FAMILY LAW – DIVORCE – CHILD CUSTODY – PATERNITY – ADOPTION

Choosing the right family law attorney can be difficult.  At The DeVries law firm your case will be evaluated by a team of attorneys with over twenty years combined experience and have been practicing in the areas of Family Law since the Firms inception in 2012.  Upon entering our firm you will be pampered by a relaxing and spa-like atmosphere.  We provide an inviting and calming environment during some of your most trying and difficult times.  We are here to help protect you and your loved ones.  You will be personally guided through the confusion of the legal process throughout your representation

Our attorneys are ready to help you in the following Areas of Family law.  Call us today to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our family law attorneys.

Adoption: (step-parent / family member):

Adoption is a legal proceeding by which an adult receives all the rights and responsibilities of a birth parent. The adoptee becomes their parent’s legal heir and the legal rights of the natural parents are terminated. The state of Florida does not require a home study for family member or step-parent adoption. If the person to be adopted is a minor their living parent must have their parental rights terminated by consent or court order. In some cases, such as a total abandonment, parental rights may be terminated without further proceedings.

Alimony:
The court may grant alimony to either party based on need and the ability to pay. Alimony may be bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent in nature or any combination of these forms of alimony depending on the length of marriage and other factors. For purposes of determining alimony a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater.
In determining the proper type and amount of alimony the court considers factors, including:
The standard of living established during the marriage, duration of the marriage, age and the physical and emotional condition of each party, financial resources of each party, earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party, responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common, tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment, sources of income available to either party, and any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties. The award of alimony may not leave the payor with significantly less net income than the net income of the recipient unless there are written findings of exceptional circumstances.
Our family law team at The DeVries Law Firm, P.A., is experienced in determining when alimony is appropriate in dissolution of marriage cases.
Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. The length of an award of durational alimony may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Our experienced divorce attorneys will explain the different types of alimony and how it may be used to reach an agreement that both parties can agree on.
Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration if such an award is appropriate, following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate based upon clear and convincing evidence after consideration of the factors set forth in subsection (2), or following a marriage of short duration if there are written findings of exceptional circumstances.
When you come to your free initial consultation you will meet with our family law team to discuss your options and how the law applies to your specific set of circumstances.

Child Custody – “The best interests of the child” is a common theme in all of family law. majority timesharing. The Court uses over 20 factors to determine the best interests of the child. The first few are: The willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required, the needs of school-age children, the moral fitness of the parents, the mental and physical health of the parents, the home, school, and community record of the child, the reasonable preference of the child when the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference, and any other factors the Court finds relevant.
Our family law attorneys are experienced in representing parents in timesharing disputes and will explain how the law applies to your situation.

Child Support – State of Florida:
Child support is calculated with a formula based on the income of both parties. Both parties pay to support the child. Income includes but is not limited to: Salary or wages, bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments, business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income, disability benefits, all workers’ compensation benefits and settlements, reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation, pension, retirement, or annuity payments, social security benefits, spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court, interest and dividends, rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income, income from royalties, trusts, or estates, earned income credit, child tax credit, reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses, and recurring gains derived from dealings in property.
In your initial consultation our experienced family law team will estimate child support based on the income information, daycare, and insurance costs you provide.

Enforcement of Court Orders / Contempt of Court:
When a party fails to comply with a Court order the Court may find them to be in Contempt of Court. In most cases the party at fault will be responsible for the innocent party’s attorneys’ fees for enforcement of the court order. Failing to pay child support can result in harsh penalties, including but not limited to: Garnishment of wages, driving/hunting/fishing license suspension, vehicle registration suspension, professional/business license suspension, passport denial, liens, seizure of assets, interception of tax refund, and jail time.
If the other party is not abiding by the Court’s orders our family law team can help you get the court to compel them to comply.

Divorce
In Florida an action for divorce is called Dissolution of Marriage. At least one party must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months to meet the residency requirement. In addition to the power to dissolve a marriage the court can equitably distribute assets and property, determine child support, timesharing, parenting plan, and alimony.
Contact us today for your free consultation. Our family law team will explain the divorce process, what to expect, and timelines.

Domestic Violence / Protective Orders:
If you are a victim of any act of domestic violence or have reasonable cause to believe that you are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, we can ask the court for a protective order prohibiting domestic violence. Because we are making a request to the court, you are called the petitioner. The person whom we are asking the court to protect you from is called the respondent. Domestic violence includes: assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnaping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death to the petitioner by any of the petitioner’s family or household members. A temporary order is put in place at the time of the initial petition. We must attend a hearing and convince the judge that there is cause to make the order permanent.
Unfortunately, a common tactic used in a timesharing battle is to file fraudulent protection orders. The court realizes this and always asks if there is an imminent family law case.
If you are in danger call 911 first, then call us at (904) 348-0030

Contested Divorce:
A contested divorce has many steps, and if a settlement cannot be reached in mediation a trial must take place. The first step is for one party to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage along with other documents, depending if minor children are involved. After the clerk issues the summons the opposing party must be given the petition and summons by a process server. The next step is the opposing party filing an answer or counterpetition. The next step is both parties furnishing all financial records from the past 2 years. The court orders all cases to mediation. If the parties can come to an agreement at mediation the divorce can be finalized soon after by only one party taking the agreement to the judge to be entered as a Final Judgment. If a settlement is not reached the case must proceed to trial. If there is a disagreement as to which party will receive majority timesharing the court may order a home study be conducted prior to the trial.
Our family law team are experienced trial lawyers that will fight for the things that matter most to you. Contact us to discuss your options.

Uncontested Divorce:
When both parties can come to an agreement about all issues on their own they can sign a stipulation and agreement that one party can take to the court and get a Final Judgment.

