April 17, 2012

How Long Is My Divorce Going To Take?

calendar.jpgAs an Orange Park Divorce Attorney I've noticed one of the first questions new clients ask me is, "how long is it going to take for my divorce to become finalized." Unfortunately, there is no one answer to that question.

A divorce can last as long as the parties want it to last. It truly depends on the issues of the case and how willing the parties are to compromise and communicate openly with their respective attorneys.

As an Orange Park Divorce Attorney, I have had all of the required paperwork and signatures completed within a week for simple divorces that do not involve children. However, Florida Statute 61.19 requires a period of 20 days to elapse from the time the Petition is filed to the time a Final Judgment can be entered.

If you are considering filing for divorce in Orange Park, Florida and are concerned about how long it will take before it will be finalized, contact an Orange Park Divorce Attorney today.

April 17, 2012

Anchorman 2 Ron Burgundy Custody Boogaloo

an.jpgAs a Jacksonville Child Custody Attorney, it is rare that I see a custody battle that has a lighthearted feel. However, the first ever funny child custody dispute may be in the works. How could that possibly be? Well, comedian Will Farrell recently announced the sequel to the classic Anchorman flick. And, it is rumored that the movie may feature Ron Burgendy facing off against Veronica Corningstone (played by Christina Applegate) for custody of their child.

Adam McKay is co-writing the movie with Farrell, and suggested in a recent interview a few plot topics. McKay may not be a familiar face, but you may remember him from the viral video "The Landlord," which featured Will Ferrell facing off against his toddler landlord, played by McKay's daughter, Pearl. During his interview, McKay claimed he did not want to give away too much information, and stated vaguely that the story may involve a custody battle in addition to what he referred to as "bowling for dollars." It's unclear what that one means.

All levity aside, amusing child custody battles exist only in the world of Hollywood comedy. In reality, child custody issues hopefully never reach the "battle" stage, as you and the other parent of your child will ideally reach a mutual agreement with primary focus on the benefit of your child. Even this stage, however, can be overwhelming. It's good to seek help, and a Jacksonville Child Custody Attorney can help you with the process. But don't forget to rely on your other support networks, too. Your friends and family will be crucial during this time, and you need to cool off every once in a while in order to keep a level head. A reasonable attitude and a sense of humor can go a long way in any negotiation, and child custody is no different.

If you are going through custody issues, contact a Jacksonville Child Custody Attorney to set up an appointment. If you need a break from it all, check out the first Anchorman movie, which is always good for a few laughs.

April 16, 2012

Annulments in Florida?

cake.jpgFlorida marriages can be formally terminated either by divorce or by an annulment. An annulment is sometimes preferred because it is accompanied by a church annulment procedure. A decree annulling a marriage is grounded on the fact that a valid marriage never existed, either because the marriage was void, or voidable.

As a Jacksonville Beach Family Law Attorney, I am often asked whether an annulment will be granted if a marriage was induced by fraud. Because Florida does not have an official statutory annulment provision, this question is difficult to answer. Courts will have to look at the totality of the circumstances and evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis. There is no certainty that a Judge in the Jacksonville area will grant an annulment in lieu of a divorce.

However, some examples of situations when Florida Courts have granted an annulment include: (1) when it is in the best interest of an underage child; (2) when it can be proved that one of the parties lacked the capacity to contract; or (3) when the parties lack the physical capacity to consummate the marriage.

Despite the fact that the contesting party may prove one of these defects in the marriage, an annulment still may be denied. If this occurs, a separate divorce action will likely need to be filed and the process starts all over.

If you are considering an annulment or divorce in the Jacksonville Beach, Florida area, it is important to discuss your particular situation with a Jacksonville Beach Family Law Attorney. Feel free to contact me anytime so we can schedule a free consultation.

April 15, 2012

Considerations for Child Custody Concerns in Florida

cc.jpgDivorces themselves are obviously messy situations, but a divorce can become infinitely more difficult when a minor child is involved. You want to see your kids all of the time, but so does your former spouse. Hopefully you and the other parent of your child can work out an arrangement agreeable to the both of you. Unfortunately, it is not always so easy. If you cannot work out an arrangement, the court will likely step in. A Jacksonville Beach Divorce Attorney in Jacksonville Beach can help, but here are some other steps you should take that can help obtain a more favorable ruling.

Be Civil. In front of your children, with your friends, and just in general, do not talk poorly about your spouse. Remember that your friends are often your spouse's friends, too, or they have other mutual friends, and so on. Word gets around; offensive statements often get back to the other spouse. The court may view this as a petty attempt to isolate the other parent. This doesn't look good for your character. More importantly, don't talk bad directly to your former spouse, especially if the children are around. The other spouse may claim you are abusive, even if you aren't -- courts take these claims very seriously.

