September 2011 Archives

September 30, 2011

How to Modify a Divorce Order?

blah.jpgAs a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney, I am often asked whether a child timesharing order can be modified after a divorce or paternity action in Florida. In short, the answer is yes. Parents can change their timesharing agreement, however, the standard under Florida Law if often difficult to satisfy.

In general, Florida courts require a "substantial change in circumstances" to justify a modification of a child timesharing agreement. A parent asking for the change can show a substantial change in circumstances in several ways. Some examples include a geographic move or a change in lifestyle. If a custodial parent makes a significant move, or a move will seriously disrupt the stability of a child's life, the move may qualify as a substantial change in circumstance and warrant a modification of the timesharing agreement. Additionally, if substantial changes in a parent's lifestyle threatens or harms a child, a modification to the timesharing agreement may be granted.

Florida courts further use the "best interests of the child" standard as a guiding principle when making timesharing decisions. This principle often trumps all other factors when making any kind of timesharing decision. A parent wishing to change the residence arrangement under a divorce decree has a heavy burden to satisfy. In these cases, it is essential to retain a knowledgeable Florida Family Law Lawyer.

If you have any questions about specific circumstances, contact a Florida Family Law Lawyer today, and schedule a free consultation.

September 29, 2011

What Happens if I Can't Pay My Child Support?

cs.jpgIn Florida, if a parent does not pay their court ordered child support they could likely find themselves behind bars. However, it has been my experience, as a Jacksonville Child Support Lawyer, that the court sees imprisonment for non-payment of child support as the last alternative.

For instance, 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.

You may ask what exactly is a purge amount. Well, A purge amount is an amount of money that must be paid toward child support arrearages in order to avoid going to jail for contempt of a support order. Because punishment is not the purpose of civil contempt proceedings, a court must allow the contemnor (person in arrears of ordered support) an opportunity to "purge" himself or herself of contempt.

The court must decide how much money the contemnor can reasonably pay toward his or her child support arrearage. Frequently, the court will set a purge amount at a sum much less than the total amount of the child support arrearage. When the purge amount is less than the total amount of the child support arrearage, the contemnor will be required to first pay the purge amount and then make periodic payments towards the remaining arrearage.

Contact a Jacksonville Child Support Lawyer today if you are worried you may be found in contempt of court for non-payment of child support or if you are seeking to hold a party in contempt of court.

September 28, 2011

Florida Restraining Order

stop.jpgAs a Jacksonville Restraining Order Lawyer, I assist clients initiate injunctions for protection against domestic violence (commonly known as Restraining Orders). I also defend against these injunctions when they have been filed against clients.

In my opinion, injunctions in Florida are the most misused and misfiled document in Family Law. Florida Statute section 741.28 defines what acts are considered as domestic violence in Florida. Specifically, Florida Statute 741.28 states, "Domestic violence" means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member."

Many times, I see a Petition for Protection Against Domestic Violence that does not contain any allegation of domestic violence as required by the aforementioned Statute. As such, I am able to successfully defend against the allegation(s) in court. If you are the subject of an injunction petition, looking to file a petition for injunction, or are facing an impending family law matter in general, contact a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney to represent you.

Call Law Office of David M. Goldman (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation today!

September 28, 2011

Termination of Parental Rights

gavel.jpgAs a Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer, I receive numerous inquiries regarding issues relating to termination of parental rights. For example, just this morning a mother contacted me and asked if she could terminate the parental rights of her daughter's biological father. The biological father had not seen the child since September 2010 and has made no attempt to contact her for visitation purposes. The mother would like to terminate the biological father's parental rights and allow the child's step father to adopt.

In situations like that described above, I turn to Florida Statute 39.806. This statute covers the Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights, which range from mutual consent by the parties to abandonment.

Depending on the circumstances in the above described situation, the parental rights of the biological father may be terminated. However, there are numerous legal hoops that would need to be jumped prior to the termination being granted.

