Archive: December 2023

December 28, 2023

Navigating Child Custody and Parenting Plans in Florida Divorce Cases

Divorce can be a complicated and emotionally challenging experience, but when children are involved, it becomes even more crucial to prioritize their well-being and ensure fair and equitable arrangements. Navigating child custody and parenting plans during a Florida divorce can be overwhelming, with numerous factors to consider and the need for expert guidance to protect your rights and ensure the best outcome for your family. As top Jacksonville attorneys specializing in family law, the team at Dorsey Law JAX is committed to providing valuable resources and insights to help you better understand and manage the complexities of child custody and parenting plans in Florida divorce cases.

In this guide, we will examine the various aspects of child custody and parenting plans, including the types of custody arrangements, factors used by Florida courts to determine custody, and the elements involved in creating a well-structured parenting plan. We will also delve into the essential role of experienced Jacksonville attorneys in guiding you through the process, advocating for your rights, and offering the support necessary to create a stable and nurturing environment for your children amidst the challenges of divorce.

At Dorsey Law JAX, our primary goal is to help you secure a fair and just resolution for your family. We understand the importance of safeguarding your children’s future and ensuring their needs are met during the painful process of divorce. With our expertise and dedication, we strive to provide you with the resources and guidance necessary to navigate the intricacies of child custody and parenting plans in Florida divorce cases. Trust our team of top Jacksonville attorneys to champion your cause and ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Florida

1. Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make vital decisions concerning your child’s upbringing, education, health, and welfare. In Florida, courts generally favor granting both parents shared parental responsibility (joint legal custody) unless it is determined that such an arrangement would not be in the best interest of the child.

2. Physical Custody

Physical custody pertains to the child’s actual living arrangements and how time will be spent with each parent. Florida courts usually endorse a time-sharing schedule where both parents enjoy frequent and continuing contact with the child. This arrangement may be equal or disproportionate, depending on the individual circumstances and needs of the child.

3. Sole Custody

In rare instances, the court may determine that one parent should have sole responsibility for making decisions about the child or that the child should primarily reside with one parent. Sole custody is typically awarded based on factors such as abuse, neglect, or a parent’s inability to provide a stable environment.

Factors Florida Courts Consider in Determining Child Custody

1. Best Interests of the Child

Florida courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. Factors that may be considered include the child’s emotional, educational, and physical needs, each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.

2. Parental Cooperation and Communication

The court will assess each parent’s willingness and ability to cooperate and communicate with the other parent, as well as their willingness to facilitate a healthy, ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent.

3. Child’s Preference

In some cases, the court may consider the preferences of the child, taking into account their age, maturity, and ability to express an informed preference.

4. Stability and Continuity

Courts may consider the stability of each parent’s home environment and the importance of maintaining continuity for the child, particularly with regard to schooling and community ties.

Creating a Parenting Plan in Florida Divorce Cases

1. Key Elements of a Parenting Plan

A thorough and well-structured parenting plan should include details about the child’s time-sharing schedule, decision-making arrangements for health, education, and other vital aspects of the child’s life, communication guidelines between parents, and provisions for how future modifications to the plan will be addressed.

2. Parenting Plan Mediation and Evaluation

If parents cannot reach an agreement on their parenting plan, they may be required to attend mediation to facilitate a mutually satisfactory solution. If mediation proves unsuccessful, the court may appoint a parenting plan evaluator to review and provide recommendations for a fair and appropriate plan.

3. Filing and Approval of Parenting Plan

Once a parenting plan has been agreed upon, it must be filed with the court for approval. The court will review the plan, ensuring it is in the best interests of the child, before granting its approval.

The Role of Top Jacksonville Attorneys in Child Custody and Parenting Plans

1. Expert Legal Guidance and Advocacy

Experienced Jacksonville attorneys offer invaluable expertise in navigating the complexities of child custody and parenting plans, providing essential legal guidance, support, and advocacy to protect the rights and interests of both you and your children.

2. Help in Negotiations and Mediation

Skilled attorneys can assist you in negotiating with your spouse to create a mutually satisfactory parenting plan, as well as offer support and guidance during mediation sessions to ensure a fair and equitable outcome.

