Category: Florida Law Blog

free divorce consultation Orlando

Free Divorce Consultation Orlando

Free Divorce Consultation Orlando

Often new or potential clients ask us what our free divorce consultation Orlando is/consists of. Our goal at the Jacobs Law Firm, PLLC is to provide both ourselves (as your would-be attorney), and you (our potential client) with a Florida divorce consultation that gives an overview of the legal issues in your divorce or family law case. The free divorce consultation Orlando can help you decide how best to proceed in your case, and us whether to offer you legal help, in the following seven ways:

  1. The more our clients are able to tell us about their case history, the more we can diagnose the potential issues involved in their case.
  2. If the potential client’s case is already underway, the Florida divorce consultation will allow us to understand the trajectory of the case and discern whether we can help, and if so, how we can best help our potential client and minimize costs if possible.
  3. Hearing directly from you about your divorce/family law case will allow for us to brainstorm a strategy for how best to pursue your case. It is important to hire a family law divorce attorney that knows how to handle your case, especially if it is a unique case with infrequently litigated issues (rare issues that need to be addressed).
  4. Having the opportunity for a one-on-one consultation will allow us to establish a rapport enabling us to work well together to achieve your legal goals.
  5. Clear communication and a level of comfort can be established by having a good first impression.
  6. During our free divorce consultation Orlando, we can learn about your expectations concerning alimony, child support, tangible personal and real property distribution, and about your division of other assets.
  7. We can discuss potential timelines to avoid confusion about how long a dissolution of marriage family law case may take when issues are contested.

Florida Family Law Attorney

Florida Family Law Attorney

If you would like to speak with a Florida family law attorney about your case, and receive a free divorce consultation Orlando, please call the Jacobs Law Firm, divorce attorney in Orlando today. We will be happy to hear from you.

Child Support Deductions in Florida

Child Support Deductions in Florida

Child Support Deductions in Florida

Florida Child support, as you may have already figured out by filling out your Financial Affidavit (short form or long form), is largely based on what is determined to be your net income. Gross and net income are different. Gross income is the sum total of all of your monthly income from all revenue sources that qualify under Florida and Federal law. Net income is the amount of money you net/make after taxes and other allowable deductions, most or all of which are clearly specified on both the Affidavit and Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. Let’s delve into child support deductions in Florida including mandatory contributions and alimony. Speaking with a child support attorney now.

Child Support Deductions in Florida

Alimony and Child Support Deductions in Florida

One of the most significant child support deductions in Florida you may be eligible to subtract from your gross income is the court-ordered child support you pay because of another case (i.e. you have another child or children, and the court has ordered you to make monthly child support payments). Careful, if you make voluntary payments that are not the result of a court-order (many people do this because they love their children and/or because they used to have a private arrangement without court intervention or oversite), those payments generally do not qualify as one of the child support deductions in Florida. It is also important to note that if you have been ordered to pay child support as a result of a previous case, and you have not made your payments (resulting in arrearages or past due payments that must be made), those would-be payments may not qualify as a child support deduction in your present case. You only receive “credit” if you pay. Court-orders are not to be taken lightly. There are real consequences for failures of payment. This same principle applies to alimony. Alimony paid from a current or previous relationship may qualify as a deduction provided those payments are timely made.

Mandatory Union and Retirement Deductions

Recently, a client asked me if their 401K and IRA contributions qualify as standard child support deductions in Florida. Although every case is different, generally speaking, unless the retirement payments are MANDATORY (some corporate jobs and public-sector jobs require contributions toward/for retirement), they are considered voluntary and thus do not qualify as child support deductions in Florida. The same applies to union dues. If they are not MANDATORY (subtracted from your paycheck as a condition of your employment), in the eyes of the court, any payments you make to the union are voluntary and do not qualify as a deduction.

The gist of this article is that your family law attorney advises a careful reading of your Financial Affidavit. If and when necessary, feel free to call the Jacobs Law Firm, divorce attorney in Orlando, and divorce attorney in Clermont Florida for a consultation.

A Florida Child Support Attorney

Duty to Update Financial Affidavit in Florida

Duty to Update Financial Affidavit in Florida

Pursuant to Florida Family Law Rule 12.285 (Mandatory Disclosure), both the petitioner and the respondent in a family law case (divorce, paternity, or otherwise) have a duty to supplement their financial disclosures, and this may include a duty to update financial affidavit in Florida under certain circumstances. The specific language of Rule 12.285(e)(1), “Duty to Supplement Disclosure; Amended Financial Affidavit,” provides that the: “Parties have a continuing duty to supplement documents described in this rule, including financial affidavits, whenever a material change in their financial status occurs.” There is often some debate over what a “material change in financial status” means. The Florida Legislature and the Family Law Courts are wise not to pinpoint a specific number because circumstances are different, litigants are different, incomes and careers vary, and Judges rule slightly different depending on the evidence propounded and the circumstances of each case.

