When a couple marries, it is rarely with the thought that they may someday divorce. Unfortunately, life sometimes takes an unexpected turn. Divorces range in complexity from a proceeding lasting only a few months, to complicated matters that can last for several years. We work with clients in all types of divorce cases, involving complex asset division, child custody and spousal support. If you are contemplating ending your marriage, or you have been served with divorce paperwork, we can help.
Contested Versus Uncontested Divorce
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to the terms of the divorce. The terms may include how to divide the assets, care for the children, or alimony payments. In most cases, both parties settle before the case goes to court.
A contested divorce happens when one or both parties disagree over specific matters relating to the separation. Both parties may seek legal representation and take their case to court. If so, they will appear before a family law judge.
At Trusik Law Firm, we are sympathetic to the ways divorce can affect your life. We stay with you every step of the way, answering your questions and providing strategic legal advice and the support you need. You may be concerned about your financial future, the well-being of your children, or your long-term rights. People often feel overwhelmed with the emotional consequences of a contentious family dispute. It’s important to have a compassionate yet aggressive legal representative who will fight to see that your interests are protected.
The most difficult part of a divorce usually concerns the minor children. Occasionally the divorcing parents are able to work out the timesharing schedule for the children on their own. Most times however, the parties are at odds with each other and the minor children end up in a tug of war between the parents. Either way, you need an experienced attorney on your side to help guide you through the process and protect your rights in court.
Florida courts no longer award “custody” to one parent and “visitation” to the other. Courts are now required to establish a parenting plan that outlines a schedule that allocates time for the children with both parents, defines educational plans for the children, including which school they will attend, designates which parent is responsible for health care costs and health related decisions, determines who will pay child support, and all other parenting responsibilities for the children.
Parenting and custody rights are not based on a model, but on the individual circumstances of each family. To a large extent, custody arrangements are based on work schedules, the relationships between each parent and the child, and ultimately focusing on the best interests of the child or children. If you are in need of representation on custody/visitation and parental responsibility, contact Trusik Law Firm for immediate legal direction.
Trusik Law Firm will take the time to learn about your family dynamics and prepare a well-developed strategy tailored to meet your needs. Do not make the mistake of trying to do it yourself.
Courts focus on a number of areas when deciding issues of timesharing and parental responsibility. A few of those areas include:
- Which parent is better suited to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent/child relationship?
- Which parent will honor the time-sharing schedule?
- Which parent is reasonable regarding changes to the time-sharing schedule?
- Which parent acts on the needs of the child as opposed to their own needs?
- Which parent has been caring for the child?
- Where has the child been living?
- How is the child doing in school?
- Does either parent face mental health issues?
- If the child has sufficient maturity to express a preference, what is the reasonable preference of the child?
- Which parent is more likely to keep the other parent informed?
- Has either parent committed domestic violence or child abuse?
- Has either parent provided false information to the court?
- Does either parent have a problem with drugs or alcohol?
Financial distress is one of the major concerns for the parties during a divorce. Alimony, also known as spousal support, is compensation paid to one spouse to provide or supplement income in connection with a divorce. It is intended to bridge the gap between the incomes of the parties during and after a divorce. Courts frequently award alimony where one party has a need for financial support and the other party has the ability to pay. Splitting assets and dividing property can be difficult and maintaining a standard of living can be near impossible.
TYPES OF ALIMONY
There are several types of alimony available in Florida, including:
Temporary alimony is awarded to a spouse to help with daily expenses and attorney fees while the divorce is ongoing. Temporary spousal support generally stops once the divorce is finalized.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is paid to help the recipient spouse meet reasonable short-term needs while transitioning from married to single.
Rehabilitative alimony is paid to assist the recipient spouse become self-supporting. Payments for rehabilitative alimony will continue until the recipient spouse acquires additional job skills, gets a college degree, education, or finds a new job.
Durational alimony is similar to rehabilitative support. With this type of alimony, the court will set a time limit for payments so that the spouse in need can get financial help for a specified period after the divorce.
Permanent alimony is an ongoing monthly payment made by one spouse to the recipient spouse on a regular or recurring basis. This type of spousal support may continue indefinitely until remarriage or death.
WHO IS ENTITLED TO SPOUSAL SUPPORT?
The aim of spousal support is to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing income to a spouse earning lower or no wages. Usually, the court orders the higher-wage-earning spouse to pay support to the lower-wage-earning spouse. Thus, helping him or her maintain the marital lifestyle for some period of time after the divorce, or while transitioning from divorce to single.
WHAT DETERMINES TYPE, AMOUNT, AND DURATION OF ALIMONY?
The following factors will be used to determine the type, amount, and duration of spousal support:
- The duration of the marriage
- The standard of living that was established during the marriage
- The age, mental, and physical condition of the spouses
- The financial resources of each spouse, including marital and non-marital assets and liability
- The couple’s earning capacity, vocational skills, and educational levels
- The current employment status of each spouse
- The time required to acquire additional job training, education, or vocational skills to enable the receiving spouse to secure employment or become self-supporting
HOW LEGAL COUNSEL CAN HELP
Spousal support cases are often fiercely contested. If you are preparing for a divorce, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable alimony attorney immediately to get proper legal guidance on spousal support arrangements.