3. Court Representation

In cases where court intervention becomes necessary, your attorney will diligently represent your interests in court, advocating on your behalf and ensuring that your voice is heard and respected.


Understanding and effectively managing child custody and parenting plans during a Florida divorce can be overwhelming and challenging. However, with the support and expertise of top Jacksonville attorneys, you can confidently navigate these crucial aspects of the divorce process, protecting your rights and ensuring the best possible outcome for your children. 

At Dorsey Law JAX, our divorce attorney is committed to guiding you through each step of the process, providing the compassionate support and expert legal representation you need during this challenging time. Trust in our experience and dedication to help you secure a brighter future for you and your family.

December 21, 2023

The Ins and Outs of Prenuptial Agreements in Florida: Benefits, Limitations, and Challenges

Prenuptial agreements, although sometimes seen as unromantic, can be a valuable tool for couples entering into marriage who want to protect their financial interests and provide clarity concerning property division in the event of a divorce. In Florida, prenuptial agreements have specific legal requirements and can offer significant benefits, but they also come with some limitations.

This article discusses the role of prenuptial agreements in Florida, including their legal requirements, the circumstances where they can be beneficial, and potential challenges that may arise when enforcing or contesting a prenuptial agreement during a divorce. Whether you’re considering a prenuptial agreement yourself or simply want to be better informed, this article will offer an in-depth understanding of the benefits and limitations of prenuptial agreements in the state of Florida.

Legal Requirements for Prenuptial Agreements in Florida

  1. Written Agreement

Florida law mandates that a prenuptial agreement must be in writing, as oral agreements are not enforceable. For a valid prenuptial agreement, both parties must sign the document voluntarily and have a thorough understanding of its contents.

  1. Full Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities

Each party must fully disclose their financial assets and liabilities for the prenuptial agreement to be enforceable. Failure to provide complete and accurate information could lead to the agreement being invalidated during divorce proceedings.

  1. Fairness and No Duress

The terms of the prenuptial agreement should be fair to both parties. Additionally, both parties must enter the agreement without coercion or duress. If one party can prove they signed the agreement under undue pressure, it may be deemed unenforceable by the court.

Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements in Florida

  1. Protection of Separate Property

A prenuptial agreement allows couples to clearly define their separate property, ensuring that each party’s assets remain as such in the event of a divorce, thereby simplifying the property division process.

  1. Establishment of Alimony Terms

Couples can use a prenuptial agreement to decide on the terms of alimony, such as the amount and duration, in case of a divorce. This can help avoid potential disagreement and lengthy court battles during divorce proceedings.

  1. Protection from Debts

A prenuptial agreement can protect each party from being held liable for their spouse’s pre-marital debts. By specifying the responsibility for individual debts in the agreement, couples can safeguard their financial stability post-divorce.

  1. Estate Planning

For those with children from previous relationships, a prenuptial agreement can be used to protect inheritance rights and clarify how assets should be divided upon death, ensuring that the intended beneficiaries receive their designated share.

Limitations of Prenuptial Agreements in Florida

  1. Child Custody and Support

Florida courts prioritize the best interests of the child in any family law matter. Therefore, prenuptial agreements cannot dictate terms related to child custody or visitation. Additionally, while parents can outline their intentions regarding child support in a prenuptial agreement, the court has the final authority to determine the amount of support, taking the child’s best interests into account.

  1. Non-Financial Matters

Prenuptial agreements are generally limited to financial matters, and non-financial stipulations may not be enforceable. For example, clauses addressing personal preferences, such as household chores or visitation rights for family members, are not considered legally binding.

  1. Public Policy Violations

Florida courts will not enforce provisions in a prenuptial agreement that violate public policy or promote illegal activities. For instance, a clause waiving one party’s right to alimony in exchange for an illegal favor will be deemed unenforceable.

Challenges to Enforcing Prenuptial Agreements in Florida

  1. Undue Influence or Duress

If one party claims they were coerced into signing the prenuptial agreement, a court may invalidate it. For example, if one spouse presented the agreement just days before the wedding and pressured the other spouse to sign without adequate time for review or legal counsel, it could be considered duress.

