Archive: December 2020

December 30, 2020

Divorce in Florida – 4 Requirements You Need to Fulfill

Among the different experiences that one may encounter in their daily lives, divorce is one process that can take the most significant toll on a person’s emotions and mental health. 

If you’ve been married for a while now and fear that it may all be meeting its end, now is the time to start preparing for the possibility that you may have to file for a divorce. Compared to a regular break-up or an annulment, the process in question can easily make for a rather complicated process because of all the different facts that must be considered. 

By now, you’ve probably done all the necessary research and gone over a handful of debates in your head over making the separation official or trying to work things out. However, in most cases, the final smart move will be to break things off before they get even messier. 

Once you’ve gotten all the necessary details and acquainted yourself with the fundamentals of divorce procedures, it may seem like nearly every detail that must be accounted for is taken care of. Yet, amid all the confusion and anxiety that you may be having, there’s one factor above all else that you must know about: The must-have requirements of a divorce in Florida.

Different requirements of divorce that you must comply with

Generally, filing for a divorce in Florida involves meeting and taking note of four specific requirements and details: 

  1. The residency requirement
  2. Florida statute 196.012 (17)
  3. Florida statute 61.052 (1)
  4. Florida statute 61.052 (2)

Let’s go over each specific component and jurisdictional requirement in further detail so that you can best prepare for the proceedings and filing process: 

1. The residency requirement

One of the primary jurisdictional requirements of filing for a divorce is a minimum residency requirement that applies to all civil unions. Based on Florida law, spouses that are looking to obtain a divorce must have resided in any city within the area for at least six (6) months before filing their petition for dissolution of marriage. 


2. Florida statute 196.012 (17)

Based on this specific statute, the bottom line is that those looking to separate legally must maintain an actual presence in the state with the intention to remain in the state. When it comes to satisfying this specific statute, it’s worth noting that the qualified documentation for doing so are as follows:

  • Florida voter registration card
  • Florida driver’s license
  • Florida identification card
  • Testimony or affidavit of a third party

The excerpt from the statute is as follows: 

‘Permanent residence’ means that place where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which, whenever absent, he or she has the intention of returning. A person may have only one permanent residence at a time.

3. Florida Statute 61.052(2)

After the residency requirement is complied with, couples must subscribe to the set terms that are expounded upon in Florida Statute 61.052(2)—also known as the legally-acknowledged grounds for divorce. The specific accepted grounds for divorce by law (according to the statute) are as follows: 

No judgment of dissolution of marriage shall be granted unless one of the following facts appears, which shall be pleaded generally:

    1. The marriage is irretrievably broken.
    2. Mental incapacity of one of the parties. However, no dissolution shall be allowed unless the party alleged to be incapacitated shall have been adjudged incapacitated according to the provisions of s. 744.331 for a preceding period of at least 3 years.

4. Florida Statute 61.052(1)

Apart from the specific grounds mentioned above, additional guidelines for unions are in place wherein only one party agrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Although couples may be granted a divorce even if only a one-sided decision, the law requires that they follow this specific set guideline: 

When there is a minor child of the marriage, or when the responding party denies by answer to the petition for dissolution that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may:

  1. Order either or both parties to consult with a marriage counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, minister, priest, rabbi, or any other person deemed qualified by the court and acceptable to the party or parties ordered to seek consultation
  2. Continue the proceedings for a reasonable length of time not to exceed 3 months, to enable the parties themselves to effect a reconciliation
  3. Take such other action as may be in the best interest of the parties and the minor child of the marriage”

Conclusion

Going through a divorce in Florida can prove to be a rather difficult process because of all the factors to consider before any major task or process is undertaken. With the help of this guide, you can be best guided during your filing experience to ensure that no unwanted hurdles or constraints appear and put you in a predicament.

At Dorsey Law JAX, we hold more than 35 years of experience handling family law in Jacksonville, Florida. If you’re about to file for divorce, and need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

December 22, 2020

Understanding Custody and Visitation Rights as a Grandparent

Watching your child endure a divorce is no easy feat. From cushioning their emotional turmoil to assisting in their paperwork, you’re likely also mulling over your visitation rights. Fortunately, as per the Florida Supreme Court, grandparent visitation makes for a healthy and well-maintained family. Still, grandparents must maintain counsel throughout the divorce process should they need to pursue a petition. 

What Does the Court Consider?

For a grandparent to be granted visitation rights, the courts must find that it is in the child’s best interest. As such, they will consider factors such as: 

  • The willingness of the grandparent to encourage a positive relationship between the grandchild and parent
  • The length and quality of the relationship between the grandchild and grandparent
  • What the child prefers, should they be old enough to express a preference
  • The mental and physical health of both the grandchild and grandparent

What are a Grandparent’s Rights?

In Florida, only natural parents have absolute rights—not grandparents. Thus, if a parent decides that their grandchild shouldn’t interact with their grandparents, Florida courts don’t offer much leniency. 