Communicate. Don't take your kids for a 6-day trip to Disney without first at least informing the other parent. Similarly, allow your kids to communicate with their other parent while they're with you. It's tougher to prevent communication these days with the popularity of cell phones and the like, so this may not be an issue. But remember: your kids are going through a tough transition right now, too. If you're frustrated by their behavior, talk with them. Further, to help with their transition, don't move in with a new significant other if you have one. Doing this sends difficult messages to the kids, and may prejudice the court against you in any custody proceedings.

Of course, each divorce is different and each divorce therefore requires different advice. A qualified Jacksonville Beach Divorce Attorney can meet with you to discuss the specifics of your case. If you are going through a divorce or custody proceedings, contact a Jacksonville Beach Divorce Attorney today.

April 14, 2012

Active Duty Military and Divorce

military divorce.jpgMilitary couples who are facing divorce encounter many challenges unique to military families. It can be almost impossible for an active duty member of the military to sign divorce papers, much less put up a fight for a fair divorce settlement or child custody. In many cases, deployed military members going through a divorce often lose child custody because the nature of their work takes them away from home for long periods of time.

The Washington Post recently highlighted a new bill introduced into the House of Representatives which addresses these situation. The proposed legislation would add a provision to the Service-members Civil Relief Act of 2003 which would (1) prevent judges from considering a parent's military deployments when trying to determine what is in the child's best interest, 2) reinstate pre-deployment child custody status if there was a temporary transfer of custody during deployment.

In order to qualify as protected deployment under the proposed law the length of a service member's deployment must be between two and 18 months and the active duty assignment must be such that family members are not allowed to accompany the service member, such as a combat deployment.

If you are a military member facing an Amelia Island Divorce or Child Custody proceeding, contact an Amelia Island Divorce and Child Custody Attorney today. Being proactive when it comes to your rights is an important step in preserving those rights and making sure a difficult circumstance doesn't become more difficult as a result of your military status.

To read the full text of The Washington Post article click here.

April 13, 2012

Free Divorce Consultation!

Thumbnail image for free.jpgYulee Divorce, custody and family disputes are highly emotional and important matters that we at Apple Law Firm 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 the termination of their marriage.

Our Yulee Divorce Lawyers recognize that a divorce or child custody issue 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 enjoy a normal and 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 served with divorce papers and live in the Jacksonville, Florida area contact a Yulee Divorce Lawyer at (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation. Weekend and night appointments are available. 
Got a question and it is after regular business hours? Call our after hours line at (904) 701-8702.

April 13, 2012

Modifying a Florida Divorce Agreement.

dom agreement.jpgRecently, I have had several clients ask, in their consultation, whether signed and executed Marital Settlement Agreements and Parenting Plans can be modified or set aside. In typical divorce proceedings and under normal circumstances the answer to that question is going to be no. Generally, one party does not have the right to revoke a valid divorce agreement merely because they realize it is a bad deal after they have already signed it.

Under Florida law, once a divorce agreement is signed, the parties must abide by the terms of the agreement absent a showing of "substantial change of circumstances" or other defenses to contract formation such as fraud or duress in the execution of the contract. In most instances the best course of action is to have a Mandarin Divorce Lawyer review any divorce agreement before you sign it to ensure that you are not signing something that is not in your best interests.

If you are considering a Manadrin Divorce, contact a Mandarin Divorce Lawyer today to review any divorce documents you may encounter. It is important to remember not to sign anything without first consulting with a Mandarin Divorce Lawyer as, absent a substantial change in circumstances, any signed and executed agreement cannot be changed.

April 12, 2012

Child Custody Battle Continues For Melissa Etheridge.

melissa.jpgMelissa Etheridge, singer of the hit 90s song "I'm the Only One" and fresh off the release of her new album, Icon, is still in the depths of her legal battle with her former domestic partner. Their current dispute centers around their children, who are 5-year-old twins.

Originally, the court ordered Ms. Etheridge to pay Tammy Lynn Michaels $23,000 a month in child support. As this is more money than many people make in a year (the poverty level for a family of three is $18,530), most people would think $23,000 a month would be sufficient. Ms. Michaels, however, is asking for an increase. She claims she can't survive on this amount and is requesting an increase to $128,000 each month.

Ms. Etheridge has responded with several accusations of why her former partner should not be granted the increase, even accusing Ms. Michaels of accidentally burning one of the children with a cigarette. She has asked the court for 50/50 custody and for an order requiring neither of them smoke around the children.

Further, Ms. Michaels has accused Ms. Etheridge of teaching the children to be "distant and withdrawn," asking that her - Ms. Etheridge - time with the children be reduced.

While it is easy to scoff at the enormous amount of money involved in this case, it's important to remember the personal aspect of it: here are two people who used to have a great relationship. They have children. Now they're engaged in a very public debate over which of them will retain the majority of time with the children.

