Category: Divorce and Family Law

FLORIDA ONLINE DIVORCE ATTORNEY

Florida Online Divorce Attorney

As a Florida online divorce attorney, we realize many of you have been planning to start your divorce with the money that you were going to receive from your tax return and/or stimulus check. However, even with that money that you can’t visit a law firm in person because of Covid-19. The traditional method is for clients to interact face-to-face with their attorney to make sure they work well together and have a mutual understanding about the unique needs of both sides. With the Coronavirus causing closures and shutdowns all over Florida, the Jacobs Law Firm offers an alternative to in-person law office visits. We offer Florida online divorce attorney services where you may fill out paperwork online, notarize remotely and have virtual visits with us. Call or text message 407-335-8113 to schedule your appointment today. Covid-19, quarantining, and social distancing have shaped the world into welcoming a new normal that may include an online divorce in Florida. In today’s pandemic world, everyone is trying to learn how to navigate safely and smartly. The legal field is no exception as lawyers, judges, and the courts have changed the way they do business to protect the public. The divorce that you have needed since the beginning of stay at home orders and quarantines, may now be able to happen without a court appearance. Your divorce in many counties may be handled online/virtually in terms of files, documents, and negotiations. If you are seeking an online divorce attorney Florida, e-mail, message, or call the Jacobs Law Firm divorce attorney in Orlando at Admin@jjlawfl.com or 407-335-8113.

An affordable online divorce in Florida will start in the same way that a conventional divorce will. First, we will file your petition for dissolution of marriage through the local clerk of court for your county (Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Polk, Lake, etc.). An online divorce attorney Florida will be able to prepare your pleadings and documents such as the petition for dissolution of marriage, child custody affidavit, notice of social security numbers, child support guidelines, and more depending on the unique facts your case presents. Your attorney will also need to be able to prepare to litigate your case in the event that your divorce is contested virtually through the court system by Zoom mediation, Microsoft Teams, Court Call, or otherwise.

We offer affordable Florida online divorce attorney services to help you complete a divorce with the least amount of printing and scanning possible. Thanks to the extraordinary advances in technology in the past few years you can do just about everything online, especially talking to your divorce lawyer. We use Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, GoToMeeting, Google Duo, WhatsApp and a variety of other platforms so that you can schedule a virtual visit with an attorney.

In a virtual visit, we can get an idea about what you want to have done with your case and what obstacles you may face with negotiating a marital settlement agreement and parenting plan. As your affordable Florida online divorce attorney, we can explain your options and give you clarity based on your finances, the number of children that you have, and the property that you and your spouse share.

By virtual visit, it isn’t just a phone call with someone you can’t even put a face to. A virtual visit allows you to see the person that you are talking to and watch to see if it is someone you can trust the future of your finances, children, and property to. Picking an attorney is like picking a house, you need to find the right person for you so that 5 years down the line you don’t have to worry about the consequences and detriment you caused your life.

For instance, you may prefer to have an early mediation to avoid further conflict and to resolve your financial and parental issues without court intervention from the judge assigned to your case. For the mediation, you will most likely be on a Zoom call with your attorney, your spouse, their attorney, and the mediator. For a little bit of a friendly distraction, the mediator may utilize a special background to give the ambiance of the courthouse or a law office. Before Covid-19, this process looked quite different. You may have been in the same room with your attorney, your soon to be ex-spouse, their legal counsel, and the mediator. The mediation and the negotiations along with it similar, though the dynamic of being in separate locations altogether may cause some unpredictability. No matter where the mediation occurs, your online divorce attorney Florida should to be well-versed in the facts of your case, your preferences, and how to utilize technology to best resolve your case. 

If you are looking for the right attorney for you, then call Attorney Jacobs at the Jacobs Law Firm, LLC. He can schedule a virtual visit with you to help you plan the first steps in starting the divorce process for you and your family. Meet someone face to face the safest way possible.

Florida online divorce attorney Jonathan Jacobs of the Jacobs Law Firm, offers divorce, paternity, and family law representation to clients across the Central Florida area. Often, clients choose a Florida online divorce lawyer to save on cost. Let’s face it, divorce and paternity lawsuits can be expensive, and that often prevents people who need to hire a lawyer from being able to retain an experienced advocate to protect their rights. Choosing to get an online divorce in Florida generally implies the divorce is uncontested. This means that both parties are in agreement on all issues from child support to timesharing to alimony to the division of their property. An uncontested divorce in Florida does not require major litigation. Call to speak with an online divorce attorney today 407-335-8113 or e-mail us for a free initial consultation.

