Archive: September 2023

September 28, 2023

Relocation and Child Custody: A Guide for Parents in Florida

For parents with shared child custody, relocating to another city or state can present unique challenges and create additional complexities in existing custody arrangements. In Florida, the relocation process can significantly impact time-sharing and parenting plans, requiring a thorough understanding of the state’s legal framework and the need for expert guidance from seasoned attorneys. At Dorsey Law JAX, our top Jacksonville attorneys are committed to guiding parents through this intricate process, providing essential insights and support to ensure a favorable outcome for your children and your family.

In our forthcoming guide on relocation and child custody, we will dive deep into Florida’s legal framework and its effects on parents seeking to move with their children. We will start by exploring the relocation threshold and outlining the criteria that need to be met to avoid court intervention in the moving process.

1. Understanding Florida’s Relocation Threshold and Criteria

A. The Relocation Threshold

In Florida, relocation is defined as a parent moving their primary residence more than 50 miles away from their current address for a period of at least 60 consecutive days, excluding temporary absences for short vacations or seasonal travels. Understanding the relocation threshold is critical, as it determines whether specific legal processes must be followed to protect both the child’s welfare and the parents’ rights.

B. Criteria to Relocate Without Court Intervention

Certain criteria must be met to avoid court intervention when relocating with a child. These include:

  • Both parents have agreed to the move and have signed a written agreement outlining the new parenting plan and time-sharing schedule.
  • The non-relocating parent has waived their right to object to the relocation in writing, or their whereabouts are unknown.

2. The Notice to Relocate and its Impact on Child Custody

A. Providing Notice to the Non-Relocating Parent

If the above criteria are not met, the relocating parent must provide 60-days advance notice to the non-relocating parent. The notice should include:

  • The intended date of relocation
  • The new address and contact information
  • A statement of the specific reasons for relocation
  • A proposal for an updated parenting plan and time-sharing schedule
  • A notice to the non-relocating parent explaining their right to object and how to do so

B. Objecting to or Consenting to the Relocation Request

The non-relocating parent has 20 days from receiving the notice to file an objection with the court. If they fail to object within this period, the court may grant permission for relocation without a hearing. If the non-relocating parent consents to the relocation, they must do so in writing, and both parents should work together to establish a new parenting plan and time-sharing schedule.

3. Obtaining Court Permission for Relocation

A. Factors the Court Considers When Evaluating Relocation Requests

When determining whether to grant permission for relocation, the court will evaluate several factors, including:

  • The child’s relationship with both parents and the impact of relocation on those relationships
  • The reasons for relocation and any potential benefits to the child
  • The child’s age, developmental stage, and preference (if mature enough)
  • The feasibility of preserving the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent
  • The effect of relocation on the child’s emotional, physical, and developmental well-being

B. The Court Approval Process

If the court determines that the proposed relocation is in the child’s best interest, they will grant permission and establish a new parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. Both parties must then adhere to the revised arrangements.

4. Consequences of Relocating Without Proper Consent or Court Approval

A. Legal Ramifications

Relocating without obtaining proper consent from the non-relocating parent or court approval can result in severe legal consequences. These may include:

  • Contempt of court charges
  • Modification of the existing parenting plan and time-sharing schedule to benefit the non-relocating parent
  • Court-ordered sanctions, such as fines, attorney’s fees, and other penalties

B. Impact on the Child’s Welfare

Aside from the legal ramifications, unauthorized relocation can have negative effects on the child’s emotional well-being, disrupting their established routine and relationships. It’s crucial for parents to prioritize their child’s best interests and follow Florida’s legal guidelines throughout the relocation process.

5. The Importance of Skilled Legal Representation in Relocation and Child Custody Cases

A. Expert Guidance and Advocacy

Working with an experienced Jacksonville attorney is essential when dealing with child relocation and custody issues. Their expert guidance and advocacy can help you navigate the complex legal landscape, ensuring the best outcome for your child and your family.

B. Mediation and Court Representation

An attorney can assist in mediation efforts, aiming to establish agreement between parents and avoid a court battle. If court involvement becomes necessary, your attorney will represent your interests and present compelling arguments to support your relocation request, emphasizing its potential benefits for your child.


