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Does Florida Recognize Legal Separation?

Many jurisdictions require spouses to be legally separated for a certain period of time (oftentimes about 6-12 months) before they can get a divorce.

Florida does not have such a requirement.

However, there are many couples out there who wish to go through a “trial separation” without taking the leap of divorce.  Many want an interim step short of divorce to maintain the possibility that the parties can work things out later and reconcile.  Does Florida have any mechanisms to provide protections to spouses and children during a trial separation?

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Collaborative Divorce Video: A True Life Story Part 2

Just as more divorcing spouses in Tampa are seeking an alternative to the usual courtroom battles, the use of the collaborative family law process is growing around the country.  Collaborative Practice California has produced a video which follows an actual couple going through a collaborative divorce.

I previously posted Part 1 of the video.  After the jump, Part 2 of the video shows how the couple handles difficult emotional and financial issues in the collaborative process:

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Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce In A Weekend

I recently came across an article by Sandra Young and Brian Garvey, collaborative divorce lawyers in Illinois, who offer what they refer to as a “Divorce Weekend.”  This is a fascinating model of collaborative divorce which offers the option of a quick settlement, and there is no reason why a weekend collaborative divorce cannot take place here in Tampa Bay.

This is how the model works:

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Mandatory Disclosure in Florida Family Law Cases

The Florida Supreme Court provides the following commentary on Mandatory Disclosure in Florida family law cases:

Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, requires each party in a dissolution of marriage to exchange certain information and documents, and file a Family Law Financial Affidavit, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b) or (c). Failure to make this required disclosure within the time required by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure may allow the court to dismiss the case or to refuse to consider the pleadings of the party failing to comply. This requirement also must be met in other family law cases, except adoptions, simplified dissolutions of marriage, enforcement proceedings, contempt proceedings, and proceedings for injunctions for domestic or repeat violence. The Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.932, lists the documents that must be given to the other party. For more information see rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, and the instructions to the Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.932.

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Tampa Court Publishes Requirements for Divorce

In an effort to make the process for divorce clearer to litigants in Hillsborough County, the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has published the following Requirements for Dissolution of Marriage:

1.  PROOF OF RESIDENCY. 6 months prior to filing Petition. May be proved by drivers license, voter I.D., Affidavit of Corroborating Witness; or testimony of witness. Section 61.052(2), Fla. Stat.

2.  U.C.C.J.E.A. If any minor child or children born as a result of the marriage. Section 61.501 -61.542, Fla. Stat. (2002)

3.  FINANCIAL AFFIDAVITS for each spouse, Rule 12.285(d)(1), Family Law Rules. (This requirement may not be waived if there are financial issues.) Under $50K/Yr. – Over $50K/Yr.

4.  COMPLETED CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES WORKSHEET, if there are minor children. Family Law Rules Form 12.902(e).

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Florida Support Unconnected With Divorce

Section 61.09 of the Florida Statutes allows a spouse to request alimony (also referred to as “separate maintenance” or “spousal support”) and/or child support without asking for divorce.

There are various reasons why a spouse may file a case for support without asking for a divorce:

  • Florida does not recognize the status of “legal separation,” so this process allows a spouse to have a trial period apart without having to make a decision regarding divorce;
  • A party may not want a divorce because of religious beliefs;
  • A spouse may not want to go through a divorce while his or her children are still under the age of 18 or living in the home; or
  • A person may not have met the six month residency requirement to file for divorce (Florida requires that at least one party to a divorce reside in the state for at least six months prior to the filing of divorce; a proceeding for support unconnected to divorce has no such residency requirement).

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Florida Divorce – Time to Respond to a Petition

It is important for every person who is served with a Florida petition for dissolution of marriage to respond to the petition in a timely manner.

The petition, which sets out what a person wants a judge to do (such as dissolve the marriage, rule on custody, order child support, and divide marital property and debt), is generally personally served by a sheriff’s deputy or other authorized process server.  Once served, the respondent has 20 days to provide an answer to the petition and agree or disagree with the petitioner’s requests and allegations.

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Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court Cuts Hours

Due to budget cuts, the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court is reducing the hours it will handle court-related services.  Beginning July 1, 2012, the hours were cut to 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  This will affect the filing and processing of family law (i.e., adoption, divorce, paternity, child support, child custody, name change, etc.) documents.

If you have a Tampa family law case and you wish to scheduled a consultation with a Florida family law attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our online form.

Income Withholding Order

For quite some time, Florida has permitted child support and alimony payments to be deducted directly from a person’s paycheck.  This had been done through an income deduction order authorized by section 61.1301 of the Florida Statutes.

Recently, the federal government mandated that OMB Form 0970-0154 (Income Withholding for Support Order) be used in place of state income deduction forms.  Accordingly, Hillsborough County’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has published a packet which includes the federal Income Withholding Order along with the Florida Addendum to the federal order and a Payment Information Sheet.

If you have a matter involving Florida alimony or child support and you are looking 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 by filling out our online form.

Does Florida Have Alimony Guidelines?

When judges and child support hearing officers determine what amount of child support a parent should pay, they have a formula to help guide them to a proper child support amount. These guidelines take into account each party’s income, the amount of time a child spends with each party, and the amount of money each party spends on healthcare and daycare for the child.

So does Florida have any similar guidelines to help a judge determine a proper amount of alimony?

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