An unfortunate truth in family law is that some matters can become contentious and stressful. Three prime examples are child custody matters, spousal support and modifications and enforcements of court orders where emotions can run high and disagreements can seem insurmountable.
It’s certainly possible for the parties involved to handle some family law matters directly. However, there are times and circumstances when it’s advisable to retain a family law attorney, particularly when the stakes are high such as in timesharing and child support disputes.
The family law attorneys at Cobb Cole have the specialized knowledge and training it takes to guide and represent clients who are facing emotionally and financially charged issues. We bring a deep understanding of Florida’s family law statutes, court procedures, and precedents that can significantly impact your case.
Complex Family Law Matters That Require Legal Representation
If you’re dealing with a high-conflict custody battle or having difficulties reaching an agreement on spousal and child support, seeking the guidance of a qualified family law attorney is imperative to navigating complexities, protecting your rights, and securing the best possible outcome.
Here’s how a family law specialist can help you avoid the potential pitfalls that often occur without professional assistance.
Spousal Support or Alimony
Suppose a couple has been married for 20 years and decides to divorce. Throughout most of the marriage, one spouse financially supported the other, who stayed at home to raise the children. However, during alimony negotiations, the sole earner contests the monthly dollar amount sought by the non-earning spouse, arguing they’re still relatively young and capable of becoming financially independent. The issue devolves into accusations and disagreements about the financial needs of each party, the paying spouse’s ability to provide support, or how long the support should last.
Hiring a family law attorney for spousal support or alimony matters has several critical benefits:
- Legal expertise. Support issues are often complex matters. Family law attorneys are adept at assessing various support-related issues such as the financial circumstances of each party and their respective contributions during the marriage. They ensure all relevant factors are considered and that the proposed spousal support award aligns with your circumstances and legal standards.
- Non-biased advice. Divorce can heighten emotional responses, making it difficult to make rational decisions. A family law attorney provides objective advice and helps you understand the legal implications of different support options. They give unbiased perspectives on what’s fair and reasonable regarding spousal support or alimony based on the specific circumstances of your case and Florida law.
- Negotiation and advocacy. When you cannot reach a mutually agreeable spousal support arrangement with your spouse, a family law attorney can negotiate on your behalf. They advocate for your interests, ensure your rights are protected, and increase the likelihood of reaching a favorable settlement.
- Legal documentation. Many spousal support agreements require detailed documentation. Family law attorneys are proficient in drafting and reviewing legal documents, including spousal support agreements and court petitions. Their professional experience helps to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the support you’re entitled to under the law.
- Court representation. If your spousal support matter goes to court, a family law attorney will present your case, gathering evidence and making arguments to the judge. A lawyer with litigation experience can significantly improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in a contested spousal support matter.
Parenting Plans and Timesharing
Florida family law does not recognize the term “child custody,” and doesn’t designate divorcing spouses as being primary or secondary residential parents.
However, it’s not unusual for a couple with minor children to differ on which parenting plans and timesharing arrangements are in their children’s best interests. They might disagree on issues like where children will live, visitation schedules, and decision-making authority. Before you know it, these disputes can escalate and the matter goes to court, where a judge often makes a determination that neither party’s happy with.
Hiring a family law attorney for parenting responsibilities and timesharing matters is imperative for several reasons, including:
- Knowledge of family law. Florida’s family court laws are designed to support both parents remaining active in their child’s life. A family law attorney can craft a parenting and timesharing plan that the court will likely approve.
- Objective guidance. It’s important to remember that emotions often run high in parenting and timesharing disputes because of the deep love and concern parents have for their children. A family law attorney provides objective guidance and helps you understand the legal implications of various arrangements and plans. They advocate for your children’s best interests while also considering your rights as a parent.
- Creating a comprehensive parenting plan. Family law judges decide cases based on each parent’s ability to support a child’s best interests. A family law attorney can prepare a parenting plan that outlines the responsibilities and schedules of each parent and that includes visitation, decision-making authority, and dispute resolution mechanisms.
