Family Law Attorney in Pensacola, Florida
Family law is a practice area that focuses on issues involving family relationships such as marriage, adoption, divorce, paternity, and child custody, among others. Family law issues can be overwhelming and stressful to deal with alone. When children are involved, the situation can become even more complicated. When it comes to family law matters in Florida, you need a skilled Pensacola family law attorney who can support you and your interests.
At Brightwell Law PLLC, I believe that a client deserves to have aggressive and compassionate legal representation in a family law matter. Contact our Florida family law office now and schedule an initial consultation.
Why Do I Need a Family Law Attorney in Pensacola, Florida?
Most family disputes concern relationships, children, and money. When a legal problem affects your family, emotion can cloud your decision-making. The decisions you make today can be life-changing for you and your entire family.
If you are dealing with a legal issue involving your family, you do not have to go through it alone. It is imperative to have a reliable Pensacola family law attorney on your side who can guide you through the legal process.
At Brightwell Law PLLC, I can ensure that you and your loved ones are properly represented and protected during family law proceedings. I can help you handle family law matters in a way that fosters collaboration and communication to reduce the hardship for your family and your children. Call our family law firm now to know more about your legal options.
What Is a Dissolution of Marriage?
When you ask a court for a divorce in the state of Florida, it is called a “dissolution of marriage.”
Florida, like many states, no longer requires fault as a ground for the dissolution of marriage. After one spouse files for a dissolution of marriage, you must prove that a marriage exists, one of the spouses has been a Florida resident for at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the divorce petition, and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Fault, or the reason the marriage is irretrievably broken, will sometimes be considered in the determination of alimony, equitable distribution of assets and debts, and the ruling for the parenting plan.
Division of Marital Assets and Debts
If one of the spouses states the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce will most often be granted. While the outcomes that differ in a dissolution of marriage include the division of marital assets and debts, the award of spousal support, parental responsibility, and time-sharing, there is not a standard way these outcomes will be awarded in a Florida court.
Most couples have no understanding of their legal rights and obligations involved with the dissolution of marriage. You need a credible Pensacola divorce attorney who can handle complex marital and family law matters. This is where I will provide legal advice and ensure statutory requirements and court rules are followed so you will not lose some of your rights permanently. I will help analyze your situation and help you make decisions in your best interests.
What Is Child Support?
In Florida, both parents, whether married or not, are obligated to financially support their children. You and your spouse each have a responsibility to financially support your children based on your income and their needs. Working with a qualified family law attorney in Pensacola FL can ensure that child support awards are fair.
Child support may be by direct payment or by indirect benefits, such as mortgage payments, insurance, or payment of medical and dental expenses. Ordinarily, the obligation to support your child ends when that child reaches age 18, marries, is emancipated, joins the armed forces, or dies. Some of the family law issues concerning child support that must be considered include:
- The amount of support
- The method of payment
- Ways to ensure payments are made
- When child support may be increased or decreased?
- Who claims the dependency deduction for tax purposes?
If you have a problem receiving support payments from your spouse or former spouse, or the time-sharing plan is not being followed, we can bring this matter to the attention of the court. Make sure you always follow the time-sharing schedule in the parenting plan. It is not legal to withhold time-sharing or child-support payments because either parent fails to pay court-ordered child support or violates the time-sharing schedule that is in this plan.
What are the Guidelines for Child Support in Florida
There are several guidelines used to determine the amount of child support applied to all cases. These guidelines are based on the income of both parents and the number of children. Some adjustments can be made for substantial overnight stays.
When child support is a legal issue in Florida court, parents are required to file the necessary paperwork and exchange financial affidavits verifying individual income and expenses. The appropriate affidavit will be based on the income of the parents. The Child Support Guidelines Worksheet contains a chart of basic child support amounts. After completing the appropriate affidavits, both parents may refer to the chart to find the basic support amount that corresponds to their combined net income and number of children.
Custody and Parenting Time
When parents decide to end their marriage through divorce, they must decide how to allocate parental rights and responsibilities. Separation and divorce can impact your relationship with your children. The quantity and quality of time your children spend with each parent is important for a healthy post-divorce relationship. However, making decisions about child custody and parenting time can be stressful.
Child custody determines which parent will take care of the child for the majority of the time. On the other hand, parenting time determines when and where the other parent will spend time with the child. Florida child custody law establishes specific requirements for working out a parenting plan that outlines the obligations, responsibilities, and rights of both parents.
Custody and parenting time can affect decisions on child support. The amount each parent is responsible for is then allocated not only according to income but also based on the percentage of overnights per year the child spends with each parent. If one of the parents has primary physical custody and the other parent has visitation consisting of less than 20 percent of overnights per year, the basic calculation will give you a support amount that the noncustodial parent will pay the custodial parent.
Income Calculation for Child Support
The amount of child support is based on guidelines defined in Florida law. Child support guidelines are standards used to figure out the support needed for a child and the amount a parent has to pay. These guidelines help make sure support amounts are fair.