  1. Unconscionability

Prenuptial agreements deemed unconscionable, meaning excessively unfair or one-sided, may be invalidated by the court. Factors that contribute to unconscionability include significant differences in the parties’ income, education, or bargaining power.

  1. Fraud or Misrepresentation

Parties must provide full and accurate financial disclosure during the drafting of the prenuptial agreement. If one spouse intentionally concealed assets or liabilities from the other spouse, it could be a basis for challenging the agreement during divorce proceedings.

  1. Ambiguity and Vagueness

Prenuptial agreements must be clear and specific to be enforceable. Ambiguities or vague provisions can lead to disputes, and the court may choose to invalidate the entire agreement or specific clauses due to lack of clarity.

Tips for Creating an Effective Prenuptial Agreement in Florida

  1. Engage Experienced Legal Counsel

Consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney experienced in drafting and reviewing prenuptial agreements. This ensures that the agreement complies with Florida law and adequately addresses your financial concerns and goals.

  1. Start Early

Begin the process well in advance of your wedding date. This ensures that both parties have adequate time to review the agreement, seek legal counsel, and negotiate.

  1. Maintain Open Communication

Maintain an open and honest dialogue with your partner about your financial situation, goals, and concerns. This helps to build trust and minimize potential misunderstandings or disputes during the drafting process.

  1. Consider Future Changes

While it’s impossible to predict every financial change that may occur during your marriage, considering the potential impact of factors such as career changes, children, and inheritance can help create a thorough and long-lasting prenuptial agreement.

When created properly, prenuptial agreements can serve a valuable purpose for couples in Florida. Understand the legal requirements, benefits, limitations, and potential challenges associated with these agreements to protect your financial interests and provide a solid foundation for your marriage.

Secure Your Financial Future with Dorsey Law JAX’s Expert Prenuptial Agreement Guidance

A well-crafted prenuptial agreement can provide peace of mind and financial security for couples in Florida by clarifying property division and protecting individual assets in the event of a divorce. Understanding the legal requirements, benefits, and limitations of prenuptial agreements is essential for creating an enforceable and beneficial agreement. At Dorsey Law JAX, our experienced family law attorneys possess the knowledge and expertise to navigate the complexities of drafting and negotiating prenuptial agreements. Contact us today to discuss your needs and learn how our legal team can help protect your financial future with a tailored prenuptial agreement that upholds your unique needs and priorities. Let our expertise guide you to a secure and confident start to your marital journey.

December 14, 2023

A Comprehensive Guide to Florida Child Custody Laws – Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities

Child custody disputes can often be a complex and emotionally charged aspect of a divorce or separation, leaving parents struggling to make sense of their rights and responsibilities. Florida child custody laws aim to prioritize the best interests of the child while ensuring fair treatment for all parties involved. To help parents better understand and manage these challenging issues, this comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of child custody laws, from types of custody arrangements and legal terminology to the various factors that can influence custody decisions made by the courts.

By exploring and coming to terms with Florida child custody laws, parents can empower themselves with the knowledge they need to protect their rights, make informed decisions, and work effectively towards a custody outcome that serves their children’s best interests. In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the complexities of child custody proceedings, equip you with a strong understanding of your legal responsibilities, and provide valuable insights into how courts determine custody arrangements in Florida.

Understanding Florida Child Custody Legal Terms

To effectively navigate Florida child custody proceedings, it’s crucial to first familiarize yourself with common legal terms:

  1. Parental Responsibility: This refers to a parent’s obligation to make decisions about a child’s welfare, including decisions about education, health care, and religious upbringing. In most cases, Florida courts prefer to grant shared parental responsibility, in which both parents collaborate in making decisions for their children. However, if the court finds it in the children’s best interest, it may award sole parental responsibility to one parent.
  2. Time-Sharing: Previously called “visitation,” time-sharing refers to the arrangement of how parents will divide their children’s time between them. Florida courts encourage both parents to maximize their time with the children and maintain active, engaged relationships.
  3. Primary Residential Parent: This term is no longer officially used in Florida but may be encountered in older documents or by individuals unfamiliar with recent changes in the law. In the past, the primary residential parent had primary physical custody of the children, while the other parent was granted a visitation schedule.
  4. Child Support: This refers to the financial responsibility that both parents have to provide for their children’s needs. The Florida Child Support Guidelines calculate the contributions of each parent based on factors such as income, the number of children, and time-sharing arrangements.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Florida