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, contact a Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer today and set up a free consultation.

September 27, 2011

Florida Anti-Gay Adoption Ban Celebrates One Year Anniversary

GAY_Adoption_707080_xlarge.jpegHow time flies, it was October 22, 2010, when the Martin Gill decision held Florida's ban on gay individuals adopting unconstitutional. A great victory for all Floridians and all people. Despite this win it is still crucial for same-sex parents of children to review their current estate planning documents, such as Wills, Trusts, Pre-Need Guardianship papers, Powers of Attorney and Designation of Health Care Surrogates. If you have never executed these type of legal documents, the time is now.

Individuals who are in a same-sex relationship, but who are NOT the legal parent of their "children" need to consult with a Family Law Attorney who is sensitive to the issues of gay and lesbian couples with children. There are documents needed to protect not only your relationship with your same-sex partner, but with your non-biological and non-legal kids.

The Florida court case which has allowed the LGBT community to adopt is just the beginning, however, despite this win, it is still important to consult with a LBGT friendly law firm to ensure that your rights and those of your family are protected.

September 26, 2011

Quick Divorce? Depends on the Circumstances.

agreement.jpgIt is possible in the state of Florida to secure a relatively quick divorce. In fact, many spouses can reach an amicable settlement without the involvement of any attorney, usually only if there are no children of the marriage and few assets that need dividing. But many people face problems navigating the legal hurdles including time constraints and complications filling out paperwork. This is so even where there is no "dispute" between the spouses about the need for divorce. Keep in mind, too, that there is still a requirement for a judicial proceeding (a hearing in front of a Judge) even in uncontested cases - so it is important for each party to be represented by separate counsel.

If you are facing divorce or are even considering the prospect of divorce, contact a Jacksonville Divorce lawyer to discuss the particular situation today.

September 25, 2011

How to Change the Name of a Child

minor name change.jpgAs a Jacksonville Name Change Lawyer, I know how to legally change an adult's name, and I have previously blogged on this topic. However, many individuals also desire to legally change the name of a minor child.

Getting a minor child's name changed is quite similar to changing an adult's name. After filing a "Petition for Change of Name" with the court, each adult Petitioner must have their fingerprints submitted for a state and national criminal history records check. Once the criminal records check comes back clear a Final Hearing may be scheduled before a Judge.

Although the process sounds relatively simple, there are issues that may and often do arise in which a Jacksonville Name Change Lawyer's experience and knowledge become extremely beneficial. For example, if one parent is seeking to change the name of a minor child, but the other parent is nowhere to be found, it may be necessary to either get the absent parent's consent to the name change or personally serve that parent or serve that parent through constructive service. In these situations, the assistance of a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney is priceless.

Contact Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation today! Available nights and weekends.

September 24, 2011

What Should You Wear if You Have to go to Court?

dress.jpgHiring a good Florida Family Law Attorney is one of the more important decisions you can make in your family law issue. A good attorney will use the most persuasive means to advocate your cause.

Sometimes, however, people overlook a very important aspect of persuasion: your attire. As the client, you want to give the court the best impression you can. This means you need to dress conservatively. The court may not say anything if you show up in jeans and a cut-off shirt; however, the court definitely does notice it. You want to make a good impression, so wear something you might wear to church or to a nice restaurant.

Most of all, you want to convey respect to the court. Look presentable. The court might not notice if you got a new haircut, but it will definitely notice if you just rolled out of bed. Being presentable to the court will help your Florida Family Law Attorney persuade the court to your side. Contact an attorney to discuss any family law issues you may have.

September 23, 2011

Military Divorce

military divorce.jpegIf you are an active duty service member, Congress has granted you with certain rule exemptions in court matters. You should not lose a court case just because you're overseas or otherwise unable to attend court because of your military service. This is due to the Service Member's Civil Relief Act.

