Family Legal & Mediation services

FAQ

Divorce

How long does a divorce take?

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If my name is on the birth certificate as the father, do I have legal rights if I was not married to the mother?

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What's the difference between a Will and a Living Will?

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What's the difference between litigation, mediation, and Collaborative Law?

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What's the difference between a pre-nuptial agreement and a post nuptial agreement?

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Adoption

What types of adoptions are there?

  1. Entity adoption- an adoption by a governmental agency
  2. Private adoption- an adoption by an attorney or home study provider
  3. Stepparent adoption
  4. Close relative adoption
  5. Adult adoption

How long is the adoption process?

Depending on the type of adoption, the average length of time it takes for the adoption to be completed is 3 months to one year.

Do both biological parents have to consent to the adoption?

An adoption may occur without the consent of the biological parents if their rights were terminated, the child is an adult, or the parents abandoned the child.

What is a close relative adoption?

A close relative adoption is when a person adopting a child is either the grandparent, uncle, aunt, or sibling of the child.

Child Support and Timesharing

What is timesharing?

Timesharing is a new term for custody and is the time each parent has with his/her child(ren).

If I have equal timesharing with the other parent, do either of us have to pay child support?

The amount of child support depends on a number of factors, including the number of overnights each parent has with the child(ren), which parent pays health insurance for the child(ren), which parent pays for day care for the child(ren), whether a parent is receiving child support from another relationship, whether a parent is paying or receiving alimony in the current case or from a different case, and each parent’s net income. 

Can I waive child support?

As a general rule, a parent cannot waive child support as it is the right of the child to be financially supported by his/her parents.

Is there a presumption of 50/50 timesharing in Florida?

Timesharing is determined based on factors presented in Florida Statute 61.13.  It is important to know that the public policy of the State of Florida is for the child(ren) to maintain continuing and frequent contact with both parents.

If I am paying child support through the Department of Revenue, do I automatically obtain timesharing?

If the parents were never married, timesharing can only occur if the parties agree or if there is no agreement, a paternity action is filed in family court requesting a court order deeming the father to have legal rights over the child, which includes timesharing.

Collaborative Law

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is an alternative to traditional divorce litigation wherein the participants desire to resolve their divorce, paternity action, modification, or any other family legal matter outside of court.

How is collaborative law different from divorce, paternity, or post judgment litigation?

Unlike in divorce, paternity, or post judgment litigation where the Parties do not control the outcome of their case and their issues are submitted to the Judge to make a decision for them, collaborative law allows the participants to control the outcome of their family legal matter. The participants must be committed to being open and honest throughout the process and work together, with the help of their attorneys and sometimes other professionals, to resolve their legal matter(s).

How long does the collaborative law process last?

The length of the collaborative law process, whether a divorce, paternity action, or post judgment modification matter, ranges from a few weeks to 6 months on average.

How much does the collaborative process cost?

The collaborative process is oftentimes much more cost efficient than the traditional litigation process, whether seeking a divorce, paternity action, or post judgment modification.  The cost depends on the amount of time needed to resolve the legal matters and the number of professionals involved to assist in the completion of the process.

Where can I go for more information about getting a divorce through the collaborative process?

The Collaborative Law Process Act was passed on March 24, 2016. Florida Statute 61.56 governs the terms of the process.  For more information, go to https://www.collaborativepracticeflorida.com.

Family Mediation

What is the role of a family mediator in a divorce, paternity, or modification case? ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur?

A family mediator is a neutral third party who does not represent anyone in the case. A family mediator cannot provide legal advice.  Instead, a family mediator helps the parties in a litigated divorce, paternity, or modification matter decide how they wish to settle their family legal issues.

Is family mediation mandatory?

Family mediation is mandatory if it is court-ordered. Prior to the parties attending a final hearing (trial) in front of the Judge, mediation is oftentimes ordered as a last good faith effort for the parties to attempt to settle their differences.  On the other hand, family mediation can be a method the parties decide to use on their own without a court order.

How long does family mediation last?

Family mediation ranges from 0 minutes (when the parties fail to show up to the mediation) to numerous hours depending on how long it takes to finalize an agreement in a divorce, paternity action, or modification matter. Mediation can last for more than one day to settle the issues.

How is family mediation different from collaborative law?

Family mediation is a confidential process used either during the litigation of a divorce, paternity action, or modification matter or outside of court upon the parties’ agreement to settle a family legal dispute. The people involved do not have to have attorneys representing them.  Collaborative law is a process used outside of court wherein the participants desire to resolve their divorce, paternity, or modification matter with the representation of attorneys.

Do the parties have to agree on the outcome during family mediation?

While self-determination is encouraged, if the parties cannot resolve an issue or all issues, they do not have to sign an agreement. Whatever issues are unresolved can be tabled for another time or are decided by the Judge.

Probate

What is probate?

Probate is a court process that occurs after a person dies, leaving behind assets that go to the people named in the Deceased’s Last Will and Testament or next of kin if there is no valid Last Will and Testament.

How long does the probate process last?

The length of time in a probate matter depends on the complexity of the case and the type of probate action required, and generally ranges from a few weeks to 12 months.

 

What are the various types of probate actions?

  1. Disposition of personal property without administration wherein the Deceased left behind a bank account.
  2. Summary administration where the total value of the estate is less than $75,000 or more than 2 years have passed since the Deceased died.
  3. Formal administration, which is an estate worth more than $75,000.

Do I need an attorney for a probate matter?

You do not need an attorney for all types of estates. For estates that have a Personal Representative(s), attorneys are required.

How do I avoid probate?

In order to avoid probate, you must make sure any investments acquired during your lifetime (i.e. 401ks, IRAs, etc.), life insurance policies, bank accounts, real estate you own, and any other asset in your name is properly titled and designates a beneficiary(ies).

Wills and Trusts

What is the difference between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament?

A Living Will is a legal document that outlines your wishes of whether or not to be placed on life support in the event you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and there is no hope of recovery or you are in a persistent, vegetative state. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that outlines who you wish to give the things you own to upon your death.

What is a Trust?

A Trust is a legal document that is similar to a Will. The difference is that this document is created for the purpose of avoiding probate and creditors.

What is the difference between a Health Care Surrogate Designation and a Living Will?

A Health Care Surrogate Designation is broad compared to a Living Will. It is a legal document that outlines who you trust to make your health care decisions on a day-to-day basis in the event you are no longer able to do so.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that outlines who you trust to make your financial decisions on a day-to-day basis in the event you are no longer able to do so.

How old do you need to be to have a Will, Trust, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate Designation, or Living Will?

It is highly recommended that anyone 18 or older have these documents prepared to avoid Guardianship.

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