Jacksonville Family Law Firm

March 14, 2019

Should I Try Mediation or Go Straight to a Divorce Lawyer?

If a divorce is inevitably in your near future, you’ve probably thought about hiring a divorce lawyer. However, is it possible that mediation would work for you instead? And, what is mediation, exactly?

Mediation is the process of when a neutral third party helps a couple sort out and resolve issues related to the divorce. In a divorce, there are many decisions that need to be made and the mediator guides the couple through these decisions. Mediation is known to be a less stressful process than going to court with a divorce lawyer. Often, people prefer to do mediation when there is a child or children involved.

Is Mediation Right for Me or Should I Not Bother?

When you meet with a mediator, this person cannot give you legal advice, even if they are a lawyer working as a mediator. Unless you hire them as a lawyer, they cannot give you legal advice and they do not represent you or your spouse. What the mediator can do is give suggestions on how to resolve issues on decisions regarding important issues like children or finances, so a judge doesn’t have to make the decision.

With mediation, all decisions will be made about the divorce without going to court. If the couple can come to a final agreement, the mediator can prepare the agreement and help the couple fill out the proper divorce forms.

Without going to court and doing a lot of your own paperwork, mediation is a lot less costly than seeking legal counsel. However, through the mediation, each party can seek legal advice from a lawyer on things such as child support, debt, alimony, etc.

Overall, mediation is seen as an easier way to make a divorce happen. If you believe you and your spouse can agree on most issues, then mediation will work for you. The mediation process is less daunting and less emotionally draining for all parties involved, including children if there are any. If you are unable to sit down or meet with your spouse, mediation cannot work for you and separate divorce attorneys will need to be hired.

There are also many other reasons mediation may not work for you including:

  • You’re in a hurry. Mediation isn’t a fast process.
  • You don’t wish your spouse well. If you do not care about your spouse’s well being and do not care about his/her point of view, mediation won’t work for you.
  • If you can’t advocate for yourself or speak up, mediation will not work.
  • You had a violent relationship.
  • You don’t want to settle.

If you can work together with your spouse to reach a final agreement, mediation will work for you. The process will be less stressful for both of you and the children (if any).

Looking for a Mediator or Divorce Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL?

Through mediation, the hope is to help you and your spouse make decisions that lead to a final agreement in an easier, cheaper, less-stressful way than a traditional court divorce. If you think mediation would work for you, talk to your spouse about it before deciding to go to court.

At Dorsey Law Firm, we are knowledgeable in divorce and family law and we will do our best work for you by communicating about what you expect, conveying your needs in mediation or court, and convincing the judge or opposition to acquiesce or compromise.

Through mediation, we can help a client make better decisions for their future.

William J. Dorsey founded the Dorsey Law Firm in 1975 and has practiced family law and tried numerous trials throughout Florida in state and federal courts. The law firm also practices criminal law and personal injury law.

Dorsey and his team work with clients every step of the divorce process, whether they choose mediation or to go to court. To request your in-person consultation at The Dorsey Law Firm’s Jacksonville Law Office, call 904-346-3883 or click our Jacksonville Divorce Attorney page for more information.

February 28, 2019

Six Reasons to Hire a Divorce Attorney

The United States has the sixth highest divorce rate in the world – although dropping, that is a significant rate. In the state of Florida, all that is necessary for a divorce is to prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The divorce process isn’t cheap, so more people have opted to self-represent and file for divorce without a lawyer. However, if there are children, assets, financial concerns, and disagreements in your marriage, it is probably in a married couple’s best interest to hire an attorney and get representation from a professional. The divorce process isn’t always easy to navigate – there’s a lot of paperwork, filings, and dates to remember. A divorce attorney’s job is to help make everything clear and easy-to-understand for the client while representing them to get them the best deal possible through the divorce process. As a Jacksonville divorce attorney, with more than 35 years of experience in the state of Florida, our team at Dorsey Law Firm wanted to share a few reasons why hiring an attorney for your divorce proceedings is your best bet.

Why Should I Hire a Divorce Attorney?