Divorce issues are never easy, even if you are an award-winning artist like Melissa Etheridge. Perhaps her position allows her a wider support group, but no matter who you are, it is important to surround yourself with people who understand what you are going through. This is especially important when children are involved. You need to worry not only about your own wellbeing, but also that of your children.

If you are going through a divorce or custody battle in the St. Augustine, Florida area, contact a St. Augustine Divorce Attorney who understands the emotional aspects of your situation. A qualified St. Augustine Divorce Attorney can help you through this trying time and answer any questions you may have.

April 12, 2012

Florida Uncontested Divorce

st. augustine.jpgMany couples considering divorce are concerned that beginning divorce proceedings will mean that they have to put their lives on hold while their lawyers drag them through months of court battles, legal struggles and attorney fees. Not all divorces have to proceed this way. Many couples considering divorce are exploring the concept of uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorce is a fresh approach to divorce, one without the strain and discord normally associated with a traditional divorce.

In an uncontested divorce an attorney will draft a Marital Settlement Agreement, which identifies and addresses all issues between the divorcing parties including division of their mutual debts, properties, definitions of alimony, etc. Both parties consent to and sign the document which will be filed with the court. The Court adopts the agreement and enters it as part of the Court's divorce decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

If you are considering a St. Augustine Divorce, it may be in your best interest to enlist the guidance of an attorney. An experienced St. Augustine Divorce Attorney can prepare and help you and your spouse carry out an uncontested divorce that is simple and affordable. If you think an uncontested divorce may be right for you, contact a St. Augustine Divorce Attorney today for a complimentary consultation to discuss your options.

April 11, 2012

Seal's Response to Heidi Klum's Divorce Petition

seal.jpgSo, I just wrote a blog yesterday regarding how Heidi Klum officially filed for divorce from her husband Seal. I mentioned that Heidi requested primary physical custody of the couple's four children and that the parties had a prenuptial agreement in place prior to walking down the aisle. I also mentioned, only time will tell if their divorce will be amicable or nasty.

Well, it looks as though it may be getting nasty. Seal has filed a response to Heidi's petition and there are some discrepancies between the two. For example, Heidi refers to a prenuptial agreement in her petition alleging there is no joint or community property, whereas; Seal makes no mention of such. This can be of huge consequence, as it is estimated Heidi has a net worth around 70 million, whereas; Seal's net worth is estimated around 15 million. Seal has asked for joint physical custody of their children while Heidi wants primary physical custody.

This is just the beginning, we'll have to wait and see how this highly publicized divorce plays out.

Going through a divorce in Orange Park? Contact an Orange Park Divorce Attorney today and schedule a free consultation.

April 11, 2012

Will My Divorce Cause Any Tax Implications?

taxes.jpgSome aspects of divorce are relatively simple, but become complicated when heated emotions and bitterness come into play. Other aspects, however, are inherently daunting to many people going through the process. Nobody enjoys filing taxes, and the process becomes more complicated for couples going through a divorce.

To make the process easier: communicate with your former spouse. This tip is incredibly common because it is incredibly important. With the help of a qualified Ponte Vedra Family Law Attorney many aspects of your divorce become simpler if you and your former spouse are on the same page and are open with each other, especially when it comes to tax issues.

The first thing to consider is how you want to file: if you were married last year but are now getting divorced, you have the option of filing jointly or separately. Each option carries its own concerns. A joint return might be simpler, but will expose you to tax liability should your partner run into any trouble with the IRS. A separate filing avoids this liability, but can be expensive.

Additionally, if you have children, it goes without saying that things will be more complicated. You'll have to decide which parent will claim head of household status in order to get the dependency deduction. This is usually simple: the parent who has custody for more than 50% of the year generally claims the deduction. If you have multiple children and different time-share arrangements for each child, the head of household determination can be a little trickier; a Ponte Vedra Family Law Attorney can help you with these issues.

Spousal support. This area can be a little tricky as well and counterintuitive. As a general rule, the spouse paying support can deduct the payments from his or her income. The spouse receiving support, however, must include these payments as taxable income.

Some of this may sound confusing, but don't worry: contact a Ponte Vedra Family Law Attorney in the Jacksonville/Jacksonville Beach/Orange Park area who can help you with these issues and other questions you may have.

April 10, 2012

Heidi Klum Officially Files For Divorce From Husband Seal

heidi klum.jpgThree months after announcing an amicable separation, super model Heidi Klum officially filed for divorce from husband Seal this past Friday. Klum, 38, cited the typical divorce language, "irreconcilable differences," in her Los Angeles County divorce papers.

Reports are suggesting that Klum has requested to be awarded primary physical custody of the couple's four children; Leni 7, Henry 6, Johan 5 and Lou 2. Also it is believed the parties had a prenuptial agreement in place prior to saying their vows. Only time will tell if this will be an amicable divorce or whether we'll see another nasty celebrity divorce.

