Category: Florida Law Blog

Step Parent Rights in Florida

Step Parent Rights in Florida

Today, many individuals are part of “blended” families. As such, many caretakers, particularly step-parents, are unsure of their parental rights. Step parent rights in Florida are difficult to understand without a deep analysis. Let’s examine a common scenario. In our scenario, one that has been litigated, one parent remarries and moves herself and her children into a residence with the new spouse. The family moves forward with all the formalities of a “nuclear” family, without realizing the step-parent’s legal rights or absence of rights. This raises the specter of the underbelly of step parent rights in Florida. What are a step parent’s rights over his/her non-biological child in our State? As always, we look to the Florida Courts for guidance. Call 407-335-8113 today.

In a recent decision, the First District Court of Appeals ruled on a crucial issue regarding step parent rights in Florida, and their decision is instructive. The Court ruled that a step-parent’s rights do not outweigh those of a non-custodial biological parent. According to the Court in Morris v. Morris, No. 1D16–4695, 2018 WL 1998887, (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), a biological parent’s interest in the custodianship of their minor child is in the best interest of the parent, and of the child.

Step Parent Rights in Florida Based on Recent Case Law

By way of background, in Morris, the mother of the minor child separated from the father and then remarried. Sadly, while the biological father of the child was residing in Germany, the mother passed away. The child was left in the exclusive care of the step-parent. This situation caused the step-parent to file a petition for ex parte emergency custody by an “extended family member.” Thus, step parent rights in Florida were litigated.

The trial court heard the step-parent’s petition, after which they granted him temporary custody. The trial court also denied the biological parent’s emergency verified motion for child pickup order, causing the biological dad to challenge the temporary custody granted to the step-parent.

On appeal, the First District Court held that while the Best Interest of the Child standard set forth by Florida statute 61.13 is usually the applicable standard in child custody cases, the trial court had mistakenly applied this standard in a case involving custody between a biological parent and a third party step-parent. The Court held that the proper standard when deciding step parent rights in Florida is the common law standard of Parental Preference. The common law standard provides that where a dispute exists between a biological parent and a third party would-be-parent, great deference should be given to the biological parent regardless of whether the third party can provide better financial and social benefits to the child.

The District Court held that a biological parent should be awarded custody of their minor child unless: (1) the biological parent was unfit; OR (2) remaining with the biological parent would result in demonstrable harm to the minor child. The Court held that consideration of the right of a natural parent “to enjoy the custody, fellowship and companionship of his offspring” is older than the common law itself. Additionally, any detriment to a child must be more than just a discomfort normally “experienced by a child when moved from a familiar environment into one engulfed by the fear and uncertainty associated with the unknown.” The Court then reversed the trial court’s Order granting temporary custody to the step-parent and remanded the lower court to reexamine the biological father’s petition for custody. Step parent rights in Florida seem to be more defined as a result of the Court’s decision.

While the First District Court of Appeals did not entirely decide whether a biological parent’s right to custody of the biological child outweighs that of a step-parent with whom the child had been living prior to the other biological parent’s passing, the family law Court strongly emphasizes the importance of a biological parent’s relationship with their children. The Court decided that even though the father lived out of the country, that alone was not sufficient to deny him custody of his minor child.

Jonathan Jacobs is a divorce attorney in Orlando and a family law attorney in Clermont Florida who treats his clients with the care and compassion they need. Call us to find out about your step parent rights in Florida.

Application For Determination Of Civil Indigent Status

Application For Determination Of Civil Indigent Status Florida

APPLICATION FOR DETERMINATION OF CIVIL INDIGENT STATUS FLORIDA

Under what circumstances might you qualify for civil indigent status Florida? Your first step should be a review of your finances. If you believe your income is low and you cannot afford to file for divorce or paternity without a waiver of the fee, you may wish to file an Application For Determination Of Civil Indigent Status. This application for indigent status asks a number of questions about your assets (stocks and bonds, overall portfolio), current job(s), social security and/or disability income and benefits, retirement and pension plans, etc. The Application For Determination Of Civil Indigent Status will also ask about your liabilities.