Florida law provides for several types of custody arrangements, each designed to address unique family dynamics:

  1. Shared Parental Responsibility with Majority Time-Sharing: This is the most common arrangement, where both parents share decision-making responsibilities, but one parent has primary physical custody, and the other has a time-sharing schedule.
  2. Shared Parental Responsibility with Equal Time-Sharing: In this arrangement, both parents not only share decision-making responsibilities but also share equal physical custody of their children.
  3. Sole Parental Responsibility: The least common scenario, this arrangement grants full decision-making authority and physical custody to one parent, with the other parent potentially having supervised or restricted time-sharing, depending on the court’s determination.

It is essential to understand that the Florida courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements, meaning they will consider multiple factors before arriving at a decision.

Factors Affecting Child Custody Decisions in Florida

The court evaluates numerous factors when determining child custody arrangements in Florida. Some of these factors include:

  1. The ability of each parent to foster a close parent-child relationship and adhere to time-sharing schedules.
  2. The capacity of each parent to provide a stable home environment, including factors such as mental and physical health, financial security, and overall living conditions.
  3. The willingness of each parent to promote and encourage a healthy and ongoing relationship between the children and the other parent.
  4. The involvement of each parent in the children’s daily lives, including education, extracurricular activities, and healthcare decisions.
  5. The preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to express a reasonable preference.
  6. The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes and the impact of any required relocation on the children’s well-being.
  7. Any documented history of domestic abuse, child neglect, substance abuse, or other factors that may threaten the safety and well-being of the children.

The judge may consider any other relevant circumstances to promote the best interests of the children involved.

Child Custody Mediation and Modifications

  1. Mediation: In Florida, parents are often encouraged to reach mutually agreeable custody decisions through mediation, avoiding the need for a court hearing. With the guidance of an unbiased mediator, parents can devise a parenting plan that outlines the agreed-upon terms regarding parental responsibilities and time-sharing.
  2. Modifications: After finalizing the child custody arrangement, it may still be subject to modification if there is a significant change in circumstances. Examples of significant changes may include a parent’s relocation, changes in employment, or new evidence indicating that the current custody arrangement is not in the children’s best interests. To modify a custody order, the requesting parent must petition the court and provide evidence of the changed circumstances and demonstrate that the modification is in the best interest of the child.

While navigating child custody proceedings in Florida can be complex, understanding the legal terms, common arrangements, and factors affecting these decisions can empower parents to protect their rights and advocate for their children’s best interests. By staying informed and working with experienced family law professionals, parents can navigate this challenging process confidently and work towards the best possible outcome for their children.

Achieving the Best Outcome for Your Child Custody Case

Understanding and successfully navigating Florida child custody laws can be a complicated and emotionally challenging process. However, with the right knowledge and professional guidance, you can effectively advocate for the best interests of your children during this critical time. It’s essential to partner with a skilled family law attorney, like the team at Dorsey Law Jax, who can guide you through each stage of the process and ensure your rights and the well-being of your children are protected. Don’t face Florida’s complex child custody landscape alone – reach out to our experienced attorneys today to schedule a consultation and discuss how we can help you achieve a positive outcome in your child custody case.

December 7, 2023

The Importance of Parental Relocation in Florida Family Law

Parental relocation is an increasingly common issue faced by families dealing with the complexities of family law in Florida. Whether a parent is pursuing a new job opportunity, seeking to be closer to extended family, or looking to make a fresh start after a divorce, navigating the intricacies of parental relocation laws is crucial to ensure that your child’s best interests are met, and your rights as a parent are protected. At Dorsey Law JAX, our team of top Jacksonville attorneys is dedicated to helping families understand the ins and outs of parental relocation in Florida family law, ensuring that both parents and children can successfully navigate this challenging process.