One court in Kentucky, however, apparently did not get the memo that military service members should be given some leeway. In that case, a woman filed suit against her former husband for failure to pay child support. The husband wrote to the court, claiming that he had no attorney and needed the hearings to be scheduled at times that would allow him to appear by phone. Instead, the court went ahead with the proceeding without the husband's presence.

The wife later filed to hold the husband -- who was unable to attend -- in contempt for not complying with the previous order. The husband again asked the court to hold off and specifically mentioned the Service Member's Civil Relief Act. The court again ignored his plea and required him to pay his ex-wife's attorney fees.

Thankfully, the appellate court was more sympathetic and overturned the family court's decision. Courts are supposed to construe the Service Member's Civil Relief Act liberally in order to protect service members called up to active duty. If you are an active duty service member facing legal issues, contact a Florida Family Law Attorney to discuss your case.

September 22, 2011

How much does a Divorce Consultation Cost?

free consultation.jpgJacksonville Divorce, custody and family disputes are highly emotional and important matters that we at Law Office of David M. Goldman take special pride in handling. Regardless of the circumstances, the break up of any marriage involves many legal issues that cannot be overlooked and must be thoroughly researched and evaluated so that our clients obtain a fair and equitable result upon termination of their marriage.

Our Jacksonville Florida Divorce and Family law Attorneys recognize that a divorce or child custody issues can create stress and cause individuals to take unrealistic positions on various topics. We strive to open lines of communication and help families work through this difficult process while creating an environment that allows children to have a normal healthy lifestyle. Whether you need an uncontested divorce or just enforcement of a previous agreement we are able to help preserve and enforce your rights in Duval, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns County.

If you are considering divorce or have just been filed with divorce papers contact a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney at (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation. Weekend and night appointments are available. 

September 21, 2011

Domestic Violence: Should I Represent Myself at an Injunction Hearing?

gavel.jpegMany individuals who are served with petitions for injunctions go at it alone and attempt to defend the injunctions in court without an attorney. The question I often see is "should I just defend the injunction on my own?" There are many issues that could potentially arise without the help of a knowledgable Jacksonville Family Law attorney.

An injunction can have effects that go further than requiring you to stay away from a particular person. Many times injunctions can affect a person's work and family life, too. If you are facing a party that is represented by a knowledgable attorney you stand a low chance of overcoming a well-written injunction petition or having your petition granted if you are the petitioning party. Furthermore, a knowledgeable attorney can take advantage of the rules of evidence, something many "pro-se" individuals (people who are not represented by an attorney) have little expertise in. By doing so an attorney can take advantage of the pro-se parties lack of knowledge in the rules of evidence and prevent them from getting much of any testimony presented to the judge. I personally see this happen on a regular basis in injunction court.

The best advice is not to look over such a disadvantage, especially in a matter that can have so many repercussions for an individual. If you are the subject of an injunction petition, looking to file a petition for injunction, or are facing an impending family law matter in general, contact a Jacksonville Family Law attorney to represent you.

Call Law Office of David M. Goldman (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation today!

September 20, 2011

How Can I Change My Name?

whats in a name.jpegChanging your name in Florida is generally not that difficult, especially if you have a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney's assistance. An experienced attorney can help you with the three main steps required to have your name changed. Specifically, a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney, can (1) help with drafting and filing the required Petition for Name Change, (2) help with filing a set of fingerprints and (3) schedule and attend a Final Hearing in front of a Judge.

Why fingerprints? The Court wants to insure that a Petitioner is not trying to evade any criminal proceedings or related issues. Florida Statute 68.07 reads as follows: "Before the court hearing on a petition for a name change, the petitioner must have fingerprints submitted for a state and national criminal history records check, except if a former name is being restored. Fingerprints for the petitioner shall be taken in a manner approved by the Department of Law Enforcement and shall be submitted electronically to the department for state processing for a criminal history records check. The department shall submit the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for national processing. The department shall submit the results of the state and national records check to the clerk of the court. The court shall consider the results in reviewing the information contained in the petition and evaluating whether to grant the petition. When a petition is filed which requires a criminal history records check, the clerk of the court shall instruct the petitioner on the process for having fingerprints taken and submitted, including providing information on law enforcement agencies or service providers authorized to submit fingerprints electronically to the Department of Law Enforcement. The cost of processing fingerprints and conducting the state and national criminal history records check required under this subsection shall be borne by the petitioner for the name change or by the parent or guardian of a minor for whom a name change is being sought."

