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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.
Showing posts with label Florida Divorce Process. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Florida Divorce Process. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Can You Keep the Details of a Divorce Private?

Divorce can leave the participants feeling emotionally and financially vulnerable. These reactions make sense in light of the dramatic changes divorce triggers within a relatively short-period of time – change in residence, change in economic circumstance and change in relationship status. Another difficult reality of divorce is the necessity of releasing private and potentially embarrassing information to the public. All cases filed in any court are matters of public record, which means anyone has the right to access them upon request. This was not much of an issue before the advent of the Internet, and to view case records typically required someone to visit the courthouse in person. However, now that records can be accessed from the comfort of home at any time of the day, concerns about who may view, and subsequently use, this information is real and justified. Parties involved in court proceedings have the right to ask a judge to seal all case records and related documents so the information is withheld from public view. However, a compelling reason must exist to justify such a request. Actor Brad Pitt recently tried to seal the records in his divorce, citing concerns about his children’s privacy rights, but the court disagreed and denied the request. While receiving approval to seal records in a divorce case is not easy, it does happen. Importantly, though, there are ways to keep information private without resorting to a request to seal records.
Sealing Records
As noted above, documents filed in connection with divorce cases are considered public records subject to Florida law on the public’s right to access this information. If a party wants to keep information out of the public eye, he/she must file a request with the court asking it to designate certain information as confidential and thus exempt from disclosure. Courts will only grant such a request if a party can demonstrate certain grounds exist to justify the decision. These include:
  • confidentiality is necessary to preserve justice in a case;
  • confidentiality is needed to avoid injury to innocent third parties, such as children; or
  • confidentiality is necessary to prevent injury to a party by the disclosure of information normally protected under common law or a right to privacy.
Courts are generally reluctant to grant these requests, and a party must have a fairly compelling reason to be successful. Consequently, a better option is to limit or completely avoid submitting private information to a court.
Other Ways of Keeping Information Private
The most effective way to circumvent the need to release private information into the public record is to negotiate and enter into a private settlement agreement as part of a mediation or through the collaborative divorce process. These proceedings are private, and the extent to which personal information must be disclosed to finalize a divorce is limited. Further, the provisions of a marital settlement can refer to outside agreements without disclosing the terms contained within them, which is especially useful to protect financial information. Thus, while it takes a little planning, it is possible to keep most personal information out of the public domain, and an experienced divorce attorney will know the most effective way to accomplish this goal.
Consult a Divorce Attorney
Divorce is difficult, and being forced to disclose personal information to strangers only adds to the stress. If you are concerned about revealing personal information to the public, work with a knowledgeable divorce attorney about limiting your exposure. 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+

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Figuring Out Property Division in Divorce

Part of a couple’s effort to build a life together includes acquiring property that speaks to the couple’s success and affection for one another. The longer a couple is married obviously affects the variety and amount of property they own together, and will represent the couple’s hard work and sacrifice. Having to split these assets during divorce is often a hard reality for parties to accept, but absent a prenuptial agreement, some amount of property division will occur. When people typically think about dividing property in divorce, houses, cars, and retirement benefits are the first things that come to mind, but any asset of value can fall within the definition of marital property, including more personal items like books and artwork. While the parties are always free to craft their own property settlement, a court will review the terms for fairness, and, in the absence of an agreement, divide all marital property according to the rules of Florida law.
Equitable Division
Property division in divorce starts from the premise that all marital property should be divided equally between the spouses, unless there is evidence that justifies an unequal division. Examples of issues that could impact the balance of property division are adultery and dissipation of assets by one spouse. Courts evaluate whether equal distribution is appropriate on a case-by-case basis, and use a number of factors to complete this analysis. These factors include:
  • the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including childcare and household services;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the economic resources of each party;
  • interrupting educational or career pursuits of one spouse for the benefit of the other spouse;
  • the contribution of each spouse to increases in value of marital property, and the accumulation of liabilities; and
  • the wishes of either spouse to keep the family home for the benefit of a minor child.
Note that both assets and liabilities are divided in divorce, but if one spouse is mainly responsible for the accumulation of debt, the court could leave him/her with the bulk of these obligations.
Marital Property
Now that there is a basic understanding of how property is divided, the next important piece in this issue is figuring out which property is subject to distribution. As noted above, all marital property is divided in divorce. Marital property includes:
  • all assets and liabilities acquired by either spouse during the marriage;
  • non-marital property that increased in value during the marriage due to the efforts of either spouse or the use of marital funds;
  • gifts between spouses during the marriage;
  • all vested and unvested benefits and interests in retirement funds, life insurance, and pensions;
  • real property jointly owned by the spouses; and
  • personal property jointly owned by the spouses.
Determining whether an asset qualifies as marital property is fairly clear in most divorce cases, but one area that may be less clear is interspousal gifts.  All gifts received from a spouse are automatically labeled as marital property, but the law permits a party to dispute this assumption by presenting “clear and convincing” evidence to the contrary. This standard of proof requires a party to present enough evidence that shows his/her contention is more likely true than not.
Retirement Plans
Finally, given the importance of retirement plans in a person’s overall long-term financial stability, it is natural to wonder what happens to these assets following divorce. Any interests or benefits in these funds that accrue during a marriage are considered marital assets and subject to distribution. In addition, military benefits amassed by active military personnel are also open to division if the marriage lasted 10 years or more.
Talk to a Florida Divorce Attorney
If you are in the midst of getting divorced and have questions about which property you are entitled to receive, talk to a divorce attorney to learn your rights. There are many legal nuances not covered here that affect how property is divided. The Tampa Bay law firm All Family Law Group, P.A. has extensive experience in all facets of divorce cases, and can help you receive a fair property settlement.  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+