For example, you may currently have a stable job that pays a reasonable salary, but you might be in severe debt, unable to afford any expenditure for a lawsuit. These debts may include child support (ongoing and/or arrearages), credit card debt, medical bills, the cost of your medications/prescriptions, etc. The questions to determine if you qualify for indigency status in Florida also include whether you own a home, whether it has Homestead protection, and if you have any recurring sources of income.

Civil Indigent Status Florida

The Application For Determination Of Civil Indigent Status is about judicial fairness. If it is determined you can afford to pay for a lawsuit, you may request a hearing to contest it, but if you truly have the funds, and your application is denied, you may wish to file suit and pay the court filing fee. If you are destitute (poverty-stricken), it is probable the court will see that based on your truthful answers to the questions in your civil indigent status Florida application.

Whether you have an attorney does not necessarily impact your Application For Determination Of Civil Indigent Status Florida. Many attorneys take cases on a pro bono basis on behalf of impoverished clients that otherwise would have no legal help in times of great crisis. If you have questions about your civil indigent status Florida you may call your local clerks of court, or if this is a family law case in Central Florida, please feel free to call us, the Jacobs Law Firm located in Clermont and Orlando Florida.

Jonathan Jacobs is a divorce attorney in Clermont Florida and a divorce attorney in Orlando Florida that takes the time to speak with clients to help them make the best decisions possible for their family law cases.

Unlawful Detainer Attorney Lake County Florida

Unlawful Detainer Attorney Lake County Florida

Unlawful Detainer Attorney Lake County Florida

Jonathan Jacobs is an Unlawful Detainer Attorney Lake County Florida helping clients get possession of their homes back in Clermont, Minneola, Tavares, Leesburg, Mount Dora, Howie-in-the Hills, the Villages, and in all of Lake County Florida. An unlawful detainer case has certain minimum legal requirements. First, the defendant must not have a contract (lease) with you to stay at the residence (house, apartment, condo, etc.). Second, the defendant should not be able to show the court they are paying you rent. Third, you should first revoke the defendant’s right to occupy your home before filing a lawsuit. An Unlawful Detainer Attorney will tell you how you may best resolve your case. You need to know that an unlawful detainer is NOT an eviction. It is an action for repossession of a home under certain specific circumstances. Call us at 407-335-8113 today for a consultation.

How Does An Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit Work?

An Unlawful Detainer Attorney Lake County Florida will first ask about your situation. Your facts must demonstrate that filing an unlawful detainer action is right for you. If your facts are not right for an unlawful detainer case, perhaps an action for eviction or ejectment will be more appropriate.

Once our unlawful detainer attorney confirms that your case is right for litigation, we will draft your legal paperwork. Because we have experience with unlawful detainer cases, we know what to file, where to file it, and can let you know upfront all of the expenses associated with this type of a case. Evictions are straight forward. Unlawful detainer cases are a different type of civil litigation lawsuit.

Defenses Against Unlawful Detainer Claims

Many unlawful detainer cases will go to trial. The defendant may have valid defenses. For instance, they may have evidence of a lease contract. Or perhaps, they have paid you to live in your residence and have evidence of payment. Think carefully about the facts that the court will hear when your case goes before the judge.

Jonathan Jacobs of the Jacobs Law Firm is an Unlawful Detainer Attorney Lake County Florida that can help you with your case quickly and efficiently when you need our attorney services. Call today 407-335-8113!

Do I have to pay child support if my child moves abroad

Do I Have To Pay Child Support If My Child Moves Abroad

Do I Have To Pay Child Support If My Child Moves Abroad?