I know from experience that a Judge will typically grant a Petition for Name Change as long as the testimony presented at the Final Hearing suggests the petitioner did not file the Petition for any ulterior motive, such as to avoid creditors or criminal proceedings. If you want to change your name contact a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney at (904) 685-1200 to set up a free consultation.

September 19, 2011

What Should I Do If the Father of My Child is Not Paying His Child Support?

As a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney, I see Fathers habitually and often times Mothers as well, not paying child support ordered by the court. I receive numerous inquires from parents wondering what they can and should do when the other parent is doing just that, not supporting their child or children.

Depending on the situation I recommend filing a Motion for Contempt and/or a Motion to Enforce. However, Motions for Contempt and Motions to Enforce are not easy undertakings. There are certain issues and evidence that a Judge needs to see in order to find a party in contempt or to enforce an order or judgment. I have experience in both drafting these Motions and arguing them in front of a Judge.

I recommend contacting a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney that can help assist you in receiving the child support both you and your children are owed. Contact Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation at your convenience, including nights and weekends.

September 18, 2011

Can I Relocate With My Minor Child Without the Other Parent's Permission?

Florida Statute 61.13001 governs this issue of parental relocation with a minor child. The Statute defines Relocation as, "a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child."

The Statute further states, in so many words, unless an agreement has been entered between the parents as to the relocation the parent desiring to relocate must file a Petition to Relocate with the Court and serve the same upon the other parent.

As a Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer, I know what this Petition needs to entail and the process of filing it and arguing it (if necessary) before a Judge.

If you are looking to relocate more than 50 miles away from your current residence and are concerned as to whether the other parent will consent to this relocation contact Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200 at any time. I will be happy to schedule a free consultation at your convenience, including nights and weekends.

September 17, 2011

How to Start a Divorce

start.jpgJacksonville Florida divorce case are also known as a Dissolution of Marriage Proceedings. A Jacksonville Divorce can be started by either a husband or wife after having lived in Duval County for six months. To start either party must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court and serve the same on the other party. The "served" party then has twenty (20) days to file an "Answer"  or other response to the Petition.

This twenty (20) day time limit is extremely important in that if an "Answer" is not filed within that time frame a "Default" judgment may be entered against the "served" party, which may necessarily grant the Petitioning party everything requested in the Petition.

Therefore, if you have just been served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage it is imperative to contact a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney as soon as possible. Feel free to contact Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200 at any time. I will be happy to schedule a free consultation any time, including nights and weekends.

September 16, 2011

Restraining Orders and The Importance of an Attorney

dv.jpegDomestic Violence Injunctions in Jacksonville

Florida has four separate types of injunctions (also known as restraining orders): one for domestic violence, one for dating violence, one for sexual violence and one for repeat violence. This blog deals strictly with domestic violence, but look for future blogs discussing dating, sexual and repeat violence injunctions.

In Jacksonville Domestic violence has been defined as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member. Any person who is the victim of domestic violence in Jacksonville or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of an act of domestic violence in Jacksonville is given the ability to file a petition for an injunction against domestic violence. Even a member of the family or household can file the petition; it does not have to be "spouse v. spouse."

A comon issue with these injunctions is they are often filed by the petitioner themselves, with help from a clerk at the Courthouse. The statutes pertaining to injunctions are complicated, and the majority of persons seeking injunctions are represented by themselves, or "pro-se." Pro-se petitioners often face trouble when it's time to go in front of the Judge. If you feel you are in a relationship that is abusive, especially where it appears there is an immediate and present danger of violence, or if you have been accused of domestic violence in Jackosnville  contact a knowledgeable Jacksonville Domestic Violence Injunction Attorney  or call us at 904-685-1200 so that we can help you properly defend your rights in a domesitc violence injunction.

