child’s preference in custody

Generally, Florida family law favors joint custody of children. The policy behind the law is to allow both parents to share the rights, responsibilities, and joys of raising the children. However, in some cases joint custody will not be in the best interests of a child, nor the child’s preference in custody. In these instances, it is important to hire an experienced child custody attorney in Tampa to advocate for you and your child’s rights. Child custody disputes can be very stressful, these matters are extremely important and the outcome will have a long-lasting effect on a family.

Generally, a Florida family law court will grant shared parental responsibility (joint custody) unless the court determines that it will be detrimental to the child’s interests.  Florida courts have even gone as far as placing an obligation on parents to encourage a positive relationship between the child and other parent. See Schutz v. Schutz. When ruling on a child’s preference in custody, the judge will make his/her determination based on the best interests of the child. The court will consider many factors when trying to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Some of the common factors considered are:

  • The child’s preference in custody
  • Mental and physical health of both parents
  • Any prior domestic violence allegations or charges
  • Relationship the child has with each parent
  • The parent’s ability to provide a stable living situation for the child
  • The geographic location of each parent
  • The parent’s work schedules

Can a Child’s Preference in Custody be Explained by the Child?

Under Florida family law, minor children may not be a witness or attend a child custody hearing without prior court approval. See Florida Family Law Rule of Procedures 12.407. The parent wishing to have a child provide testimony must make a motion with the court and then conduct a hearing on the motion. At the hearing, the judge will consider all relevant factors on whether or not there is good cause to allow the child to testify as a witness. If granted, the judge may allow the minor to testify about the child’s preference in custody.

If the court does allow the child to testify as a witness about the child’s preference in custody, it will typically be an in-camera examination. An in-camera examination will typically take place in the judge’s office without the parents present. In-camera examinations are private, the public will not be allowed to attend. However, a court reporter will be permitted to attend the examination. The court reporter will transcribe the examination and make the record available to the parents for use at a future court hearing. If the judge refuses to allow a court reporter to be present during the examination, it may be grounds for an appeal. See Hickey v. Burlinson.

Child’s Preference in Custody Modification Cases

The testimony of a minor regarding the child’s preference in custody may be permitted in both original child custody cases and child custody modifications. A child custody order or parenting plan can be modified if there has been a substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances and the proposed change is in the child’s best interest. For more information on how to modify an existing Florida child custody order contact a Tampa child custody lawyer for assistance.

Tampa Child Custody Law Firm

If you are in the middle of a child custody dispute or have a question about Florida law regarding a child’s preference in custody, contact Florida Law Advisers for help. When you work with a Tampa child custody attorney at Florida Law Advisers you can count on the support you deserve, as well as strong advocacy of your rights in these important matters. We understand how important child custody disputes are and our professional team is 100% committed to resolving your case in a stress free and efficient manner.  Call us today at 800 990 7763, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and offer a free initial consultation.

 

IRS debt in bankruptcy

Taxes can be a huge burden for many people in the Tampa Bay area. The government is relentless in collecting taxes and can drastically increase the amount owed by tacking on interest and fees. However, in some instances, bankruptcy law may help eliminate the IRS debt in bankruptcy and give the debtor a fresh start. If the taxes are discharged in bankruptcy the debtor will be released from all personal liability of paying back the taxes. In order to eliminate IRS debt in bankruptcy very specific conditions must be met. For more information on whether you qualify to eliminate your IRS debt in bankruptcy contact a Tampa bankruptcy law firm for assistance.

IRS Debt in Bankruptcy That is Eligible for Discharge

If the tax debt satisfies all four of the conditions below you may be eligible to eliminate the IRS debt in bankruptcy. If they are eligible for discharge, the penalties and interest tacked on to the taxes will also be discharged in the bankruptcy. The test to determine eligibility to have IRS debt eliminated in bankruptcy can be confusing, you should contact a Tampa bankruptcy law firm for more information.