Do I have to pay child support if my child moves abroad? According to the Fifth District Court of Appeals presiding over Orlando and Orange County, a parent residing in Florida may be required to pay child support for their child, even if that child is no longer living in the United States. A new decision made by the Fifth District Court of Appeals solidifies this position in the Orange County Florida family law courts. The case citation is Keogh v. Keogh, No. 5D18-1080, 2018 WL 4168553 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018).

In Keogh, the Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. In doing so, the 5th DCA arrived at its ruling on the question, do I have to pay child support if my child moves abroad. The trial court had erroneously dismissed the mother’s request for child support during a dissolution of marriage action (divorce). Mom had moved to Ireland with the minor child and asked the court order for child support despite her relocation with the child. The trial court held that it did not have jurisdiction to order child support since the child no longer lived in Florida.

Fifth DCA Rules on Do I Have To Pay Child Support If My Child Moves Abroad?

However, the Fifth District Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s decision. The Fifth DCA in Keogh decided that although Florida is not the minor child’s current state of residence, the Florida Court will retain its jurisdiction to award child support to the mother. The Court specifically pointed to the facts that the parties were married in Florida, and their divorce proceedings were brought in a Florida court. These two crucial facts gave Florida courts personal jurisdiction over the parents even though one parent had moved overseas.

The legal undergirding is that once the Florida court has jurisdiction over a family law litigant, the court retains jurisdiction to decide on all matters substantially related to the case. In this instance, the court held jurisdiction over the parent’s divorce and child support payments are substantially related to mom and dad’s marriage and divorce. The court answered the question we posed, do I have to pay child support if my child moves abroad.

Under Florida statute §61.13(1)(a), a court is able to “order either or both parents who owe a duty to support a child to pay support to the other parent.” This is fundamental Florida statutory law. The Fifth Circuit District Court of Appeals decided to interpret this statute exactly as it is written. The Court determined that, although the mother and child lived for several years in another country, Florida courts maintain the authority to order a parent, over whom jurisdiction has been established, to pay child support to the mother and child living abroad. The lesson here is that a child support obligation does not end simply because one parent moves to another state or country.

Do I have to pay child support if my child moves abroad? The Florida court presently has jurisdiction to order the father to pay child support, however, the 5th DCA made an important distinction that may apply to a future change of circumstances; the Keogh court ruled that “The fact that a custody proceeding may, at some point, be instituted in Ireland does not preclude a Florida court from presently exercising its authorized jurisdiction to award child support.” The Florida court may lose its jurisdiction at a future time and any existing child support order could be canceled.

Neyza Guzman is a third-year law student and Juris Doctor candidate at Barry University School of Law who will sit for the Florida Bar in July 2019.

Jonathan Jacobs is a divorce attorney in Orlando and a family law attorney in Clermont Florida.

Relocation Factors Florida

Relocation Factors Florida

The relocation factors Florida are set forth in Florida Statute 61.13001 titled “Parental relocation with a child.” The Relocation factors Florida applying to a contested relocation are announced in subsection 7. Florida Statute 61.13001(7) makes it abundantly clear that there is no presumption in favor of or against relocation. To speak with a relocation attorney Florida call the Jacobs Law Firm at 407-335-8113.

First, I will provide relevant portions of the factors, or the factors in their entirety, and comment on each with a hypothetical, or a simple explanation of the meaning of each factor. Please note that the Florida family law court will take into account ALL of the factors, not just one factor in and of itself. No one of the relocation factors Florida is isolated as an outcome determinative factor.

Statutory Relocation Factors Florida

(a) The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the nonrelocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life. This means that the Statute allows for evidence to be heard regarding BOTH parents’ involvement with the child, as well as any other familial involvement the child has in either or both locations. Why would a Florida family law court take a child away from strong family bonds and powerful parent-child relations absent a preponderance of the evidence to the contrary?

(b) The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child. Is the child old enough to make decisions in a meaningful and rational manner? Will the relocation hinder the child’s development emotionally, or educationally? Is there a better or worse school where the relocating parent proposes to move? This is a critical relocation factor Florida where the best interests of the child are closely examined.