Online Divorce in Florida

An online divorce in Florida is not available for clients in every jurisdiction. It depends on whether a specific judge allows for the litigants to have an uncontested divorce without a court hearing. Generally, if the jurisdiction allows this, your attorney will provide the Court with your divorce paperwork through filing online. When a judge in Central Florida does offer an online divorce in Florida, Attorney Jacobs can assist you in getting divorced within approximately 2-3 weeks after submitting your documents to the court/judge. It takes 1-5 days for the clerk of court to verify and process your paperwork, and then there is a mandatory (Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure) waiting period after filing your paperwork, for the court/judge to be able to grant your final judgment of dissolution of marriage.

Does a Florida Online Divorce Require a Hearing?

If your uncontested divorce necessitates a hearing, Florida online divorce attorney Jacobs will schedule and attend the final hearing for/with you. The final hearing itself lasts for only a few minutes, and it is more of a formality than a substantive hearing. Even so, Attorney Jacobs may need to wait for an hour or two with you while the court/judge entertains emergency matters from other cases, before calling us before the court for our proceeding. During this time, Florida online divorce attorney Jonathan Jacobs will again explain as much about Florida divorce law as possible to help you understand your rights and responsibilities after the divorce is granted.

How Does a Florida Online Divorce Work?

Our first step in an is for you to fill out the required client questionnaire. This information will be kept strictly confidential except for purposes of providing the court with your information in mandatory court documents. Our client questionnaire is designed to get from you ALL of the information we may need to write your divorce documents and submit them to the court/judge.

Step two is for Florida online divorce lawyer Jacobs to review your answers and information, after which he will draft your paperwork, ask you any questions that may help your case, and then speak with you in depth about your expectations and requirements.

Step three is for us to do a final review of your documents to ensure they are accurate and truthful. The court requires honesty and transparency in dissolution of marriage proceedings.

online divorce in florida
Advantages of Hiring a Florida Online Divorce Attorney

Here are five advantages of hiring a Florida online divorce attorney:

  1. You may talk to your attorney by instant messenger, videoconference, by phone, or text.
  2. You are hiring an expert online divorce attorney.
  3. Your dissolution will likely go more smoothly and will be done properly.
  4. Your attorney will handle most of the process on your behalf.
  5. You can spend your time worrying about your life after divorce rather than about your divorce itself.

Jonathan Jacobs, Esq. is a Florida Online Divorce Attorney representing clients in all of Central Florida. Attorney Jonathan Jacobs, managing partner with the Jacobs Law Firm, PLLC is ready to help you navigate your online divorce in Florida. Attorney Jacobs represents clients through the Central Florida area including Orange County, Seminole County, Osceola County, and Lake County. Call or email us to schedule a consultation today 407-335-8113.

Simplified Dissolution Of Marriage Orange County Florida

Simplified Dissolution Of Marriage Orange County Florida

Ultimately, when you seek to obtain a Simplified Dissolution Of Marriage Orange County Florida, you are welcome to call the Jacobs Law Firm, PLLC offices Winter Park, and Clermont Florida for more information and guidance. Our family law practice concentrates on divorce and family law (paternity and related matters. Call 407-335-8113 today to schedule your consultation and find out the requirements for simplified dissolution of marriage Orange County Florida.

The jurisdictional and technical requirements of simplified dissolution of marriage Orange County Florida are as follows (paraphrased and interpreted for you):

  1. One or both spouses must have lived in Florida (established residency) for at least six (6) months prior to filing the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
  2. Both spouses must agree that the marriage cannot be saved, i.e. it is irretrievably broken.
  3. The spouses CANNOT have any minor or dependent children together, the wife cannot have had any minor or dependent children born during the marriage (even to another partner), and the wife must presently not be pregnant. Essentially, if there are children of the marriage, even over 18, this type of divorce is probably not right for you.
  4. Both spouses must agree completely on the division of their marital assets and liabilities, and must complete a marital settlement agreement to that effect that has been signed and notarized.
  5. Neither party may seek alimony in a simplified dissolution. Alimony is a major issue that complicates a divorce.
  6. Both parties must be willing to sign and execute all documents required by the Court and must be willing (if asked or unless waived) to attend a final hearing for dissolution.