Facing relocation and child custody issues can be an overwhelming experience for parents. With this comprehensive guide and the expert legal guidance provided by top Jacksonville attorneys at Dorsey Law JAX, you can navigate these complex challenges with confidence, ensuring the best outcomes for your children and family. Our dedicated team stands ready to assist you with the knowledge and support you need to make informed decisions and achieve successful results for your family’s unique situation.

September 21, 2023

A Comprehensive Guide to Paternity Issues in Florida: Know Your Rights

Establishing and determining paternity is an essential aspect of family law with far-reaching implications not only for the parents but also for the child. In Florida, navigating the paternity process, whether you are the father seeking to establish your parental rights or a party disputing paternity, can be a complex and emotionally charged experience. This comprehensive guide aims to provide clarity on paternity issues in Florida, offering helpful insights into the legal process, disputing or challenging paternity, and understanding your rights as a potential father.

Dorsey Law JAX, a top Jacksonville law firm specializing in family law, is committed to helping clients navigate the often challenging world of paternity issues. Our experienced attorneys will guide and advocate for your rights throughout the paternity process, ensuring the best interests of you and your child remain at the forefront of all decisions.

Within this guide, we will examine various aspects of paternity law in Florida, such as the process of establishing paternity through voluntary acknowledgment or court order, and how disputed paternity cases are handled. We will also explore the significance of DNA testing in paternity cases and the legal rights and responsibilities of establishing paternity, including child support and parenting plans.

Understanding the intricacies of paternity law helps you effectively navigate the legal process and protect your rights as a father or mother. Whether you are a father seeking to establish your parental rights or a party disputing paternity, gaining insights into Florida paternity law equips you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions that safeguard the best interests of all parties involved. We invite you to join us as we delve into the critical elements of paternity in Florida, offering essential knowledge and guidance to help you successfully navigate this sensitive and complex area of family law.

Establishing Paternity in Florida

Establishing paternity is crucial for defining a father’s rights and responsibilities, as well as ensuring the child has access to the necessary financial and emotional support they deserve. There are two primary methods of establishing paternity in Florida:

  1. Voluntary Acknowledgment: In cases where both parties are in agreement, parents can sign a Paternity Acknowledgment form in the hospital at the time of the child’s birth or later by visiting the Office of Vital Statistics. This declaration legally establishes the child’s paternity without court intervention.
  2. Court Order: If there is a dispute surrounding paternity, either party can petition the court to intervene and determine paternity. This process may involve DNA testing, and once paternity has been established, the court can address issues of child support, custody, and visitation rights.

Understanding the process of establishing paternity is essential in navigating your rights as a father and ensuring your child’s best interests are protected.

Challenging Paternity Claims in Florida

There are cases where an individual may need to challenge an existing paternity claim based on new evidence or allegations of fraud or duress. In Florida, the process to challenge or dispute paternity involves:

  1. Legal Challenge: The individual disputing paternity must file a legal petition with the court, outlining the reasons for challenging paternity.
  2. DNA Testing: The court may order DNA tests for all parties involved, including the child, mother, and alleged father. These tests provide critical evidence in determining the biological relationship between the child and the alleged father.
  3. Court Decision: Based on the evidence presented, the court will determine whether the existing paternity claim is valid or requires modification. If the paternity claim is invalidated, the court may also address related issues, such as child support and custody.

Challenging paternity is a sensitive and often emotional process. Having a knowledgeable legal advocate on your side can help you navigate the complexities of disputed paternity cases.

The Significance of DNA Testing in Florida Paternity Cases

DNA testing plays a pivotal role in paternity cases, offering near-conclusive evidence of the biological relationship between a child and the alleged father. In Florida paternity cases, the court has the authority to order DNA tests, and the results are typically admissible in court proceedings. Here are the key factors to keep in mind about DNA testing in Florida paternity cases:

  1. Accuracy: DNA testing offers a high degree of accuracy, with results generally reporting a 99% probability of paternity or ruling out the alleged father with 100% certainty.
  2. Timelines: It is crucial to request DNA testing as soon as possible in paternity cases, as delays may impact the admissibility of the results.
  3. Legal Consequences: The outcome of the DNA test could significantly influence the legal proceedings, altering child support obligations, custody arrangements, and even inheritance rights.