- Negotiation and mediation. It’s nearly always preferable to reach a parenting agreement through negotiation or mediation rather than going to court. A family law attorney represents your interests during these processes and ensures your parental rights and your child’s best interests are protected and taken into account.
- Court appearances. If your parenting and timesharing matter requires litigation, a family law attorney has the necessary knowledge and training to navigate courtroom procedures, present your case effectively, and advocate for your wishes.
A family law attorney plays a crucial role in child support issues, providing guidance and legal representation to ensure that the child’s best interests are prioritized and the appropriate amount of financial support is determined.
Other benefits include:
- Knowledge of child support laws. Florida’s child support law states both parents have a legal obligation to support their children according to their ability. An attorney specializing in family law has a deep understanding of the state’s specific child support guidelines, such as non-waiver of child support obligations and the legal and moral duty to aid and maintain any children.
- Calculation and documentation. The amount of child support in Florida is based on specific support guidelines that include income, custody rights, and the number of children involved. Family law attorneys can accurately calculate child support based on relevant guidelines, including food and clothing, educational expenses, and medical costs, and ensure all necessary documentation is prepared and submitted correctly.
- Advocacy and negotiation. If you and your spouse disagree on child support, a family law attorney can advocate for your interests and negotiate with the other parent or their lawyer to reach a fair and reasonable child support agreement.
- Court representation. If you must go to court over a child support issue, a family law attorney can persuasively present your case and advocate for your and your child’s rights.
Division of Assets & Debts
When it comes to dividing assets in a divorce, Florida is an equitable distribution state, not a community property one. This means family law judges try to find the fairest way to divide a divorcing couple’s assets and debts. In other words, it’s not always an equal 50/50 split. In fact, an equitable division sometimes results in one spouse getting significantly more than the other, which is why it’s so critical to have an attorney represent you.
A qualified family law attorney has a deep understanding of the factors the court considers when dividing assets and debts, including:
- The length of the marriage.
- Each spouse’s financial contributions during the marriage.
- Career sacrifices.
- The current economic circumstances of each party.
- Individual debts and assets, such as inheritances.
- Earning potential.
- Number of children.
They can also analyze complex financial documents, help identify hidden assets, and advocate for your rights in court or during negotiations.
Enforcement & Modification
Even if you obtain a satisfactory child custody or support arrangement, the other parent can, at some point, seek a modification of the existing terms, claiming conditions like parental misconduct and alienation or a change in financial circumstances. If you want to contest these allegations, it can result in a legal battle where both parents must present evidence to support their positions.
Or, say your former spouse fails to pay court-ordered child or spousal support. A family law attorney can assist you in enforcing any child support or spousal support orders and take appropriate legal actions to collect the unpaid amounts, including wage garnishment or contempt proceedings.
If there are genuine changes in circumstances, such as a job loss or income increase, your attorney can help ensure the new order remains fair and appropriate.
A family law attorney’s specialized knowledge in enforcement and modifications includes:
- Gathering evidence.
- Filing legal motions.
- Appearing in court.
- Advising you on the most appropriate course of action to enforce the order.
- Assessing whether your situation qualifies for a modification.
- Negotiating and mediating to seek a compromise that satisfies both parties.
Get the Legal Representation You Need for Your Family Law Matter
At Cobb Cole, we understand the complexities and sensitivities involved in complex family law matters like timesharing and child support, spousal support, and enforcement and modifications. Whatever issue you’re currently facing, our accomplished family law attorneys are here to provide you with legal representation.
Whether your case involves mediation or litigation, we prioritize your best interests and those of your child, working diligently to achieve the most favorable outcomes possible. Our in-depth knowledge of Florida’s family law statutes and courtroom procedures makes us well-equipped to navigate the ins and outs of your case.
Our commitment to personalized attention means we listen to your concerns, provide compassionate guidance, and tailor our legal strategies to meet your specific needs. When you choose Cobb Cole, you can be confident you have a dedicated team on your side, fighting for your rights and helping you move forward with confidence during a challenging time.