Sometimes, you may have some serious items working against you in your family law case. If your case falls into that category, don’t let that intimidate you and lead you into making the mistake of simply giving up. Many times, the law is more complex and nuanced than people realize and there may be opportunities to achieve a successful outcome, even in the face of a difficult situation. In other words, don’t give up – contact an experienced South Florida child custody attorney instead.

L.S. was someone who definitely had some things working against her in her divorce case. Her husband had gone through all of the legal steps required to get what the law calls a “default judgment.” A default judgment is something that a court may award when a plaintiff has done everything the law requires of him to advance his case, but the defendant has not participated in the case in any meaningful way. When that happens, the court may enter that default judgment and, many times, that ends with the court giving the plaintiff everything he asked for in his court filings.

L.S. had not responded to the husband’s court documents that were served on her. She was given notice that the court was holding a hearing on her husband’s request for a default judgment, but she didn’t attend that, either. As a result, the trial judge granted the husband his default judgment, granting him a divorce. The judgment also gave the husband what he wanted with regard to equitable distribution, timesharing and parental responsibility.

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Sometimes, the story of your marriage and divorce, for purposes of your divorce case, can be very straightforward. Many times, though, it’s not. Many, if not most, divorcing couples, have some nuance, quirk or other atypical element to their story. To make sure that you are getting the best possible outcome from your divorce case, it pays to have a skilled South Florida family law attorney on your side to spot those unique things and to help you understand what those things can mean for you.

J.H. and W.S. were one of those couples with an atypical element in their case. They married in 1997. Late in 2000, they separated. The pair was quite serious about divorcing, with the wife filing a divorce petition and the pair completing and signing a marital settlement agreement early in 2001.

Then… fate intervened. The husband received a diagnosis of colon cancer and the two got back together. The wife dismissed her divorce filing and (according to the wife, anyway) resumed living together as husband-and-wife for another 15 years.

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Reason #237 why it pays to have a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney on your side: because winning your case requires an in-depth knowledge of the law… all of the law.

Some people may think they can pursue their divorce case without legal counsel. They may reason that they have strong grasp of the relevant facts of the case, and may even claim a working knowledge of certain divorce-related Florida laws like alimony law, parental responsibility law, child support law or equitable distribution law. As the recent case of one Flagler County couple demonstrates, winning your case may require more than that.

A.R., the wife, reportedly filed for divorce in 2016 after 17 years of marriage. The couple had three children together. The spouses worked to negotiate the terms of a marital settlement agreement and, eventually, the husband sent the wife the agreement, which he had already signed. The wife talked to her attorney, wrote down five handwritten statements on the document, signed the agreement and sent it back to the husband.

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An old saying proposes that “numbers never lie.” They may not, but they can be deceiving. That is one of the reasons why you should avoid jumping to conclusions in your legal case, but instead talk to an experienced Florida family law attorney. Even if some of the numbers on your and your spouse’s financial disclosures seem to be stacked firmly against you, there may be other factors and other numbers that can sway the outcome in your favor.

The case of A.L. and T.L. is an example. In 2015, T.L. filed for divorce from A.L., her husband of 36 years. In her divorce petition, the wife asked for permanent alimony in the amount of $1,000 per month.

The husband’s financial documentation indicated that he made roughly $3,000 per month after taxes, and had monthly expenses of $5,937. The court deducted $1,553 of those expenses because they related to bills that the husband was not actually paying at the time (as those bills were connected to a home that was in foreclosure.) Nevertheless, that still left the husband with $4,382 in monthly expenses, meaning he had a monthly deficit of more than $1,300.

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Some people may have the idea that attorneys just want to pursue the course of action that will lead to the largest legal fee. The reality is that the vast majority of experienced South Florida family law attorneys are focused primarily on something else – which is the best interests of our clients and clients’ families. Rarely does this involve engaging in a “scorched earth” kind of hostile, contentious legal battle. Generally, that type of extremely hostile family law litigation is driven by the client, not the lawyer.

However, even those spouses and parents who engage in “behaving badly” through the legal system are entitled to certain rights and protections. This includes things like being forced to undergo a mental health examination on an involuntary basis.

So, what do you do if your ex-spouse or the other parent of your children wants the court to make you undergo a mental health exam even though you oppose doing so? A recent case from the Florida panhandle offers some useful information about how to respond.

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When it becomes necessary to go to court in a family law dispute, there are several things you expect to obtain through the litigation process. One of the most basic is that you’ll receive a fair hearing and a decision made by an impartial judge. However, what happens when you find out information that calls that expectation into question?