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Florida Divorce 101

Looking at the almost daily stories about divorce that appear in the news, it seems as if society sees this event as an everyday process that is not worth a lot of conversation. This nonchalant attitude is especially apparent in the large of number of reports about which group is most likely end their marriage and the top signs a relationship is heading for divorce. In reality, divorce is a painful process that few enter without a large amount of soul searching and numerous attempts to save the marriage, but once the decision is made, having some key bits of information can make the situation a little easier. Knowing this basic information about divorce procedure is likely to make the process feel a little less overwhelming and scary, which should provide some much needed emotional relief to anyone facing divorce. Consequently, an overview of how to initiate a divorce, the types of information needed to file for divorce, and the role of the court will be discussed below.
Starting Divorce Proceedings
All dissolutions of marriage in Florida start with a petition for dissolution. In order for a couple to be permitted access to Florida courts for divorce, at least one party must be a resident of the state for a minimum of six months and intend to remain. The petition is filed with the circuit court in the county where the couple last lived together.  This legal document provides the court with information it needs to determine if there is authority for a  Florida judge to grant a divorce and requires the party filing the petition to include certain information related to child custody, child support, alimony, and property distribution, as applicable, so the court knows what the petitioner is seeking.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, and all that the petitioner needs to do to get divorced is claim the marriage is irretrievably broken. This means it is unnecessary to prove that one party caused the failure of the marriage, but it also allows one party to ask for a divorce even if the other does not desire that result. The length of time it takes to obtain a divorce depends on the complexity of each individual case, but the law requires a minimum of 60 days to pass between the filing of the divorce petition and the issuance of the court order dissolving the marriage.  However, this can be waived by the parties.
Necessary Information
Before a divorce attorney can begin drafting a petition, he/she will need to collect information related to minor children, property holdings, and support. Specifically, if the couple shares minor children, identifying information for each child and any agreements the parents have made about custody and parenting time should be disclosed. Further, each party must file a financial affidavit with the court no later than 45 days after the petition for divorce is filed. This affidavit will provide the court with information that will help the judge determine child support payments, property division, and alimony, if granted. Note that the law requires the information provided in this form be disclosed to the other spouse.
How the Court Is Involved
The role of the court in divorce cases is, first and foremost, to issue a court order legally terminating a marriage. Beyond this purpose, the court oversees and approves any agreements the parties make related to the divorce. The court will take a more direct role and make decisions on issues like support and child custody, but since many couples work out the terms of divorce in mediation, it is not necessary for the court to intervene. Thus, most divorcing spouses only appear in court once to attend the case management conference where the judge learns about the status of the case and makes any decisions needed to move the case forward.  Or the case management conference can be used as a final hearing if the parties are in agreement and have completed all that is necessary to finalize their case.
Talk to a Divorce Attorney
It can be tempting to file for divorce on your own, but there are a lot of procedural rules and statutory laws that affect how quickly the case progresses and the ultimate outcome. An experienced divorce lawyer is best equipped to handle these legalities, and help you avoid the frustration of not knowing or understanding why certain forms have to be filed and the particulars of local court rules. The Tampa law firm All Family Law Group, P.A. can offer you representation in all divorce matters and is committed to helping you achieve the best possible solution. 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+

Did Divorces Really Spike During Pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic started nearly one year ago and at that time, predictions were being made that it would cause a spike in divorce cases...