A client walked into Apple six months ago, trying to get his alimony modified. He was not sure about hiring an attorney because he felt his previous attorney was a tiger in his office but a wallflower in Court. We finally asked us him to let us try to solve his family law problem and made a commitment to treat him like our most important client. His reluctance gave way to confidence in our firm and he hired us.1035051.large.jpg

The case was a garden-variety modification of alimony, one of the most heavily litigated types of family law cases. The standard for a modification of alimony is completely at the discretion of the court. The court does not have an obligation to modify; it just has the option…that is if your attorney proves the three elements. To receive a modification of alimony the petitioner, the person asking for the modification in layman’s terms must demonstrate that three things have happened since the original divorce:

• The party asking for a modification must demonstrate a material change in circumstances. That means things have drastically changed for one party for the better or the worse. Sickness or long-term loss of employment can be examples of such material changes.
• This change in circumstance must not have been contemplated at the time of the divorce. For example, graduating from college would not apply. A severe illness might apply (but not always).
• The change in circumstance must be sufficient (usually meaning whatever the Judge feels is sufficient), material, permanent and involuntary. Quitting a high paying job to join the Peace Corps would not apply. Layoffs from a permanent closing of a factory might apply.

To protect my client’s privacy, I won’t disclose what his or her circumstances were, but I believed they warranted a permanent change in the alimony my client was paying. But the trick was convincing someone else that it was. Namely a Judge…or the other party.

Too many attorneys in family law cases litigate every single issue…we are good at arguing…but just as important as a good argument is being a good diplomat. They say you can get more with sugar than with vinegar. I convinced my client that the diplomatic approach was better than a win at all costs approach and perhaps we could tap into a well of emotions and good will. So we went in with a good attitude, and open mind…

And the other party agreed to a fifty percent reduction in alimony…in mediation.

If you want to hire an attorney who has a good heart and won’t take you to the cleaners, give us a call at 904-685-1200.

An order to show cause is a type of court order that requires one or more parties in a court proceeding to come to court to justify, explain, or prove something to the court. Typically it means the Judge in a case needs more information before he or she decides to do something. For example, in a divorce, at the request of one parent a judge might issue an order directing the other parent to appear in court on a particular date and time to show cause why the first parent should not be given sole physical custody of the children.case-dismissed.jpg

Other examples of an order to show cause in a family law context would be when one parent has not been paying court ordered temporary child support while a case is pending. One party may petition the court to find the other party in contempt. The court may issue an order to show cause to find out if the allegation is true and ascertain why the party is not paying support. Perhaps the party is was in the hospital and was not able to work. The judge can then make an informed decision regarding the order and issue an appropriate sanction or no sanction at all.

If you are on the receiving end of a notice for an order to show cause, it is not something to set aside or ignore. You may wish to contact a family law attorney to assist you in protecting your rights. If you have such an order in hand, or have any questions regarding any other legal issue, give Law Office of David M. Goldman a call at 904-685-1200.

Yes, it can. It probably will, unless you hire a good financial planner and a good attorney well ahead of the time you decide to file for divorce.

Most credit can be extended to immediate family members. When credit is extended to a family member, the principal member assumes the primary responsibility of paying the amount due on the credit card or credit obligations. Most often, credit extensions are extended to spouses. 196033_457022344317091_31610989_n.jpg

Most couples undergoing divorce or have been divorced for some time, get surprised that they are billed for things that they have no knowledge of having bought. Situational examples are:

1. Your ex-spouse has stolen your identity. Your ex-spouse used your name and Social Security number to obtain credit without your knowledge.

2. Your ex-wife or ex-husband is an extended credit card holder. You being the co-owner are still liable for charges made on the credit card that your ex-spouse has been using. Joint accounts make you responsible for any debts entered by the two of you.

