All posts tagged: okaloosa

Making Decisions in a Florida Divorce

Here’s an extremely practical article about making personal judgments during a divorce. So many clients want their attorney to make both legal and personal decisions for them during a divorce, but an attorney’s advice should never be a substitute for personal values and goals. Be active in your case and ask questions to ensure that the outcome reflects what you value most. Family law and elder law attorneys follow the direction of their clients when they make legal decisions to protect their clients.  The given direction, however, should always be determined by the client.  The decisions that are made during a divorce are often difficult decisions.  Attorneys are often well-versed in matters of divorce law and procedure.  However, every client’s goals and interests are different, and the legal course of a case should reflect those goals and interests.  Therefore, no matter how knowledgeable or experienced your attorney is, make sure to communicate information and ask questions as you proceed toward a divorce.

Who gets the family pet?

I recently received a call from a gentleman who was preparing for a divorce, and he was concerned about a custody issue. Interestingly, the couple had no children during the marriage. He wanted to understand his rights to custody of a pet, in this case a dog. In a divorce, the question often arises: Who gets to keep the family pet?   Florida family laws are designed to protect the best interests of children in divorce.  Based upon a myriad of factors, the court will determine what it believes to serve the interests of children due to social, economic, educational, emotional and other factors that will serve the children’s interests, and assign custody accordingly.  Pets are not given to either of the divorcing parties based upon this standard.  Rather, pets continue to be viewed by the law and courts as personal property.  Therefore, the court will award the family pet or pets to one of the parties based upon the equitable distribution standard. Pets that were acquired by one of the parties prior to the divorce will …

How to divide assets and liabilities in a Florida divorce

A great deal of financial information and documentation can be needed in order to complete the divorce, depending on the extent of the marital estate and the complexity of the parties’ finances.

Veterans in Family Law Cases

Words cannot describe what a pleasure it is to represent those who serve our country in the armed forces, especially those who have recently returned from some far off place that I’ve only read about, or seen on CNN.  It’s not just the thought of helping someone who has put their life on the line for our national defense; it’s also the organization and discipline they bring to a case from an administrative stand point.  If I need a particular document to prove some factual or legal point during the representation, they get me the document immediately.  If I ask for a piece of information, they will move the earth to obtain and relay the information, often before I am ready to process it.  Unfortunately, most people do not possess that level of discipline. But as with all good things, these otherwise positive traits and life experiences can come at a cost. Armed forces personnel seem to develop a sense of discipline that can, for some, result in an abnormally high degree of frustration when confronted with life stressors that are beyond …

Adopting Children when the Parents do not Consent

Adoptions are joyous and pleasant events for both the petitioners and the child involved. Those who file a petition for adoption are seeking to become legal parents of a child, sometimes for the first time.  However, not every adoption case is uncontested, and on rare occasions, a parent or both parents will refuse to consent to the adoption petition and ask the judge to deny the adoption. Consent is the most important issue in any adoption case. You might even conclude, with a fair amount of accuracy, that it is the only issue since the adoption cannot be granted without consent in one form or another. However, a common misconception is that the parents must express their consent through a signed document for the adoption to be granted. This is not true. In order for an adoption to be granted in Florida or in Alabama, the parents must consent to the adoption.   The easiest and simplest way to accomplish this legal requirement is through a signed and notarized consent to adoption. The standard consent …

The quick and cheap divorce is not a myth, but it may cost you a lot!

Many of the people who contact me for representation in a contested divorce case are interacting with the legal system for the first time.  That’s usually a good thing.  Sometimes they’ve called other attorneys before calling me, and have already learned that the legal fees associated with a contested divorce can range from expensive to really expensive, depending on the issues presented, the degree of animosity and the particular attorney(s) they contacted.  They’re often looking for the best deal available, and I can’t say I blame them.  But here’s a bit of hard truth about the high legal fees associated with a contested divorce…  If you’re involved in a contested divorce, you don’t want it to be cheap. Let’s start with the definition of a contested divorce.  Simply put, in a contested divorce, the parties do not agree on one or more of the issues.  What are the issues you ask?  Custody, visitation, child support, property division and spousal support.  Important, often life-altering stuff.  If the parties to a divorce agree on all of these issues, …

Abused and Neglected Children: Who’s watching out for them these days?

I’ve met a lot of foster children over the years.  The vast majority of them are there for reasons that I could explain, but never justify.  Drugs, neglect and worst of all outright abuse put thousands of children in foster care every year.  I could tell war story after heart breaking war story all day, but in the end those children will still end up in foster care.  Still others are abused, but are able to escape foster care by landing a placement with a relative.  While the case is heard in court, and until the case is closed, somebody will be responsible for watching over these children, listening to them, advocating for them at court and, in general, helping them through a terrible chapter in their lives by protecting their best interests.  The person charged with that responsibility is called a Guardian ad litem, or GAL for short. The GAL is simply the most important player in any family law case.  The GAL is appointed to represent the child(ren), and to make recommendations to the court that …