(c) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court. Suppose that mother has an opportunity to triple her income and send her daughter to private school. Housing is complimentary with this new job, and the quality of the private school far outweighs that of the public school where she is currently enrolled. However, by moving 2,000 miles away, daughter will rarely see dad, and dad just so happens to be her closest family member and her best friend. That makes the burden on mom to find time where dad may have visitation with daughter especially important for the court to consider when evaluating the merits of her petition for relocation based on the relocation factors Florida.

(d) The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child. Is the child 6 and of a tender and impressionable age or 16 and capable of making his own decisions? If the child is not old enough or mature for his age, the court will need to make its judgment without much input from the child.

(e) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities. For instance, dad has decided to accept a job as a CEO of a major financial institution. If permitted to relocate with his son, his son will need to be in after school care and frequently with babysitters on nights and weekends. Dad’s income will go up, his quality of life will improve, but the child will experience the absence of consistent parenting.

(f) The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation. Be truthful with the court and let your head and your heart speak on behalf of your child.

(g) The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child. As mentioned above in response to one of the relocation factors Florida, if one party can double or triple their income and has limited or no employment opportunities locally, relocation may be the only way for the family to prosper.

(h) That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations. The objecting parent may have a weaker argument if he/she owes $10,000 in child support arrears.

(i) The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs. See answers above for clarity and examples.

(j) A history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28 or which meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d) by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation. If one parent has a history of alcohol or drug addiction and particularly if the child has been exposed to such abuse, the court may want the relocating parent to bring the child to a safer environment.

(k) Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in s. 61.13. As stated above, the best interests of the child are paramount in a family law case.

Subsection 8 of this Statute regarding relocation factors Florida provides that “The parent or other person wishing to relocate has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that relocation is in the best interest of the child.” If the parent seeking to relocate proves his/her case for the court, the burden then switches to the other parent to provide by a preponderance that relocation is inappropriate and NOT in the BEST interests of their child.

Jonathan Jacobs is a same sex divorce attorney in Orlando and a relocation attorney Orlando.

Florida Divorce FAQ

Florida Divorce FAQ

Florida Divorce FAQ

Although we have nearly one hundred legal articles here on our Florida Family Law Blog that answer many Florida divorce FAQ, the field of family law is massive. Clients have numerous questions about how divorce works in Florida. In order to provide some measure of guidance to family law clients, we have compiled a list of five Florida divorce FAQ that we believe cover a lot of ground and answer a lot of your potential questions. Here are our five Florida divorce FAQ:

  1. Do I have to go to court to get a divorce in Florida?
  • You usually do not have to go to court to obtain a divorce in Florida, but some courts require a final hearing for 5-15 minutes for basic testimony to establish jurisdiction.
  • You may hire an attorney to handle your divorce/dissolution of marriage as an uncontested case.
  • Attorney Jacobs can prepare all of the divorce paperwork for you to save you time, money, and all of the fighting that often comes with a divorce.
  1. What is a no-fault divorce?
  • A no fault divorce in Florida means that neither party has to prove the other party is at fault.
  • The standard for divorce in Florida is that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • Marital infidelity does not need to be proven.
  1. What are the requirements for divorce in Florida?
  • The requirements for divorce in Florida are that one party must have lived within the jurisdictional/geographic limits of the State for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce.
  • Furthermore, the marriage must be irretrievably broken
  • We can state in our Florida divorce FAQ that irretrievably broken in Florida is a low threshold standard that is rarely disproven or disputed.