Financial Affidavit in Florida

Financial Affidavit in Florida

It makes perfect sense that litigants in a family law case have a continuing duty to disclose fluctuations in their income. Often a party will lose his/her job during the proceedings, or one party may find better and higher paying employment. This happens frequently, and the proper way to account for these changes is by amending one’s financial affidavit to reflect their new financial projections/calculations/data/fiscal reality (phrase it however you like). For instance, if you are a family law litigant and you earn a promotion that comes with a pay raise amounting to thousands of dollars, your income has likely materially changed. You have a legal duty to inform the court of your change in circumstances.

Another reason there is a duty to update financial affidavit in Florida is the failure to do so could cost you money. If your income has gone down during the divorce proceeding, and you fail to inform the court, you may be forced to pay more in alimony or child support than you can afford. Alternatively, if your income has gone up materially, and you fail to notify the court, the other party may take you back to court soon after you have reached a marital settlement or a mediated settlement agreement. This could involve a supplemental petition that will compel additional court appearances and may require the help of a family law attorney. Choose carefully when you decide whether to keep the court apprised because the rules clearly state that you have a duty to update financial affidavit in Florida.

Attorney Jonathan Jacobs specializes in relocation with a minor child cases and same sex divorce cases in Florida. For help with your financial affidavit call us today for a consultation.

Florida Parenting Coordinator

Florida Parenting Coordinator

Florida Parenting Coordinator | Orange County Parenting Coordinator

Perhaps you have heard of the substantial and largely beneficial impact most Florida Guardian Ad Litems have had on the well-being of children and families. Since approximately 2009, another alternative has been legalized in the Florida family law courts, provided by a Florida Parenting Coordinator. Locally, Judges are free to appoint an Orange County Parenting Coordinator. This alternative dispute resolution, as adopted by the Florida Legislature pursuant to Florida Statute 61.125, is a form of dispute mollification/resolution that is centered on the needs of the child. Let’s think about the needs and best interests of the child. The child (a hypothetical construct for purposes of this article, though one that can be transposed into any number of family life scenarios) has certain basic needs. These needs include the minimization of conflict between the parents. Parents should limit the yelling, screaming, incessant bickering, rebuke, and stop placing their child(ren) in the middle of their fights as though the minor child is supposed to have to listen to them and choose a side.

In addition to attorneys having the option of moving the court to appoint a guardian ad litem, the parties, the judge, or the attorneys may move the court to appoint a Florida parenting coordinator. A Florida parenting coordinator is either a mental health professional or someone with a background in the law that has undergone extensive training (Florida has certain minimum requirements to ensure this person is thoroughly trained and can really help families). Two important Statutory qualifications a Florida Parenting Coordinator must possess are: [they must be: “Be licensed as a physician with certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, [OR] Be certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a family law mediator, with at least a master’s degree in a mental health field.”

Your Florida Parenting Coordinator will offer her/his assessment of your individual and mutual interactions with your child(ren). These insights are intended to assist one or both parties in better appreciating and communicating with their child(ren). Parenting coordinators are in theory unbiased and impartial. Of course, after observing each unique household’s style of raising their child(ren), the parenting coordinator may develop an ironclad sense of what changes may need to be made to establish a safe and secure environment. Conflicts of interest can arise and lead to disqualification.

Orange County Parenting Coordinator

Orange County Parenting Coordinator

Most Florida Circuit Courts, including the Orange and Osceola Ninth Circuit Court offer lists of qualified parenting coordinators ready, willing, and able to help with your contested parenting situation(s). If you have any doubt about whether you may be eligible for the appointment of a parenting coordinator because you are a grandparent, or other legal guardian, according to the Rules for qualified parenting coordinators, “parent” refers to the child’s “mother, father, legal guardian, or other person who is acting as a parent and guardian.”

Florida Parenting Coordinators are trained to be on the lookout for unusual and detrimental behaviors among the parents. Similar to a Guardian Ad Litem, a Florida parenting coordinator must watch the parties to ensure there is no substance abuse, mental health issues, or domestic violence. Call Jonathan Jacobs, a caring a compassionate Florida family law attorney who can help you with your family law legal issues.

