Divorce and family legal issues are extremely sensitive. Their effects can ripple throughout a person’s life – often in ways that a person may not even realize. Our job in these cases is to counsel in the law, but also to support our clients and help them understand the ramifications of the proceedings, as well as their options for handling them. We approach our clients with compassion, there to lend our counsel and to lend a hand.
We have experience in all aspects of divorce, including:
- Division of Marital Assets / Non-Marital Assets
- Alimony/Spousal Support
- Time-Sharing (visitation/custody)
- Domestic Violence
- Parenting Plans
- Stepparent Adoption
- Child Support
- Dissolution of Marriage
- Post-Nuptial Agreements
- Pre-Nuptial Agreements
- Pre-Nuptial Agreements
- Separate Maintenance
- Marital Settlement Agreements
- Parental Responsibility
- Post-Judgment Modification
- Defense Against Modification
- Adult Name Change
- Child Name Change
Best Interests of the Child Standard
In cases where the children are involved, the Court determines all matters relating to parenting and time-sharing of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child.
The determination of the best interests of the child is made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, including, but not limited to:
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
- Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
When it comes to Relocation, there are additional factors that the Court considers when determining whether a certain proposed relocation of a parent with the minor child should be granted. In particular, the Court evaluates the following factors in reaching a decision regarding a proposed temporary or permanent relocation. When reviewing these additional factors keep in mind that a presumption in favor of or against a request to relocate with the child does not arise if a parent or other person seeks to relocate and the move will materially affect the current schedule of contact, access, and time-sharing with the nonrelocating parent or other person.
- The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the nonrelocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.
- The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.
- The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.
- The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
- Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.
- The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation.
- The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child.
- That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.
- The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.
- A history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in s. -or which meets the criteria of s.39.806(1)(d) by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.
- Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in s. 61.13.
Modification of Child Custody/Child Support
If there has been a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances since the entry of a custody order or the entry of an order on child support, you may be eligible to modify your parenting plan, including issues of time-sharing and parental responsibility as well your child support order. Circumstances which may warrant a modification of a custody decree include one parent’s failure to exercise all of their time-sharing; a parent’s behavior that detrimentally impacts the welfare of the minor child; as well the deterioration of a parent’s mental or physical health. When it comes to modifying child support, a job loss or the other parent’s significant promotion may be grounds for a modification.
If you have received a notice from the other party seeking to modify a final judgment, a defense against such modification will include a showing that there has been no substantial change in circumstances and/or that the modification will not be in the best interests of a minor child.