Have you found yourself facing a family law dispute in Tampa? Although legal matters involving your loved ones can cause considerable anxiety and emotional distress, you don’t have to face the situation alone. Turn to a Tampa family lawyer from Florida Law Advisers, P.A., for the legal advice and advocacy you need.
Let us help you achieve your goals and ensure a bright future for yourself and your family. Our firm offers a sensitive approach to our client service, providing compassionate support throughout this challenging time in your life.
Contact us for a free initial case review to learn more about your legal options in your family law matter. Let a Tampa family law attorney from our firm help you protect your and your family’s rights and interests.
How Is Marital Property Divided in Florida?
Florida law requires the equitable division of marital property during divorce. Martial property generally includes any property acquired by a couple during the marriage or the growth in value of their assets during the marriage, regardless of who’s on the title or owns the asset. Couples can negotiate the division of assets and liabilities as part of a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, or divorce settlement.
Alternatively, spouses may let the family court decide the issue. “Equitable distribution” means courts must divide the marital estate fairly, though not necessarily evenly. Florida law provides statutory factors for courts to consider when determining a fair division of assets between divorcing spouses. These factors include:
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including child care or homemaking
- The respective economic circumstances of each spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- Whether either spouse delayed their education or career advancement to support the other
- The desirability of either spouse keeping assets, such as an ownership interest in a business, free and clear of any claim by the other spouse
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition or improvement of marital or separate assets
- Whether one party should retain the marital home as a residence for a dependent child if it’s financially feasible to do so
- Whether either party intentionally depleted or wasted marital assets during the divorce or within the two years before the divorce
Courts may award possession of specific assets or cash payments and assign marital debts to either party to reach the appropriate division of the marital estate.
How to Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Family Law Attorney
Your attorney will serve as your advocate during your family law case, so you will want to hire a lawyer who will work well with you and protect your interests. It helps to speak with multiple family law attorneys before hiring one so that you can fight the right attorney. Many lawyers offer initial consultations to learn more about a client’s case and start to plan a case strategy.
Here are some steps you need to take to prepare for a first meeting with a Tampa family lawyer:
- Write down a summary of essential information, including your, your spouse’s, and your children’s identifying information, your and your spouse’s employment and financial details, and a brief description of your marriage and what has led you to divorce.
- Gather copies of vital financial records, including tax returns, bank and brokerage statements, and property deeds and titles.
- Create a list of questions you will want to ask the attorney. Critical topics to cover include the lawyer’s experience, their track record, whether they’ve handled cases similar to yours, their communication style and policies, and their fee structure.
Most importantly, remember to be honest with the lawyer. Although you may feel anxious or embarrassed about sharing unfavorable or uncomfortable details about your family, your lawyer must know the truth to provide practical legal advice and advocacy.
What Are Common Types of Family Law Cases?
At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., our Tampa family law attorneys can help you with a wide range of legal matters and disputes, such as:
How Is Alimony Determined in Florida?
Spouses may negotiate alimony in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or a divorce settlement. Alternatively, a couple may let the family court resolve the issue of spousal maintenance if either party requests alimony in their divorce pleading. In Florida, courts may award alimony to either spouse in a divorce. The law allows courts to consider either spouse’s infidelity when deciding the issue of alimony.
Courts may grant types of alimony such as “bridge-the-gap,” rehabilitative, durational, or permanent. Alimony may involve periodic payments or a lump sum, or both.
Under the alimony statute, a court must first make a specific factual finding regarding whether a spouse requires maintenance or alimony and whether the other spouse has the financial means to pay it. If the court deems alimony appropriate, it must consider certain factors when deciding the type and amount of alimony to award. These statutory factors include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The age and physical/mental health of each spouse
- The financial resources of each spouse, including nonmarital assets and the share of the marital estate distributed to each spouse
- The earning capacity, education, training, and employability of each spouse, or the time needed for either spouse to acquire the education or training necessary for them to secure appropriate employment
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including homemaking, childcare, and support for the other spouse’s education and career advancement
- Each spouse’s parental responsibilities to the couple’s children
- The tax consequences of any alimony award
- The sources of income available to each spouse, including passive income from investments or other assets
Courts may also consider any other relevant factor specific to the couple. Courts can also obligate the payor spouse to obtain a bond or life insurance policy or pledge assets as security for the alimony payments.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Florida?
Florida’s child custody statute espouses a public policy in favor of allowing children to have frequent contact with both their parents and enabling parents to participate meaningfully in their child’s upbringing. Courts must take a gender-neutral approach to deciding child custody arrangements.
The statute provides a list of factors for the family court to consider when issuing a custody order. These factors include:
- The ability and willingness of each parent to encourage a close, continuing child-parent relationship with their child’s other parent, to honor the parenting time schedule, and to have the flexibility for changes
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities and the extent to which third parties may perform such duties
- The ability and willingness of each parent to consider and act upon their child’s needs rather than their own
- How long the child has lived in a stable environment, and the desirability of maintaining such an environment
- The geographic viability of a proposed parenting plan, specifically accounting for the needs of school-age children and the travel time needed for the plan to be effective
- The moral fitness and physical and mental health of each parent
- The child’s home, school, and community record
- The child’s reasonable preference, if the child is mature enough to express a reasoned preference
- The ability and willingness of each parent to remain informed of their child’s circumstances, including schooling, healthcare, and social activities
- The ability of each parent to maintain a consistent routine for the child
- The ability and willingness of each parent to communicate and work together with the other parent regarding the child’s upbringing
- Any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or sexual violence by either parent, or evidence that either parent has made false allegations of abuse, neglect, or violence
- The division of parenting responsibilities before the parties’ separation or divorce
- Any evidence of ongoing substance abuse by either parent
- The ability and willingness of each parent to protect the child from ongoing custody litigation
- The developmental stage and special needs of the child and the capacity of each parent to provide for the child’s needs
Finally, courts may also consider other relevant factors specific to the family’s circumstances.
How a Tampa Family Law Attorney Can Help
Turn to a Tampa family law attorney from Florida Law Advisers, P.A., to help you with all the details of your family law case, including:
- Investigating the facts of your matter and securing documents and evidence you may need to support your family law claim
- Discussing your needs, goals, and concerns to advise you regarding your legal options
- Negotiating on your behalf to reach a fair settlement or prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
- Drafting and filing court petitions and motions to pursue your interests in court if necessary
- Advocating for you in court and at trial
- Offering a neutral, rational perspective throughout your case to help you make the best decisions for your and your family’s future