Understanding the significance of DNA testing as evidence in paternity cases can help you be better prepared to handle any legal challenges that may arise.

Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Establishing Paternity in Florida

When paternity is established in Florida, both parents assume a set of legal rights and responsibilities for their child, including:

  1. Child Support: Establishing paternity enables the court to enforce child support obligations, ensuring that the child benefits from the required financial support of both parents.
  2. Parenting Plan: With paternity established, a parenting plan can be created that outlines both parents’ rights and responsibilities, including time-sharing and decision-making authority.
  3. Inheritance Rights: Paternity plays a significant role in inheritance law, as children with established paternity have the legal right to inherit from their biological father.
  4. Access to Records: As the legal parent, the father gains access to essential information, including the child’s medical records, school documents, and other critical information.

By establishing paternity, both parents are legally bound to their rights and responsibilities, ensuring that they actively participate in their child’s upbringing, development, and support.

Protecting Your Rights and Your Child’s Best Interests

Navigating paternity issues in Florida can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. However, understanding the intricacies of establishing, challenging, and protecting paternity rights can help you make informed decisions and advocate for your rights effectively.

The experienced attorneys at Dorsey Law JAX are dedicated to helping clients manage the complexities of paternity issues, providing compassionate guidance and unwavering support throughout the legal process. By working closely with our knowledgeable team, you can feel confident that your interests and those of your child are protected, ensuring the best possible outcome for your family. Contact us today for a family law consultation!

September 14, 2023

Understanding Parental Rights in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide

Parenthood not only carries immense joy, love, and lifelong commitments but also a set of legal responsibilities and rights. Understanding parental rights is crucial in various family law matters, including child custody disputes, divorce proceedings, and adoption cases. In Florida, the legal system’s primary focus is the best interests of the child, and parental rights are defined and determined accordingly. This comprehensive guide aims to provide a solid foundation on the subject of parental rights in Florida and how these rights can potentially impact your family dynamic and legal proceedings.

As a leading Jacksonville law firm specializing in family law, Dorsey Law Jax is committed to helping clients navigate the often complex dynamics of parental rights. Our attorneys bring extensive experience dealing with the nuances of Florida family law to support and advocate for your rights as a parent, ensuring your family’s best interests are at the forefront of all decisions.

In this guide, we will explore a range of key aspects related to parental rights, including physical and legal custody, visitation rights, the role of a parent coordinator, and how parental rights come into play in the case of adoption. We will also discuss the circumstances under which parental rights can be terminated and the corresponding legal process.

Understanding your parental rights and their implications can significantly impact your ability to make informed decisions in disputes or negotiations. Whether you are going through a divorce, involved in a child custody dispute, or planning to adopt, gaining insights into the landscape of parental rights in Florida can be a valuable tool. We invite you to join us as we delve deep into the world of parental rights, offering guidance and legal insights to equip you with the knowledge needed to protect your rights and those of your child effectively.

Understanding Physical and Legal Custody in Florida

In Florida, parental rights encompass both physical and legal custody of a child. It is essential to understand the distinction between these two forms of custody to navigate family law matters effectively:

  1. Physical Custody: This refers to the rights and responsibilities associated with providing a child’s primary home and attending to their day-to-day needs. Determining physical custody often involves decisions about whether the parents will share joint custody or if one parent will have sole custody, with the other having visitation rights.
  2. Legal Custody: Legal custody grants the right to make significant decisions impacting the child’s life, including matters pertaining to education, religion, medical care, and extracurricular activities. Like physical custody, parents can have joint legal custody, or one parent might be granted sole legal custody.

In most cases, Florida courts encourage shared parental responsibility, allowing both parents to maintain an equal say in crucial decisions concerning their child’s upbringing.

The Importance of Time-Sharing Plans and Parenting Plans

Florida law emphasizes the importance of time-sharing plans and parenting plans to protect parental rights and encourage cooperative co-parenting. These plans outline each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding their child’s upbringing and provide the following information:

  1. Time-sharing schedule: This details when the child will spend time with each parent, including weekends, holidays, and special occasions.
  2. Decision-making authority: The plan clarifies each parent’s role in making decisions about the child’s education, health care, and other important matters.
  3. Communication guidelines: Having clear communication guidelines in the plan helps maintain a respectful and cooperative co-parenting environment.