The jurisdictional and technical requirements of simplified dissolution of marriage Orange County Florida are as follows (paraphrased and interpreted for you):

  1. One or both spouses must have lived in Florida (established residency) for at least six (6) months prior to filing the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
  2. Both spouses must agree that the marriage cannot be saved, i.e. it is irretrievably broken.
  3. The spouses CANNOT have any minor or dependent children together, the wife cannot have had any minor or dependent children born during the marriage (even to another partner), and the wife must presently not be pregnant. Essentially, if there are children of the marriage, even over 18, this type of divorce is probably not right for you.
  4. Both spouses must agree completely on the division of their marital assets and liabilities, and must complete a marital settlement agreement to that effect that has been signed and notarized.
  5. Neither party may seek alimony in a simplified dissolution. Alimony is a major issue that complicates a divorce.
  6. Both parties must be willing to sign and execute all documents required by the Court and must be willing (if asked or unless waived) to attend a final hearing for dissolution.

The jurisdictional and technical requirements of simplified dissolution of marriage Orange County Florida are as follows (paraphrased and interpreted for you):

  1. One or both spouses must have lived in Florida (established residency) for at least six (6) months prior to filing the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
  2. Both spouses must agree that the marriage cannot be saved, i.e. it is irretrievably broken.
  3. The spouses CANNOT have any minor or dependent children together, the wife cannot have had any minor or dependent children born during the marriage (even to another partner), and the wife must presently not be pregnant. Essentially, if there are children of the marriage, even over 18, this type of divorce is probably not right for you.
  4. Both spouses must agree completely on the division of their marital assets and liabilities, and must complete a marital settlement agreement to that effect that has been signed and notarized.
  5. Neither party may seek alimony in a simplified dissolution. Alimony is a major issue that complicates a divorce.
  6. Both parties must be willing to sign and execute all documents required by the Court and must be willing (if asked or unless waived) to attend a final hearing for dissolution.

The jurisdictional and technical requirements of simplified dissolution of marriage Orange County Florida are as follows (paraphrased and interpreted for you):

  1. One or both spouses must have lived in Florida (established residency) for at least six (6) months prior to filing the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
  2. Both spouses must agree that the marriage cannot be saved, i.e. it is irretrievably broken.
  3. The spouses CANNOT have any minor or dependent children together, the wife cannot have had any minor or dependent children born during the marriage (even to another partner), and the wife must presently not be pregnant. Essentially, if there are children of the marriage, even over 18, this type of divorce is probably not right for you.
  4. Both spouses must agree completely on the division of their marital assets and liabilities, and must complete a marital settlement agreement to that effect that has been signed and notarized.
  5. Neither party may seek alimony in a simplified dissolution. Alimony is a major issue that complicates a divorce.
  6. Both parties must be willing to sign and execute all documents required by the Court and must be willing (if asked or unless waived) to attend a final hearing for dissolution.


Simplified Dissolution How do I Do it?

Requirements of Simplified Dissolution Of Marriage Orange County Florida: The first step you must undergo is checking to see if you meet all of the requirements above. Frankly, you may need to consult with an Orlando Divorce Attorney for verification. The second step is for both parties (since getting a Simplified Dissolution implicitly indicates agreement and cooperation) to sign paperwork and exchange information as required. Two minds are better than one, and the greater the degree of cooperation and understanding, likelier, the easier the process will be. Third, you may wish to contact the Orange County Clerk of Court for verification that you are filing your documents properly and that the Court has accepted your documents.

Requirements of Simplified Dissolution Of Marriage Orange County Florida

Ultimately, when you seek to obtain a Simplified Dissolution Of Marriage Orange County Florida, you are welcome to call the Jacobs Law Firm, PLLC offices Winter Park, and Clermont Florida for more information and guidance. We specialize in divorce and family law.

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When seeking to obtain a Simplified Dissolution Of Marriage Orange County Florida, you are welcome to call the Jacobs Law Firm, PLLC offices Winter Park, and Clermont Florida for more information and guidance. We practice divorce and family law in Lake County, Orange County, Seminole County and Osceola County Florida. We know the requirements of simplified dissolution of marriage and can help you determine the correct manner in which to categorize and petition for your divorce. Call us today for help (407) 335-8113.