  1. Income Taxes: The taxes owed must be federal, state, or local income taxes.
  2. 3 Year Requirement: To be eligible for discharge, the tax debt must have become due at least 3 years prior to the bankruptcy filing. See Bankruptcy law 11 USC 507. If you received an extension to file the taxes, the 3 year clock begins to run when the extension expires, not the initial due date.
  3. 2 Year Rule: The income tax returns must have been filed at least 2 years prior to the bankruptcy petition. Tax returns that are filed late will still be eligible as long as they were filed at least 2 years prior to the bankruptcy petition. See Bankruptcy law 11 USC 523.
  4. The 240 day Rule: The taxes must have been assessed at least 240 days prior to the bankruptcy filing. It is important to note, if the debtor files an amended tax return the 240 day clock starts over again, beginning the date the amended return is filed.

The Fraud Exception to Eliminating IRS Debt in Bankruptcy

Under bankruptcy law, borrowers with tax returns that willfully attempted to avoid payment will not be eligible to discharge the IRS debt in bankruptcy. This exception to dischargeability has no time limit, the taxes will be ineligible for discharge regardless of how long ago the fraud occurred.  In order to prove the taxes were fraudulent the IRS must show: 1) the debtor had knowledge the returns were false; 2) the debtor had intent to avoid paying the taxes; and 3) there was an underpayment of taxes. See Florida Bankruptcy Case, In Re Kirk. The court will review the totality of the circumstances when determining if the IRS has satisfied their burden of proof.

Liens and IRS Debt in Bankruptcy

If the IRS debt in bankruptcy is discharged the debtor will be released from all personal liability of paying back the debt. The IRS will not able to sue the debtor or garnish the debtor’s wages or bank accounts. However, the discharge of IRS debt in bankruptcy will not remove a tax lien from any property it is levied against. A discharge only extinguishes the debtor’s personal responsibility of paying the debt, it does not extinguish a lien on property. Therefore, the IRS may still be able to repossess or foreclose on property it has placed a lien on for unpaid taxes. This even includes property that may be exempt under bankruptcy law.

Bankruptcy Law Firm in Tampa

If you are having a difficult time meeting your financial obligations Florida Law Advisers, P.A. may be able to help. We are a customer service oriented bankruptcy law firm in Tampa committed to  providing personalized attention and dedicated legal counsel. All of our initial consultations are free and convenient payment plans are always available. Regardless, if you need help with Chapter 13, Chapter 7, or other debt relief our professional legal team will provide you with competent legal advice you can trust. Call us now at 800 990 7763 to speak with a Tampa bankruptcy lawyer.

flat fee divorce

Filing for divorce in Florida can sometimes be a long and expense process. However, if you and your spouse agree on the terms of the outcome the case be completed much quicker and with a lot less legal fees than a contested divorce. In fact, Florida Law Advisers offers a low cost, flat fee divorce service for an uncontested case. Please keep in mind, in order to qualify for an uncontested divorce, all of the issues to be decided in the case must be agreed upon by the two parties. If there is even just one issue where there is no agreement the case will not be eligible to proceed through court as an uncontested case. For more information on an uncontested divorce or a traditional contested case contact a Tampa divorce attorney for assistance.

Choosing Between a Flat Fee Divorce or Contested Case

In some cases, a person will be better served by going through the normal Florida divorce process instead of an uncontested, flat fee divorce in Hillsborough or Pinellas County. Therefore, if you are considering filing for an uncontested divorce you should speak with a divorce lawyer in Tampa before taking any legal action. A divorce attorney can explain all the possible advantages and disadvantages to filing an uncontested case. For instance, the terms of the proposed settlement may not be fair or as good as what a judge may provide in a contested case.

Generally, filing for an uncontested divorce will be a lot cheaper and less time consuming than a traditional divorce. Most divorce attorneys in the Tampa Bay Area charge $250 – $450 per hour. The more time spent having to negotiate with the other side, attend court hearings, and file documents with the court the more it will cost for legal services. A flat fee divorce can eliminate the need for all of these extra costs. Additionally, it can streamline the divorce process and allow the court to enter the dissolution of marriage much sooner. In many instances, a flat fee divorce can be completed in as little as 30 – 45 days.

