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Family Law Tips

If you’ve never been through the family law process before, it can be extremely scary, especially when armed only with limited knowledge from stories told by friends and from the culture. Every state has a different set of laws, and every judge has a different concept on how best to address separating family units. Here are a few bits of information about family law in Florida that may surprise you and bring you some relief.

ADULTERY ONLY MATTERS WHEN MARITAL ASSETS ARE SPENT ON THE RELATIONSHIP

In Florida, evidence and testimony towards the extra-marital relationships of a spouse are only relevant when that spouse spends significant money on that relationship. In that event, the court may consider those assets to be part of the equitable distribution of the property that has already been claimed, and will award the other spouse additional funds or assets to compensate. But the bare fact of cheating on a spouse is irrelevant. It doesn’t even factor into the grounds for a divorce.

FLORIDA REQUIRES MINIMAL EVIDENCE OF GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

Almost every divorce has the same small bit of critical evidence: one party testifies that “the marriage is irretrievably broken”. That’s all it takes to get a divorce in Florida. Adultery, abuse – none of that is necessary to end a marriage. Just that one bare statement, under oath, from one spouse. However, the court has the power to order the parties to counseling, and the State requires a 4 hour class for any parents involved in a divorce action.

THE MOTHER OF THE CHILDREN DOES NOT ALWAYS GET ALL THE TIME WITH THEM

When children are involved in a family law action, the most important part of the case is the Parenting Plan. In the vast majority of cases, the parties attend mediation, and through the guiding actions of the mediator and counsel, when involved in the case, the parties reach an agreement. However, if the matter must be ruled on by a judge, that judge looks at over 20 different factors to determine which parent has the better situation for the children, and how time should be divided between them.

PAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT AND SPENDING TIME WITH YOUR KIDS ARE NOT DEPENDENT ON ONE ANOTHER

The Florida Statutes expressly provide that if a party falls behind on child support, it does not interfere with the time sharing the delinquent parent enjoys with the children. Additionally, child support is only due when a judge or the Department of Revenue orders the payment of child support, so in the absence of such an order, one parent should not withhold the child from the parent they think should pay them. That said, child support obligations can be imposed for up to two years from the filing of an action for support, all the way back to when the parties stop living together as a family.

 

Jake Walter Hannaway, Esquire, is a graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 2009. The primary focus of his practice has been helping parents obtain the best result for them and their kids in custody disputes. He has worked with people across the gender and sexuality spectrums. His practice, Hannaway Law, P.A., has offices in Clearwater and Tampa.

Teen Relationships and You

What is a relationship? I’m talking about romantic relationships of course, but the fundamental definition is still not agreed upon by most of those within their definition of a relationship. Further than that, how can a relationship work in the midst of rapidly changing lives in high school, or even beyond that?

I am eighteen years of age, and graduated from High School. I have enjoyed a relationship for three years, and continuing into College. I can’t tell you exactly what will work for your individual tastes and desires out of a romantic bond, but I can tell you what has allowed me to hold onto a rich, fulfilling, and wonderful relationship. 

The key to a relationship is this: talking. Simple, correct? You would be surprised. See, when you are thrown into the transformative, yet strangely merciless, realm of the secondary school, it quickly becomes instinctual in order to close off your emotions and thoughts to the enormous pressure and simply sympathetic classmates. The question becomes, how does one open up properly when you decide to enter a relationship? The main means of this is through sitting your partner, and having a deep discussion upon what the relationship means to each one of you, as well as needs and wants you each have (Notice: Here is where you’ll find most of the ‘red flags’ that would convince you not to build the relationship. An avoidance of talks like these is a definitive ‘red flag’!).

If you don’t understand your partner, there is no substance to a relationship with them, no? After all, the best kind of romantic bonds are those shared with someone you actually understand and respect as a friend, as well as a lover. To achieve this understanding, just actually hang out with them, but not as you think. The key to a good bond is to compromise, and to go out of your way for your partner, to do things they like instead of your own occasionally. This may seem grossly unappealing to most, but this compromise is vitally important to make it work. No two people are the same, and will have different interests. It’s natural, a part of life, but you must acknowledge your and your partner’s interests and enhance them for each other.