In this guide, we will delve into the fundamental aspects of parental relocation in Florida family law, including important legal guidelines, factors that courts consider when evaluating relocation requests, and potential legal ramifications for not following the appropriate procedures. Furthermore, we will shed light on the critical role of experienced Jacksonville attorneys in guiding you through the relocation process, negotiating relocation agreements, and representing your interests during court proceedings.

At Dorsey Law JAX, our commitment to our clients is unwavering, as we understand the stress and uncertainty that can accompany the relocation process. Our team of top Jacksonville attorneys is here to provide you with the necessary guidance, resources, and expertise needed to protect your rights and ensure that the relocation process goes smoothly for both you and your children. Trust in our experience and dedication to help you navigate the complexities of parental relocation in Florida family law with confidence and ease.

Legal Guidelines for Parental Relocation in Florida

1. Relocation Procedure

If a parent wishes to move more than 50 miles away from their current residence for 60 days or more, they must adhere to the Florida Statutes’ Section 61.13001, which governs parental relocations. The parent wishing to relocate must either obtain written consent from the other parent or obtain court approval.

2. Written Consent

When both parents agree to the relocation, they should create a written agreement that outlines the details of their mutual consent, including a visitation schedule for the non-relocating parent and any other matters pertaining to the relocation. The court must then ratify the written consent.

3. Petition for Relocation

If both parents do not agree on the requested relocation, the relocating parent must file a petition for relocation with the court. This petition must include specific information, such as contact information, the reason for the move, the proposed visitation schedule, and a proposed revised time-sharing schedule.

Factors Affecting Court Decisions on Parental Relocation Requests

1. Child’s Best Interests

The primary consideration for evaluating relocation requests is the best interests of the child. Factors that may influence the court’s decision include the child’s age, any specific needs of the child, and the child’s connection to their current community.

2. Quality of Parent-Child Relationships

The court will consider the quality and involvement of each parent’s relationship with the child and how relocating would impact these relationships.

3. Reason for Relocation

The court will examine the underlying reasons for the requested relocation, including the validity of potential benefits for the parent and child, such as enhanced job opportunities, a better support system, or improved quality of life.

4. Relocation’s Effect on Time-Sharing Schedule

The court will assess how the proposed relocation would affect the existing time-sharing schedule and consider whether an alternative schedule could maintain a healthy relationship between the child and both parents.

5. Parental Cooperation

The court may also evaluate the willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent, including their cooperation in developing and adhering to a revised time-sharing schedule.

Legal Ramifications of Not Following Proper Parental Relocation Procedures

1. Contempt of Court

Failure to comply with the legal requirements for parental relocation may lead to a finding of contempt of court, which can result in fines, court-imposed sanctions, or even jail time.

2. Modification of Time-Sharing Schedule

If the court finds that the relocating parent violated the law, it could alter the existing time-sharing schedule in favor of the non-relocating parent or order the relocating parent to return the child to their original residence.

3. Impact on Future Legal Proceedings

Non-compliance with relocation procedures can negatively impact the relocating parent’s position in future legal proceedings related to child custody, time-sharing, or other family law matters.

The Role of Top Jacksonville Attorneys in Parental Relocation Cases

1. Expert Legal Guidance and Advocacy

Experienced Jacksonville attorneys can provide invaluable guidance and expertise in navigating the complexities of Florida family law in parental relocation cases, helping to ensure that your rights are upheld, and the best interests of your child are protected.

2. Assistance in Negotiations and Mediation

Top attorneys can offer support and guidance in negotiating relocation agreements with your co-parent or representing your interests during mediation sessions, working towards a mutually satisfactory resolution.

3. Court Representation

If court intervention becomes necessary, your attorney will diligently represent you in court, ensuring your voice is heard and that your rights are protected throughout the entire process.


Parental relocation in Florida family law can be a difficult and emotionally charged process, but with a clear understanding of the legal guidelines and potential ramifications, families can effectively navigate the transition while ensuring the best interests of their children remain the top priority. With the support of top Jacksonville attorneys, you can move forward with confidence, knowing that your rights as a parent are safeguarded as you embark on this new chapter in your life. 

Trust in the experience and dedication of the Dorsey Law JAX team to guide you through the complexities of parental relocation in Florida family law, providing the resources and expertise necessary to protect your rights and secure a brighter future for you and your child.

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