The basic child support obligation depends on the number of children and the parents’ combined net incomes—gross income minus allowable deductions. The basic support amount is then shared between the parents in proportion to each parent’s income. Gross income includes both earned and unearned income. Common examples are:
- Self-employment income
- Spousal support or alimony
- Workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance benefits
- Dividend or interest income
- Pension or retirement benefits
- Allowable deductions include:
- State, federal, and local income tax deductions
- Certain health insurance premiums
- Social Security and Medicare payments
- Mandatory retirement payments
- Alimony and court-ordered child support payments
The Parenting Plan
The goal of Florida courts is to ensure minor children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated. Parents are encouraged to share the rights, responsibilities, and joys of child-rearing. The court will give both parents the same consideration in determining parental responsibilities and time-sharing of the children. A competent Pensacola family law attorney can help you design a specific parenting plan that defines a clear schedule of the time children are to be in the care of each parent.
The court will either approve a parenting plan or devise its own. The parenting plan contains the responsibilities for daily tasks or child-rearing, the time-sharing schedule, healthcare decision-making authorities, school, and other related activities. This plan also establishes the technology used in communications between the parents and children. The parents will often agree on this plan and submit it to the court for approval. If the parents do not submit and disagree with the parenting plan, there is a list of factors in the statute that the court will use to establish it.
In a divorce case, parental responsibility for the minor child will be shared by both parents. The key is for both parents to confer so major decisions affecting the welfare of the child are determined jointly. The parents can agree for one parent to have the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare on items like education, religion, medical, and dental needs. If the parties cannot agree, the court will determine these matters. Florida law requires both parents to attend a parenting course before the final judgment will be entered for a dissolution of marriage.
The court will very rarely order Sole Parental Responsibility to one parent. To award Sole Parental Responsibility, the court must determine that Shared Parental Responsibility would be detrimental to the child. To give one parent Sole Parental Responsibility carries a very high burden to be proved.
Division of Assets and Liabilities
In a divorce case, the marital property will need to be divided fairly and equitably. Dividing assets and liabilities are one of the most difficult aspects of a dissolution of marriage. Assets can include cars, homes, retirement benefits, business interests, cash, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, real estate property, and other items of value. Liabilities include mortgages, car loans, credit card accounts, and other sources of money you and your spouse owe to third parties.
What are the Types of Assets and Liabilities?
The two types of assets and liabilities that Florida courts will look at are marital and nonmarital. For the most part, an asset or liability acquired during the marriage will be considered marital and therefore subject to the distribution. If an asset or liability were determined to be nonmarital, it would be awarded to only one party.
Florida statutes and case law provide for an “equitable distribution” of marital assets and liabilities. Although the court must begin with the presumption that all marital assets and debts are to be divided equally (50 percent each) between the parties, the court may distribute the marital estate fairly or equitably (not necessarily equally) between the parties, regardless of how title is held. A court decides equitable distribution before considering alimony. Equitable distribution is based on a long list of factors the court is required to consider. It includes:
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The economic circumstances of each spouse
If you agree on the distribution and the court finds the distribution reasonable, the court should approve the agreement. If you and your spouse cannot agree, the court will divide the assets and debts during the trial.
After equitable distribution, the court may consider alimony and may grant it to either spouse. Because it’s often difficult to establish yourself financially after a divorce, alimony can play an important role in helping to adjust to life after marriage. For the court to award alimony, the requesting spouse must demonstrate a need for alimony and the other party must have the ability to pay. After the need and ability to pay are established, the court will use relevant factors to determine the property type and amount of alimony to award.
When determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is one having a duration of fewer than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is one having more than 7 years but less than 17, and a long-term marriage is one of more than 17 years. This duration is the time from the date of marriage till the date of filing for divorce. A top-ranking Pensacola divorce lawyer can help you determine whether you could owe or receive alimony.
Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage for the spouse who lacks the financial ability to meet the needs and necessities of life following the dissolution of marriage. The court is limited to awarding permanent alimony to marriages of short or moderate duration.
Factors Affecting the Amount of Alimony
The factors the court considers when determining the type and amount of the alimony award include, but are not limited to:
- The parties’ prior standard of living.
- Length of the marriage.
- Age and physical and emotional condition of both spouses.
- Each spouse’s financial resources and income-producing capacity of the assets they receive.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment.
- The services rendered in homemaking, child-rearing, and the education and career-building of the other spouse.
The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the spouses. You have the right to obtain information about your spouse’s income and assets through the use of discovery procedures. The discovery procedure includes the exchange of documents and answers to written or oral questions
What are Tax Considerations in Pensacola, Fl?
There are important tax considerations in any dissolution of marriage, including the dependency deduction for children, taxability, deductibility of child support and alimony in their various forms, and effects of property transfers. We need to look at the tax consequences of your settlement agreement before finalizing your dissolution of marriage.
It may be too late after the signing of a marital settlement agreement or entry of a final judgment to correct mistakes that have been made. You should also obtain the services of an accountant in conjunction with me to become better informed about this part of the dissolution process.
Call Our Experienced Family Law Attorney in Pensacola, Fl Now!
Family law matters are naturally sensitive, especially when children are involved. You want to protect your rights, your children, and the future you envision. Working out the details of a divorce, parental custody, visitation rights, and child support can be one of the most challenging aspects of any family law matter.
Because there is so much at stake when it comes to family disputes, you need a seasoned Pensacola family law attorney with extensive experience to help bring your family law case to a successful resolution. At Brightwell Law PLLC, I can provide the legal representation you deserve while going through this difficult time. I will be there to help you make the right choices for you, your family, and your future. Contact our family law firm now and schedule an initial consultation to learn more about how we can help you.