About Our Firm

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Founded in 1997 we are experienced and knowledgeable Tampa attorneys practicing exclusively in Divorce, Family, Stepparent/Relative Adoption, Criminal Defense, and Personal Bankruptcy. We practice primarily in the cities of Tampa, Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, Lithia, Carrollwood, Northdale, North Tampa, Plant City as well as Hillsborough County, Pinellas County and Pasco County. We have offices conveniently located throughout Tampa Bay. Our lawyers have extensive experience practicing in contested and uncontested divorces, including military divorces, and family law, child support, child custody and visitation, relocation of children, alimony, domestic violence, distribution of assets and debts, retirement/pensions (military and private), enforcement and modification of final judgments, paternity actions, adoptions and name changes as well as criminal defense. We offer a free consultation to discuss your options. Please call us at 813-672-1900 or email us at info@familymaritallaw.com to schedule a consultation. Our representation of our clients reflects our dedication to them. We look forwarding to hearing from you! Se habla EspaƱol.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How Will the New Rules in Family Court Cases Affect You?

Entering the legal process to resolve disputes is a stressful and overwhelming situation for most people. Many of the procedures and terms used by court officials and attorneys sound foreign and intimidating to the participants. Divorce is one of the most common ways people interact with the legal system, and any matter concerning family issues (domestic violence, divorce, or guardianship), or children is handled through the family court system. Because of the sensitive nature and amount of people needing resolution of domestic issues, the family court system is designed to work faster, more efficiently, and with less complexity. This structure does not eliminate the need for an attorney, but ideally facilitates easier access to the court and resolution of pressing issues. Most courts, from civil to criminal, have their own set of rules that govern how cases proceed. While these rules function behind the scenes for most parties, they can profoundly affect the process and ultimate result. Florida’s family court recently created its own set of rules and procedures that are supposed to further streamline the process. Previously, family court cases were handled under the general rules that apply to all civil suits, which are more complex and cumbersome. An overview of the new family court rules, and how they may affect family law cases going forward, will follow below.
New Rules Generally
The purpose behind the issuance of a separate set of rules specifically for family law cases was to simplify and condense how these cases are conducted for the sake of litigants who decide to represent themselves. This was accomplished by standardizing the title of various petitions and motions (requests for a court to act on a specific issue) so that only one format is now acceptable. Further, the necessary content of the documents filed with the court is now much simpler and the description of the required information is plainly laid out for the average person to understand. For example, when a spouse files a petition for divorce, the other spouse is obligated to file a response, called an answer. An answer allows a party to deny or admit the allegations made in the original petition. Under the new rules, the content of an answer must be “short and in plain terms,” and the new rule explicitly explains when an allegation must be denied or admitted. Now that the structures of family court rules are crafted with the self-represented party in mind, it may be very tempting to forego hiring an attorney. However, it is important to consider that doing so could result in the unknowing loss of rights to property, child custody, or remedies that would better address their circumstances.
One Big Omission
One big difference between the previous rules used in family court cases and the revised set is the absence of any provision for alternative dispute resolution. Before the rule change, parties in a divorce could be ordered to attend arbitration to work out disputes. Arbitration is a less formal process to resolve legal disputes that is faster and cheaper compared to traditional litigation. Further, this alternative could be particularly beneficial for couples that do not have child-related issues to work out. State law permits mediation for certain child-related disputes since it is not binding, unlike arbitration. Excluding arbitration from the new rules, limits a valuable option for parties to resolve family law cases, which hopefully will be added at later date.
Get Legal Advice
Engaging with the court system on any matter, family-related or otherwise, is always a complex endeavor. If you are contemplating divorce, or have child custody issues, working with an experienced family law attorneys can have a huge impact on the final outcome. Trained attorneys understand the law behind the rules, and can best adapt his/her approach to obtain your desired outcome. The lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay understand how important family law cases are, and will take the time educate you on every step of the process.  Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

Monday, October 30, 2017

Does Florida Permit Relatives to Adopt a Child?

The notion of adoption is usually associated with a couple working with an adoption agency to add a baby or young child to their family. Certainly, this type of adoption does happen on a regular basis, but as recently discussed on this blog, there are other kinds of adoption that do not involve strangers taking an unknown child into their home. Stepparents and relatives also seek to adopt in certain circumstances. Why a stepparent would wish to adopt a stepchild is easy to understand since he/she is already functioning in a parental capacity, but why a relative would want to adopt a child might not seem so clear. Society and the law prefer and expect parents to take the primary role in raising their children, with friends and relatives only providing limited support as necessary. However, circumstances can arise, especially if a child has only one parent, that requires another family member to assume the role of parent. Examples of when relative adoption could be a good choice include the death of the parent(s), a seriously debilitating injury or illness, or child abandonment. Florida promotes placing children in stable and permanent homes with relatives over unrelated and unknown adults. As a result, adoption procedures for relatives are simplified compared to a standard adoption. A discussion of who qualifies to petition for a relative adoption, and how it differs from the standard adoption procedure, will follow below.
Who Can Petition for a Relative Adoption?
While any adult is generally permitted to adopt another person, because of the special status afforded to relatives in the adoption process, only certain individuals qualify as a “relative” for this purpose. Under Florida adoption law, to qualify as a relative the adult must be related to the child within the “third degree of consanguinity.” This means the adult must be biologically related to the child, and not merely through marriage, and includes the following relations:
  • grandparents;
  • aunts and uncles;
  • first cousins;
  • great grandparents;
  • nieces and nephews; and
  • siblings.
Most relative adoptions involve grandparents or aunts and uncles, all of whom easily qualify as a relative according to Florida law. More distant relatives wishing to adopt would have to follow the standard adoption procedure.
Relative vs. Standard Adoption
The two biggest differences between a standard and relative adoption is the need for a home study and two separate proceedings to terminate parental rights and finalize the adoption. A home study is an assessment the adoption agency must conduct prior to the termination of the biological parents’ rights that verifies whether the home is suitable, and if the placement is in the best interests of the child. Stepparent and relative adoptions are specifically excluded from this requirement, though a court has the option of ordering a home study for good cause, such as a history of violence in the relative’s home. In addition, standard adoptions require the adoptive family to petition separately to terminate parental rights and to finalize the adoption. This staggered process adds a lot of time and expense to the adoption process. Relative adoptions are not subject this requirement, and relatives can file one petition to both terminate parental rights and finalize the adoption. This shortened process makes the entire procedure take a few months instead of a year or more. Note that one crucial difference between stepparent and relative adoptions is the need to terminate the parental rights of both, and not just one, parent.
Once the adoption is complete, the relative becomes the child’s parent for legal purposes with all the rights and obligations granted and imposed on a child’s natural parents.
Talk to a Tampa Florida Adoption Attorney
If you are a stepparent or relative seeking to adopt a child, you need the services of an experienced adoption attorney to ensure the process is handled correctly. While these types of adoptions are simpler, the legal requirements are still somewhat complicated. The Tampa Bay law firm All Family Law Group, P.A. will guide you through this process step-by-step, and help you to walk away with a momentous event to celebrate.  Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

What are the Steps in a Florida Divorce?

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