If it turns out that the judge in your family law case has a history with your ex and/or your ex’s attorney, Florida’s court rules give you certain options. Making sure that you get a truly fair trial may mean knowing how to use those options to your maximum benefit, which is one more reason (among the countless others) why you should be sure you have an experienced South Florida divorce attorney representing you.

So, what can you do if you find yourself in that kind of circumstance where your judge has a connection to the other side? There’s a recent case that serves as a real-life example. O.B. was a husband who filed for divorce in Miami-Dade County. In mid-June, the court held a hearing on several motions. Immediately after the hearing, the husband discovered that the opposing counsel wasn’t just his wife’s divorce attorney. A few years earlier, that lawyer had also been the judge’s divorce lawyer.

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When you hear the phrase “marital gift,” it may call to mind poring over an engaged couple’s wedding registry to select just the right item (or items,) or perhaps bring back memories of sending out dozens (or even hundreds) or thank-you notes for the things you received at your own wedding.

What you may not know is that, in Florida law, “marital gift” has another meaning, and this other meaning may have a major effect on the division of your assets in the event of a divorce. Under this “marital gift” legal concept, it is possible for a non-marital asset to become part of your marital estate subject to equitable distribution in your divorce. What this should remind you is that divorce law is full of many subtleties, nuances and concepts probably unknown by even knowledgeable non-lawyers. That’s why, if you’re going through a divorce here in the Sunshine State, you need the experience of a skilled South Florida family law attorney on your side.

A recent case of a Brevard County couple is an example of divorce where a “marital gift” mattered a great deal. In the case, the couple had a marital home that was purchased with a mortgage and an $80,000 down payment. The $80,000 for the down payment came from a gratuity given to the husband by a former employer, as a “thank you” for services he had performed prior to the husband’s marrying the wife.

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Family law cases can be emotionally intense disputes and can lead to people not following their better impulses. People, feeling the pull of powerful feelings, may make mistakes during the litigation process. Just because you’ve failed to follow those better impulses in relation to a court case, that doesn’t necessary mean that those mistakes you’ve made necessarily equate to contempt of court, though.

What’s more, anytime you’re charged with contempt, you are entitled to due process of law. Just like family law litigants and their spouses, judges are human and have the potential to make mistakes under stressful circumstances. That’s one of the many reasons why you need to be sure you have a skilled South Florida family law attorney on your side: to be sure you are protected against an improper contempt citation.

Timothy and Jesica were two parents involved in just such a contentious case, which was a custody matter. The judge ordered the parents to keep “the case off social media and to prevent family members from publishing information about the custody action on social media.”

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Sometimes, the post-breakup circumstances between two parents are very contentious. Other times, the parents may decide to work collaboratively. The latter, of course, is generally the best for the child and the family as a whole, as is it more psychologically and emotionally healthy, and often less expensive, too.

Of course, as with anything — even a good thing like parental collaboration — there’s a right way to go about it and a wrong way. That’s true for working out collaborative agreements regarding the responsibilities for parenting your child. If you and your child’s other parent want to put down your mutual agreement in “black and white,” be sure that you have a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney by your side so that you know what your mutual agreement can and cannot do.

What do we mean by “can” versus “cannot” do? Look at a case from Broward County. Mom and Dad decided that their daughter, A.C., should go live with the father in Pasco County right away, and both parents signed a “private agreement” to that effect.

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Spend enough time in a courtroom, and you’ll eventually hear many different words and phrases, such as “sanctions,” “criminal contempt of court” and “civil contempt of court.” To the layperson, they may all seem the same – various forms of punishment for various improper acts or omissions. However, there are certain distinctions between each of these things and these sometimes-subtle differences can have major impacts on you in your family law case. To be sure you’re not being forced to pay a penalty that was wrongfully assessed against you, protect yourself with legal representation from a skilled South Florida family law attorney.

The dispute between an ex-wife (D.A.) and her ex-husband (F.D.) is an example of how the classification of a penalty can make a world of difference. D.A. and F.D. were in court regarding where the couple’s child should attend school. The court held a hearing and, at the end, issued a ruling determining the school the child would attend. In addition, though, the court demanded that the mother pay a “sanction” in the amount of $12,500. The judge did not impose any conditions on the sanction; but rather, simply ordered the mother to pay the sum.

If you found yourself in a position like this mother, would you know what to do? One thing you should do is to challenge the imposition of this penalty, at it is very possible that the “sanction” was improper.

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