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.


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.

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 (], 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.

Negotiating a divorce settlement can be stressful, especially when tension is high and your spouse insists on contesting every last detail. One thing that often is last on people’s priority list, but which should not be overlooked, is insurance.

Insurance policies are standard parts of settlement agreements. The spouse who pays alimony or child support is commonly expected to maintain a life insurance policy that would cover the debt owed to the spouse or children on the receiving end of the money, in case the payer dies while a debt is owed.

If you’re the spouse who is the beneficiary, you must be certain that the policy amount is sufficient to cover your children’s educations, your mortgage and related debt. It’s important to consider sticking in guarantees that forbid a lapse, cancellation or change of beneficiaries to the life insurance policy.

The death benefit on a term policy should meet or exceed the minimum amount a spouse would pay over time for spousal or child support. But more than just that simple calculation, other expenses should also be considered. For instance, is the health insurance under the paying spouse’s name? If so, what would it cost to find a new insurer and pay the premiums? That needs to be calculated into the number needed for the policy’s death benefit.

It’s critical that the details are attended to when it comes to insurance. For instance, while most divorce agreements require that a spouse purchase a life insurance policy, does yours go on to require that they maintain it? Lapsed policies can be canceled, something you surely don’t want to happen if you’re the beneficiary. Experts suggest adding the beneficiary spouse’s name to the policy as a contact that insurers can use if policy premiums ever go unpaid.

Maximum asset protection is only achieved by carefully negotiating what is needed in the present and future before the divorce is finalized. The process can be draining, but temporary tension can ensure peace of mind in the future.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a Jacksonville divorce attorney to assist you in the matter, contact us today by email or by calling at (904) 685-1200.

Source: “Divorce and Term Life Insurance: Avoid These Three Common Mistakes!,” by Gabrielle Clemens, published at

Divorce is a hard enough process for anyone to go through and there are lots of complicated financial decisions that must be made. The money worries can multiply for small business owners who have the added concern of how the divorce will affect their livelihood and even employees.

First things first, your business will likely need to be valued in connection with the distribution of marital assets. This will mean a financial expert may need to go over the records of the company and ask questions about expenses and revenue streams. You’ll need to produce extensive documents to verify the numbers in this process. Sometimes valuations, especially complicated ones, can be expensive. Many times each party insists on having their own expert look at the books. The process can be time consuming and can serve as a distraction for employees who must spend time gathering documents.

Though the worst-case scenario in many business owners’ minds is that the company will have to be sold to pay the spouse his or her share of the marital assets, there are ways to minimize the impact of divorce on a small business.

1. First, hire a good attorney. An experienced Jacksonville divorce attorney will know what to do to reduce the impact of the messy divorce process on the continued operations of your business.
2. If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that could come in very handy. Such agreements can predetermine the amount of assets that will be distributed in a divorce and can thus protect a business from being broken up.
3. If you have partners, take a look at your partnership agreement and see if it addresses a way of buying out or valuing a share of the company if divorce is filed against one of the owners. While this may not control what a family court judge does, it can show that there was an intent to minimize business disruption which the court will likely respect.
4. If you aren’t lucky enough to have either of the two above agreements, consider hiring a joint financial expert to value the business which will save both time and money. The process will move more quickly if the two of you can agree on one neutral party to conduct the examination.
5. All involved parties, including attorneys and experts, can sign a confidentiality agreement to protect any sensitive information that is uncovered while examining the business’ books such as trade secrets or other proprietary information.
6. Finally, to minimize the risk of a sale of the company, you can attempt to structure the settlement with periodic payments to your spouse rather than a lump sum.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a Jacksonville divorce attorney to assist you in the matter, contact us today by email or by calling at (904) 685-1200.

Source: “How to Minimize the Impact of Divorce on Your Small Business,” by Jennifer Brandt, published at

slide_11845_156784_large.jpgFacebook is a good resource to communicate with old friends. Some people find it useful for such odd things as improving your heart rate or landing a job by networking. But one thing using Facebook may hurt is your chances of getting a fair hearing if you are going through a Florida Divorce or a Child Custody proceeding.

Facebook based circumstantial evidence has been used by 81percent of its members according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

You are probably thinking that you set your facebook account’s privacy settings high and you’ve blocked your ex, so they can’t see damaging information. But that does not stop your “friends” from forwarding damaging information.

He’s a list of things never to post to Facebook while going through family law related legal issues:

• That your ex was just a surrogate.
• Your ex is CRAZY, STALKING YOU or PSYCHO!!!!!!
• Pictures of you in the embrace of your new squeeze.
• Pictures of you consuming alcoholic beverages.
• Don’t check in at 3am at the club.
• Don’t Friend that Hot Guy or Girl that has 1000 friends.
• Photos of your Children.
• Racy Pictures.
• Brag about how sexually desirable you are now that “you’re free.”
• Anything that can be deemed negative about your former mate.
• Anything you would not want a Judge to find out about.

If you need a Jacksonville Family Lawyer, please give us a call at 904-685-1200.

old-tree-2.jpgWhile most of us look forward to a happy New Year as we head into January, many couples in Jacksonville marital problems are thinking about taking the first steps towards separation.

Winter is widely regarded in the legal profession as the busiest time of year. Jacksonville Divorce lawyers find that a lot of people who are having marriage difficulties try to get through Christmas, especially if they have children to think about, but once the stressful festivities are over, they see the New Year as the ideal time to make a fresh start.

Legal Seperation in Florida is not valid so the decision and implementation of a separate is one of the most important step in ending a relationship. the decisions you may during seperation or without advice of counsel can affect you for the rest of your life. It can change the division of assets, child custody, child support and even who gets to keep the marital home. The emotional upheaval, worries about how much the divorce will cost, and how it will affect your children make it a time fraught with worry and uncertainty.

At a minimum getting sound legal advice will make you feel that you have some control over a very unfamiliar situation and give you some reassurance about your long-term future.

If you would like to talk about the decisions you are making for the New Year, give us a call at 904-685-1200.

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