Common Family Law Terms

Adoption
The process by which someone other than a biological parent becomes the legal parent of a child.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
When the spouses seeking a divorce agree on all major issues, the divorce is considered uncontested.  When the spouses do not agree on all major issues, the divorce is contested.  Some major issues include the division of assets and liabilities, alimony, child custody and support.

Court Order Enforcement
If the court has issued an order in your case and the other party is not complying with the order, the other party may be in contempt of court.  An attorney can help you enforce a court order.  Further is your spouse is not paying court ordered support, there are several ways to enforce payment, including suspension of their driver’s license, wage garnishment, and even jail.

Custody, Support, & Time Sharing
Custody is the protective care and guardianship of a child.  In a divorce, it can be the most contentious issue.  When deciding which parent will have primary custody, it is best if an agreement between the parents can be reached.  However, if necessary, a court can make the decision.

The parent with primary custody is primarily responsible for providing food, shelter, and clothing for the child.  The other parent is expected to contribute financially to the child’s needs.  Once the parent who shall have primary custody is determined, the decision of how much child support the other parent must pay will be determined.  In Florida, child support is determined by statutory guidelines which take into account the relative income of each parent.

Generally, the parent without primary custody will be granted time sharing.  It is best if a time sharing schedule is agreed upon by the parents, but if a mutual decision cannot be made, the court can enforce a schedule.

Division of Assets and Liabilities
During a divorce, spouses must decide how to divide assets and liabilities.  This is generally mutually agreed upon, however it can get a bit trickier in contested divorces.

Domestic Violence Injunctions

When someone is behaving in a threatening manner, directly threatening, or harming a family member, an injunction can be sought to prevent that person from coming near the person being threatened or harmed under penalty of law.  The injunction may be based upon threats or actions of a physical, emotional or financial nature.

Grandparents’ Rights

In Florida Grandparents to not have legal rights to timesharing of grandchildren.  However, if both parents are under the age of 18 and have not sought emancipation, the court may take the view that the grandparents are the custodial guardians of a grandchild.

Mediation

Mediation involves a third party, usually a professional mediator, who assists both side with resolving a dispute.  Mediation allows the lines of communication to be open and resolution to be found without the necessity and cost of a long drawn out court battle.  Often family law disputes are resolved using mediation. 

Modification

If your circumstances change, modifications of child support, time sharing, and spousal support may be sought.  An attorney can help you with the process of obtaining a modification.

Paternity

Establishing paternity is a way to enforce the father’s, mother’s, and child’s rights.  It is used to establish a child’s legal father.  A father may use it to ensure that he is involved in his child’s future.  A mother may use it to enforce child support.

Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is like an insurance policy.  It allows you to establish what belongs to you and what belongs to your spouse in the event things do not work out as planned.  While we hope that nothing ever happens, it’s good to have it in place in case the unforeseeable comes true. 

Settlement Agreement

A settlement agreement generally outlines all agreements with respect to the major issues in a divorce, like the terms of the divorce.  Once a settlement agreements is signed by all parties and filed with the court, it can be enforced by the court upon all parties.

Relocating out of State or Country

A custodial parent must seek court approval before they can relocate to another state or country.  If you are seeking to move to another state or country with your child, you should consult an attorney.

Alimony or Spousal Support
If it is determined that a spouse has need of additional income, then alimony may be granted to provide monetary support.

* Nothing contained in this page is intended to be legal advice.

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