When these things happen, you would certainly be at a point where you want to know what your credit rating is. You should be aware that punctuality in paying debts and the extent of your debts are factors in evaluating your credit score. Your financial history of paying your debts is reported by credit reporting companies to credit scoring companies. Results of these are provided to lending institutions or companies who will decide on whether to grant you a loan or not.

Divorce can ruin your credit if you do not close your accounts ahead of time. Post-divorce credit problems can be avoided if you immediately close your joint accounts with your spouse. Most lenders do not honor divorce decrees. Creditors can still collect payment from the other spouse. The problem in this case is when the other spouse refuses to pay or fail to pay. This will affect the credit score if debt is unpaid on time.

Close accounts that are in both of your names. This one action can salvage some of your credit rating.

For most of us, divorce court, or any courtroom proceeding is foreign territory. Navigating through unfamiliar laws and proceedings certainly can be stressful, especially when you are in an emotional low spot. images.jpg

Here is generally what you can expect as you go through the procedure of a divorce:

There are four major issues to be settled in divorce court:
• Child custody and visitation: With whom should the children reside and how often will the other parent see them?
• Child support: How much financial help does the parent with custody receive from the other parent?
• Alimony: Is the lower-income spouse entitled to financial support?
• Division of property: How will you divide the property, assets and debts accrued during the marriage?

Just four issues but those four, as you can see, are extremely important. Your divorce may become more complicated if you have substantial assets such as investment property, more than one house, retirement plans, boats and automobiles. Your case can be decided more quickly if you and your spouse decide how to divide those assets before you file.
If you have disagreements regarding how to divide those assets or how your children will be affected by the divorce, the family law judge will send you to mediation, where a neutral third party will try to help you come to an agreement.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a divorce attorney to assist you in the matter call us today at (904) 685-1200.

Be a professional when you’re in Court. Show the Judge you’re an well adjusted adult…Address the Judge, never the other party.

For a non-attorney and even some attorneys a courtroom can be a strange and scary place. Courtroom proceedings can seem arcane and intimidating. This is one of the myriad of reasons that it is always far better to try to settle or mediate your dispute outside of court. Why allow a third party to make all the decisions for you when you could conceivably settle the case on your own?

The time to address the other side regarding your case is before you enter a courtroom. Once you enter the Courtroom, it’s the Judge’s Show, and the “winning litigant” always respects that.

Sometimes it is impossible to even talk with the other side, let along negotiate some kind of agreement that would make stepping inside a courtroom unnecessary. If you have fallen into this situation, you will probably either need to hire an attorney.

1. Never Lie in Court

The very worst thing you can do is lie in court. Many people take liberties with the truth in a domestic case. In most cases the Family Law Judge has to decide a case based upon conflicting testimony from the parties. Help the court choose your side by telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

2. Never Lie to Your Lawyer

Almost always, a good attorney can make the best out of a bad situation, but only if he knows the situation beforehand. If your attorney is blindsided, the damage is done and the situation may be beyond repair. You may even lose your lawyer and get the lawyer in trouble. Do not lie to your lawyer. Your lawyer can only prepare properly for your case if he or she knows all of the facts. If you lie to your lawyer, he/she cannot possibly prepare an effective case.

3. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING

Einstein would not recollect every single detail without the benefit of a documented reminder. Make notes of every important detail.

Keep a Journal, Calendar, Photo, Videos, Emails, and Receipts. Life moves at a fast pace. Documenting preserves crucial evidence that you may not recollect and will need.

4. Pay Your Lawyer on Time — Or You Could Lose Them

No one likes to work without getting paid. Lawyers are no different. The expense demands on a law firm are significant. When a client pays as expected and on time it eliminates an unnecessary distraction. Despite what you may think, most lawyers are working class people and are not sitting on bankrolls of money.

5. Respect the Court

No matter what you think of the Judge, respect the position that he or she holds.Dress at all times for success. Impressions always matter. When you speak, make eye contact with the Judge, speak calmly and in a tone of voice that can be clearly heard.

