Hilary Hunt, Esq.
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What is included in the category of family law?
Family Law encompasses a range of cases such as: Dissolution of Marriage, or commonly known as divorce; Establishment and Disestablishment of Paternity; Child Support; Custody and Visitation, now identified as Parental Responsibility and Timesharing; Adoption; and all manner of cases in between.
It can also entail modifications of each of these types of cases: a Modification of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage; a Modification of a Final Judgment of Paternity; a Modification of Child Support; a Modification of Timesharing and Parental Responsibility.
As your Family Law attorney, I am happy to discuss with you the details of your case and to formulate a strategy to resolve it in the manner that you believe to be in the best interests of your family.
Please check back to our site frequently to view discussions of common issues that arise in Family Law cases.
What to expect in my Florida divorce case
So, what should you expect if you are divorcing in Florida?
Let's say you are the one who wants to file for divorce. You will need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. There are several documents that must be filed with this, but to keep this simple, let's start here. Take a look at my blog posts for more information on these contemporanrously filed docs.
Next, you will have to file the Petition (and other docs), purchase a Summons, and have everything served upon the other party. The other party is your soon-to-be ex.
The other party will then have 20 days to answer your petition, and, if she chooses, file a counter-petition. Should she file a counter-petition, you then need to answer that.
Next, you and your ex will engage in discovery, which is the process where you turn over personal information (tax returns, paystubs, proof of assets and debts) to each other so you both have a fair view of the total picture of your marriage. After all, you are about to split anything that is worth any money, any debts you've incurred together, and decide how to raise your child and if any support will be required for that undertaking.
Once both of your discovery obligations are complete, you will need to attend a mediation. If you've already worked out a total settlement, you can waive this, but if there are any outstanding issues, mediation is a must. Mediation takes place with a neutral third party certified in this area; both you and your ex and any attorneys will need to be present. In mediation, you will work to come to a complete settlement, although partial and temporary settlements are not uncommon.
Should mediation fail (i.e. you cannot come to a global settlement on everything), your case will be set for trial.
Prior to trial, your judge will usually schedule a pre-trial hearing (often called a docket sounding, docket call, case management conference), at which time he will consider what issues are being contested and set deadlines for various tasks to be completed.
Assuming you have still not come to a full resolution, you and/or your attorney will prepare your case for trial and present it to a judge. Your judge will have the final say over the outstanding issues in your case.
Attorneys (or at least good ones) frequently advise their clients that coming to a resolution yourselves is usually the most satisfactory way to resolve a case. While divorcing parties rarely walk away from a divorce totally happy, losing your ability to have a say in its resolution is almost always regretted.
Being comfortable with your attorney and aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls along the way is the most rewarding way to handle your divorce or paternity case.
Don't let anyone tell you that you can't represent yourself in court on a family law case. However, consider whether you are comfortable enough with the law and that you can give the attention needed to properly present your case.
Moreover, emotional considerations need to be factored in. If you are prone to making decisions based on fear or anger or jealousy, an attorney who can keep the big picture in mind may be a worthwhile investment for you. Especially when decisions made today can affect you for decades to come.
Contact me by clicking on my Contact page. Or, feel free to email or text me. An experienced attorney on your side can be priceless.