Southwest Florida Family Law Blog
Preparing for the initial meeting with your divorce attorney
by Paul A. Rocuant, Esq.
If you are ready to contact a divorce attorney, you are likely in the midst of a very stressful and complex time in your life. You may be wondering where or how to begin. Although an obvious first step is to meet with your attorney, there is actually something you can do to be proactive prior to your initial consultation.
In order for your attorney to get a broad understanding of the facts of your situation and apply the law effectively to your case, you will need to provide some important information to him/her. The items mentioned below are a good starting point and something you can begin to work on prior to meeting with your attorney for the first time.
Create a list or a timetable of the events that caused you to contact an attorney for your family law case.
This will serve as a point of reference for you and your attorney to use during your initial meeting. Discussing the incidents you include in the timetable will undoubtedly be emotional for you. Keep in mind that it’s important to be as objective as possible when sorting through issues and providing information to your attorney. If you do find yourself upset, don’t worry – your attorney is used to helping people work through these types of issues and he/she will understand that it is impossible for you to completely ignore your emotions. Additionally, it is imperative to be completely open and honest with your attorney, as their ability to understand the situation and present viable solutions depends on open communication with you. Remember, your communication with your attorney is confidential, privileged and protected by the attorney/client relationship.
In addition to the timetable of events, providing copies of the following will also be helpful to your attorney:
- Marriage Certificate
- Timeline of significant events in marriage (including any marriage counseling, separations, reconciliations)
- Pre-Nuptial Agreement or other marriage contracts
- Any previous marriage Divorce Decrees or documents
- Tax Returns for the past three years
- Current Employer names and dates of employment for both you and your spouse
- Previous employers and educational background for both you and your spouse
- Driver’s License and social Security numbers for both you and your spouse
- Income information for both you and your spouse and any other household income
- Names and ages of any children and/or step children and the addresses where they have lived for the past 5 years
- List any any previous legal proceedings for you or your spouse
- Current statements for all bank accounts with name of bank, account numbers, amounts, and names on the accounts
- Current statements for investment accounts with institution name, account number and names on the accounts
- Current statements for any pensions with names and when they began contributing
- Documents related to any valuable personal property items: jewelry, artwork, cars, etc.
- Documents related to real estate holdings with current value and purchase price and date
- The most recent statements for any and all debts (including credit cards) including amount owed, to whom, account number, when incurred, when due and whose name the debt is in
- Documents pertaining to any life insurance policies
Finally, remember to ask questions. You have a right to understand the process and your options. Your attorney expects you to ask questions – and there are no silly questions.
Relocation with children after a Florida Divorce
by Paul A. Rocuant, Esq.
You just received a phone call from your former spouse…they are moving out of state to be closer to family and taking your child with them. Or maybe it’s you that needs to relocate for a new job opportunity. No one would argue with the notion that the ideal situation for children after divorce is when both parents continue to be present and active in a child’s life. Unfortunately, staying in the same geographic area just may not be feasible for you or your former spouse. No matter the circumstances, relocation after or during a divorce in Florida cannot be a hasty decision when children are involved.
Unless there is a relocation stipulation in your final Florida divorce judgment, Florida’s child relocation divorce law will apply. Florida’s child relocation law (Florida Statute 61.13001), specifies required procedures that must be followed before a parent can move a child after divorce. Specifically, when either parent is entitled to time sharing with the child, and the move is more than 50 miles away, the parent seeking to move the children must either acquire written consent from all parties entitled to parenting time per the Florida divorce judgment, or file a Petition to Relocate.
Even when both parents agree to the child’s relocation, there are requirements in the statute that must be met: all parties with rights to parenting time must agree, the Agreement must be in writing, must specify the new parenting time schedule, transportation considerations and ultimately be sanctioned by the court before it is valid.
When all parties do not agree to the relocation, a Petition to Relocate must be served and filed by the parent seeking to move the children. Among other things, it must include the reasons why the parent is proposing the move (new job, family support, etc.). In cases where the other parent objects to the relocation, there is a 20 day window allowing them time to object. The objection has to comply with the requirements of the statute so care must be taken when objecting. The parent seeking to move may not move during this time. If the non-relocating parent fails to respond, the court may assume the move is in the best interest of the child and approve the relocation as outlined in the moving parent’s Petition. If the non-moving parent files a legally sufficient and timely objection, the court will consider their case as to why the relocation should not be allowed, or why it should be allowed.
The court will consider many factors when determining whether a relocation will be approved, some of which include the reasons for the move, reasons opposing the move, the time sharing arrangement between the child and the non-relocating parent now and after the move, and whether the move is in the overall best interest of the child.
Whether you are proposing or objecting to a relocation, it is in your best interest to closely follow the procedures outlined in Florida’s child relocation law because the court may consider whether you did so when hearing your case. This article is for general information only and is not legal advice for your specific case. Before you act, contact a family law attorney that is experienced in family law, children’s issues, time sharing schedules and relocation so that you can fully understand your obligations and rights under the law.