LAke County parenting class

Florida Parenting Class

Attending a Florida County parenting class is a requirement in all family and divorce law cases in family law circuit court. A parenting class in Florida is a relatively short course that educates experienced and inexperienced parents on how to handle their conduct during and after parents separate. A parenting class required for divorce in Florida. If you have questions about the requirements in family law court call us at 407-335-8113.

Parenting Class in Florida Required for Divorce?

The reason behind the parenting class required for divorce in Florida Courts requiring the parties to participate in a Florida is for the best interests of their children. Divorce and separation can be tremendously difficult on people, both emotionally and physically. The Court feels it is best to compel parents to have some guidance, a helping-hand if you will. 

Rather than defaulting to being irate over mom or dad’s behavior, a Lake County parenting class may guide the parties to take a step back and choose their actions and words carefully. Parenting is challenging when couples stay together. Being separated, no matter what the age of the kids, is truly difficult. Many of the parenting classes are called family stabilization courses. Generally, the parenting class providers must be approved by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF).

Lake County Florida Parenting Classes Online

Are Classes Online?

Florida parenting classes may be found online and are brought to you by a variety of providers that meet the requirements of the courts and DCF. Some of the course providers offer an instant certificate option to avoid delays when you are in a hurry to comply with the Court’s requirements.

After you have finished taking your class online or otherwise, consider filing your certificate of completion as quick as is practicable. Do not forget to file the certificate, or you may risk avoidable delays in your case. Remember, Court requirements must be met or the Court will not grant your final judgment.

Jonathan Jacobs is a Clermont Divorce Attorney and an Orlando Florida Divorce Attorney who loves helping his clients every step of the way.

Florida Parenting Plan Example

Florida Parenting Plan Example: Holiday Time Sharing Schedule Florida

When divorce and paternity litigants are negotiating a parenting plan schedule, one of the most time consuming decisions is the holiday time sharing schedule Florida. Holiday time sharing can be uniquely painful for many parents. For example, if Parent A is religious and celebrates Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, or Kwanzaa, Parent A will want to be with their children during that holiday every year. However, in our Florida parenting plan example, the holiday time sharing schedule Florida offers both parents shared holiday time. Within our example, the hypothetical holiday time sharing schedule is outlined for one holiday and one school break. Call the Jacobs Law Firm, Orlando child custody attorney today at 407-335-8113.

Winter Break: Parent A shall have holiday time sharing with the children from the end of school at 3:30 P.M. until Christmas morning on odd years at 9:30 A.M. Parent B shall have holiday time sharing with the children from Christmas morning starting at 9:30 A.M. until New Year’s Eve at 4:00 P.M. on odd years. This schedule will be reversed on even years with Parent B having holiday time sharing with the children from the end of school at 3:30 P.M. until Christmas morning at 9:30 A.M. and Parent A having time sharing with the children from Christmas morning until New Year’s Eve at 4:00 P.M. on odd years.

Spring Break: During odd years, Parent A shall have time sharing with the minor children from the end of school on Friday at 3:30 P.M. until the following Wednesday at 9:00 A.M. Parent B shall have time sharing with the minor children from Wednesday at dinner time (6:00 P.M.) until Sunday night before school resumes for the following week. The schedule shall be reversed on even years. This is just one configuration of a Florida parenting plan example and should be used for reference only.

Holiday Time Sharing Schedule Florida

Do you see how in our Florida parenting plan example, the holiday time sharing schedule Florida works by allowing both parents holiday time sharing on an equal basis? This really is upsetting to a lot of people. Nobody wants to be without their family during the holidays, but shared parenting plans allow for each parent and their respective family(ies) to have equal time with their children on special occasions.

Can the Petitioner and/or the Respondent work out a schedule that better respects their family and religious wishes? Of course, the parties may design a parenting plan that best suits their mutually exclusive needs and wishes. Our Florida parenting plan example is one of hundreds or even thousands of hypothetical holiday time sharing schedules that can be made in Florida.

Florida Parenting Plan Example

In offering a hypothetical Florida parenting plan example our goal is to shine the spotlight on three primary issues you may face in a divorce or paternity suit: 1. Sharing the kids for the holidays or missing your loved ones for the whole special time is difficult. 2. A holiday time sharing schedule Florida is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. 3. Parents are encouraged to think both about their needs and the best interest of their children, particularly when the holidays and families are involved.

