Can You Expedite a Divorce Without Mediation?

In Florida, both parties are required to attend mediation in a divorce matter. The Florida Rules of Family Law Procedure require the parties to go to mediation both before temporary relief can be granted and before a final hearing can be held in the case. Although the judge has the power to waive the mediation requirement, most judges generally are hesitant to do so unless there are special or unusual circumstances in the case. In order to request a waiver in order to avoid mediation, the interested party must file a motion with the court that ordered the mediation.

If mediation is not waived in a case, both parties must come ready to agree and take the mediator’s recommendations seriously, in order for a mediation to be useful in a divorce matter. Antagonistic attitudes or lack of preparation can result in a mediation being unsuccessful, wasting everyone’s time and money. If you are thinking about a divorce or are in the middle of a divorce proceeding, be sure to consult with an experienced family law attorney. An attorney who regularly handles divorces will be able to analyze your case to ensure that you proceed with the best approach. A family law attorney will also be able to represent you at hearings or in mediation to present your case so that all of your arguments are understood.

In a divorce, it is much easier to get what you want the first time than to have to go through an appeals process. Make sure you have every advantage available to you and speak with an experienced attorney about your case.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.

Is Adultery Relevant to the Reason for Divorce or Equitable Dissolution in FL?

Since Florida is a “no fault” divorce state, either party may file for divorce without having to prove a reason other than fact that the two individuals just don’t want to be married anymore. They state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and the court is off the hook for determining who is at fault.

Due to the fact that Florida is a “no fault” state, adultery is not a relevant reason for divorce or equitable dissolution. Just because it is not a relevant reason for divorce does not mean that adultery won’t affect the divorce. The truth is, adultery can affect child custody, property division, and spousal support.

When the court is contemplating the custody decision, one of the factors they look at is “moral fitness”. If one parent can prove that the other parent’s adultery had, or is having an impact on the child, the judge might decide to limit the custody or visitation of the parent who committed adultery.

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that the marital assets and liabilities should, in theory, be evenly divided. Adultery may have an affect on equitable distribution because if one spouse can prove that the other has intentionally wasted the marital assets, such has giving gifts, going on trips, paying rent or car payments, and buying dinner for the non-marital partner, the court may reduce the adulterer’s share of the marital assets.

Finally, in Florida, adultery is listed as a factor that should be considered when determining alimony, but the line is a little fuzzy since Florida is a “no fault” state. The main thing to know is that the judge will only increase the wronged spouse’s alimony if the adulterous behavior increases that spouse’s monetary needs.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.

Does Filing for Child Custody First Make any Difference?

Custodial rights can be the most sensitive and contested matters in the area of family law. There are many factors a court to consider when creating child custody arrangements, but who files for child custody first is not one of them. Although child custody guidelines vary by jurisdiction, the model used most prevalently determines what arrangement would be in the best interest of the child.

In deciding what kind of custody plan would best benefit the child involved, the judge will consider:

  • The child’s past and present interaction with the parents;
  • The adjustment the child would have to undergo;
  • How long the child has remained in a stable environment;
  • The mental and physical health of all parties;
  • Parental capacity to give guidance and care for the child

This is not a definitive list and statutory guidelines in each state give a full description of all of the factors a judge can evaluate in creating a child custody schedule. The most important thing to remember if you are involved in a custody dispute is that the judge will always make decisions that will result in the best possible outcome for the child. Issues that do not impact the child’s well-being will not be considered, like which parent filed for custody first.

Child custody matters are challenging in many ways, but are particularly difficult emotionally. An experienced family law attorney will be able to assist you in creating the best plan to achieve a custody arrangement that ultimately creates the best life for your child. If you are in the middle of a custody dispute, contact a family law attorney who will be on your side to help ease the stress of a custody dispute.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.

How do You Ask the Judge to Remove the Parent Coordinator in a Child Custody Case?

In contested family law matters, parent coordinators are assigned by the court to a case to help facilitate issues that may develop as a result of custody and child visitation arrangements. Parent coordinators are usually chosen from a pool of qualified psychologists, counselors, and members of the Bar. A parent coordinator meets with both parties on a regular basis to ensure everyone is complying with the custody order and a healthy environment is being provided for the child. A parent coordinator is also available to assist with any questions or problems a party may have relating to custody and visitation issues.

Because a parent coordinator’s recommendations essentially bind the parties, as the parent coordinator is appointed by the court and can testify about parental non-compliance, it is crucial that both parties are able to effectively work with the parent coordinator assigned to the case.

A parent coordinator can be involved with a family for years, so if a party feels that they can no longer work with the parent coordinator appointed their case, there are ways to have the parent coordinator removed. However, it is highly unlikely that a judge will remove a parent coordinator requirement from a case completely, particularly in contested matters that are usually associated with parent coordinators. Instead, a judge will assign a different parent coordinator to continue to work with the parties.

In order to request a new parent coordinator, a motion must be filed with the court to have the current coordinator removed and a hearing on the matter requested. At the requested hearing, a judge will give the complaining party an opportunity to explain all of the reasons why they feel the parent coordinator needs to be removed for a new parent coordinator.

An experienced family law attorney will be able to assist you in filing the appropriate motion to remove the parent coordinator and represent you at the hearing. If you feel like you can no longer work with your parent coordinator, contact a family law attorney to get the removal process started, so that you can continue to build a positive environment for you and your children.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.

In Family Court, is an Evidentiary Hearing the same as a Trial?

An evidentiary hearing in a family law case is considered a final hearing, which is like a trial. Family law courts use evidentiary hearings to decide matters related to divorce proceedings, such as custodial issues and alimony arrangements.

In an evidentiary hearing, both parties are provided the opportunity to present the facts that support their side of the case. This evidence is supposed to be the same kind of evidence that would be presented at an actual trial, like witness statements, financial records, and deposition testimony. After each side presents their evidence to the judge, the judge then weighs all of the evidence and makes a decision as to the outcome of the case.

Although evidentiary hearings appear similar to trials, they last a much shorter time than is allotted for a full trial. Most family courts only allot a few hours for the entire evidentiary hearing because of how many cases family court judges are responsible for.

With each party only receiving about an hour to present their evidence on such an important issue, it is crucial that an experienced family law attorney is retained to help prepare for the hearing. Evidentiary hearings involve important family issues, like child custody, and it is imperative that you have every advantage an attorney would be able to offer you.

If you have an evidentiary hearing scheduled, you should speak to a family law attorney who is familiar and experienced with evidentiary hearings. Family law attorneys regularly participate in evidentiary hearings and will be able to help you understand the process so that you can clearly present your evidence for the judge who will be deciding your case.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.