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FAQs about Family Law in Florida

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 20, 2022

Most people don’t really know exactly what the term “family law” means. Some may believe that a family lawyer simply means an attorney hired by regular people to handle their legal matters – whatever those may be.

But this is a specific area of the law that deals with family and domestic issues. What does that mean? Well, the one that most people gravitate towards first is divorce. And it’s true that family lawyers do handle a lot of divorce cases. But we also deal with issues such as paternity, domestic violence, and more.

If you are in the middle of a situation like the ones described above, you probably have a number of questions about how to proceed. While sitting down with a Florida family lawyer will be able to give you the best advice tailored to your unique situation, there are certain questions almost everyone has.

Below, we’re going to cover the most frequently asked questions about family law in Florida.

Do I have to live in Florida to get divorced in Florida?

Short answer: yes. In order to get divorced in Florida, you do have to meet the residency requirement. Either you or your spouse has to be a Florida resident for at least six months. You can show proof of your residency with a valid Florida’s driver’s license, which was issued more than six months prior to filing for divorce. A voter registration card would also work, or a Florida resident can complete an affidavit or testify on your behalf.

How is time-sharing with children determined?

Here in Florida, both parents go into a divorce with equal rights concerning time-sharing with children. If the parents are able to create and agree on their own time-sharing schedule and parenting plan, the court will most likely approve the plan. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will establish a plan that is in the best interests of the child.

Can the court change a parenting plan?

The courts recognize that the age of the child and many other circumstances might necessitate a modification to the original parenting plan. If the parents agree to the modification then the court will most likely allow that modification. It shows that the parents are working together to make sure their child’s needs are being met. If both parents can’t agree, the court will have to hold a hearing. If it’s in the best interest of the child and there is a substantial, unanticipated change of circumstances, then the modification most likely will be granted.

How is child support calculated?

Child support is calculated by a set formula based upon your gross income and certain monthly costs and expenses. Once you figure out your net income, the court will look at the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet to determine your exact payment based upon your individual income and the number of children you have.

What if I make child support payments for another child?

As long as you are actually paying that child support, the Florida courts will be able to take your payment amount into account when determining the child support for any other children.

What is the point of proving paternity?

If you are a single mother, proving that someone is the father of your child can help you to win child support benefits to help pay for their care. But there are benefits for fathers as well. You can gain the legal right to see your child and be a part of legal and medical decisions. You can offer benefits to your child that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to, such as putting them on your employer-sponsored insurance plan. And, if you wish, you can even attempt to gain custody.

How is spousal support or alimony determined?

Alimony is determined by the need of the spouse who is requesting alimony and the ability of the spouse who will be paying the alimony. The goal of alimony is to maintain the marital lifestyle the spouse has become accustomed to for a specific period of time. Numerous factors are taken into consideration, such as the length of the marriage, income, earning capacity, how each spouse contributes to the marriage, and others.

What does family law have to do with domestic violence?

When most people think about domestic violence, they think about a criminal lawyer defending an alleged perpetrator. But there are two sides to every domestic violence case. Survivors of domestic violence often turn to family lawyers to help them prove their case and move on from the fear that has been dominating their life.

And family lawyers don’t just work with victims, either. Many people who have been accused of domestic violence turn to us because they want to clear their names while making sure that they are acting in the best interests of their families.

Should I hire a family lawyer?

While you can handle a divorce on your own, a Florida family lawyer can be a great asset in figuring out the best and easiest way to proceed. Every situation is different, and because of that, a family lawyer will be able to draw upon their experience and knowledge to give you the best advice and representation you need.