September 15, 2011

How to File or Defened an Injunction

restraining order.jpgIf you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence there is assistance in the Jacksonville area. Specifically, Hubbard House is the only certified domestic violence center serving Duval and Baker county. Hubbard House has numerous services that help aide individuals who find themselves victims of domestic violence. Among other services, Hubbard House can provide emergency shelter, counseling, batterer's intervention, and court advocacy.

However, if you or someone you know is seeking to obtain an injunction for protection it is important to know that Hubbard House's court advocates are not attorneys. In order to obtain legal assistance in obtaining an injunction you should contact a Jacksonville Injunction Attorney.

September 14, 2011

Common Law Marriage in Florida

common law.jpgCommon law marriage, often referred to as sui juris marriage, is only recognized in twelve states; Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Texas, and Utah. The District of Columbia also recognizes common law marriages. However, you will notice, Florida is not among those states.

Florida Statute 741.211 reads as follows, "No common-law marriage entered into after January 1, 1968, shall be valid, except that nothing contained in this section shall affect any marriage which, though otherwise defective, was entered into by the party asserting such marriage in good faith and in substantial compliance with this chapter."

Although Florida does not have common law marriage, there are instances when Florida will recognize common law marriages that occurred out of state. Contact Law Office of David M. Goldman for more information on this and other family law issues.

September 13, 2011

The Dangers of Social Networking in Divorce

social media.jpgIf you are going through a divorce, it is very important that you try not to talk about it to too many people. It's natural for you to vent your feelings and anger, but keep these conversations limited to close friends and family.

You should never discuss any aspect of your divorce on any social networking site, such as facebook and twitter. Not only can this start needless arguments online, but these arguments are archived essentially in stone. Even if you delete a comment or post, it has been archived on a computer that you likely do not have access to. In certain circumstances, this information can be subpoenaed or obtained through other methods and then used against you.

In fact, the lawyer for the other side may find a way to use social networking information against you, even if you think it's something innocent. For example, if you have pictures of yourself at a bar, the opposing council could use it in a custody battle. Or, if you tell your former spouse that you don't have any money, don't post pictures of your new car on your profile.

If you are going through a divorce, contact a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney to help with your case.

September 12, 2011

Dating During Divorce, is it ok?

date.jpegClients often ask me whether it will hurt their divorce case if they date someone before their divorce is final. I tend to tell them, it depends on whether or not children are involved in their divorce.

If children are involved, especially young children, I think it is probably best to hold off on dating. This is especially true if you want to introduce the children to your new significant other. This could cause issues with the children and your soon to be ex-spouse.

However, if no children are involved in the divorce I don't think dating during the divorce process will necessarily harm the case in a negative way. But I still think it should be done discreetly.

Contemplating divorce? Contact Law Office of David M. Goldman, for further assistance.

September 9, 2011

Same-Sex Parents learn about New Guidelines for Parenting

child-custody.jpgAn issue facing same-sex parents is what rights the non-biological and non-adoptive parent has with respect to their children.

Like many couples, same-sex and heterosexual, whose relationship ends, the children are the focus of the split, and not necessarily in a good way. Child custody and visitation issues become contentious. As time evolves, so does societal perception of what makes a good parent. However when faced with a parenting conflict, it is advisable to contact an attorney who deals with the unique concerns facing those in the LGBT community.

A new set of guidelines have been published that will assist the non-legal parent should the biological or adoptive parent use anti-LGBT laws to attempt to deny visitation and/or custody.

The publication entitled "Protecting Families: Standards for LGBT Families" was put together by a myriad of advocates and defenders of same-sex parents. It stresses the importance of the children and advises parents and lawyers to honor a child's relationship with both parents. It also gives information to assist in custody and visitation resolutions that minimize conflict in an effort to avoid litigation.