Holiday Time Sharing Schedule Florida
Demand Letter Attorney Orlando

Demand Letter Attorney Orlando

 As a demand letter attorney Orlando Florida, I often recommend that clients begin their case by sending a pre-lawsuit demand letter to the potential defendant. A demand letter can accomplish a great deal more than you expect. Below are five reasons from the mind of a demand letter attorney Orlando, why sending a pre-lawsuit demand letter can help resolve your case without the need for litigation or better prepare you to litigate. Call 407-335-8113 for help with your letter today.

  1. A demand letter helps your demand letter attorney put the facts of your case in chronological order. When you work closely with your attorney to figure out the details and facts of your case before filing a lawsuit, it can better prepare you in case you need to file against the defendant.
  2. A demand letter from a demand letter attorney Orlando lets the defendant(s) know that you have hired an attorney and are willing to take your legal matter to court if necessary. Sometimes people bluff and never intend to hire a legal professional to litigate a case. If you have hired an attorney, it often causes the defendant to consider settling the case before incurring legal fees and costs.
  3. A demand letter is a great way to explore the strength of your case and to collect all of your evidence before filing a lawsuit. As you provide your demand letter attorney Orlando with your documents, he may notice that your evidence is lacking or missing some crucial component, and you may find your case is better or less strong than you had thought. This could change your mindset on litigation and/or negotiating with the other side.
  4. A demand letter could save you money if it helps you settle before filing a lawsuit. Saving money helps many clients obtain a larger recovery by avoiding attorney’s fees, filing fees, and other relate court costs.
  5. As a demand letter attorney Orlando, it has been my experience that some financial relationships can be repaired with open and honest communication. As your demand letter attorney, I can be the negotiator and liaison between you and the other side when communications have broken down. This can allow the parties to come back together for their mutual benefit.

A demand letter attorney can save you money by resolving your case before a lawsuit is filed. While this strategy does not always work, if you do not communicate with the other side or attempt to resolve your differences, you may end up in a protracted and expensive lawsuit that may have been avoidable.

Jonathan Jacobs of the Jacobs Law Firm is a demand letter attorney Orlando Florida. Call today for a consultation and pricing and you might save on the costs of litigation.

same sex divorce laws in florida

Same Sex Divorce Laws in Florida

Florida law recognizes same sex marriage and same sex divorce. This fascinating legal development requires same sex divorce attorneys to analyze and examine same sex divorce laws in Florida and how they are evolving. In the landmark case Brenner v. Scott, the Court held Florida’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional, and decided the ban on gay marriage violated both the United States Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendments’ Due Process and Equal Protection Clause(s). 999F. Supp 2d. 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2014). The United States Supreme Court has tested the legality of gay marriage on numerous occasions, and ultimately ruled that the right to marry is a central part of our liberty that is protected by the Due Process Clause. Brassner v. Lade, No. 13-012058(37), 2014 WL 7399690, at *3 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Dec. 08, 2014). There is also a constitutionally protected privacy interest in being a same sex biological parent. Call the Jacobs Law Firm to speak with a divorce and family law attorney 

Same Sex Divorce Laws in Florida and Same Sex Alimony in Florida

In deciding on same sex divorce laws in Florida, both the Florida Courts and the United States Supreme Court have consistently recognized an individual’s right to have the freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life. (“Under the Equal Protection Clause, persons who are similarly situated may not be classified and treated differently because the Constitution neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” Brandon-Thomas v. Brandon-Thomas, 163 So. 3d 644 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015)). This landmark shift in the legality of same sex marriage has brought forth additional issues such as same sex alimony and same sex child support and timesharing/custodial rights.

As of January 6, 2015, the State of Florida recognized both same-sex marriages and divorces. Homosexual couples gained many of the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples. However, with their victory there arose several other important issues such as how same sex alimony will be calculated? Let’s delve into Florida divorce statutes for further awareness and guidance on same sex divorce laws in Florida.

Gay Divorce Alimony

Gay divorce alimony is awarded based on the statutory factors listed in Florida Statute § 61.08, also known as Florida’s Alimony Statute. Courts look to the Statute for guidance on how alimony should be awarded when applied to a specific divorce with unique circumstances. Now that the courts recognize gay marriage and divorce, same sex divorce laws in Florida allow courts to apply the Statute in same sex divorce cases. The Statute directs courts to factor in the length of a same sex marriage when determining an award of alimony. Subsection 4 of the Statute states that a short-term marriage is less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is more than 7 years but less than 17 years, and a long-term marriage is over 17 years. Under the same sex divorce laws in Florida, this raises an issue of critical importance in the struggle associated with same sex alimony. What happens when a same sex couple, who has only been legally recognized as having married since 2015, petitions the court for alimony greater than a short term award?