 

 

 

 

Groveland Florida Divorce Attorney

Groveland Florida Divorce Attorney

Groveland Florida Divorce Attorney | Davenport Florida Divorce Attorney

Lately, we have received calls from areas such as Groveland and Davenport Florida that are not often considered “heavy” markets for family law cases. We would like to take this opportunity to reach out to clients in Groveland and Davenport to let you know we are ready to help you achieve their goals in your family law cases. As a Groveland Florida Divorce Attorney, and a Davenport Florida Divorce Attorney, we would like to invite you to call the Jacobs Law Firm. We offer a free initial consultation. During your consultation we will discuss the legal issues involved in/with your case and determine how much we would charge for those services (payment plans are welcome, we accept cash, check, credit card, or otherwise), and whether we are the right fit for working together on your legal issues. Generally, the cases we decide to accept are those where our clients are interested on achieving amicable solutions, or where our clients have been placed in situations where our legal expertise can make a substantial difference for them. In other words, if you have done your best to resolve your case, and the other side has been uncooperative or unfair to you, we want to help you!

Davenport Florida Divorce Attorney

Davenport Florida Divorce Attorney for Hire | Groveland Florida Divorce Attorney Ready to Help You

Here at the Jacobs Law Firm you may expect courtesy and professionalism, as well as caring and compassionate legal help from the lawyer you trust. Ask as many questions as you like. As a former professor, I truly enjoy explaining the ins and outs of the law. I can do so in a unique way to make the complex understandable. It is important that my clients know what to expect during this difficult time of getting divorced. Whether your case involves divorce, paternity, child custody/timesharing, child support, alimony, property and asset division, or otherwise, please call us and ask if we will be your Davenport Florida Divorce Attorney or Groveland Florida Divorce Attorney.

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated to get a Divorce in Florida

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated to get a Divorce in Florida

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated to get a Divorce in Florida? How Long Do You Have to Live in Florida Before you Can Get a Divorce?

How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce in Florida? This is one of the most popular questions among potential clients seeking a divorce in Florida. People ask this question because the Florida Statutes are relatively silent on this specific issue/question. The issue of time is more appropriate for alimony and other financial considerations in a dissolution of marriage action. The more appropriate question, that is governed by Florida law, is how long do you have to live in Florida before you can get a divorce?

Marriages may last for a relatively short period of time (days, weeks, or months) and marriages may last for years or decades. There is no specific requirement in the Florida courts providing that the spouses must be apart/separated for weeks or months or years before petitioning for divorce. Each case is unique and has its own set of circumstances, which you may already be aware of if you are seeking marital dissolution. The more time the spouses have been married, the more marital assets they may have accrued, and the more financial considerations may be at play if alimony is an issue in the case. Let’s move on to the more pertinent question, how long do you have to live in Florida before you can get a divorce?

How Long Do You Have to Live in Florida Before You Can Get a Divorce

How Long Do You Have to Live in Florida Before You Can Get a Divorce? Divorce in Florida

The Florida Statutes are quite definite in their answer to this question, and the answer may affect your ability to file a petition immediately. Florida Statute 61.021 answers our question succinctly, “To obtain a dissolution of marriage, one of the parties to the marriage must reside 6 months in the state before the filing of the petition.” Read carefully. Only ONE of the parties to the marriage must have resided in the State of Florida for 6 months prior to filing for divorce. This means that if one spouse has lived in Florida for 6 months or longer and the other spouse has moved to another state, or never moved to Florida at all, it is likely the party residing in Florida can successfully petition the Florida court(s) for a dissolution of marriage. For more information on subjects such as Florida divorce, Florida alimony, child support, child support health care, Florida parenting plans, and other family law topics, click on any of our links provided by the Jacobs Law Firm. Call our uncontested divorce attorney in Orlando today.

What does a Guardian Ad Litem do

What does a Guardian Ad Litem do

What does a Guardian Ad Litem do?

GAL is the acronym or abbreviation for Guardian Ad Litem. A Florida Guardian Ad Litem is an attorney appointed on behalf of the minor child (under the age of 18) with the intention of serving the best interests of the minor child. A GAL may be appointed upon motion of the attorneys, pro se litigants, or by the court itself if it has reason to believe there is an issue involving child safety and that the circumstances warrant an investigation. GALs are appointed to investigate child neglect, health and safety issues, and child endangerment (a non-exhaustive list, but you get the idea that there is a severity involved). The GAL keeps a close eye on the domestic quarrels and disputes to be able to report to the court any out of the ordinary activities or abuses that may occur at home.

florida guardian ad litem

Florida Guardian Ad Litem

A Florida Guardian Ad Litem will appear at every hearing during the proceedings and will provide testimony as to what specific actions or outcomes would be in the best interests of the children. The work of a Florida Guardian Ad Litem does not necessarily end when the court proceedings are over. (It is a tough job and is usually done by wonderful people with big hearts) These wonderful men and women may be asked by the court to continue monitoring the subsequent behavior of the parties toward their children to continue to ensure the safety of the precious kids.

GALs will ultimately know if the parties are being dishonest with them GALs are trained to spot when parents are deceiving the court. In fact, Florida Guardian ad Litems often recommend the parents undergo psychological evaluations and drug screens based on behaviors they observe when visiting your home. Generally, the more honest and open the parties are, the better the Florida Guardian Ad Litem’s evaluation of their parenting quality will be.

If circumstances warrant, your attorney may make a motion on your child’s behalf to ask the court to appoint a GAL. Provided the court decides in favor of the appointment of a Florida Guardian Ad Litem, the GAL will be involved in your case for the duration of the proceedings remaining. For additional information on child custody, how child support is calculated in Florida, child support and health insurance, Florida alimony, mediation, domestic violence and divorce, or Florida divorce, visit our Florida Law Blog.

Should I Settle or Go to Trial in Florida

Should I Settle or Go to Trial in Florida

Should I Settle or Go to Trial in Florida?

This is the million-dollar question, should I settle or go to trial in Florida? Statistically 95-97% of all civil cases in Florida settle prior to trial. This is also a prevalent phenomenon in criminal law cases where plea agreements are reached instead of proceeding to trial. One reason we can attribute this phenomenon to is hiring an attorney to litigate your case or to defend you in litigation can be expensive. The deeper you go into the case, the greater the likelihood of attorney’s fees going past your preferred budgetary constraints, and the risk of having to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees may be. Another reason is often, during the discovery process, facts are uncovered that cloud the outcome of a potential civil trial. Both sides may come across as having contributed to the break down of relations, and this may make arriving at a decision for the judge or jury particularly difficult. Moreover, the litany of documents that may have to be produced, the number of depositions that may need to be taken, and the number of hours of work for which you may have to pay your attorney, mediators, court reporters, and investigators for can be daunting. I will raise you my original question should I settle or go to trial in Florida and ask a follow-up question that may better clarify the answer: Why are most civil cases settled before they go to trial?

Why Are Most Civil Cases Settled Before They Go to Trial

Why Are Most Civil Cases Settled Before They Go to Trial?

One major reason why civil cases often settle before they go to trial is the parties become aware of the facts and they tend to favor one side, the plaintiff or the defendant. In order to minimize an award of damages at trial, and to avoid accruing additional lawyer fees, the parties often settle. From the other perspective, the plaintiff often believes their case is not ironclad and arriving at a settlement assures some payment of money in damages as opposed to taking the risk of not being paid anything, and losing attorney’s fees, filing fees, and other associated court costs.

Why are most civil cases settled before they go to trial? The litigation process brings ups and downs, twists and turns, high points and low points for each side. Sometimes litigation becomes a game of who blinks first. This is a form of legal dispute brinkmanship. To mitigate the risk of each party, a settlement is often reached that is good for both parties in a sense. The minimization of risk cannot be overstated as a motivating factor when considering should I settle or go trial in Florida.

Jonathan Jacobs is a breach of contract attorney Orlando FL that offers consultations with clients where he will explain to you the elements of a breach of contract in Florida to help you resolve your legal issues. Call the Jacobs Law Firm today for a consultation in your contract dispute case, (407) 310-5636, or e-mail us to schedule an appointment: Jonathan@JJLawFL.com.

 

 

 

 

Elements of a Breach of Contract in Florida

Elements of a Breach of Contract in Florida

Elements of a Breach of Contract in Florida

The elements of a breach of contract in Florida are: (1) the existence of a contract, (2) a breach (material breach) of the contract, and (3) damages resulted from the breach. DNA Sports Performance Lab, Inc. v. Club Atlantis Condo. Ass’n, Inc., 219 So. 3d 107, 109 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017), Abbott Labs., Inc. v. Gen. Elec. Capital, 765 So. 2d 737, 740 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000). For a claimant (person that starts the lawsuit) to win damages from the defendant for an alleged breach of contract, there are two additional elements that must be proven. Contact Jonathan Jacobs, breach of contract attorney Orlando FL today for a consultation regarding your breach of contract action.

