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Family Law FAQs

Q: What areas are included in family law?

A: Divorce, child custody, parental responsibility, child support, alimony, property division, domestic violence, judgment modification, judgment enforcement, paternity, disestablishment of paternity, name change and adoption, are some of the areas.

Q: What is collaborative divorce?

A: A divorce process where all parties are committed to negotiating through the process, rather than having the court determine issues. Each party may have their own attorney, but experts may be jointly hired if both parties agree. Many collaborative divorces involve mental health professionals to assist the parties through the process.

There is agreement that the parties will not take advantage of each other, move assets, cancel insurance policies or place assets at risk. Additionally, the parties agree to communicate in a civil and constructive manner.

Collaborative divorces are generally considered to be less stressful and easier than traditional divorces.

Q: What is paternity?

Paternity is the legal process in which a man’s legal ties to his natural and biological child are established. Prior to an establishment of paternity, an unwed mother has exclusive rights over the child, superior to all others.

Q: What is time sharing?

Time sharing was formerly referred to as physical custody in Florida Statute. Time sharing refers to who a child actually spends time with on a specified day and time. The term “time sharing” is less emotional and doesn’t evoke thoughts of winning or losing your child.

Q: Why does it cost so much to get divorced?

There is a great deal of paperwork involved in a divorce, especially if children are involved. The courts want to make sure that the information included in the paperwork is accurate and that both parties have the information that they need to make an informed decision. After all, splitting up a household can be very complicated if there are assets and debts that need to be separated.

Additionally, when children are involved, the financial, emotional, and physical care of the children needs to be put into writing. This means that child support figures must be worked out, that parenting time needs to be put into writing, and that details such as extracurricular activities, daycare, and holiday timesharing are all placed in writing.

Q: What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is one where the parties want to end the marriage and don’t want to fight about their divorce in the court system. Typically, it is much cheaper, faster and more dignified than a contested divorce. Basically, the parties agree on the issues themselves and then come to an agreement on their own. Once the parties have agreed on the major issues, it is a good idea to have an attorney draft the agreement.

You may not agree on every issue, and you may not think of every issue, that is why it is smart to have an attorney help you at this point. The attorney in an uncontested divorce can only represent one party, and usually only communicates with one party; however, the other spouse can look over the documents and offer input which he or she communicates to the client-spouse.

Uncontested divorces usually are much faster too. In an uncontested divorce, the parties waive their right to most discovery, which speeds things up tremendously. Discovery is the process where the parties exchange evidence, usually called interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and even depositions. Sometimes one of the parties doesn’t cooperate with the discovery request and then the other party has to file a motion to compel, which means more time and money. Although waiving discovery does not work for all divorces, it can save a lot of headaches. If the parties feel that they don’t need to see all of the evidence that may be disclosed during discovery, the divorce will go much faster.

Download the Florida Family Law Statutes PDF