Currently, there are no standard guidelines in same sex divorce laws in Florida that directly decide this gay divorce alimony issue. Subsection 4 of the Alimony Statute clearly defines the length of marriage as “the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.” Arguments are being made that since same sex marriage was not recognized in Florida prior to 2015, any same sex couple that litigates a divorce will only be able to claim a short-term marriage for purposes of alimony regardless of the length of time the couple has been married.

One of the implications of the Florida courts recently recognizing same sex divorce is its impact on a party petitioning the court for an award of permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is based on the needs and necessity of the spouse and is based on the life they experienced during marriage. If the length of a gay marriage is decided in a case to have started only in 2015, in order for a short-term marriage to be awarded permanent alimony, the party must show exceptional circumstances as to why they should be awarded a permanent award of alimony. A court rarely finds exceptional circumstances when there is a short-term marriage.

If the divorcing parties are unable to prove those exceptional circumstances needed for permanent same sex alimony, the court may consider durational alimony. Durational alimony is awarded to provide a party with economic assistance for those in a short to moderate term marriage. The award must not, however, exceed the length of the marriage.

If you are the party seeking alimony in your gay divorce case, your same sex divorce lawyer is likely to argue for the maximum amount of alimony, or alternatively, if you are defending against a claim for alimony, your lawyer will argue for an award of the minimum amount.

Same Sex Divorce Laws in Florida

If you would like to learn more about same sex divorce laws in Florida, please call the Jacobs Law Firm to speak with a same sex divorce attorney in the Orlando Florida and same sex divorce attorney in the Tavares Florida area.

Motion for Minor Child to Testify in Florida

Motion for Minor Child to Testify in Florida

Does your paternity or divorce case involve minor children? Are you seeking to have a minor child testify in your case? If so, you may decide to file a motion for minor child to testify in Florida. This motion may be officially captioned as “Motion for Testimony and Attendance of Minor Children.” The corresponding rule within the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure is Rule 12.407. Fla. Fam. L. R. P. 12.407 provides in part that: “No minor child shall be deposed or brought to a deposition, brought to court to appear as a witness or to attend a hearing, or subpoenaed to appear at a hearing without prior order of the court based on good cause shown unless in an emergency situation.” This Rule accounts for hearings, depositions, and other court proceedings relating to minor child testimony in Florida. Call the Jacobs Law Firm at 407-335-8113.

Minor Child Testimony Florida

According to Florida Family Law Rule 12.407, which involves a motion for minor child to testify in Florida, neither the Petitioner, nor the Respondent, may depose a minor child, cause him/her to be a witness in court, bring them to a hearing, or subpoena them unless they have first obtained a court order authorizing this to occur. This is the Rule for good reason. Florida family law courts are hesitant to allow minor children to be subjected to their parent’s legal battles. In general, children should not be forced to choose between their parents. The stresses and emotional pitfalls involved are often too overwhelming.

Florida Case Law Regarding a Motion for Minor Child to Testify in Florida

According to Florida case law, “The [Florida] law recognizes a child’s preference, if the child is of sufficient maturity, as a factor in the determination of custody.” Greene v. Kelly, 712 So. 2d 1201 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998). Simply stated, a child’s preference is taken into account when a court decides with which the child will reside a majority of the time. Careful though, read that sentence again. First, the child must be of sufficient maturity. Second, the child’s preference is but one factor, not an outcome determinative element. What determines whether a child is mature enough to appear before a judge or an attorney?

When considering whether you really want to file a motion for minor child to testify in Florida consider how old is old enough for the court (or you as a parent) to allow child testimony to influence its decision regarding custody? As general guideline, “one would NOT expect a ten-year-old to possess character traits necessary to make intelligent decision regarding primary residence.” Holmes v. Greene, 649 So. 2d 302 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995). Read carefully again. This decision does not create a blanket rule, it is merely used as guidance. How mature is the 10-year-old minor child? What is the life experience of the child? A court will consider a motion for minor child to testify in Florida even for a young child, but arguing to a judge that a 6 year old child is mature enough to know where he/she wants to live and with whom may be a difficult proposition, though not impossible.

