Family Law

For anyone who has ever experienced a divorce, child custody disagreement of any other type of family law case, you know that these cases are uniquely trying.  They often involve high levels of emotion and stress, as a relationship dissolves or parents try to decide how to best parent their children when they are no longer together.  Family law cases require an experienced lawyer, who understands Florida law and the way that courts typically handle these cases.  Having a skilled family law attorney on your side can make an incredible difference in how your case is resolved.

Divorce in Florida

When a marriage is “irretrievably broken,” it may be time to file for divorce.  Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that neither party has to prove that the other spouse was at fault for the marital problems. Under Florida law, 5 issues must be decided before a divorce can be granted by the court:

  • Alimony or spousal support
  • Child custody
  • Visitation or parenting schedule
  • Child support
  • Division of property

If a couple can agree on these matters, then the divorce is uncontested and it can be granted. If they cannot come to an agreement, the divorce is contested. In contested divorces, a judge may order the parties to undergo mediation, where a trained professional helps the couple attempt to resolve these issues. The mediator is a neutral third party whose role is to facilitate an agreement, not to give legal advice or advocate for either party. If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties may go to trial, where a judge will decide the remaining issues and make a ruling before granting a divorce.

Divorce can involve many complex issues, particularly when the couple has substantial assets or debts.  A seasoned Tallahassee family law attorney can work with you through each stage of the divorce process, from filing the initial suit to negotiating an agreement or taking the case to trial.

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Child Custody and Support

For any parent undergoing a divorce or a breakup, the question of child custody and support can be incredibly stressful.  Your first priority is to care for your children and to protect your parental rights.  Understanding Florida law with regards to these issues will help you make good decisions about how to handle your child custody and support case.

Florida law provides some standards for deciding child custody, which is divided into two separate types: physical custody (time actually spent with the child) and legal custody (the ability to make decisions about a child’s upbringing).  Joint legal and physical custody are preferred in Florida, except in cases where one parent is unfit.  In deciding how to determine child custody, a court may look at the following factors:

  • Where the child has lived and gone to school
  • The love, affection and existing connection between the child and each parent
  • The parents’ mental, physical and moral status
  • The permanence of each proposed home
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Whether each parent will cooperate and encourage contact with the other parent
  • The involvement of each parent with the child’s life
  • The ability of each parent to meet the child’s financial, emotional, and developmental needs

While a court will consider a variety of issues, the primary concern is the best interests of the child or children. When custody is shared, a parenting plan is used to set a schedule for how the parents will arrange physical custody.

Child support is also determined by the court, based on Florida child support guidelines.  The court takes a number of factors into account, including each parent’s income and the amount of time that each parent spends with the child. If one parent pays for certain items, such as day care or health insurance, that may be deducted from the overall support obligation.

If you are facing a child support or custody case, Norris Law is here for you. With substantial experience in the field of family law, Toby Norris has in-depth knowledge on how courts decide child custody and support issues. He can advise you on the merits of your case, and will zealously defend your parental rights in court if necessary. Contact Norris Law today to find out how we can help you with your child custody and support cases.

Division of Assets

If you have property or debt with your spouse, it will have to be divided up by agreement or by the court. In Florida, courts start with the premise that assets and debts should be equitably distributed, which means that they are divided fairly. In some cases, this means a 50-50 split, but this is not always the case.

Importantly, the only assets subject to distribution in a divorce are marital assets, which is property acquired during the marriage. An example of non-martial property is an inheritance received by one spouse before a marriage. The classification of property as either marital or non-marital plays a big role in how the assets will be divided. Courts will look at a number of factors in order to make a fair division, such as:

  • The contributions of each spouse, including non-financial contributions such as raising the children
  • The financial situation of both spouses
  • The need to keep the marital home 
  • The length of the marriage

Property division is often hotly contested by both spouses, particularly when they have many assets. At Norris Law, we are adept at negotiating the division of assets, including having particular property deemed marital or non-marital. We will aggressively litigate these issues, and will call upon financial experts to make a strong case for a favorable division of property.

Family Law Attorneys in Tallahassee, Florida

If you are involved in a family law matter in Florida, Norris Law can assist you with skilled, tenacious legal advocacy. We educate our clients at every step of the process, including realistic outcomes and options for resolving the case outside of court. We also will take cases to court to protect your legal, financial and parental rights. If you are in the market for a top-notch Tallahassee family law attorney, contact our office today for a free initial consultation.