If you are in a St. Augustine same-sex relationship and have children, it is always advisable to consult with a Family Law and Estate Planning Attorney who can suggest various legal documents aimed at protecting your relationship with your children.

There is still a long way to go to end discrimination against same-sex relationships. There are several cases across the country which result when a biological or adoptive parent tries to claim that the other parent has no parental rights. These cases talk about parentage of both the legal parent and the non-legal parent.

September 9, 2011

How to Get Started With A Divorce

divorce decree.jpgFlorida is one of the many states that does not consider fault for grounds of divorce. In other words, you don't have to show that your spouse has wronged you in any way; you just have to show that the marriage is "irretrievably broken."

The actual process is relatively straightforward. Either spouse may file the dissolution of marriage, so long as he or she can show that the marriage exists, that one party has been a Florida resident for the past six months, and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. While this process may sound simple, it may involve some unfamiliar procedures, so please speak with a Florida Family Law Attorney before taking any action on your own.

Once the divorce is granted, the court may consider fault in awarding alimony and other asset distributions. An attorney is essential at this stage, as it may make a difference in the amount of money or other assets you have to give to your former spouse. A Florida Family Law Attorney can help explain the best options available to you.

September 8, 2011

What Can I Do If I'm Late on Child Support Payments?

If you have the means to pay child support, you should do so immediately. In fact, failure to pay may be a crime if you have the money but simply refuse to pay it.

If you do not have the money to pay due to a loss of job or other valid reason, you should work with the court to alter your payment arrangement. A Florida Family Law Attorney can help you in this process. Though you can technically go through the process yourself, the process may be confusing and an attorney can help you navigate the process. Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney today to discuss your best options.

September 7, 2011

Florida Developmental Disabilities on the Rise?

autism.jpgAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one in every six American children now has a developmental disability, which is a 15% increase since 1997.

The Los Angeles Times further reports that the increase is due to the rise in the prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and is based on reports by parents during a phone survey. But because ADHD has become a catchall phrase for a variety of behavioral problems in schools and elsewhere, it is not clear whether the increase represents a real upsurge in such developmental delays or simply parental and physician attribution of old behaviors to a disorder that might be treated with drugs.

Developmentally disabled Floridians living in Jacksonville and the surrounding area, suffer from retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida and Prader-Willi Syndrome. To qualify under the Florida Statutes as an individual with a developmental disorder, the syndrome or disorder must manifest before the age of 18. The disability must further constitute a substantial handicap that can reasonable be expected to continue indefinitely.

If you have a developmental disability or know someone who suffers from a disability and would like information as to how Florida Law may facilitate you or your loved one, contact a Jacksonville Guardianship Attorney.

September 7, 2011

Guardianship Warning

guardian of elder.jpgSay it isn't so. A recent story in the American Bar Association Journal reports that an attorney in practice for over 30 years has been disbarred for helping a Ward "Will" 5 million to the attorney's wife.

A Florida Guardian is appointed by the court to make personal and financial decisions for a minor child or an adult who is either physically or mentally incapacitated. The subject of the guardianship is called a "ward".

In many instances a family member, or close personal friend petitions the court for a guardian to be appointed. However, there are times when an incapacitated person has no family or friend willing or able to act as guardian. In this case, either an attorney or a professional guardian will be chosen. In either instance, a Ward by virtue of being either incapacitated or a minor, is often easy prey for an unsavory guardian.

If you or someone you know is being taken advantage of, or is troubled by behavior exhibited by a guardian to their ward, it is advisable to talk with a Fleming Island Guardianship Attorney. There are several possible remedies available to remove and replace the existing guardian.

It is also advisable for people who may be in the early stages of a debilitating and incapacitating illness or disease, to consult with an attorney about preparing a Pre-Need Guardianship document. A Pre-Need Guardianship enables one to choose and select the person they would want making their personal and financial decisions, in the event they are unable to make their own decisions.

