Am I Required to Disclose My Finances in My Family Law Case?

Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, requires each party to a family law matter to disclose certain financial information to the other party.  Disclosure is strictly enforced in cases with money at issue, including child support, alimony, and equitable distribution or property division. Parties are required to follow Rule 12.285’s disclosure requirements in two ways: (i) providing a financial affidavit; and (ii) exchanging certain documents (also known as mandatory disclosure).

Read more

Mandatory Disclosure (Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure)

MANDATORY DISCLOSURE

(a) Application.

(1) Scope. This rule shall apply to all proceedings within the scope of these rules except proceedings involving adoption, simplified dissolution, enforcement, contempt, injunctions for domestic, repeat, dating, or sexual violence, and uncontested dissolutions when the respondent is served by publication and does not file an answer. Additionally, no financial affidavit or other documents shall be required under this rule from a party seeking attorneys’ fees, suit money, or costs, if the basis for the request is solely under section 57.105, Florida Statutes, or any successor statute. Except for the provisions as to financial affidavits and child support guidelines worksheets, any portion of this rule may be modified by order of the court or agreement of the parties.

Read more

How Does Divorce Affect A Child’s Future Relationships?

I just came across an article that discusses a study from Florida State University researchers about how divorce affects a child’s future relationships.  The researchers conclude that children of divorced parents are more likely to become divorced themselves for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that children learn relationship skills from their parents.  The article states the following:

Read more

All Alimony Awards are Not the Same

Section 61.08, Florida Statutes, and relevant case law, provides for several different types of alimony awards.  The likelihood of receiving each type of award depends on several different factors, including the need of one spouse for support, the ability of the other spouse to pay for that support, and the length of the marriage.  Below is a brief description of available types of alimony:

  • Permanent Periodic Alimony–  This type of alimony is regularly ordered for long-term marriages, defined as lasting for 17 years or more.  However, it may be awarded in (i) medium-term marriages (7-16 years) depending on certain factors such as the contribution of each party during the marriage and the standard of living during the marriage or (ii) short-term marriages (up to 6 years) if there are exceptional circumstances, such as a spouse contracting a debilitating disease.  As the name suggests, this award lasts for an indefinite amount of time and is paid on a regular basis.  However, it may later be modified or terminated by court order if there is a substantial change in circumstances.

Read more

Facebook and Family Law: Be Careful What You Post

An article from Time Magazine recounts some horror stories and tales of caution emanating from the use of Facebook and other social networking sites.

A good general rule:  don’t post anything that you would be embarrassed to have your grandmother see.  This includes the following:

  • Don’t harass the other party;
  • Ensure that your friends are not harassing the other party;
  • Don’t post negative comments about the other party on your profile page, and ask others to avoid the same;

Read more

Pope Benedict XVI Calls for Christian Names

Pope Benedict XVI Calls for Christian Names (Photo from EPA via The Daily Telegraph)

As celebrities have gotten much attention for giving their children names such as Apple, Brooklyn, and Princess, Pope Benedict XVI called for parents to give their children traditional Christian names, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Read more

Am I Required to Attend a Parenting Course?

Section 61.21 of the Florida Statutes requires each party in a case that involves children and custody/time-sharing issues to attend a four-hour parenting course.  This “Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course” gives parents the opportunity to learn about, among other topics, how their court action may affect the emotional well-being of their children.

You should note that, except in very limited circumstances, a judge will not enter a final judgment until both parties have (i) attended the course and (ii) filed a certificate of completion with the clerk of the court.

Read more

Courtroom Civility

It is always a good rule of thumb to be respectful when entering a courtroom.  I often find myself taken aback by the appearance and behavior of people as they are asking a judge to make a major decision on serious issues–such as divorce, child support, alimony, or time-sharing–in their lives.  Many people come in shorts, chew gum, and treat the courtroom like their living room.  Such behavior leaves a poor impression on the judge and may impact the outcome of their matter.

The Family Law Division of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), like many courts around Florida, has a code of conduct: The Twelve Rules of Courtroom Civility.  Most of these rules are simply about common courtesy, and include the following instructions:

  • Other than to make appropriate objections, do not interrupt anyone when he or she is speaking;
  • Do not make faces or gestures at the opposing party or his or her attorney;
  • Dress appropriately and wear clean clothes.  Specifically, you should not enter a courtroom in shorts, jeans, a t-shirt, or sneakers; and
  • Do not bring any food or beverages in the courtroom, and do not chew gum.

To maximize the chances of a successful outcome in your matter, become familiar with the rules and procedures of both your circuit and your specific judge.

Name Change Statute (Section 68.07, Florida Statutes)

Change of name.—

(1)Chancery courts have jurisdiction to change the name of any person residing in this state on petition of the person filed in the county in which he or she resides.

(2)

(a)Before the court hearing on a petition for a name change, the petitioner must have fingerprints submitted for a state and national criminal history records check, except if a former name is being restored. Fingerprints for the petitioner shall be taken in a manner approved by the Department of Law Enforcement and shall be submitted electronically to the department for state processing for a criminal history records check. The department shall submit the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for national processing. The department shall submit the results of the state and national records check to the clerk of the court. The court shall consider the results in reviewing the information contained in the petition and evaluating whether to grant the petition.

Read more

Section 61.1354, Florida Statutes

Sharing of information between consumer reporting agencies and the IV-D agency.—

(1)Upon receipt of a request from a consumer reporting agency as defined in s. 603(f) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the IV-D agency or the depository in non-Title IV-D cases shall make available information relating to the amount of current and overdue support owed by an obligor. The IV-D agency or the depository in non-Title IV-D cases shall give the obligor written notice, at least 15 days prior to the release of information, of the IV-D agency’s or depository’s authority to release information to consumer reporting agencies relating to the amount of current and overdue support owed by the obligor. The obligor shall be informed of his or her right to request a hearing with the IV-D agency or the court in non-Title IV-D cases to contest the accuracy of the information.

Read more