Creating a comprehensive parenting and time-sharing plan not only safeguards your parental rights but also provides the structure and consistency required for your child’s well-being.

The Role of a Parenting Coordinator in Navigating Parental Rights

In some cases, the court may appoint a parenting coordinator to advocate for the child’s best interests and help parents resolve disputes. Parenting coordinators are trained professionals skilled in managing high-conflict custody situations while maintaining a focus on the child’s well-being. They offer crucial assistance in navigating parental rights disputes, including:

  1. Mediating negotiations: A parenting coordinator can help parents find common ground and reach agreements on matters such as custody, visitation, and decision-making.
  2. Developing a parenting plan: The coordinator assists in creating a comprehensive and mutually agreeable parenting plan that outlines each parent’s rights and responsibilities.
  3. Monitoring compliance: Once a parenting plan is in place, the parenting coordinator may monitor the parents’ adherence to the plan and intervene if necessary.

Utilizing the services of a parenting coordinator can significantly contribute to resolving parental rights disputes, fostering a positive co-parenting relationship, and ensuring a healthy and stable environment for your child.

Parental Rights and Adoption in Florida

Adoption introduces unique dynamics concerning parental rights, as it involves a process of transferring these rights from the biological parents to the adoptive parents. It is critical to understand how Florida law treats parental rights throughout the adoption process:

  1. Consent to Adoption: The biological parents must provide written consent for their child’s adoption before the proceedings can begin. In some cases, consent may be deemed unnecessary, such as when a parent’s rights have been terminated.
  2. Pre-adoptive Home Study: Prior to finalizing the adoption, a thorough background check and home study of the prospective adoptive family are conducted. This process ensures that the adoption is in the child’s best interest and assesses the prospective parents’ ability and commitment to care for the child.
  3. Termination of Parental Rights: The biological parents’ rights are legally terminated upon the finalization of the adoption. At this point, the adoptive parents assume all legal rights and responsibilities as the child’s recognized guardians.

Navigating the complex landscape of parental rights during an adoption requires a comprehensive understanding of Florida adoption laws and the support of an experienced adoption attorney.

Advocating for Your Parental Rights with Expert Legal Support

Understanding parental rights in Florida is vital in navigating various family law matters, from custody disputes to adoption proceedings. Having a strong grasp of your rights and the legal landscape provides the foundation for informed decision-making and effective advocacy for your interests and those of your child.

Looking for top-notch legal representation in family law, criminal law, or personal injury cases in Jacksonville, Florida? Look no further than Dorsey Law JAX. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our experienced attorneys and see how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

September 7, 2023

Understanding Florida Alimony Laws: How Spousal Support Works in Divorce Cases

Divorce can be a challenging and overwhelming process for all parties involved. One of the most important aspects to consider during a divorce is alimony or spousal support, which is designed to assist the financially disadvantaged spouse in maintaining their standard of living post-divorce. Navigating alimony laws in Florida can be complicated, especially for those unfamiliar with the legal intricacies involved. 

As one of the top Jacksonville law firms specializing in family law, Dorsey Law Jax is dedicated to helping clients understand and protect their rights during all stages of the divorce process, including alimony determination. Our experienced attorneys are well-versed in Florida’s alimony laws and will help guide you through this complex aspect of divorce, ensuring that you make informed decisions for your future.

Within this guide, we will discuss the basic concepts of alimony, the factors courts consider when awarding spousal support, and the four primary types of alimony in Florida: temporary, bridge-the-gap, durational, and permanent. Each type of alimony serves a specific purpose, and understanding their nuances is crucial for preparing for your divorce case. We will also delve into the circumstances under which alimony can be modified or terminated and how remarriage or cohabitation can impact alimony payments.