Should Minor Children Testify in Divorce Case in Florida?

Courts are protective of minor children and their safety. This makes filing a motion for minor child to testify in Florida a decision you must make carefully. So much so, that the Florida Legislature has created Florida Statute 92.55 entitled “Judicial or other proceedings involving victim or witness under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness; special protections; use of therapy animals or facility dogs.” This primarily applies to family and divorce law cases where abuse or other indiscretions have occurred, or where children have intellectual disabilities, but it can help us understand the general position of family law judges as pertains to child testimony.

If you are involved in a child custody dispute and need to hire a family law attorney in Orlando or a divorce attorney in Orlando, call the Jacobs Law Firm to have a consultation regarding child testimony. Filing a motion for minor child to testify in Florida is a decision best made with a great deal of caution and guidance.

Same Sex Parents And Child Custody

Same Sex Parents and Child Custody

Same Sex Parents and Child Custody: What happens when an unmarried same sex couple uses artificial reproductive methods to conceive a child, but later separate?

Advances in reproductive technology impact the constituency of the modern family, with a major legal and social impact on same sex parents and child custody. What happens when an unmarried same-sex couple uses artificial reproductive technology to have a child, and that couple later separates without having gotten married? In particular, does the former partner, who is neither the legal nor biological parent of the child, have a legal right to continue being the child’s parent?

To answer this complex question, we have researched an important case that addresses this very issue and is a seminal place marker in the same sex parents and child custody genre/field. According to the Court in De Los Milagros Castellat v. Pereira, the answer is no, a non-biological partner does not have parental rights in this circumstance. De Los Milagros Castellat v. Pereira, 225 So. 3d 368 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017). In De Los Milagros, the two litigants, De Los Milagros and Pereira conceived a child using assisted reproductive technology (artificial insemination). Milagros and Pereira agreed that Pereira would be the birth mother and the child would have Milagros’ last name. The procedure was a success. Pereira, the birth mother, subsequently gave birth to fraternal twins in 2009, one boy and one girl. Tragically, due to a premature birth (there exists a higher risk with twins being born prematurely when in vitro fertilization occurs), the boy did not survive beyond 2 days of life, and the girl was born with special needs.

Same Sex Parents And Child Custody

The couple raised the girl together in their jointly owned home over a period of four years. This is a case where you can see the intersection of family law litigation with same sex parents and child custody. Both cared for the child, took her to medical appointments, and held themselves out as a married couple, though legally unmarried. The parties twice consulted with an adoption attorney regarding the process for the former partner to adopt the child, but no adoption occurred prior to their separation. Id. at 369. Essentially, the couple behaved as parents working in tandem to provide for the best interests of their child, but as the Courts have recently cemented, behavior and custom does not trump biology.

In 2013, the couple separated. The birthmother severed all ties between Milagros and the child. Unbeknownst to Milagros, Pereira changed the child’s last name from Milagros to Pereira. Milagros believed she had no choice but to file a court action to establish her parental rights with the child, a child she helped raise. The Court would ultimately side with the birth mother in this same sex parents and child custody dispute.

Traditionally, in ruling on same sex parents and child custody, “the common law of Florida empowered judges to award child visitation against the will of the birth, biological, or legal parent when the judge found that visitation was in the best interest of the child because a non-parent qualified as a “psychological parent.” Id. at 370. However, this tradition has recently been deemed anachronistic.

Now, regarding same sex parents and child custody, the Court has decided that a birth parent’s constitutionally protected right of privacy should prevail in the face of a challenge by a non-biological party. The Court reasoned: “Florida’s constitutional right to privacy recognizes the zone of autonomy around a nuclear family into which a judge, legislator, or official, no matter how well intentioned, simply cannot go.” Id. at 370. The Court derived from Florida’s enhanced constitutional right to privacy that it is violation of a biological parent’s right to privacy for the legislature to confer on non-parents, even biological relatives such as grandparents, the right to visit minor children against the parents’ will. Id. at 370-71.

