tampa divorce attorney helping couples

Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers

Dedicated legal professionals providing effective legal counsel.

Our attorneys  focus on the best interests of you and your family. Divorce and other changes create stress for spouses and children alike. We understand the difficulties that you are facing and we remain sensitive to your needs. Our experience, individualized attention and creative problem solving help you attain the best resolution for you and your family.

Divorce in Florida

In order to file for divorce in Florida, you must be a state resident for at least six months prior to filing. Since Florida is a no-fault state, you need only to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken. To begin the process, either party must file a petition for dissolution of marriage in circuit court. The other spouse will be served with papers and given 20 days to respond. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree that divorce is appropriate and you agree on all major issues in your case, including parenting, property distribution, and family support. If this is your situation, your divorce could be finalized without the necessity of a trial. In a contested divorce, you and your spouse may not be able to reach agreement on all of the major issues and the court may ultimately have to resolve your differences at a hearing.

If you or your spouse contests the divorce, mediation can help you resolve differences in a non-adversarial and cost-effective manner. Through a thorough discovery process, all issues, including property division, support, and custody can be identified and addressed effectively.

In Florida, the court decides child-related matters based on the child’s best interests. The court will order that parents share parental responsibility for their child unless the court finds that shared responsibility is not in the child’s best interests. The court will also decide on a parenting and timesharing plan and, if necessary, whether one of the parents can relocate with the child. In deciding parenting issues, the court considers a number of factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition 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 anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
  • 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, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference
  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect
  • The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the timesharing schedule

Child support can be modified when there is a substantial change in the circumstances of either party. Alimony can be modified either when the recipient’s need for alimony changes or when the payor’s ability to pay alimony changes.

A parenting plan or custody modification requires the parent to first show a substantial, material, and unanticipated change of circumstances. Once the parent establishes the change of circumstances, the Court looks at the best interests of the minor child and considers all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, including, but not limited to the following:

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition 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 anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
  • 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, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference
  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect
  • The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule

If you are the victim of abuse or abusive behavior by a parent, spouse, former spouse, children, stepchildren, blood relative, or someone else who lives with you, you should consider seeking an injunction from a court without notice to the person abusing you. The requirements for an injunction vary depending on the relationship with the opposing party, so please contact us before filing the petition to determine your best approach to the situation.

If you have been served with a temporary injunction, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible, because the hearing will likely be on an expedited basis and the sooner you call, the sooner we can help. Our attorneys have experience on both sides of domestic violence injunctions and can help you protect yourself and your family through the injunction process and the related family law matters.

 In ordering alimony, a Florida court considers the following factors:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and physical and emotional condition of each party
  • The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital as well as marital assets and liability of each
  • The time necessary for either party to finish education or training to find appropriate employment
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, including homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party
  • All sources of income available to either party

While the divorce is pending, the court may order temporary alimony. There are various forms of alimony that depend upon the factors above and other facts and circumstances in your case. The award and amount of alimony can vary greatly from one case to the next, so please contact our office to discuss the specific facts of your case.

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Prenuptual Agreements

If you have substantial assets and income and are considering marriage, you may benefit from a prenuptial agreement to protect your interests. Advantages to a prenuptial agreement may include the following:

  • Identifying individual assets that you wish to remain separate property after marriage
  • Establishing financial security for separate property
  • Preserving assets for children and beneficiaries
  • Providing for children from a previous relationship
  • Establishing agreed-upon procedures to resolve changing financial circumstances
  • Avoiding litigation over property division in event of a divorce

An effective prenuptial agreement can protect your assets and fairly consider your future spouse. If your future spouse requests you sign a prenuptial, you can benefit from legal counsel on your rights and responsibilities before signature.

Postnuptial Agreements

Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement addresses assets, income, and property after you marry. You may want to consider such an agreement if substantial increases in income, property, or inheritances have occurred during the course of your marriage.

Paternity

Any woman who is pregnant or has a child, any man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child, or any child may bring proceedings in the circuit court, in chancery, to determine the paternity of the child when paternity has not been established by law or otherwise, as well as parenting issues and support.

Enforcement

A large part of our firm’s practice involves enforcement issues, including parenting time and family support. Rather than trying to resolve the issue yourself, rely on experienced legal counsel to help you enforce the order.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

In order to divide a pension or retirement account in conjunction with your divorce, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is required. This legal document directs the pension plan or retirement account administrator to divide the pensions according to the terms of the divorce decree in compliance with the company pension plan guidelines and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) section of the Internal Revenue Tax Code. We have as extensive experience preparing QDROs for a variety of pension plans and retirement accounts, including division of military retirement federal government pension plans under the CSRS and FERS, state retirement plans, private company defined benefit plans and 401(k) and IRAs.

Child Support

Child support in Florida is calculated using guidelines set by the legislature and is based on the parents’ combined disposable income, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and the child’s daycare and medical insurance expenses.

If a change in circumstance can be shown after support has been ordered, the order may be modified. Such changes could include a substantial increase or decrease in either parent’s income, the child’s spending significantly more time with either parent, or the child’s special needs for medical attention or schooling.

 

Stepparent Adoptions

If you want to adopt your stepchild, the process is similar to other adoptions. However, the natural parent must also consent or have his or her parental rights terminated as part of the adoption proceedings.

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Rely on our experience and professional commitment to effectively handle your situation. For more information or to
schedule an appointment, Call us today at (813) 254-0156 or simply complete our convenient online form.
We represent clients in family law matters throughout the entire Tampa, Florida metro area.