We often receive phone calls from clients asking a variety of questions. The following questions and answers demonstrate some common concerns of clients who are involved in family cases. If you would like to request further information about any of the topics below, please call the Law Offices of Alyssa D. Honickman at 954-761-2522.
This list was written and approved by Alyssa D. Honickman, Esq. The following is for informational purposes only.
This answer depends on how many issues your case involves. If you have minor children and are unable to amicably resolve the issues involving the children including time sharing, parental responsibility, and child support, then your case will typically take longer to resolve than a case without minor children. However, cases can be presented as uncontested or contested. If your case is contested and you are unable to resolve the issues on your own, then you will be required to attend mediation. There is no magical number of how long it will take for your case to resolve. Each case has its own unique facts and you never want an attorney to rush through the process. This is a time in your life to be patient and careful in your decision-making.
If you plan to hire the Law Offices of Alyssa D. Honickman, we will provide a list of all the documents you will be required to present to the other side. Here is a list of some documents to get you started on the right track: last three years of tax returns, last three months of bank statements including checking and savings accounts, last year of any statements showing your liabilities including credit cards and other debts, last three months of pay stubs, last three years of statements from your retirement account, stock accounts, or profit sharing accounts. You will also need to file a financial affidavit. It will be helpful to make a list of your monthly expenses.
The client hiring the attorney must pay the attorneys fees up front. However, the spouse or party that makes a significantly higher income can be required by the court to pay the other spouse’s attorneys fees. However, if you plan to hire an attorney to represent you in your family case, then you need to be prepared to pay your own fees at the beginning of the case. An award of attorneys’ fees can be made for temporary fees or permanent fees at the closure of your case. The court will consider the amount of fees your attorney has charged, the difficulty of the issues involved in your case, the reasonableness of the fees, and each party’s conduct in proceeding forward on the case. The award of attorneys’ fees is no guarantee on any case.
Many people assume that the court will divide all assets and liabilities equally between the parties. This is a myth in family law cases. There is no statute that requires the court to split assets and liabilities equally. The court is required to conduct an equitable distribution between the parties. But this is no way means “equal.” The court will consider when the liability was incurred and what each party contributed to the liability. The same goes for assets. The court will look at when the asset was obtained and what each party contributed to create this asset. The court will consider each asset and each liability and conduct an individual analysis before conducting equitable distribution.
Some individuals feel that 50/50 is the rule when determining time sharing between parents. This information stems from Florida Statute $ 61.13. The statute states: “It is the public policy of this state to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys of childrearing.” Therefore, the court will encourage a time sharing schedule that allows both parents time with the children. There are many factors in a given case that would dictate one parent having majority time with the children. For example, depending on the distance between the parents’ homes, it is often difficult for the children to spend overnights during the weekdays with both parents. For a more detailed answer about your specific case, please call the Law Office.
Child support is calculated according to the Florida Child Support Guidelines. The court calculates child support using the gross income of each party, the number of overnights each parent shares with the children, the number of children, the amount of money spent by each parent on health insurance, daycare/childcare, and other medical expenses if any. There are some cases that allow for a deviation from the child support amount either upward or downward. The court ultimately decides the deviation.
If you lived in the home during the marriage, have no other place to live or have no financial ability to obtain a place to live during the pendency of the case, the court has the authority to enter an order giving you temporary exclusive use and possession of the marital home. This order can be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis. A motion must filed requesting temporary support.
This type of support is called alimony. Evidence must be presented to show you have a need for the support and the other spouse has the ability to pay. Both factors must be proven before the court will award support. Support can be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis based on the length of the marriage, and the lifestyle maintained by the parties during the marriage. Alimony is awarded separate and apart from child support.
The statute on relocation requires advance notice of your intent to move and must be provided to both parents. You must follow the statute and file a petition to relocate with the children providing reasons that are in the best interest of the children for you to move with them, and a parenting plan with the time sharing schedule you intend to follow. The other party must respond to the petition within 20 days of being served. If the other party does not respond within the time frame, you can move forward on a motion for default and ask the court to grant your relocation petition and adopt the parenting plan within the petition. You can also request a temporary relocation hearing to allow you to move pending the determination of the case. This is often a difficult process for parents to understand. The relocation statute must be strictly followed or the parent will be denied the right to relocate with the children.
Please consult an attorney prior to filing a petition to relocate. You will need a skilled, professional attorney to prepare this type of pleading on your behalf. At the Law Offices of Alyssa D. Honickman, we have successfully litigated relocation petitions and received orders allowing our clients to relocate with their children. On the other hand, we have also defended petitions and legally argued that the relocation did not meet the best interest of the child standard.
Please contact the law offices of Alyssa D. Honickman to obtain additional information about your case.