August 19, 2021

Custody, Time Sharing, and Parental Responsibility in Florida

For a parent in Florida seeking a divorce, there are many key processes one must go through to ensure the smoothest transition possible. The parent’s priority is staying in touch with your children and always maintaining your presence in their lives with available means.

Florida has a more liberal approach for those looking to legally separate from their spouses. Thanks to advances in the state’s legislation and guidelines for family law, it’s much easier for parents to protect their children and their parental interests. 

As you secure parental rights over your children and protect them and your rights, you will run into various legal terminologies that you need to be especially aware of when seeking legal protections: 

  1. Parenting Plan;
  2. Timesharing Schedule; and
  3. Shared Parental Responsibility.

These terms are often mentioned and grouped together in existing reference materials, so you might be wondering what sets them apart from one another. They sound vaguely similar, but they are all different concepts that the state’s laws recognize as individual forms of custodial protections. 

To help you tell the difference between these three key terms, Dorsey Law JAX’s professionals have put this guide together on everything you need to know for telling them apart (and later on using them to your advantage):

Parenting Plan

Every final judgment of divorce and paternity that involves children must include a parenting plan. The parenting plan establishes which parent is responsible for certain activities or rights of their children until they are of legal age. Additionally, this concept outlines whether parents can maintain equal or unequal parenting over their children, follow a staggered approach, or have one partner handle all needs and obligations.

Time Sharing

In the context of Florida law, time sharing refers to the plan that parents develop with one another regarding how much time their kids should spend with each of them. Time sharing is a particularly important concept because the courts seek to maintain and enforce the ability of both parents to maintain continuing relationships with their children.

Shared Parental Responsibility

In legal terms, parental responsibility dictates how important decisions will be made on behalf of children. This particular concept refers to choices encompassing a dependent’s educational, medical, and religious needs. 

Florida courts most often order shared parental responsibility to both parents for the child’s best interests. But if one parent is unfit to provide for the child’s best interests and welfare due to detrimental circumstances (drug or alcohol addiction, domestic violence, among others), sole parental responsibility may be imposed depending on the circumstances.

To best understand what you can attain through these legal concepts, you must consult with a legal expert like Dorsey Law JAX to map out your options!

Conclusion

As a parent looking to secure the role you have in your child’s life, you must become familiar with the concepts of shared parental responsibility, parenting plan and time sharing in Florida. Once you are more familiar with these law concepts and understand what they entail, you can easily circumvent any problems that may come about during your divorce.

When going through legal disputes, it’s essential to have a respected lawyer stand by your side and give you the best legal advice possible. Finding an experienced and knowledgeable trial attorney will mean that all of your needs are met. Contact our experts at Dorsey Law JAX today!

August 12, 2021

How to Avoid Paying for Permanent Alimony in Florida

Marriages don’t always end up the way we imagined them. That much has become a fact as more and more couples turn to divorce after being married for some time. One aspect of a divorce that remains controversial up to this day is the issue of alimony, particularly permanent alimony. One of the purposes of permanent alimony is established to protect the lower-earning spouse from financial ruin after a divorce. To understand the complexities of alimony, let’s break down its many components and how the law works.

Components of Alimony

Divorce cases often take a long time to settle just because of the issue of alimony. Before we can look at permanent alimony, we must first understand its many components and how the court arrives at a decision about alimony. According to Fla. Stat. 61.08, alimony has many components, including:

  • How a court determines an amount of alimony
  • How the length of a marriage affects the length of the term of alimony
  • The different types of alimony available 
  • What factors the court should consider in awarding alimony, and how much should be paid and for how long
  • When alimony can be modified or terminated

Types of Alimony in a Florida Divorce Case

Spousal support can be awarded based upon a variety of circumstances, as mentioned above. Alimony is intended to make it possible for a spouse who has been financially dependent during the marriage to maintain an acceptable standard of living and to ease the transition back into single life. The following is a breakdown of several different types of spousal support:

 

  • Permanent Alimony – As the name suggests, this allows the dependent spouse to receive alimony for the rest of his/her life. Permanent alimony is generally applicable for those who have been involved in a moderate to long-term marriage.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony – In situations where one party needs economic assistance in order to get back on their feet and become self-supporting. There must be a plan of rehabilitation (i.e. school, training, or whatever is needed) to rehabilitate the former spouse.
  • Bridge The Gap Alimony – Alimony for short-term marriage. The length of time is limited to two (2) years. 
  • Durational Alimony – This is a relatively new form of alimony where it is awarded after having been in what is deemed a short to moderate-term marriage. Durational alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage.

