Discretionary rulings must be supported by competent substantial evidence. A court abuses its discretion if there is no logic or justification for a result. An abuse of discretion exists when judicial action is arbitrary, fanciful, or unreasonable. Shared parental responsibility is preferred unless it would be contrary to the child’s best interest. The law contemplates that parents will mutually confer on all major decisions affecting a child’s welfare and reach agreement. Florida Courts have long held that a designation of ultimate decision making authority has the effect of getting one parent complete control over all the decision making and determines the intent of the child custody statute and shared parental responsibility.
The UCCJEA stands for Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act. It is an act that is required for a court to take jurisdiction of any children’s issues. The purpose of the UCCJEA is to avoid jurisdictional competition and conflict with courts of other states in matters of child custody. This can be found in Florida Statue 61.502. Courts recognize the longstanding and fundamental liberty interests of parents in the care and upbringing of their children free from the heavy hand of government paternalism. This fundamental liberty interest in parenting is protected by both the Florida and Federal Constitutions.
It should be known that all cases are different and anything can happen at any time. The below are some results from some of the cases we have had across the state:
We have nine offices across the state of Florida, different attorneys have handled different things. One of our Jacksonville divorce attorneys handled a case with a 53 year marriage. Client made around $8,000.00 per month and the wife made about $95.00 per month in social security. Her last job was approximately 25 years ago. The total of about $325,000.00 in marital assets with no debt. We got a deal that the wife got $170,000.00 in equitable distribution of assets instead of the $162,000.00 that she likely would have received in court. She pays her own attorney’s fees with no alimony! Client was very happy.
In a family law matter, there are so many things that can pop up in a case. Rarely does one go to litigation on a single issue. Even if you believe that there is one issue, there are several “rabbit trails” that can lead you in several different directions. For example, if you are suing or being sued by somebody for child support. Child support is not the only issue. You also have life insurance to secure that child support. Many times in litigation if the husband is paying child support, he gets angry at having to pay life insurance. Especially if the life insurance designates the beneficiary as the mother of the child or the former wife.
In most family law matters in the State of Florida like a divorce or a Supplemental Petition for Custody or a Supplemental Petition for Child Support, mediation is required. There are circumstances that mediation is not required, but for the most part, when you are going into this litigation, you should plan for mediation. This is actually a good thing. People are often shocked at how often a case actually does settle at mediation. I have had people over the years come to me saying how unreasonable their wife is and that she will never settle a case. They have asked me to do whatever I could to cancel or avoid the mediation because it is an unnecessary expense. First, you can’t avoid it. Don’t even try. Most Judges demand it. Second, it is shocking how many of these “unreasonable” people actually settle the case by the time it gets to mediation. This settlement avoids thousands and thousands of attorney’s fees and just the sheer headache of litigation.
It would seem that in today’s world, if you are not a lawyer, you can basically do an entire lawsuit yourself. With the help of the internet, truthfully, pretty much everything is available to a pro se litigant. The problem is, there are so many small nuances in the law. I know how self-serving this sounds, but there is no question, you are much better off to get an attorney during and for a lawsuit than to not have one. Such as our divorce attorney in Tampa, or a divorce attorney in Hillsborough County. We have attorneys that do divorce all throughout the State of Florida. So, I understand how self-serving this blog is, but it is simply truthful. I cannot tell you the amount of people who have come in front of me and have our firm trying to fix things that they screwed up because they thought they could do it themselves.
An Injunction or a Temporary Restraining Order in Florida is used when you need to get immediate protection from the Court. There are several ways you can do this in a family law action and several things you can use it for. You can use an Injunction in a divorce matter to protect assets, bank accounts, or even property such as keeping people away from the marital home or other land or houses that you may own. An Injunction in a divorce or family law matter can be used to keep the other person away from your car or work environment or many different things. It can also be used to help with children such as preventing one spouse from leaving the jurisdiction with kids or even having them have supervised visitation because you are in fear that you could hurt the children.
There are many types of temporary relief that you can get in a divorce or dissolution matter. During a divorce, many times people cannot get along. Someone will hold back money or someone will hold back visitation so the court needs to be involved. A divorce can last anywhere from six months to a few years if people are highly litigating and the court system is bogged down. Because of this a temporary order is important.
When you are preparing pleadings for a divorce case you need to make sure to ask for everything that you want. In Florida, you have to give notice. The other side has to have notice of what you are seeking so they have an opportunity to defend. This is not like television where you can sneak up and throw stuff out there and surprise everybody and have that Matlock moment. The person you are going against, whether you are the husband or wife, needs notice when you are preparing pleadings in a divorce in Florida.
Proper pleadings is particularly significant in a dissolution of marriage proceeding because of the types of relief that may be sought. One has to put what they are asking for in all pleadings. This is basic due process notice. A husband and a wife must say what they are asking for so a Court knows and the opposing party knows so that they may defend it. If a person asks for something that they did not plead for in their divorce proceeding or dissolution papers, a Court could say that they cannot get that relief requested because no one knew you were asking for it. The pleadings must put all parties on notice as to what they are asking for. Sometimes, a Court may allow something to be argued by “implied consent”. Do not count on this, however. This is when an argument is made and the opposing party basically does not object.
A trial court is responsible for properly distributing the assets and liabilities accrued by spouses during their marriage. In a dissolution of marriage proceeding, Florida law requires that a court: Set apart to each spouse that spouses non-marital assets and liabilities, and in distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors, including: