There are times when a Florida judge orders – or an opposing counsel requests – a person to answer standard family law interrogatories. So what are standard family law interrogatories?
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Many people believe that, in Florida divorces, there is a legal presumption that mothers should get majority time-sharing (formerly known as primary custody) with the parties’ children. This is simply not the case, as judges fashion Florida time-sharing schedules based solely on the best interests of the children, regardless of the gender of the parents.
Florida Statutes Section 61.13(2)(c)1 states specifically that “[t]here is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.”
So what factors do judges look at to determine children’s best interests when shaping time-sharing schedules?
In the video below, attorney Lee Rosen discusses collaborative divorce, including four principles that make a family law matter collaborative:
Rosen points out that, pursuant to the collaborative participation agreement clients sign to begin the process, a collaborative divorce includes the following principles:
It’s always good to make a good impression when going into a Florida Family Law Court, and one of the best ways to make a good impression is to follow proper etiquette. Fortunately, the Twelfth Judicial Circuit has published its Rules of Etiquette for Family Law cases in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties:
1. Be aware that the judges, general magistrates, hearing officers, or any other court personnel cannot give you legal advice. You may only obtain legal advice from an attorney. You may obtain general information from the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s website at www.jud12.flcourts.org.
2. Arrive at least twenty (20) minutes before your hearing is scheduled to begin. There are unpredictable times when legal emergencies pressure the court to begin as early as possible. You should know that a judge may also dismiss your case if you are not present at the scheduled time.
3. All persons appearing before the court must dress in an appropriate manner. Shorts, hats, flip-flops, jeans, sneakers, tee shirts, and tank tops are not suitable for the courtroom.
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:
Like Tampa, California has seen a need for a divorce process that does not pit spouses against one another in courtroom battles. To that end, Collaborative Practice California has produced the following video which follows an actual divorcing couple through the process of collaborative family law:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8qlrg7pe7E
Part 2 of the video to be posted within the coming days.
Like California, Tampa Bay has a group of attorneys, facilitators/coaches, accountants, and financial planners who are trained in the interdisciplinary collaborative process:
If you are getting divorced in Tampa Bay, you have two main options: Enter the adversarial system or utilize the collaborative process. How is adversarial divorce different from collaborative divorce?
The term “adversarial” is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “pertaining to or characterized by antagonism and conflict.”
Anyone who has gone through the traditional divorce litigation process can probably relate and understand why the Florida court system is known as an adversarial system. A Husband and Wife are forced to face off as adversaries, with each often trying to prove the other a bad parent with poor morals and terrible financial habits, to boot. They are treated as opposing parties with dueling experts and contrary interests. Their personal lives are poked and prodded and laid bare in a public forum as they get judged by, well, a judge. Mediation may be utilized, but litigation attorneys always maintain the threat to do battle in court.
Contrast this to collaborative divorce, a form of dispute resolution offered in Tampa Bay. A Husband and Wife are treated not as adversaries, but as members of a team who, along with their collaborative attorneys and other professionals, are simply looking for options to settle differences. A facilitator ensures that communication remains productive and that the spouses focus on their common interests, such as their children. Often times, a neutral financial professional will help the spouses learn how to maximize the benefit of their assets while minimizing the impact of debt.
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:
In the 1970’s, Florida followed the trend of other states by adopting “no fault divorce.” Prior to this, parties needed to allege a reason for a divorce, such as infidelity, domestic violence, or impotence. Once Florida become a no fault state, all that needed to be alleged was that the marriage was irretrievably broken.
But what if one party denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken? Florida Statutes section 61.052(2)(b) addresses this possibility:
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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