September 7, 2011

Speedy Divorce?

speedy divorce.jpgAs a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney I often get asked by clients, "how quickly can I get this whole divorce thing over with?" Well, this question sounds easy enough, but all divorces are different. Some divorces can be highly contentious and be filled with numerous issues such as: child support, alimony, and property distribution. These types of divorces can last months and even years. On the other hand, uncontested divorces can be completed and signed by a judge within a month.

Either situation you find yourself in, having a knowledgable Jacksonville Divorce Attorney on your side is priceless. Contact Law Office of David M. Goldman to schedule a free consultation at my Jacksonville or Jacksonville Beach office.

September 6, 2011

Florida Divorce After Gay Marriage

With the recent legalization of gay marriage in New York, gay rights activists are pushing for similar laws in other states. It appears such laws are increasingly likely; however, there is one aspect many people overlook: divorce.

Though this is not exactly a positive topic, it is nevertheless something to consider before traveling to another state (or to Canada) to obtain a gay marriage. Each state that recognizes gay marriage also recognizes divorce. Conversely, states that do not recognize gay marriage will generally not grant a gay divorce.

This is a problem for those couples who are not residents from the state or country in which they legalized the marriage. Those states that recognize gay marriage require residency for anywhere from 6 months to a year before granting a divorce. This leaves many same-sex couples with no way to legally divorce, unless they move to the state of their marriage.

This further complicates division of assets. While splitting assets after divorce is generally a routine matter, splitting assets during a gay divorce can be extremely difficult. Many of the assets will be treated as gifts, so certain taxes might apply. Currently, the tax law allows a $13,000 gift without being subject to the gift tax.  Any payment higher than that, can be taxed. There are ways around this. For example, you and your former partner can enter a settlement agreement that divides the assets in a planned amount. This could involve establishing an irrevocable trust and paying the money out over several years, thereby bypassing the gift tax. Another way is to use some of your lifetime gift tax exemption and filing a gift tax return with the IRS)

Getting a divorce is never easy, especially for same-sex couples. Nevertheless, workable solutions exist. Contact Jacksonville Attorney, Patye Davis at Law Office of David M. Goldman to discuss any questions you may have.

Contributed by Kyle R. Kelley, executive editor of Florida Coastal Law Review.

September 6, 2011

Parenting Class and Divorce

kids_divorce.pngThe State of Florida requires all parents seeking dissolution of marriage to complete a parenting course before granting a pending divorce. Said parenting course is designed to educate parents on the complex and challenging issues that often arise through the divorce process with parents and children alike.

In Duval County the required course is the Children First in Divorce Program offered through Hope Haven's Children's Clinic. Both parents are required to complete the course but do not have to do so together. Also, many Judges require completion of the above mentioned course in paternity actions.

If you are a parent considering divorce in Duval County and have questions regarding what else Florida requires in a dissolution of marriage proceeding contact a Duval County Divorce and Child Custody Attorney today.

September 5, 2011

Parents Prepare by Designating PreNeed Guardians

guardian mom for kid.jpgFlorida law allows for a non-legal parent to become the legal Guardian of a Florida Minor should the natural or adoptive parent become incapacitated or die. One way for parents to designate who they want as guardian is name a guardian in their Florida Will. The court shall consider any person designated as guardian in any will in which the ward is designated as a beneficiary. Florida Statute 744.312(3)(c)

It is however, better practice to follow Florida Guardianship Law in having a Preneed Guardian Designation prepared. Both parents, if living, or the surviving parent, may nominate a preneed guardian of the minor by making a written declaration. In that way, when the surviving parent becomes incapacitated or dies his or her wishes as to who should be the guardian of their child has been memorialized in writing. It is important to consult with an Orange Park Guardian Lawyer to make sure that the preneed guardian designation has been executed pursuant to Florida Law and is therefore, valid. The Designation must also be filed with the proper clerk of the court.