Florida Divorce

  1. How does the court determine if I am a Florida resident?
  • Generally speaking (there is not definitive/bright line answer for every court that we can definitely state in our Florida divorce FAQ), if you are an individual that has lived in Florida for at least 6 months, but have been temporarily sent to another state for work, or have taken a vacation sabbatical for a short period of time, the court will likely decide you maintain a Florida residency for family law jurisdictional purposes.
  • Alternatively, if you have relocated your residence to another state, signed a lease to stay in Texas or North Carolina (for example), taken a job in another state, and no long have a mailing address or license in Florida, it is likely the court will deny you standing to sue in our State.
  1. How long does a divorce take in Florida?
  • The length it takes to get a divorce in Florida depends on the degree of litigation (number and extent of issues being litigated/contested) in your case.
  • The Jacobs Law Firm offers uncontested divorce legal services whereby the parties agree on all of the issues before the court before trial, and a final order can be issued effectively ending the case at that time.
  • An uncontested divorce generally requires 1-3 months of time, depending on the rapidity of the agreements reached and the availability of the judge’s time to hear the facts of your case.
  • However, if the case is contested, and disagreements remain as to custody, child support, timesharing, alimony, and how to divide marital assets and liabilities, some cases take more than a year, while at a minimum, 4-6 months of time may be required for the parties to reach a resolution.
  • You may expect that preparing a majority of your initial divorce documents may require approximately 1-3 weeks depending on the extent of your legal issues under consideration.

Jonathan Jacobs is a Lake County Florida Divorce Lawyer, and a Divorce Attorney in Orlando Florida who enjoys working with families to resolve their legal issues. Call today for a consultation to understand the divorce process beyond our Florida Divorce FAQ, and find out your rights as a litigant.

Time sharing and child support in Florida

Time Sharing and Child Support in Florida

Time Sharing and Child Support in Florida

One of the primary questions clients ask me is how do time sharing and child support in Florida go together? Worded differently, does time sharing affect child support in Florida? This is a great question, and an astute client asks it with good reason. I have heard many family law mediators lecture litigants that time sharing and child support are separate issues and should be addressed distinctly and separately. This is easy for the mediator to say because they are not paying child support based on the number of overnights in a timesharing agreement, you the litigant or client are. I believe that the splitting of the issues as mutually exclusive is noble in concept, but foolhardy and impractical in real law practice. Honestly, facts are facts, child support is largely based on the number of overnights the parties are allocated/awarded in the time sharing agreement. Why then should any litigant ignore this fact and give up valuable time with their child(ren) and at great financial cost?

Timesharing

How Are Time sharing and child support in Florida Connected?

Child custody and child support in Florida are inextricably linked and should be considered as one issue. If a dad or a mom fights for more time with their child(ren) and that comes with a reduction in support being paid to the other side, that is not some self-serving motivation, it means that that parent will keep more money to spend on their child(ren) when they have time sharing with them. This is why pushing litigants to negotiate time sharing first, and then figure out the child support obligation is short-sighted and does not serve the client or litigant. In fact, it operates against their interest, and frankly, can operate against the interest of their kid(s).

Educating Clients about Time sharing and child support in Florida

The best approach is to educate clients, or litigants, whether you are their attorney, or mediator, so that they can understand how child custody and child support in Florida are connected and operate based on one another. Once armed with all of the facts and some knowledge of the law, family law litigants can render the best decisions for themselves and their children. Family law cases are about whole families, not just lawyers, not only mediators, but mostly, families and their best interests as an entirety. I would encourage clients to continue asking brilliant questions that address issues such as time sharing and child support in Florida that impact their families and their financial and emotional wellbeing.

Right Of First Refusal In Florida Child Custody Cases

Right Of First Refusal In Florida Child Custody Cases

First, let’s ask and answer the question on everyone’s mind, what is a right of first refusal in Florida child custody cases? A right of refusal in Florida child custody cases is an optional paragraph/clause in a Florida parenting plan. A right of first refusal custody clause in a parenting plan will state that the parent who currently has timesharing (suppose it is dad’s weekend, or Mom’s school night with the child) shall contact the other parent to ask if the other parent would like to care for their child at that time, usually for an overnight. In some cases, a right of first refusal will apply if the timesharing parent (parent currently with the Child) will be away for more than four or six hours during which they cannot supervise their child. If you have timesharing and child custody questions, call the Jacobs Law Firm for a consultation at 407-335-8113, or e-mail your questions to admin@jjlawfl.com.