One of the largest burdens that most people neglect to realize about these romantic partnerships, is the presence of conflict. Conflict is a necessary evil, something that will always arise and blow up in your face, no matter what steps you undertake in order to avoid it. Whether is miscommunication, lying, annoyance, growing pains, or other, the conflict is going to arise. For that juncture, I have a strategy that always muscles through the conflict, and allows you to simmer off, no matter how bad: take a second to breath, and look at the big picture. Is the argument more important than your relationship with this person? Is the anger worth feeding more so than the love? If the conflict is more important to you, the relationship becomes far less substantial, and ineffective at that. But if you really love them, and you want the bond to work past the issue, then be their friend, lover, and partner. Remind them that you care about them, and that you want to move past. Compromise, cool off, and repair your negativity with fun things you like to do with each other.

The final piece of advice I have is a bit goofy, but has allowed me to realize my priorities and to enjoy life alongside my partner for years, and nurture a love for them that cannot be quelled. I’ve hung my partner’s artwork above my dresser and nightstand. Whenever I wake up, it becomes the first thing I see, and reminds me of their smile. It prompts me to think, as if a mantra of sorts, about how lucky I am and how much I care about that person. I think to myself, “No matter what I do today, I want to make this relationship work.” The advice? Remind yourself, daily, that there’s nowhere in the world you’d rather be than by your partner’s side.

Teen Relationships and You

What is a relationship? I’m talking about romantic relationships of course, but the fundamental definition is still not agreed upon by most of those within their definition of a relationship. Further than that, how can a relationship work in the midst of rapidly changing lives in high school, or even beyond that?

I am eighteen years of age, and graduated from High School. I have enjoyed a relationship for three years, and continuing into College. I can’t tell you exactly what will work for your individual tastes and desires out of a romantic bond, but I can tell you what has allowed me to hold onto a rich, fulfilling, and wonderful relationship. 

The key to a relationship is this: talking. Simple, correct? You would be surprised. See, when you are thrown into the transformative, yet strangely merciless, realm of the secondary school, it quickly becomes instinctual in order to close off your emotions and thoughts to the enormous pressure and simply sympathetic classmates. The question becomes, how does one open up properly when you decide to enter a relationship? The main means of this is through sitting your partner, and having a deep discussion upon what the relationship means to each one of you, as well as needs and wants you each have (Notice: Here is where you’ll find most of the ‘red flags’ that would convince you not to build the relationship. An avoidance of talks like these is a definitive ‘red flag’!).

If you don’t understand your partner, there is no substance to a relationship with them, no? After all, the best kind of romantic bonds are those shared with someone you actually understand and respect as a friend, as well as a lover. To achieve this understanding, just actually hang out with them, but not as you think. The key to a good bond is to compromise, and to go out of your way for your partner, to do things they like instead of your own occasionally. This may seem grossly unappealing to most, but this compromise is vitally important to make it work. No two people are the same, and will have different interests. It’s natural, a part of life, but you must acknowledge your and your partner’s interests and enhance them for each other.

One of the largest burdens that most people neglect to realize about these romantic partnerships, is the presence of conflict. Conflict is a necessary evil, something that will always arise and blow up in your face, no matter what steps you undertake in order to avoid it. Whether is miscommunication, lying, annoyance, growing pains, or other, the conflict is going to arise. For that juncture, I have a strategy that always muscles through the conflict, and allows you to simmer off, no matter how bad: take a second to breath, and look at the big picture. Is the argument more important than your relationship with this person? Is the anger worth feeding more so than the love? If the conflict is more important to you, the relationship becomes far less substantial, and ineffective at that. But if you really love them, and you want the bond to work past the issue, then be their friend, lover, and partner. Remind them that you care about them, and that you want to move past. Compromise, cool off, and repair your negativity with fun things you like to do with each other.

The final piece of advice I have is a bit goofy, but has allowed me to realize my priorities and to enjoy life alongside my partner for years, and nurture a love for them that cannot be quelled. I’ve hung my partner’s artwork above my dresser and nightstand. Whenever I wake up, it becomes the first thing I see, and reminds me of their smile. It prompts me to think, as if a mantra of sorts, about how lucky I am and how much I care about that person. I think to myself, “No matter what I do today, I want to make this relationship work.” The advice? Remind yourself, daily, that there’s nowhere in the world you’d rather be than by your partner’s side.