Filing Fees for a Flat Fee Divorce

In addition to fees charged by an attorney for a flat fee divorce, the court will impose a fee to file the case. For Pasco or Pinellas County divorce cases, the court charges a $397.50 filing fee. Click here for more information about the divorce filing fees in Pinellas or Pasco County. For flat fee divorce cases in Hillsborough County, the court charges a filing fee of $408. If you would like more information on Hillsborough County filing fees use this link.

Tampa Flat Fee Divorce Law Firm

Florida Law Advisers, P.A., offers a low cost, flat fee divorce for uncontested cases. The price of flat fee divorce will vary based on the circumstances of each case. For more information about the costs or to speak with a divorce lawyer in Tampa please call us at 800 990 7763. We understand how stressful a divorce can be and we want to provide solutions, not add to your burden with overpriced legal fees. When you hire Florida law Advisers, you can count on the support you deserve, as well as strong advocacy of your rights in these important matters. Whether a couple mutually agrees to the terms of a divorce or are engaged in a fierce battle for their property and child custody rights, Florida Law Advisers, P.A. can help.

stop HOA foreclosure in Florida

Many homes, condominiums, and townhomes in the Florida will be included in a homeowners association (HOA). If the property is part of an association, the homeowner will likely be required to pay a monthly or yearly fee to the HOA. The fee will vary between each association but in some cases can be hundreds of dollars each month. Further, the HOA may be able to add late fees, attorney costs, and even file for an HOA foreclose in Florida. Fortunately, homeowners who have fallen behind on HOA payments may be able to stop HOA foreclosure in Florida and get the fresh start they need by filing bankruptcy. If you need to stop HOA foreclosure in Florida contact a Tampa bankruptcy attorney to learn more about how a Chapter 13 may be able to help.

Stop HOA Foreclosure in Florida with the Automatic Stay

When a debtor (borrower) files for bankruptcy an automatic stay is put in effect as soon as the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed. The automatic stay will put an immediate halt and stop HOA foreclosure in Florida. The automatic stay requires all collection activity against the debtor to stop immediately, including a foreclosure sale that has already been scheduled. For more information on the automatic stay click here.

Eliminate HOA Fees in Bankruptcy

Under bankruptcy law, HOA fees may be discharged in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, determining the amount that will be discharged requires careful consideration by an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Generally, the HOA fees that have been incurred prior to the order of relief from a bankruptcy court will be eligible for discharge. However, Bankruptcy law will not permit a discharge of HOA fees incurred for any time period after the order for relief has been entered and the debtor still retains either a possessory or legal interest in the property.

If a debt is discharged in bankruptcy the borrower will be released from all personal liability on the debt. The discharge is a permanent court order releasing the borrower from the responsibility of having to pay the debt. Further, the discharge prohibits a creditor from taking any collection action against the borrower.

Using Lien Strip to Stop HOA Foreclosure in Florida

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy law, junior liens (including mortgages or a homeowner’s association liens) can be stripped or removed from homestead property. If the lien is stripped down to the market value, the remaining balance of the debt will be treated as an unsecured debt in bankruptcy. Unsecured creditors typically receive nothing or only a small amount of the balance before being discharged.  Further, after the discharge is granted in your bankruptcy case the HOA will be required to remove the lien from the property. For more information about lien stripping contact a bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa.

Stop HOA Foreclosure in Florida with a Chapter 13 Payment Plan

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing can permit a homeowner to stop HOA foreclosure in Florida by forcing the HOA to accept a repayment plan over a span of five years.  Essentially, the homeowner will have a 60-month loan to repay the back-due HOA fees, regardless if the HOA approves it or not. Most of the time, the interest rate applied to these types of payment plans is around 6%. The rate of interest under a Chapter 13 payment plan is often much less than the rate an HOA may charge. For more information about a specific case or payment plan contact a Tamp bankruptcy lawyer to schedule a consultation.

HOA Foreclosure in Florida Law Firm

If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy or need to stop HOA foreclosure in Florida contact a Tampa bankruptcy attorney. At Florida Law Advisers, our attorneys are experienced in both bankruptcy and foreclosure defense. Every case to stop HOA foreclosure in Florida and bankruptcy is different, and our vast experience allows us to cater our services to each client’s individual needs. All of our initial consultations are free and convenient payment plans are always available. Regardless, if you need help with Chapter 13, Chapter 7, or foreclosure defense our professional legal team will provide you with competent legal advice you can trust. Call us now at 800 990 7763 to speak with a lawyer, we are available to answer your calls 24/7.