Upon a proceeding to determine the last surviving parent incapacitated, or upon the death of the last surviving parent, the production of a preneed declaration constitutes a rebuttable presumption that the designated preneed guardian is entitled to become the guardian. However, the court is not bound by the preneed guardian designation if the guardian is found to be "unqualified" to serve or if the court believes that such appointment of the preneed guardian would be contrary to the minor's best interest.

Orange Park parents prepare for your children's future today by talking with an Orange Park Guardian Attorney to learn how simple estate planning allows you to choose the guardian you want for your kids. . . just in case.

September 4, 2011

Elderly Hoarders

080306-Hoarding-1-vmed-5p.grid-4x2.jpgFlorida is home to a vast majority of senior citizens. As with any elderly population, Jacksonville elders suffers from an array of physical, degenerative and mental health illnesses and disease. Among a newly recognized and growing condition in the elderly, is Hoarding. The International Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation estimates that 1 in 20 people hoard. As with any disease, hoarding has many serious implications regarding the health, safety, and even mortality of an afflicted individual.

As a Jacksonville Elder Law Attorney, I have heard many stories about the negative implications associated with this growing phenomenon. Experts say that seniors are prone to cluttering for a variety of reasons, including fear of loss, anxiety, depression, not knowing how to get rid of possessions, or even memories associated with specific items that hold no intrinsic value.

The risks of living in clutter are many, and can lead to more serious physical health problems, including slip and falls from papers and debris on the floor, threat of fire, health effects of mold and mildew, exposure to vermin from rotting food and trash, complications from eating outdated food and much worse. Clutter can also interfere with family relationships, and creates conflict.

As with diseases such as Alzheimer's and Dementia, often, family members need to seek professional help, including a consult with a Florida Elder Law Attorney who is able to provide advice, guidance, and legal options.

The Home Instead Senior Care network provides a list of signs that may warn families that an elder's clutter may be fast becoming a hoarding problem. These indications include:

• Piles of mail and unpaid bills.
• Difficulty walking safely through a home.
• Frustration trying to organize.
• Difficulty managing activities of daily living.
• Expired food in the refrigerator.
• Jammed closets and drawers.
• Compulsive shopping.
• Difficulty deciding whether to discard items.
• A health episode such as a stroke or dementia.
• Loneliness.

Don't wait until hoarding takes someone you love, educate yourself as to this growing and emerging elderly care concern.

September 2, 2011

How Can I legally change my name?

name.jpgNewly married or divorced individuals can simply have their name changed through their marriage certificate or their divorce decree. However, if someone wants to change to a new name for other reasons, such as they simply don't like their birth name, a court order is required.

The process to have an adult name change in Jacksonville involves; filing a Petition with the court, having a criminal background check done, having fingerprints taken, and appearing before a judge at a final hearing.

Should you want to change your name contact a Orange Park Name Change Attorney today for assistance with the process.

September 1, 2011

Planning for Disasters in Your Parenting Plan

hurricane.jpgWhile Hurricane Irene brought minimal damage to Florida, Floridians are well aware of the destruction and disruption such disasters can cause. Despite this, many parents fail to take such disasters into account when creating their timeshare schedule.

For example, let's say you and your spouse split timesharing throughout the year. You have timesharing for a few weeks during the summer, but your spouse has majority timeshairng. Unfortunately, a hurricane arrives and cuts your visit a week short. You were really looking forward to spending as much time as you could with your children, but your spouse is not keen on allowing you to keep the kids past your court-ordered date.

If your agreement doesn't mention natural disasters, you might have to petition the court to allow you to keep your kids a few extra days. Doing so isn't free, and this may deter many parents from trying to get relief in court.

A better option is to build natural disasters and other unexpected situations (even a minor car accident could cause you to lose a day with your kids) into your timesharing agreement. Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney to help your through this process. Hopefully nothing unexpected happens to cause you to lose time with your kids. But if something comes up, at least you'll be prepared.