Marital Home”
The court has the power to give a party exclusive use and possession of the marital home when it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. The court may also order the sale of the marital home and equitable distribution of the equity. The court may order the sale take place upon the emancipation of all the children of the marriage.
Our experienced family law team will advise you as to when it is appropriate for a party to keep the home or sell the home. In some cases it may be appropriate for one party to keep the home for a specified length of time before it is sold.

Mediation:
All contested divorces are required to go to mediation unless the court believes there is a danger of domestic violence. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral and detached third party helps the parties to come to a resolution that is agreeable to both parties. Mediation is exponentially less expensive than trial. Mediation increases the control the parties have over the resolution. In a court case, the parties obtain a resolution, but control resides with the judge or jury. Often, a judge or jury cannot legally provide solutions that emerge in mediation. Thus, mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable for the parties. Another benefit of mediation is that it is strictly confidential; while hearings are open to the public, no one but the parties to the dispute and the mediator know what happened.
Our family law team have countless hours of experience settling divorce cases in mediation.

Military Divorce
Divorces in the military require a completely different knowledge of compensation and benefits that is not at issue in a civilian divorce. It is important to work with an experienced military divorce attorney who is familiar with the differences and similarities to civilian divorce.
Florida waives the 6 month residency requirement for service members stationed in Florida with permanent change of station orders as proof.
Our family law team is experienced in dealing with military pay and benefits.

Modification or Termination of Alimony
Alimony may be modified where the court finds that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. The court may reduce or terminate an award of alimony upon findings by the court that since the granting of a divorce and the award of alimony a supportive relationship has existed between the obligee and a person with whom the obligee resides.
Our experienced family law attorneys will look at the circumstances in your case and advise you as to if a modification or termination of alimony is appropriate.

Modification of Child Support
Child Support may be modified where the court finds that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. The basis for proving a substantial change in circumstances upon which a modification of an existing order may be granted is at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater. The change must be long-term and continuing in nature. A one time bonus, judgment, award, or prize, does not apply because is not long term net income.
When you come in for your free consult we will calculate child support to determine if a modification is appropriate and in your best interests.

Modification of Child Custody:

Once the Court has made an initial determination the Parent seeking to modify prior award of children’s primary residence carries extraordinary burden. Preference of child regarding primary residence is entitled to consideration, provided that child possesses sufficient maturity and understanding to make intelligent choice. As general rule, a ten-year-old does not possess the character traits necessary to make intelligent decision regarding primary residence. Child’s wishes alone can never be sufficient to sustain change in primary residence. Holmes v. Greene, 649 So. 2d 302, 304 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1995)
Every case is different. Our experienced team of family law attorneys will analyze the facts of your case to determine if an action for modification of child custody is appropriate.

Name Changes:
A prior name can be restored as a part of an action for Dissolution of Marriage if requested in the pleadings. A name can also be changed by petitioning the court. Unless you are seeking to restore a former name, you must have fingerprints submitted for a state and national criminal records check. The hearing on the petition will not be scheduled until the clerk of court has received the results of your criminal history records check. If you are seeking to restore a former name, a hearing on the petition MAY be held immediately after the petition is filed. If the judge grants your petition, he or she will sign this order. This officially changes your name.
Contact us to arrange for our low-cost, flat fee name change.

Paternity:
An action for Paternity establishes the father’s rights with his child. Often times the Department of Revenue initiates a law suit to establish child support, but timesharing and other issues are not addressed. If a father wishes to establish a court ordered parenting plan, including child support, parental responsibility rights, and timesharing. Just like in a divorce the father can ask the court to decide that it is in the best interests of the child that the father be given majority timesharing and sole parental responsibility.
Contact us to keep your case out of the one-sided hands of the Department of Revenue. We will establish your rights, and establish a parenting plan, timesharing, and other important rights, such as “Shared Parental Responsibility” when appropriate.

Prenuptial Agreements:
A prenuptial agreement may be appropriate to protect assets or allow you to devise more than 70% of your assets to persons other than your spouse in your will.
Contact our team of experienced family law attorneys to secure control of your assets.

Property Division:
Property division in a Dissolution of Marriage is best done by agreement at mediation. If a settlement agreement cannot be reached the court will divide the property using the doctrine of Equitable Distribution. Florida law does not allow one spouse to “take to the cleaners” the other spouse. The legislature wrote the law to be as fair and equal as possible. In some cases one parties “waste” (money spent on affairs) may be deducted from their share. Debts are also divided equitably.
Contact us to speak to our team of experienced family law attorneys to discuss your options. Creative solutions may be reached by agreement before or during mediation.

Relocation of Children:
Relocating the child without consent or permission of the court subjects the party in violation to contempt and other proceedings to compel the return of the child and may be taken into account by the court in any initial or postjudgment action seeking a determination or modification of the parenting plan or the access or time-sharing schedule as a basis for ordering the temporary or permanent return of the child, sufficient cause to order the parent or other person seeking to relocate the child to pay reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees incurred by the party objecting to the relocation, sufficient cause for the award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including interim travel expenses incident to access or time-sharing or securing the return of the child.
Our team of experienced family law attorneys will represent you in asking the Court’s permission to move, or alternatively, ask the Court to deny permission for the other party to move.

Visitation (Time Sharing):
Florida no longer uses the term “visitation” to describe the time you spend with your child. A timesharing schedule may be agreed to initially, in mediation, or is set by the court. The schedule will include all weekends, holidays, and birthdays. There is a standard guidelines set for standard and long distance (greater than 280 miles) timesharing.
Our team of experienced family law attorneys will assist you to get the visitation you want and deserve. Call us today for a free consultation.