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FAQ - Marital and Family Law Palm Beach County, Florida

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Family Law divorce lawyer | Palm Beach County, Florida Picture 1

How do I start Dissolution of marriage, Paternity or Adoption proceedings?

These actions are initiated by the filing of a petition. The petition must be “served” on the opposing party. This means the papers must be hand delivered to the opposing party. The person who files the petition first is called the Petitioner and the person who is being served is called the “Respondent.” We can usually locate someone using our extensive resources which include private investigators and process servers. If an opposing party absolutely cannot be found then we can “serve” the person by a process called service by publication. This process takes longer than actual personal service.


What is Legal Separation?

Florida does not have a legal separation. If you and your spouse wish to arrange to separate and want something in writing, then we can prepare a post-nuptial agreement. This is an agreement between the parties that is prepared during the marriage. The parties can agree to whatever terms they would like to have in the agreement.


What is the time frame for establishing paternity?

A petition to establish paternity has the legal effect of allowing a legal process by which either the father or the mother may initiate legal action to get child support or time sharing. In this process the court can order a DNA test to establish who is the biological father of the child, in cases where this is a question.


How is child support/ Alimony determined?

  • Child support is determined using the child support guidelines. The child support guidelines are located in Florida Statute 61.13. The statute sets forth a mathematical formula that takes into consideration time sharing, day care, income and many other factors in determining what the proper amount of child support is and how it is to be determined.
  • Alimony in Florida is based on need and ability to pay. The Court will review each person’s income and expenses and determine what is fair to each party.

How is Child Support/ Alimony Enforced?

In cases where a person is not paying Court Ordered support, the person who is supposed to receive the support (the “obligee”) may file a motion for contempt. The person who willfully disobeys a court order is subject to incarceration.


What kinds of Assets are divided in a Dissolution matter?

All the assets must be evaluated for distribution. Certain assets such as inheritance must be disclosed, but are not subject to division. Also premarital property which has not been “comingled” (or mixed in) with marital assets may be kept separate and not subject to division.


Can the amount of Child Support/ Alimony be changed?

Child support is always modifiable. Certain types of alimony are modifiable. We will need to review the specific circumstances of your situation to determine if you are a candidate for modification, either to pay less alimony or receive more.


How does the court decide if a parent may relocate?

The Court will look at all the factors in the Relocation Statute to decide if the relocation is in the best interests of the children. This is a very complicated process and it is best to consult with an attorney if you are considering relocation. If you have been served with relocation papers, it is wise to consult with an attorney right away.


How can obtain a restraining Order?

The Court provides free victim services for persons seeking restraining orders. If you have been served with a restraining order, contact us right away. The order may take away valuable rights. Court may set a hearing or grant a temporary order. If you must go to a hearing, you must contact us immediately. This orders are serious and give the person who has the order great power.


DEFINITION OF COMMON TERMS

Petition for Dissolution: This document officially starts the divorce proceedings by requesting a court order to terminate the marriage and to arrange the terms of Timesharing, child support, division of assets and debts and to award Spousal Support (Alimony), if applicable.

Petition to Establish/ Disestablish Paternity: This document officially starts the Paternity proceedings to request a court order determining wither or not the Father is or is not the biological parent and, if applicable, allocation of Timesharing (formerly called "custody") and child support.

Petition for Legal Separation: This document officially starts the legal separation proceeding by requesting a court order to arrange terms for the married couple to live separately.

Petitioner: The party who files a petition with the court.

Respondent: The party who is served with a petition who must respond to the allegations of the filed petition. When he or she files a response to the allegations of the petition here she becomes the respondent.

Timesharing: The division of time and responsibility in regards to the minor child.

Service of Process: The official means by which the Respondent is notified that a petition has been filed, they have been provided a copy of the document and a description of the persons rights and obligations as a respondent in the case.

Mediation: The Process in which a certified Mediator assists parties with disputes to reach their own solution.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: A process that allows parties to resolve their conflict without litigating in front of a judge.