 

Collaborative divorce in Florida

Collaborative divorce in Florida is the middle ground between a traditional divorce and an uncontested divorce. In a traditional divorce, the couple may disagree on alimony, child custody, and division of assets. These disagreements typically need to be resolved through litigation and require court intervention. On the other hand, in an uncontested divorce, the couple is in agreement on all of the issues encompassing the divorce. Conversely, in a collaborative divorce, the couple disagrees on the how the issues should be resolved but are willing to try and work together to reach an agreement without court intervention.For more information on the differences click here.

Collaborative divorce in Florida has many benefits, it can allow the parties to have more control over the outcome of the divorce and save money on attorney fees. However, a collaborative divorce is not right for every situation. If you’re considering divorce you should meet with a Tampa divorce lawyer to learn more about collaborative divorce and if it is right for your needs. Many divorce law firms in Tampa will offer a free initial consultation to help explain how the collaborative divorce process works in more detail.

The Process for Collaborative Divorce in Florida

Typically, in a collaborative divorce in Florida case each spouse will have their own Tampa divorce attorney. The divorce attorneys will enter into a binding agreement that requires them to withdraw from the case in the event the collaborative divorce process fails and the couple has to proceed with litigation. Under this type of agreement, there can still be substantive discussions regarding Florida divorce law without the threat of prolonged litigation and court actions. The theory is that this will allow the parities to focus more on creating an agreement both parties can be satisfied with instead of adversarial proceedings and posturing.

In order to be successful, collaborative divorce in Florida requires both sides to provide a full and honest disclosure. If both parties don’t enter the collaborative divorce in good faith the negotiations may fail. Couples should not be too concerned about disclosing information, all settlement discussions are considered confidential and may never be used in court against them. Additionally, anyone involved in the process, such as a C.P.A. will not be allowed to testify in court concerning any of the discussions during the negotiations.

The Negotiation Process for Collaborative Divorce in Florida

Most often, a collaborative divorce in Florida will begin with an initial conference where the couple and their respective divorce attorneys enter into a participation agreement. The agreement should provide an outline for the future meetings, required conduct of each party, and address the use of any experts to aid in the negotiations. For instance, many divorce cases involving entrepreneurs or complex assets will require the use of an expert to help appraise the value of the business or asset. The agreement should outline the process for selecting the experts and the issues they will be asked to advise on.

Subsequent meetings will be coordinated between the parties and should include a formal agenda. The agenda will describe the topics to be discussed to help avoid any surprises during the negotiations. It is best to create a customized agenda for each meeting to help further resolving any issues that are still lingering.  A customized agenda can help each side properly prepare for the meeting and stay focused on the topic at hand. The Tampa divorce lawyer you retained should be able to assist with creating the agenda.

Using a Mediator for a Collaborative Divorce in Florida

If the parties are not able to resolve all the issues amongst themselves they may want to consider bringing in a mediator. A mediator is an impartial, independent person who is familiar with Florida divorce law. The mediator will listen to both sides and propose solutions to help negotiate a settlement between the two parties. The mediator’s proposals are only suggestions, the mediator does not have any authority to compel the parties to any specific act or agreement. If mediation is unsuccessful and the negotiations are still at an impasse, the Tampa divorce attorney you retained may be required to send out a formal notice of withdrawal from the collaborative process.

Tampa Divorce Law Firm

If you are contemplating filing for divorce or your spouse has already filed for divorce, call us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a Tampa divorce attorney at our firm. We understand how stressful a divorce can be and we want to provide solutions, not add to your burden with overpriced legal fees. When you hire Florida law Advisers you can count on the support you deserve, as well as strong advocacy of your rights in these important matters. Whether a couple mutually agrees to the terms of a divorce or are engaged in a fierce battle for their property and child custody rights, Florida Law Advisers, P.A. can help. Call us now at 800 990 7763 to speak with a divorce lawyer, we are available to answer your calls 24/7.