Whether you are seeking to collect spousal support or defending against unreasonable expectations, we can fight to protect your rights. We can help you collect the spousal support or defend against a spouse seeking to create unmanageable obligations on your finances. Our team will help you decide the best course of action and help you navigate through the process.
Prenuptial & postnuptial agreements are legal documents that are signed either before marriage or during the marriage to protect the parties in the event of divorce. The documents address specific issues such as protecting pre-existing non-marital assets and inheritance, determining retirement benefits, spousal support, and the division of assets and liabilities that exist at the time or are acquired in the future. The purpose of such an agreement is to set the ground rules in an amicable environment to avoid conflict and legal fees in the future.
The primary distinction between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement – as indicated by its name – is when the agreement is signed. A “Pre” nuptial agreement is signed before the marriage; and a “Post” nuptial agreement is signed after the marriage. While the agreements can address all of the same topics, there are important legal distinctions.
WHAT IS A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT?
A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a written contract between both soon-to-be spouses before they enter into marriage. The prenup typically identifies the property, assets, and/or debts each person owns before the marriage and indicates who will retain ownership of the property and any increase or decrease in value during the marriage when or if the marriage is dissolved.
While most people do not enter a marriage with plans for it to end in divorce, it is important to be able to talk to your significant other about these sensitive topics. Having that conversation now — in an open, transparent, and amicable manner guided by lawyers you both trust — can put your minds at ease as you enter into your marriage.
WHAT IS A POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENT?
When you marry another person, your original intent may be to share everything. However, circumstances can often change during a marriage. A postnuptial agreement allows you to create a legally binding contract to identify how the assets and liabilities you currently have are to be allocated, how the assets and liabilities you may acquire will be allocated, whether one spouse will receive support, and, if so, how that is calculated and for what duration.
There are several benefits to a postnuptial agreement, including:
- Safeguarding a family business, inheritance, etc.
- Avoiding liability for a spouse’s debts
- Determining whether alimony or spousal support will be paid, how much, and for how long
- Deciding how the children will be provided for
- Avoiding expensive litigation fees and costs to battle in court.
Whether you choose a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement, or no agreement, it is important to have an open conversation with your spouse or soon to be spouse about all financial matters. A family lawyer can help protect you understand the multitude of issues involved, outline the pros and cons, and help you weigh the risks in deciding whether an agreement is right for you. And, if you decide to enter into an agreement, a family lawyer can ensure your interests and your needs are protected.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT MARITAL AGREEMENTS
Despite the benefits of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, there are common misconceptions that may deter a couple from entering into an agreement. Don’t let these misconceptions hinder you from exploring your legal options.
Prenups Are Only for People Who Think They May Divorce
Few couples ever enter into a marriage thinking that they will divorce. Fewer couples plan for a divorce. However, divorce is a reality. As such, a marital agreement is a smart way to protect yourself in the event a divorce occurs.
Prenups & Postnups Are Only for the Rich
The purpose of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is not to protect the rich. It is simply an agreement that helps a couple divide their financial assets, liabilities, and provide a framework to protect themselves from expensive legal fees and costs in the future.
Prenups & Postnups Are Harmful to the Spouse with Fewer Assets
A marriage agreement is designed to benefit both spouses — not just the wealthier spouse. The goal is to create a document that protects both parties and to provide clarity and security during the marriage.
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help you and your spouse draw clear financial boundaries, give you an opportunity to talk openly and honestly about your situation, and protect you in the event something happens or changes. If you think a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is right for you, contact Trusik Law Firm for a confidential consultation.
In Florida, there is a presumption that a child born or conceived to a married couple is the child of both parents. However, that presumption can be overcome. No such starting point exists for a father when a child is born out of wedlock. Any woman who is pregnant or has a child, or any man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child may bring an action to determine the paternity of the child.
Whether you are facing a paternity suit or a matter involving child support and /or custody and visitation we will safeguard your rights and devise a strategy that is right for you. Once paternity has been established, you should have the same rights as any other parent. If you know you are the father of your minor child and you want to be involved in that child’s life, you should be able to gain access to your child once you have established paternity. If you are a mother who needs child support from your minor child’s father, establishing paternity should allow you to obtain it. If you need representation in a paternity case, contact Trusik Law Firm for immediate legal direction.
Modifications and Enforcement
Even after your divorce is finalized you may face complications in your personal life, such as financial loss, injury or a change in circumstances that is beyond your control which makes following the original divorce decree impractical or impossible. Divorce decrees are based on the circumstances that exist at the time of its creation. Many of those circumstances change over time and in certain situations a court may allow you to modify your final judgment.
Enforcement and Contempt
A common problem people face post-divorce is enforcement of the terms of the agreement. Many parties adhere to the terms of the final judgment, but, as we all know, some parties are more willing to disregard the law. Certain aspects of a final judgment are enforceable by contempt. The purpose of a contempt proceeding is to coerce compliance with the court’s judgment or order. All matters pertaining to time-sharing and child support are enforceable by contempt. Other common remedies include an award of attorney’s fees, damages, or a coercive fine. In a child support case, the court can also suspend the obligor’s driver’s license, suspend a business license or withhold a tax return. If you have been accused of violating a court order or if you are accusing a party of violating a divorce or paternity decree, contact a knowledgeable family law attorney for immediate legal direction. Trusik Law Firm uses an aggressive and practical approach to client representation throughout Tallahassee and the surrounding areas.