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Florida Family Law: Mandatory Disclosure

When you file and serve a petition in a Florida family law case that involves financial issues such as child support, alimony, or the division of property in debts, a clock starts ticking.  Within 45 days of the initial pleadings being served on the respondent, each party is required to provide the other party with a whole host of financial documents and information.

This is what is known as Mandatory Disclosure, and it is governed by Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

The following are a list of documents that are required to be exchanged:

(1) A financial affidavit in substantial conformity with Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b) if the party’s gross annual income is less than $50,000, or Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(c) if the party’s gross annual income is equal to or more than $50,000, which requirement cannot be waived by the parties. The financial affidavits must also be filed with the court. A party may request, by using the Standard Family Law Interrogatories, or the court on its own motion may order, a party whose gross annual income is less than $50,000 to complete Florida Family Law Rules of
Procedure Form 12.902(c).

(2) All federal and state income tax returns, gift tax returns, and intangible personal property tax returns filed by the party or on the party’s behalf for the past 3 years.

(3) IRS forms W-2, 1099, and K-1 for the past year, if the income tax return for that year has not been prepared. Read more

When Is A Guardian Ad Litem Appointed in Florida?

You may have heard the term “guardian ad litem” and wondered what they were and when they were appointed.

In a Florida divorce or child custody case, a guardian ad litem is a professional who looks out for the best interests of a child.  Florida Statutes Section 61.401 describes the circumstances under which a guardian ad litem is appointed:

In an action for dissolution of marriage or for the creation, approval, or modification of a parenting plan, if the court finds it is in the best interest of the child, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator, not as attorney or advocate. The court in its discretion may also appoint legal counsel for a child to act as attorney or advocate; however, the guardian and the legal counsel shall not be the same person.

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Lie in Hernando County Family Law Court Leads to Jail Time

According to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, a woman in a Hernando County Family Law Court was seeking to get a domestic violence restraining order against her mother when she made some odd statements.  When asked about her extensive criminal background, the woman claimed that she was a DEA agent.

Hernando County Judge Stephen E. Toner gave the woman several opportunities to change her testimony, but she did not.  The family law judge then requested that the Sheriff’s Office check on the woman’s claim, which turned out to be bogus, and the woman was found to be in contempt of court and sentenced to 5 months and 29 days in jail.

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Filing a Florida Family Law Case

The Supreme Court of Florida provides the following information on filing a family law case in Florida:

Filing a case. A case begins with the filing of a petition. A petition is a written request to the court for some type of legal action. The person who originally asks for legal action is called the petitioner and remains the petitioner throughout the case.

A petition is given to the clerk of the circuit court, whose office is usually located in the county courthouse or a branch of the county courthouse. A case number is assigned and an official court file is opened. Delivering the petition to the clerk’s office is called filing a case. A filing fee is usually required.

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Florida Clerks of the Court Face Budget Cuts

Florida clerks of the court, like other government agencies, are facing severe budget cuts. Statewide, Clerks of the Court budgets are being slashed by $31 million.  Locally, the Pasco clerk is facing a $825,000 million budge cut, while the Hillsborough clerk is trying to find a way to cope with a haircut in the order of $2 million.

As a result, you can expect a slowdown in the services provided by an already overwhelmed clerk, including the processing of divorce and other family law matters.

The Pasco clerk has published the following notice on its website:

Plasco Clerk Cuts Customer Service Hours

If you have questions regarding Florida divorce and you wish to schedule a consultation with a Tampa Bay family law attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or via our online consultation form.