Same Sex Parents And Child Custody

Same Sex Parents And Child Custody Case Law

The Court held that, exhibiting an intention to raise a child together does not confer legal rights of parenthood on a non-married, non-biological purported parent, “the birth mother had parental rights protected by the constitution that prevailed over the claims of a partner who was neither the biological nor legal mother.” Id. at 372. The Court denied Milagros’ petition for parental rights and established that if there is not a biological or legal relationship to the child, the Court could not force the birth mother to allow another to invade her family’s privacy.

The exact language expressed by the Court in rendering its opinion on same sex parents and child custody, is “whether the benefits of such support, from a former partner who is neither the biological or legal parent, outweigh possible detriments lies in the hands of the birth mother: The State of Florida cannot wrest that choice from her.” Id.

As the Florida courts continue to render decisions on same sex parents and child custody, we will aspire to provide insights and commentary.

Jonathan Jacobs is a same sex parents and child custody attorney in Central Florida, with offices in Winter Park and Clermont Florida.

Neyza Guzman is a third-year law student and Juris Doctor candidate at Barry University School of Law. She will sit for the Florida Bar in July 2019. Ms. Guzman excels with legal research and writing, holds a prestigious position on the board of the Child and Family Law Journal, and continues to distinguish herself in the family law field as a researcher and a scholarly writer.

Motion for default Florida divorce

Motion for Default Florida Divorce

A Motion for Default Florida Divorce is governed for Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.140. Rule 12.140 states that unless the court or the parties mutually agree to an enlargement of the amount of time the Respondent (person served with divorce papers) has to reply, “a respondent [person being served with divorce papers, and the person that did not initiate the divorce) MUST serve a response within 20 days after service of original process (there is an affidavit of service created when you are served with divorce papers for official court records). What is a motion for default in a divorce? This type of a motion let’s the family law/divorce court know you have lawfully served your spouse with divorce pleadings and they have failed to respond as required by law. When you need answers, call the Jacobs Law firm, divorce attorney in Orlando and divorce attorney in Clermont Florida at 407-335-8113.

The law (with my comments mixed in) further provides that the initial pleading served on the respondent, demands a reply not later than the date fixed in a notice by publication (if the respondent cannot be served by traditional means, publication may be made in a publication of general circulation). After 20 days have elapsed (not ending on a weekend or a legal holiday per the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure), a petitioner may file a motion for default Florida divorce.

A motion for default in a Florida divorce is a filing that alleges the respondent has failed to file a response (papers). An answer to a dissolution of marriage pleading confirms the facts or requests made in the petition, or contests them by denial. If a motion for default Florida divorce is granted, the Court will likely render an Order giving the petitioner everything he or she has requested (unless totally unreasonable or unlawful) in his/her petition for dissolution.

Requirements for Motion for Default Florida

Certain minimum requirements exist before the court may grant a motion for default. Namely, service of process must be lawfully made to satisfy due process concerns. An affidavit of service or an affidavit of diligent search must be provided to the court to verify every effort has been made to alert the respondent of the lawsuit filed against them. If the petitioner’s motion for default Florida divorce remains uncontested (appeals can be filed in limited circumstances to overturn an order of/for default), the court order will grant the petitioner’s petition as plead unless some portion is not legally cognizable.

Time to Respond to Counterpetition Florida Divorce

If or when a respondent files a counterpetition, the petitioner then must serve a response to a counterpetition within 10 days after service of the counterpetition. A motion for default Florida divorce can be made by the petitioner or the counterpetitioner. This part of the Rule mirrors the Rule provided above relating to an initial petition for dissolution of marriage and the time given for a respondent to answer. Per the language of the Rule, if a reply is required, the reply must be served within 20 days after service of the response. A counterpetition in a Florida divorce case alleges the respondent’s own legal allegations and requests of/from the court.

For example, if petitioner asks for majority timesharing with the kids, the counterpetitioner may ask for majority timesharing in his/her counterpetition. This is a prelude to resolving the case by expressing the parties’ positions on reaching a settlement or arguing before the court at trial.

There are certain defenses that a party may plead to temporarily toll the time required for an answer to a petition or a counterpetition. You may wish to research the Rule to help you better understand your rights and obligations.

Jonathan Jacobs is a divorce lawyer Orlando and a divorce lawyer Clermont Florida that seeks to help clients understand the Rules of the Florida family court(s). The divorce process is labyrinthine, so why not consult with a legal professional? A divorce attorney with the Jacobs Law Firm is waiting for your call 407-335-8113.

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 407-335-8113 to find out about your step parent rights in Florida.