A Florida parenting plan governs as a backdrop/fallback/default if the parents have good communication and a positive relationship. Parents are free to govern their own conduct on their own terms. However a parenting plan is an ironclad schedule that applies daily for parents that argue, fail to communicate, and cannot agree on other terms.

Right of First Refusal in Florida Child Custody Cases

For example, a right of first refusal in Florida child custody cases would apply if Mother, who is an on-call doctor, is with the kids when she is called into work. She is asked to come to the hospital overnight to treat patients on an emergency basis. The right of first refusal provision requires Dr. Mom to call Dad to ask if he can or wants to take care of the kids overnight because she has to go to work unexpectedly. Dad has the right to first refusal to take the kids for the night, though he is not obligated to accept the extra timesharing. The right of first refusal will operate to allow him that option, opportunity, and choice. Just like a right of first refusal is optional in a Florida parenting plan, it is optional for the non-timesharing parent to exercise the right when it may apply/occur. This option is a security blanket for the child to have proper supervision.

Here is another hypothetical example: Father has his son Monday-Friday, but this week on Thursday, for a business conference, he has to travel to Texas for work. Father must call, text, and/or e-mail Mother to ask if she wants to have timesharing with their son on Thursday. If the answer is no, Dad can of course find suitable child care (unless a mutual agreement is necessary according to the Parenting Plan), or even have grandma or grandpa step in for the night. Most parenting plans are different because they accommodate couples and their families with unique circumstances.

Right Of First Refusal Custody Clause

A Right Of First Refusal Custody Clause

A right of first refusal custody clause may state something similar to the following:

“Each party must offer the other parent/party the opportunity to care for the Child before using a different child care provider for any overnight period. The party exercising the right of first refusal shall be responsible for transportation beginning and ending their time with their Child.”

As mentioned above, a right of first refusal custody clause may specify the amount of time the timesharing gap in time, such as four hours, overnight, or otherwise, so the parents may govern their conduct appropriately. Communicate openly and forthrightly. It is common that parents set 4 or 6 hours as the time for the right of refusal.

What if I Refuse a Right of First Refusal?

Buyer beware, caveat emptor. If you refuse a right of first refusal multiple times, would you be surprised to learn that your co-parent no longer contacts you when your Child needs overnight supervision during their timesharing? Establish a pattern of trust and reliability if you want this provision to work in your regular or long-distance parenting plan.

Jonathan Jacobs is an affordable child custody attorney divorce and family law attorney in Orlando, Winter Park, Clermont, Kissimmee, Davenport, Montverde, Winter Garden, Kissimmee, Altamonte Springs, and all throughout Central Florida. Call the Jacobs Law Firm for a consultation at 407-335-8113, or e-mail your questions to admin@jjlawfl.com

Montverde Family Law Attorney

Montverde Family Law Attorney

Montverde Family Law Attorney Jonathan Jacobs helps clients resolve their most challenging divorce and family law matters. The Jacobs Law Firm, PLLC is located in both Winter Park and Clermont (by appointment) to assist their clients throughout Lake, Osceola, Seminole, and Orange County. How can a divorce and family lawyer help you and your loved ones? Call 407-335-8113 for a consultation today.

Many clients seek out help with divorce (dissolution of marriage) and paternity (establishment of parental roles and responsibilities for those who are unmarried) legal matters. However, being a family law attorney/divorce attorney is not an exclusive title. Many family law attorneys also help clients with guardianship petitions, wills and trusts (probate issues), and many other legal quagmires that may come your way. We also offer a variety of document preparation services including prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, and powers of attorney. Montverde Family Law Attorney Jonathan Jacobs loves working with clients from all walks of life.