However, a grandparent might receive visitation or custody rights should the court find a valid concern regarding the parents’ ability to care for the child properly. In some cases, a grandparent may be granted rights if:

  • One or both parents become arrested.
  • The child is a proven victim of abuse.
  • The child is out of school and experiencing neglect.
  • The child is living in a property rife with illegal drugs. 

If a grandparent is willing and able, they can legally become the child’s new guardian recommended by the Florida courts. 

About the Juvenile Dependency Court

If there is any danger surrounding the child, the Juvenile Dependency Court opens a case. This court is responsible for ensuring that the child is safe and protected and focuses on providing direct help for the family in question. 

Their mission is that they are big believers in crafting workable solutions instead of penalizing and prosecuting parents. If your case goes to Juvenile Dependency Court, you might anticipate the following outcomes. 

  1. If the state believes that it is in the child’s best interest to return to their natural parents, they may remain in the household with the possibility of occasional inspections. 
  2. If the court pursues a hearing, both parents and grandparents will have an opportunity to present their case. Should a judge believe there is not enough evidence demonstrating that the child should be removed from their home, they will be returned to their natural parents. 
  3. If the court believes that one or both parents require services before the child can be safely returned to their home, they must craft a case plan. This case plan pertains to the child returning only once the home is safe and stable. 
  4. If the circumstances are detrimental to the child’s health, and the parents are unwilling to collaborate on a case plan, the grandparents can seek custody. Alternatively, if the parents end up losing their rights, the child may be placed for adoption or petitioned to reside with another family member. 

Conclusion

In Florida, the courts favor shared parental responsibility unless proven detrimental to the child’s health. Whether grandparents can become involved will ultimately depend on the circumstances and what will most benefit the child.  

At Dorsey Law Firm, we have over 35 years of experience in family law. We promote shared parenting and open communication and work towards creating the best possible parenting plan. 

December 13, 2020

On Divorce: What to Do When Your Spouse Hides an Asset

When going through a divorce, the parties will need to divide their assets and liabilities. After all, they will need to resolve child custody, child support, parenting roles, and property division, among other things. While the other aspects are heavily based on their role as parents and their relationship with their children, property distribution is different! Distribution of assets and liabilities can be complicated to argue about.

For a couple starting over, the division of property is a crucial way to start life again. But what will you do if your spouse is trying to hide assets from the court? This article will help you understand more about your case. 

What Happens When an Asset is Hidden

Trying to conceal an asset from the law has serious consequences. In the eyes of the court, it is seen as a fraudulent act. 

  • When Your Spouse Lies Under Oath

Your spouse who lied under oath may be subjected to penalties from the court or even criminal charges, depending on the severity of the case. Either way, if assets are concealed the guilty spouse needs to pay back for what they did, particularly if the concealment is done intentionally!

  • When the Lie Gets Discovered and Proven

If the hidden asset gets discovered and proven in court, the proving party will have the right to whatever is at stake. The court will even grant them the expenses and attorney’s fees they spent to verify the committed deception. 

  • When You are Unaware of the Hidden Assets at First

There are scenarios where a spouse only learns about their partner’s hidden asset until the divorce is finalized. If you find yourself in this situation, here are the things you can do:

  1. Check your settlement agreement. If you find a statement that says you both made an honest and full disclosure of all your assets and signed it, then you have a fighting chance. You can use it to reopen your divorce case and pursue a fair settlement. 
  2. If the divorce judgment is not yet finalized, you can also raise the issue to the court. The judge may ask for another division of assets based on your proven facts. 

How to Prove That Your Spouse Has Hidden Assets

Evidence is crucial for any case. You will have more advantage if you can prove to the court that your claim is valid. Here is how you can prove that your spouse is hiding an asset from everyone:

  • Consult with your divorce lawyer! They are the best person to tell you what types of documents or evidence you will need to prove your claim. They can also help you request records that you do not have personal access to, such as bank statements, tax returns, pension plan documents, and other such documents.
  • In case you have access to any of your spouse’s documents, you need to make copies of them and hand them over to your lawyer. 
  • If situations get trickier and gathering documented proof is out of the question, then your lawyer can challenge your spouse extensively under oath. Your attorney can also request documents directly from your spouse during this interrogation process. Your attorney can conduct other discovery including subpoenaing records. 

Conclusion

It is best to alert your divorce lawyer as soon as you suspect that your spouse is hiding any assets from you. Your lawyer can help you deal with it as early as possible. Doing so will leave you with fewer expenses and less time wasted during the whole divorce process. 

If you need a firm that offers family law advice in Jacksonville, The Dorsey Law Firm will be glad to assist you. Our services include all family law matters, whether you’re looking at a divorce, dissolution of marriage, property division, child custody, or domestic violence injunctions, among other things. Call us today to learn how we can help your case! 

December 7, 2020

The Difference Between Drug Possession and Drug Distribution

It’s against the federal and state laws to carry illegal substances, and failing to adhere to them can lead to corresponding charges, which could land you in jail. Besides that, if you ever get caught for selling drugs, you can expect grave consequences that are worse than being taken in for drug possession.  