If you're considering filing for divorce and want to know how to proceed, contact an Orange Park Divorce Attorney today to schedule a free consultation.

Serving the following counties: Duval, Clay, St. Johns and Nassau.

April 9, 2012

Don't Like Your Name? Change Your Name!

name.jpgJacksonville area residents seeking to change their name may do so by filing a Petition for Change of Name with the court in the county in which they reside. However, there are a few hoops that must be jumped prior to the court granting a name change. In particular, fingerprints must be submitted for a state and national criminal records check. However, this does not apply to women who are changing back to their maiden name. In Jacksonville the name change petitioner can have their fingerprints scanned at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for a nominal fee of $5.

Also, the petitioner must make sure the Petition is verified and show numerous other things, including: the Petitioner is a bona fide resident of the county where the name change is sought, whether the Petitioner has ever been adjudicated bankrupt and if so, when and where, and whether any money judgment has ever been entered against the Petitioner. A Jacksonville Name Change Attorney can help with this process by drafting the Petition that includes the proper and necessary language.

After everything is filed and received by the clerk's office a hearing on the Petition can be scheduled. Scheduling a hearing can sometimes be difficult for pro se petitioners; whereas petitioners with a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney tend to have little to no issues. The hearing consists of the Petitioner giving brief testimony to a Jacksonville Family Law Judge. If there are no issues the Jacksonville Family Law Judge will sign a final judgment, making the name change official.

Should you desire any further information on this topic please contact a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney who can help you through the process and represent you at the final hearing. Consultations are free and night and weekend appointments are available.

April 8, 2012

Child Abuse & Neglect in Family law

child abuse.jpgAs a Jacksonville Child Custody Attorney, I often see cases involving child abuse and child neglect. I run into these issues primarily in cases involving termination of parental rights or simply child custody disputes.

Florida defines abuse as "any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child includes acts or omissions. Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.

Neglect, on the other hand, "occurs when a child is deprived of, or is allowed to be deprived of, necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment or a child is permitted to live in an environment when such deprivation or environment causes the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired. The foregoing circumstances shall not be considered neglect if caused primarily by financial inability unless actual services for relief have been offered to and rejected by such person. A parent or legal custodian legitimately practicing religious beliefs in accordance with a recognized church or religious organization who thereby does not provide specific medical treatment for a child may not, for that reason alone, be considered a negligent parent or legal custodian; however, such an exception does not preclude a court from ordering the following services to be provided, when the health of the child so requires:"

(a) Medical services from a licensed physician, dentist, optometrist, podiatric physician, or other qualified health care provider; or
(b) Treatment by a duly accredited practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing in accordance with the tenets and practices of a well-recognized church or religious organization.

When I run into cases involving allegations of child abuse I always tell my clients of the importance of reporting such abuse. Florida Statute § 39.201 defines when it is required to report child abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

To learn more about what Florida considers as child abuse and what you are required by law to do if you're aware of incidents of child abuse contact a Jacksonville Child Custody Attorney but if you ever find that you are being accused of these crimes or suspect that you will be charged, you should contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible to help prepare your statements and/or defend yourself. Sometimes we see charges like this that result from actions, which are intended to change the child custody situation and may not be based on events that actually happened or can be substantiated.

April 7, 2012

The Divorce Process in Florida

dom.jpgLike most states in the U.S. Florida is a no fault divorce state. No fault divorce means neither spouse is required to prove "fault" or marital misconduct on the part of the other party. One party must merely show that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" or that the other party has been mentally incapacitated for the past 3 years.

This does not mean that divorce in Florida is always a quick and easy process that can be done without the professional assistance of an Amelia Island Divorce Attorney. For example, if one party disagrees that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" a judge may require the parties to attend marital counseling for up to 3 months to encourage reconciliation. This is done by one of the parties filing a Motion to Stay the Proceedings. A hearing will be held and the Judge will decide whether to stay/delay the divorce proceedings for 3 months in the hopes of the parties reconciling or to proceed with the divorce with not time gap. Judges also have the authority to delay the divorce and require counseling for up to 3 months if there are minor children to the marriage.

However, it is possible in the state of Florida to secure a relatively quick divorce. In fact, many spouses can reach an amicable settlement without having to ever have a contested court hearing, this is usually only if there are no children of the marriage and few assets that need dividing. But many divorcing parties 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 final hearing in front of a Judge) even in uncontested cases - so it is important for each party to be represented by their own Amelia Island Divorce Attorney.

It is important to note that even in a no fault divorce state divorce can be a long and taxing process if the parties are not on the same page. Many factors contribute to a divorce proceeding that often requires professional assistance. If you find yourself considering divorce contact an Amelia Island Divorce Attorney today.

Serving the areas of Duval, Nassau, Clay, & St. Johns counties.