  1. Divorce attorneys are experts – The average person doesn’t know much (or anything) about marital or family law, especially when laws can change year to year. Some divorces are more complicated than others and attorneys know how to sort everything out and put a case together. Attorneys know what to present to the judge and how to prepare thoroughly and correctly for a case and trial.
  2. Divorce attorneys know all scenarios – When you meet with an attorney, he/she will discuss your options and possible outcomes depending on your unique situation (assets, children, savings, debt, etc.) Due to experience, an attorney will let the client know whether he/she should fight, counter, or settle. Divorce attorneys will suggest things clients often didn’t know existed.
  3. Divorce attorneys know the paperwork – From experience, a divorce attorney knows what documents are needed to be filed and presented. He/she knows what information cannot be left out or overlooked, which could lead to a judge not ruling in the client’s favor. This attorney knows how to craft and collect information and paperwork, so the judge views his/her client favorably.
  4. Divorce attorneys know deadlines – They know when certain items are due, and make their clients stick to a timeline, so the court does not delay a ruling.
  5. Divorce attorneys see the big picture – Unlike either party in the couple, the attorney isn’t emotionally involved in the divorce. He/she can help his client not dwell on little things and keep their eye on their goals. The attorney is fighting for his/her client with a level head. Being a third party, an attorney also offers objective advice and help.
  6. Divorce attorneys can help clients reduce stress – When people use an attorney, he/she does not need to worry about focusing on paperwork, logistics, legal terms, dates, etc. He/she can focus and spend time on life changes post-divorce.

Looking for a Divorce Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL?

Divorce attorneys are there to help people save time, lessen stress, and increase their odds at a favorable outcome. Divorce attorneys know the law and keep a clear head during this emotional time for the couple. A lawyer can help a client make better decisions for their future. Many couples are grateful for a lawyer who can guide them through the process – this is far less overwhelming. By hiring a divorce attorney, you’re laying the groundwork for a better result, especially if your divorce is complicated. William J. Dorsey founded the Dorsey Law Firm in 1975 and has practiced family law and tried numerous trials throughout Florida in state and federal courts. Dorsey and his team work with clients every step of the divorce process. To request your in-person consultation at The Dorsey Law Firm’s Jacksonville Law Office, call 904-346-3883 or click our Jacksonville Divorce Attorney page for more information.

February 13, 2013

I Have a Child out of Wedlock – What are my Rights as a Father?

Article By: William Dorsey
Contact Us With Your Paternity and Family Law Questions.

When a child is born as a result of a marital union, the law presumes that the husband is the child’s father and grants the husband parental rights accordingly. If you and your child’s mother are not married, you may possess certain rights under the law, depending on your situation. 

Until legal paternity is established, you have no rights.

Under Florida law, if a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is the sole “natural guardian” until a legal determination of paternity occurs. Neither your biological relationship with your child, nor the closeness of your relationship with the mother, will alone establish your paternity.  You have no legal relationship to the child.  You may not be noticed of an action by the mother to terminate your parental rights and place the child for adoption unless you register with the Florida Putative Father Registry nor can you contest any custody matters regarding the child.

Multiple avenues exist for establishing paternity.

The simplest opportunity for ensuring that legal paternity is established occurs at birth. At the hospital, when the child is born, you and the mother can sign a Form DH-511 “Paternity Acknowledgment.” Both of you have to sign before either two witnesses or a notary. When you do this, your name appears on the child’s birth certificate and your child has a legal father right from birth.

You and the child’s mother can acknowledge paternity after the birth by completing a Form DH-432 “Acknowledgement of Paternity.” Again, both of you must sign and must do so before two witnesses or a notary. The Department of Vital Statistics will amend the child’s birth certificate to add your name as the father.

Another option is what’s called “legitimation,” which involves you and the mother marrying and updating the birth record through the Office of Vital Statistics. This involves completing Form DH-432 and submitting the completed form, along with a copy of your marriage certificate, to the Office of Vital Statistics.

Alternately, paternity may be established through genetic testing. The Florida Office of Child Support can assist with accomplishing this. Utilizing this avenue has the advantages of allowing you to avoid going to court, and avoid paying for the test. Using a DNA sample from the inside of the cheek of each of: you, the mother, and the child, the laboratory determines if you are the father. If the test identifies you as the father, the Office of Child Support issues an Administrative Order of Paternity, which has the same legal effect as a court order.

A court may also establish paternity. Typically, courts are involved if either the mother or the alleged father contests paternity. If both the mother and alleged father agree regarding paternity, the two may sign a consent order which, once adopted by court, establishes paternity. Once you’re established, by any of these means, as the legal father of the child, you receive all the same rights as if you and the child’s mother were married when the child was born, such as petitioning for custody of the child. You also take on all the responsibilities of parentage.

Contact us today for help with the process to be the legitimate father of your child.

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P: 904-346-3883 | F: 904-358-8060 | Email: Dorsey Law Firm

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