenting to medical treatment or registering the child for school.

Becoming a Florida Guardian of a Minor does not terminate the biological parents parental rights. Call a Florida Guardianship Attorney to discuss your particular situation.

April 2, 2011

Florida Divorce And Timesharing: Even Tiger Woods Has To Be Flexible

swimming_kids_4.jpgAs a divorce lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida, the hardest thing about divorce is attempting to provide each party time with the children. Setting up a Florida Parenting Plan in a divorce is tricky to provide the most convenient opportunity for each parent to spend quality time with the children. Even Tiger Woods has had to make adjustments in playing in golf tournaments since his Florida divorce. Tiger Woods has had to make concessions and sit out on some major tournaments because the tournaments have fallen on his weekend time with his children. Many people who are experiencing divorce in Florida need a Florida divorce attorney to help maximize the schedule for time-sharing with their children.

April 1, 2011

Alimony In Florida: Will I Have To Pay?

money_02.jpgAsk any Florida alimony attorney if you will be obligated to pay alimony in a divorce in Florida and the most likely answer will be: "it depends". There are many factors that the courts use in determining whether to grant an award of alimony. Only one of which is the length of the marriage. Many people believe that if they've been married long enough then they will be entitled to receive alimony in Florida. That is not the case. There are numerous other factors to consider when determining a person's right to alimony in Florida as well as in determining the length of time the alimony will be paid and in what amount. A Jacksonville alimony lawyer can provide you with information to best outfit you for the alimony battle.