We Live in Montverde, Do You Make “House calls?”

Yes, the Jacobs Law Firm does offer house calls by appointment. More frequently, house calls are for clients that need estate planning. Nevertheless, if they are delicate family law issues that you would feel most comfortable discussing in private and in a familiar setting, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. Montverde Florida is primarily a residential area, and there are fewer professional offices as a result. This is another reason you may wish to have a house visit for a legal consultation. We also offer Saturday appointments to accommodate clients with busy work schedules.

Montverde Family Law Attorney Jonathan Jacobs

The two best ways to reach the Jacobs Law Firm for your family law needs, are by phone (or text) and by e-mail. If you would like to speak with a Montverde Family Law Attorney about your legal issues, please call us at any time, or e-mail us. If you provide a narrative of your legal needs, we will be better prepared to engage with you in a detailed conversation about how we may help you.

Jonathan Jacobs is a divorce and family law attorney.

Breach of Oral Contract Florida

Breach of Oral Contract Florida

Before discussing what a breach of oral contract is in Florida, first let’s discuss how contracts may be created. The Florida Supreme Court has decided that Florida contracts may be drafted in writing or created by oral agreement. As such, the Florida Supreme Court and the District Courts of Appeal have put forth rulings that solidify foundational principles for Florida contract enforcement when there has been a breach of oral contract Florida. Florida contracts may be a mixture of oral and written depending on the facts and circumstances of each unique case. Call today for a consultation 407-335-8113 or e-mail us with a narrative about your case admin@jjlawfl.com

Breach of Oral Contract Florida: Offer, Acceptance, Consideration

If oral contracts are proven based on the elements justifying the existence of an agreement, offer, acceptance and performance, they may be determined to be valid under Florida law, and thus enforceable by the courts. The aforementioned mixed contract (portions of which are oral and sections of which are in writing) is still bound by the same requirements of contract formation as a contract that is entirely in writing: “acceptance, consideration, and sufficient specification of essential terms.” St. Joe Corp. v. McIver, 875 So.2d 375, 381 (Fla. 2004). Once a plaintiff has proven a breach of oral contract Florida, the litigant must then also prove they have suffered damages as a consequence of the breach. The elements of a contract are of vital importance in proving your case.

Breach of Oral Contract Florida: Is It Enforceable or Missing Something?

Foundationally, in Gulf Solar, Inc. v. Westfall, the Second District Court of Appeal determined that “As long as an essential ingredient is not missing from an agreement, courts have been reluctant to hold contracts unenforceable on grounds of uncertainty, especially where one party has benefited from the other’s reliance.” Gulf Solar, Inc. v. Westfall, 447 So.2d 363 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984); Community Design Corp. v. Antonell, 459 So.2d 343 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984). This is important because oral contracts must be proven, and in many ways, they are difficult to verify. Testimony from the affected/aggrieved party(ies) and evidence of performance are generally required in order to prove the existence of oral contracts. It is up to a jury to decide what the specific parameters of an oral contract were/are, and to decide the remedy accordingly. Perry v. Cosgrove, 464 So.2d 664, 667 (Fla. 2d DCA 1985).

One such case where a breach of oral contract Florida occurred, and the plaintiff’s proved they had been damaged occurred in Carole Korn Interiors, Inc. v. Goudie. In this case, a company had provided interior design/decorating based on an oral contract for which they went uncompensated and were therefore damaged. It is worth noting that any litigant must prove the amount and extent of labor, materials, and services they provided in reliance on the existence of an oral contract and its validity and enforceability in order to be compensated by the jury.

Jonathan Jacobs is a contract attorney Orlando and a contract attorney Lake County FL. Generally, the Jacobs Law Firm litigates unlawful detainer cases, landlord collections, small claims cases and breach of contract cases where a party has been damaged. Call today for a consultation 407-335-8113 or e-mail us with a narrative about your case admin@jjlawfl.com.