No matter what your case may be, to help you get out of your situation, it would be best to have a reliable lawyer who can defend you in court. Keep reading below to find out more about drug possession and drug distribution and how to tell them apart.

What is Drug Possession? 

Drug possession is a violation of carrying illegal drugs, whether for personal reasons, distribution purposes, or sales. Aside from the type of drugs in your control, the corresponding sentence will depend on the amount you have with you, the state you’re in, and the possible jurisdiction. 

In addition, you can get arrested right away if the authorities prove that you can control the substances under your care. If the drugs you have with you are limited, it could indicate that you intend to consume the drugs for personal use, so your case is narrowed down to drug possession. 

Types of Drug Possession

Actual Possession

Actual possession is also known as possession in fact. It occurs when the illegal substance is found on the suspect’s person or if they were seen making physical contact with the drug. 

Constructive Possession

Constructive possession is also called possession in law. Based on the law, someone who has knowledge, access, or chance to control the drugs involved can be charged for constructive possession, regardless if they didn’t have the substances during the arrest.  

What is Drug Distribution? 

When you get caught for having a significant amount of drugs in your possession, including a substantial amount of money, law enforcers will automatically think that you have the objective of selling or distributing those substances. As a result, a case will be filed against you, which you will have to settle in court.

Drug distribution offers more severe consequences than drug possession because it’s a felony offense that could have you arrested for selling, transporting, and importing specific illegal substances like MDMA, heroin, cocaine, and meth, to name a few.

What Happens If You Get Caught for Carrying Drugs?

If you are accused of drug possession, the penalties you can face are paying fines, going to jail, being under probation, and getting your driver’s license suspended. But if you get caught for drug distribution, you can be charged with a felony, resulting in bigger fines and an extended sentence in jail or prison.

The consequences for drug distribution can be different, depending on the drugs in question, the amount you have with you, and the state where you committed the crime. If you chose to sell drugs to minors, have a previous history of a drug arrest, and distributed drugs while carrying a gun with you, they pose even more critical effects to your situation!

Conclusion 

If you get caught in an unfortunate position that involves drug-related claims, it’s best to get a reliable attorney who has the right experience and knowledge to manage your case. They can help reduce the charges filed against you and provide you with the appropriate outcome that’s best for you.

Are you looking for a lawyer in Jacksonville to represent you in a drug trial? Dorsey Law JAX is a law practice that offers our assistance regarding family law, divorce, child custody, drug trafficking, drug possession, and more. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment!

December 1, 2020

5 Prevalent Divorce Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Divorce law is challenging to understand, and even more so for people in the middle of things. Everyone seems to have an opinion or experience you should learn from or know what you should do. In reality, all divorces are unique, and no two cases will have the same outcome, even if they have similar circumstances.

A judge or lawyer could rely on a previous case to guide their decisions, but each new case will have facts that distinguish it from others. If you are going through this life-changing process, here are a few misconceptions that you should get straight.

MYTH: You don’t always have to turn over your financial records

The Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285 states that parties in a dissolution of marriage must produce and exchange financial affidavits. The Rule enumerates the specific documents both parties must provide.

In some cases, both parties agree to all the terms and only need a judge to make them official. In this case, they can agree not to exchange affidavits anymore since they might feel like they are aware of each other’s financial status. However, this is extremely rare; in most situations, an exchange is warranted.

MYTH: Timesharing means an equal amount of hours with the children

Since each case is different, parties can agree on accomplishing timesharing according to their terms. In Northeast Florida’s judicial circuit, though, there are minimum guidelines for timesharing; usually, it is 60 percent for one parent and 40 percent for the other. However, there are 22 factors that the judge considers in determining timesharing; your divorce attorney can go over these with you.

MYTH: 50-50 timesharing means no one owes child support

Division of time is essential in the calculation of child support, but it is not the only factor. Both parties’ incomes, the number of overnights at each house, and who provides health insurance and pays for daycare or aftercare are all used to calculate child support. If one party pays a more significant share of the childrearing expenses, this will be a factor in financial support calculations.

MYTH: Older children get to decide where they want to live

No statute or rule states that a child can get to decide timesharing rules. A judge must decide he wants to hear the child testify, and they will take both age and the child’s maturity into account. Parents can decide that they want to use the child’s input in their parenting plans, but that is only one factor out of the 22 that a judge uses.

MYTH: Divorce lawyers are not a necessity

Although some divorces are indeed straightforward, and it is possible to get along with an ex-spouse, you cannot handle your divorce alone. When there are assets to divide and child custody to determine, issues inevitably come up. A divorce lawyer can keep you on track and help you get organized, especially when things become too overwhelming.

Conclusion

For many people, divorce can be challenging. They must juggle many things, from an intimidating court system to difficulties in adjusting to a new life situation. Before making big decisions that can impact your life, it is best to get advice from a specialist like a divorce attorney.

Get expert legal advice and representation at The Dorsey Law Firm. We have practiced family law in Jacksonville, Florida, for more than 35 years, and we bring our reputation and experience to all cases we handle. Contact us today for more information.

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