Reducing Your Risk of Permanent Alimony

The length of the marriage matters a lot when determining permanent alimony. According to Florida law, if you’ve been married for more than 17 years, permanent alimony can be considered by the court, along with all the other factors mentioned above. So does that mean that once you’re married for that long, you have to pay alimony forever?

The answer is no. Every case is different, and the 17-year threshold isn’t a hard and fast rule. Fla. Stat. 61.08 provides the court with a bareboned legal framework for determining the outcome of your case, but it really is up to the court to decide. Of course, your income will be considered and any other circumstances and events including the needs of your spouse.

Once the court determines that there is a rebuttable presumption of permanent alimony, there is an opportunity to challenge that presumption. You can do this by presenting evidence that either you do not have the ability to pay or the other spouse does not actually need alimony. You may need to prove that even if you’re the higher-earning spouse, you have assumed significant debt and liabilities that could leave you without the means to pay alimony.

Termination Of Permanent Alimony

The remarriage of your former spouse or death of either party. Also, if your former spouse is living with someone in a supportive relationship, the court may modify or terminate alimony.

Conclusion

Permanent alimony can be a tricky situation to deal with. This is what makes divorce cases that much more gruesome to go through for both parties. If you want to reduce the risk of getting permanent alimony, understanding how the court makes their decision would be your best defense. Hiring an expert in family law can help a lot and will make your case even stronger.

If you’re in need of an experienced Jacksonville family lawyer, then The Dorsey Law firm can help you with all your legal needs. Our firm counsels clients on a wide range of family law issues, including divorce, spousal support, relocation of children, property division, and domestic violence injunctions, among others. If our family law approach sounds like it might ease and resolve your divorce, contact Dorsey Law JAX today.

August 4, 2021

What Are the Different Child Custody Types?

There comes a time when parents need to file for child custody due to various reasons, such as divorce, annulment, separation, adoption, or parental death. Whatever the reason behind this, child custody is usually determined with the child’s best interests in mind.

If you are a parent filing for child custody, it is only best to understand the differences between child custody types. So, without further ado, here are the following types of child custody:

 

  • Physical Custody

 

Physical custody gives a parent the right to housing the child. Some states award joint physical custody to both parents when the child spends significant amounts of time with both of them. This custody type works best if parents live near each other so the child can maintain a relatively normal routine.

If the child primarily lives with one parent and has visitation with the other, the parent that houses the child, a.k.a. the custodial parent, has sole or primary custody. The noncustodial parent only has the right to visit or have parenting time with the child.

 

  • Legal Custody

 

Legal custody of a child means a parent has the right and obligation to make decisions for the child’s sake. That includes the child’s upbringing, schooling, religious choices, and medical care. In most states, courts award joint legal custody to both parents.

If you are sharing joint legal custody and decide for the child without including your ex-spouse in the process, the judge can take you back to court and plead with the judge to enforce the custody agreement. That could end up in more friction between the two of you and harm the child in the process. It can also be expensive.

In most states, joint legal custody is preferred. So if you don’t want that, you need to convince a family court judge that it is not in your child’s best interests. 

 

  • Sole Custody

 

One parent can have either sole physical custody or sole legal custody of the child. Courts don’t hesitate in awarding this custody type when the other parent is unfit, especially if he or she is drug dependent or has child abuse and neglect charges.

However, most states are leaning towards enlarging the role of both parents in the child’s life. So, even if courts award sole physical custody, both parents may still share joint legal custody, with the noncustodial parent enjoying a generous visitation schedule. 

In this situation, both parents will make joint decisions about the child’s upbringing, but the custodial parent is the primary physical caretaker. It’s best to seek sole custody only if the other parent poses direct harm to the child and not due to animosity between the two of you. 

 

  • Joint Custody

 

Parents that don’t live together have joint custody or shared custody of the child. That means you share decision-making responsibilities and physical custody of the child. This custody type exists when parents are divorced, separated, no longer cohabiting, or never lived in the same household.

Final Thoughts

The most crucial thing in every child custody case is what’s in the child’s best interest. Parents must act civil, whether there is hate or not since the two might share custody and are equally involved in the decision-making processes. 

Dorsey Law Firm is a leading family law firm in Jacksonville. We have experienced trial lawyers committed to attending to a wide range of family law issues, including child custody. We attempt to negotiate settlements but are not afraid to take a case to trial when necessary. Do you need a lawyer? Get in touch with Dorsey Law Firm today.

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