The Four Main Types of Alimony in Florida

Florida recognizes four primary types of alimony, each designed to serve a specific purpose and address the unique financial needs of the spouses involved in the divorce. These types include:

  1. Temporary Alimony: Also known as “pendente lite” support, temporary alimony is awarded during the divorce process to provide financial assistance to the lower-income spouse. This type of support is meant to maintain the marital standard of living until a final alimony determination is made by the court upon finalizing the divorce.
  2. Bridge-The-Gap Alimony: This form of alimony is designed to assist a spouse in transitioning from married life to single life by providing financial support for up to two years. Bridge-the-gap alimony addresses short-term needs, such as living expenses and bills, while the spouse establishes a more stable financial situation post-divorce.
  3. Durational Alimony: Durational alimony is awarded in cases where the marriage lasted less than 17 years and there is a need for financial support for a specific period. The duration of the alimony payments cannot exceed the length of the marriage and can be modified or terminated under certain circumstances.
  4. Permanent Alimony: Typically awarded in long-term marriages, permanent alimony provides ongoing financial support to a spouse who cannot become self-sufficient due to age, disability, or lack of employable skills. This type of alimony continues until the death of either party or the recipient’s remarriage or until a significant change in circumstances warrants modification or termination.

Factors Considered in Determining Alimony Awards

In Florida, the court considers several factors when determining whether to award alimony, the type of alimony to be granted and the amount and duration of the payments. Some of these factors include:

  1. The Length of the Marriage: The duration of the marriage plays a significant role in determining if alimony is warranted and the type of alimony to be awarded.
  2. Standard of Living: The court will assess the standard of living established during the marriage and attempt to maintain equitable support for both parties.
  3. Financial Resources: The financial resources of each spouse, including income, assets, and debts, will be taken into account by the court.
  4. Earning Capacities: The court will evaluate each spouse’s earning capacity, education, employability, and job market skills in determining alimony.
  5. Age and Health: The age and physical health of the parties involved can affect the alimony awarded, particularly in cases where one spouse has a debilitating condition.
  6. Contributions to the Marriage: The court will consider each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including homemaking, child rearing, and assisting in the other spouse’s career advancement.

It is essential to note that the court has wide discretion in determining alimony awards, and each case is unique. Consulting an experienced attorney is vital to ensure that your rights and interests are protected in this process.

Modification and Termination of Alimony

Alimony agreements in Florida can be modified or terminated depending on certain circumstances:

  1. Substantial Change in Circumstances: If there is a significant change in the financial situation of either party, such as job loss, increased salary, or inheritance, they can petition the court for a modification or termination of the alimony agreement.
  2. Remarriage: Permanent and durational alimony typically terminate upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse.
  3. Cohabitation: If the recipient spouse enters into a supportive relationship resembling a marriage, the paying spouse can petition the court to reduce or terminate alimony payments.

It is crucial to work closely with a skilled attorney to navigate the legal complexities of modifying or terminating alimony agreements.

Tax Implications of Alimony

It is essential to understand the tax implications of alimony payments when negotiating or agreeing to an alimony settlement. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, alimony is no longer tax-deductible for the paying spouse, nor is it considered taxable income for the receiving spouse. This change is applicable to divorces finalized on or after January 1, 2019. It is essential to consider this tax change when negotiating alimony agreements and managing financial expectations after a divorce.

Preparing for Alimony Negotiations and Protecting Your Rights

Understanding the intricacies of Florida alimony laws can be critical in navigating the divorce process. By being informed about the different types of alimony, the factors affecting alimony awards, and the potential for modifications, you can effectively advocate for your financial interests and achieve a fair resolution.

The experienced family law attorneys at Dorsey Law Jax are dedicated to supporting you through the complexities of alimony, providing expert guidance, and ensuring your rights are protected throughout the process. With thorough knowledge of Florida alimony laws and a steadfast commitment to our clients, our team of family lawyers in Florida is ready to help you move forward with confidence and security, providing the support and expertise needed for a successful outcome in your divorce case. Contact us today!

Need an Attorney? Start Here.




Your Message

*required field

10752 Deerwood Park Blvd. Suite 100, Jacksonville, Florida 32256 (Duval Co.)

P: 904-394-2865 | F: 904-358-8060 | Email: Dorsey Law Firm

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Dorsey Law Jax © 2024 - All Rights Reserved