According to the Supreme Court’s standard jury instructions, the following five elements of a breach of contract in Florida must be proven by the plaintiff for a jury may award him or her or the corporation damages: (The instructions are paraphrased and I have included notes for you to better understand their meaning)

  1. Plaintiff and defendant entered into a contract; (this can be proven in a number of ways, even if the contract was oral)
  2. Plaintiff did all, or substantially all, of the essential things which the contract required him/her/corporation to do or that he/she/corporation was excused from doing those things; (obligations under the contract, often called conditions precedent. If one party has fulfilled all of their obligations and gotten nothing in return, a material breach has taken place)
  3. All conditions required by the contract for defendant’s performance had occurred; (plaintiff performed its part of the bargain, and defendant did nothing in return, or the performance they rendered was so inadequate as to be relatively valueless)
  4. Defendant failed to do something essential which the contract required him/her/corporation to do; AND
  5. Plaintiff was harmed by that failure. (If there are no damages, why spend the money to bring a lawsuit?)

Breach of Contract Attorney Orlando FL

Breach of Contract Attorney Orlando FL

As a breach of contract attorney Orlando FL, I can list practically unlimited scenarios in which a breach of contract can be alleged. A few common examples of the breach of a contract for services are: catering, car repair, wedding singing, birthday party entertainment, and video production failures to perform, show up, or provide a reasonable service as contracted for by the parties. An example of a breach of contract for goods is the shipment by the supplier to you the retailer, of nonconforming goods. You ordered 100 silver iPads with 64 GB of memory, and you received 100 iPads with 12 GB memory in gold. Remember the rule, as the plaintiff/claimant, you must prove all elements of a breach of contract in Florida.

For more information on breach of contract actions such as Florida timeshare cancellation, small claims lawsuits, suing unlicensed contractors, unlicensed contractors suing homeowners, wrongful terminations of employment, creditors suing debtors, mold infestation, and other forms of civil litigation, call your contract attorney Orlando FL today.

Jonathan Jacobs is a breach of contract attorney Orlando FL that offers consultations with clients where he will explain to you the elements of a breach of contract in Florida to help you resolve your legal issues. Call the Jacobs Law Firm today for a consultation in your contract dispute case, (407) 310-5636, or e-mail us to schedule an appointment: Jonathan@JJLawFL.com.

Can You Sue an Unlicensed Contractor in Florida?

Can You Sue an Unlicensed Contractor in Florida

Can You Sue an Unlicensed Contractor in Florida?

Can you sue an unlicensed contractor in Florida? The short answer is yes, but that does not end our inquiry. In fact, your situation could be far more complicated than that. As your lawyer, I will ask you several questions before proceeding to inform you about the ins and outs of any potential lawsuit that you may file against an unlicensed contractor. First and foremost, you cannot use the fact that you hired an unlicensed contractor as both a sword and a shield. I will ask whether you had knowledge that the “contractor” was unlicensed when you hired him/her? Many people are aware that it generally costs less to hire a contractor operating without a license, and it may be the only way your home improvement or repairs are affordable. Nevertheless, if you as the homeowner knowingly hired an unlicensed contractor, you could face significant Statutory penalties, and it could impact your lawsuit if the other side proves you hired them on purpose knowing their status as unlicensed. This is what I mean when I say you cannot use the fact that the worker is unlicensed as both a sword to attack the other side in court and a shield to protect you in court if you knew their status and hired them anyway. Breach of contract or non-formation of contract is a major legal issue.

There could also be serious implications with the quality of the workmanship. Knowing you have hired an unlicensed contractor, you likely will not take the risk of having permits pulled and the accompanying inspections that would assure the safety and quality of the work performed. This could jeopardize your safety and the structural soundness of your home. Ultimately, you will need to hire an attorney to sue an unlicensed contractor in Florida.

Sue an Unlicensed Contractor in Florida

Hire an Attorney to Sue an Unlicensed Contractor in Florida

Back to our initial query, can you sue an unlicensed contractor in Florida? Again, I answer in the affirmative. Your chances of success are far greater if you can prove the contractor misrepresented himself through false advertisement (falsely holding oneself out to be a licensed contractor is a crime in Florida) or otherwise. There are some additional drawbacks to hiring an unlicensed contractor even if you had no knowledge of their status. Beyond poor workmanship, if any of the contractors or their workmen suffer an injury on your property in the scope of their work, you as the homeowner could be liable for their injuries. After all, unlicensed contractors are less likely to carry insurance for several fairly obvious reasons. If you need to hire an attorney to sue an unlicensed contractor in Florida, call the Jacobs Law Firm today.

Can an unlicensed contractor sue a homeowner in Florida? Can I sue an unlicensed contractor in small claims court? Civil litigation starts here.

Jonathan Jacobs is a breach of contract attorney Orlando FL that offers consultations with clients where he will explain to you the elements of a breach of contract in Florida to help you resolve your legal issues. Call the Jacobs Law Firm today for a consultation in your contract dispute case, (407) 310-5636, or e-mail us to schedule an appointment: Jonathan@JJLawFL.com.