Articles Posted in Family Law

Attorney’s Fees

Attorney’s fees awarded in a Dissolution of Marriage depends upon the financial need of the

requesting party and the financial ability to pay of the other party.

Usually, the court will impute an income to the non-working spouse. This means that in cases where child support, alimony, and equitable distribution of assets and debts are at issue, the court will decide a wage that should be attributed to the non-working spouse. This imputed income amount will serve as the amount the spouse should be making if they were working, and most calculations throughout the case will be made using this imputed income.

As a matter of law, trial courts should consider the non-working spouse’s work history, occupational qualifications, and the prevailing earnings in the community for that class of available jobs when finding an amount of imputed income. Evidence may be presented that the non-working spouse had earned the same amount prior to quitting a previous job, that the non-working spouse is capable of working, and that the non-working spouse has options to do so.

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The Florida Department of Revenue may intervene in child support cases to ensure that a minor child is receiving the care and support he or she is entitled to by law. Paternity is presumed when a husband and wife have a child within the bonds of marriage. However, if the parents are not married, the Department of Revenue may still collect child support from a father who may or may not be the actual biological father of a child.

A father may contest paternity, but the courts will always look to what is in the best interests of the child “[T]he courts require a determination of the child’s best interests. Some circumstances require specific procedures to be followed in evaluating a child’s best interests. For example, if paternity is contested, the child’s legitimacy is at issue, and the legal father has not had notice or an opportunity to be heard, the trial court is required to appoint a guardian ad litem and hear from the guardian and all the parties before proceeding.”

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Termination of Parental Rights is a serious issue in Florida Law. The Department of Children and Family Services often becomes involved in situations where a child’s welfare is in danger. Many times extended family members may be concerned about the parenting style or neglect by the child’s parents. If this becomes an issue, or if abuse is a concern, the Department of Children and Family Services will often take part in the case.

In temporary situations where children need to be provided care, family members may apply for Temporary Custody by and Extended Family Member, by petitioning the Court for an order allowing them to temporarily care for the children at issue. Many times this is a better situation for everyone involved, because the children are then able to be cared for in a familiar environment, and the Court is able to monitor the situation first hand.

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To answer this question briefly, a biological father has no rights to a child born while the mother was married to another man, unless the mother’s husband relinquishes his parental rights through proper procedure. In Florida, the “legal father” of a child is defined as the man to whom the mother is married when the child was born and whose name appears on the birth certificate. In the case of Slowinski v. Sweeney 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1418a (Fla. 1St DCA 2013), it was undisputed that the child was born within wedlock while the mother was married to another man and that the mother’s husband was listed as the father in the child’s birth certificate. The child resided with the maternal grandmother since birth. Upon the mother’s death, the grandmother, with the legal father’s consent, filed a petition for temporary custody, pursuant to Florida Statute section 751.03, which allows an extended family member to seek temporary custody of a child.

The biological father filed a petition for determinatin of paternity in the same county as the grandmother’s action using evidenced by DNA testing to show that he is the father and that he should have custody of the child. The biological father’s paternity action was ultimately dismissed on appeal because the court considered it a “nonexistant cause of action.” The biological father next filed a motion to intervene in the grandmother’s temporary custody case. After an evidentiary hearing on his motion, the trial court allowed the biological father to intervene in the case, finding that he qualieifed as an “extended family member” because his status as a biological father made him a “relative of a minor child within the third degree by blood or marriage to the parent.”

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CAPE CORAL, Fla. (September 25, 2012) Liridona Sinani has joined the attorneys at Martin Law Firm announced firm principal, Steven E. Martin.

Liridona Sinani’s practice focuses primarily on family law, probate litigation and general civil litigation.

Liridona earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, with Cum Laude honors, in Political Science and International Affairs and a minor in Political Philosophy from Florida State University, where she received a full scholarship to complete her studies. It was her interest in these fields that led her to pursue an Internship at the Executive Office of the Governor in Tallahassee, FL and to later travel to Hague, Netherlands and Strasbourg, France to examine the inner workings of major international courts and tribunals, such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

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Florida Statute § 61.16 provides for attorney’s fees to be paid by a more financially abled party in Dissolution of Marriage cases. Florida Statute § 61.16 provides:

The court may from time to time, after considering the financial resources of both parties, order a party to pay a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees, suit money, and the cost to the other party of maintaining or defending any proceeding under this chapter, including enforcement and modification proceedings and appeals,”

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It is important to note that any modification to a determination of parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule may not be achieved without a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances. In addition, the modification must be in the best interests of the child. In a recent case in Moore v. Mcintosh, 39 Fla. L. Weekly 78a (Fla. 1St DCA 2014), the 1st DCA held that relocation does not itself constitute a substantial change in circumstances to warrant modification of a time-sharing agreement. The court cited several cases in which relocation did not constitute a substantial change in circumstances.

In Moore, the parties had entered into a marital settlement agreement which specifically stated that the parties anticipated to reside in close proximity to one another and in the same school district. Then, both parties relocated to different cities. The Court held that

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Neck injuries are most commonly caused in four different ways. These are described by doctors as flexion, hyperextension, vertical compression and rotation injuries. So what does each of these mean to you as an injured person? An understanding of the nature of these injuries may be useful while you focus on the healing process. The most important thing for you to consider as an accident victim is that your body was not designed for the forces involved in auto accidents or similar incidents. Even mild impacts can have serious consequences to your long term health and wellness.

A flexion injury is caused when your neck bends forward too much or too fast or even both which is frequently what happens in an auto accident. Flexion injuries range from mild to severe and the injuries to you muscles, ligaments and spinal cord range accordingly. Considering that even a mild flexion injury can cause a fracture of the anterior portion of the vertebral body (the front part of your vertebrate), a severe flexion injury can cause a dislocation of vertebrae resulting in very serious spinal cord damage. Mild to severe flexion injuries can easily occur in a car accident including a “rear ender.” A hyperextension injury is the reverse of a flexion injury. Here your head and neck move backwards too fast and too much. Again, these injuries can range from mild to severe with similar consequences.

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In order to prevent jurisdictional disputes with courts in other states on matters relating to child support and time sharing, Florida has enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Pursuant to the UCCJEA, the exercise of jurisdiction in making an initial custody determination lies with the child’s home state. “Home state” is the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a proceeding involving a child.

Many jurisdictional disputes arise when one parent decides to remove the child from Florida and move to another state with the child. Then, either one or both parents will file a petition seeking establishment of timesharing and child support in their respective states. In this instance, the courts will have to decide whether Florida or the other state has jurisdiction to preside over the case.

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