6. Time Plus Possession = Custody

The court tends not to disturb children from their present setting, if the present setting is stable. The longer they are in a stable environment the greater the likelihood that the court will leave them there. Do everything within your power to provide a stable and secure environment for your child.

7. The Most Important Factor in Any Child Custody Decision Is Stability

This includes stability of parenting, income, mood, relationships, surroundings, etc. A stable environment over time gives children a better chance at developing into healthy adults.

8. Know Your Goals

If you do not know what your goals are, and your spouse knows his/her goals, more than likely you will wind up where they want you. Most domestic litigants do not know their goals, while almost all who do have goals have unrealistic goals.

9. Give The Other Side an Out

You should not box your opponent into a corner. Give them an out, through settlement, with dignity. If they have nothing to gain, they also have nothing to lose by fighting.

10. Arm Your Attorney, Don’t Disarm Him

Do not do anything that risks your case. Instead, maintain your calm, gather information for your attorney to use in court. Live to fight another day.

(This entry is based in large part on an entry on Pikrallidas & Associates’s web page. Pikrallidas & Associates is an outstanding Central Florida law firm)

Very often a client will tell me he or she wants the best possible outcome in a divorce case. He or she may want the other Parent to have diminished time with their child. Much of the time this parent thinks they are protecting their child from what they see to be a bad person. They have confused their failed relationship with this person with a failed parent, which is an entirely different thing. I take a different approach…is my client’s position a reasonable one that I can justify to the Judge? The one issue that must remain on a client’s mind is this: Will a third party (read the Judge) find my position reasonable?

I find this one of the most important and effective of tools to obtain good and fair results in the courtroom, even when I can’t achieve every single one of my client’s goals. Reasonableness speaks to credibility. It also assumes that possibility of some win-win, and enables the Court to feel it has achieved substantial justice. Judges don’t generally like giving one side everything they ask for, unless of course they are really displeased at the other side.

By staking out a position that the judge will find thoughtful and reasonsable, you may gain wiggle room in other areas that you deem to be more important. Winning in Family Court means everyone walks out a winner. And a very happy Judge.
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At least that is what divorce lawyer Vikki Ziegler thinks he should do. She explains that in order to assure that the baby is legally “his,” he must take into account the fact that his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian, is still married to husband Kris Humphries.427px-Kanye_West_at_Revel_Ovation_Hall.jpg

Kanye must take Kim’s marriage to Kris into account because Kim’s Baby is legally presumed to be the offspring of her husband.

She advised Kim to end her marriage to Kris right away. This way she will be unmarried or married potentially to Kanye when her baby is born.

If marriage is not a possibility for Kanye, she recommends he get his paternity established STAT! Then this untidy little bit of family business will be done.

If you or a loved one has any questions in regards to a paternity action, please give me a call at 904-685-1200.

Photo By Kenny Sun (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

change.jpgObtaining a name change in Jacksonville, Florida is generally pretty straightforward, especially if you obtain a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney, as the process is typically uncontested. That being that case, a person can usually obtain a name change without much hassle. Obtaining a name change for a minor child, however, may involve some family law issues.

Family law in Florida — and any state, for that matter — can be a tricky issue for both the state legislatures and the courts. The general idea is that courts are busy enough and do not need to be inviting trouble.

This is the case with obtaining a name-change for a minor child. Where both parents agree to the name change, the process is usually smooth: a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney can help you prepare the documents and, so long as no issues arise, the name change should go through.

However, the statute that governs this issue requires that when only one parent files for a name change, the other parent must at least be notified. The court will likely hold a hearing on the matter and, if the other parent does not show up or does nothing within the required time period, the name change may go through. However, this process will be much more difficult if the other parent does not want the child’s name changed.

If you are considering a name change for yourself or minor child, contact a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney, who can help you through the process. Similarly, if the other parent of your minor child is filing a name change for the minor, contact a Jacksonville Name Change Attorney to discuss your options.

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