If you have a question about divorce, child custody, alimony or other family law issue, we’ve answered hundreds of common questions we’ve been asked over the years right on this website.

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In Florida, with a large number of elderly retirees, this is a common issue. However, it’s also legally tricky.

Some individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who want a divorce can file. Just because a person has been diagnosed does not mean they are mentally incompetent yet.

If a person who has been diagnosed with one of those diseases files for divorce and he or she is able to communicate during the procedure and make sound decisions, the divorce should not be any different than any other person’s divorce.

However, if a person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and is starting to show serious signs of mental issues related to the disease, divorce can be harder. In order to sue for divorce, a person must be mentally competent.

In many cases involving a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia who is starting to slip, a loved one will step in and ask the probate court to declare the individual as incapacitated, and to appoint a guardian.

This is called a guardianship proceeding. A guardianship takes away the legal rights of the individual whom is declared incapacitated.

In most cases, if a guardian is appointed, the incapacitated individual loses his or her right to sue, including for divorce.

However, the guardian may be able to sue for divorce on the individual’s behalf.

One quirk in Florida law is that if a person has been declared incapacitated, there is a three year waiting period before the individual can be divorced.

The law is intended to protect a mentally incompetent person from being divorced by a competent spouse and leaving them no ability to defend themselves.

Any divorce involving a person who is mentally incapacitated is tricky, and it’s advisable to get legal counsel through the process.

If you have questions in Florida about divorce and Alzheimer’s or dementia, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250.

He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call today for your consultation.


No, your ex cannot change your children’s visitation schedule when he feels like it.

If the court order specifies specific times he is to have the kids and you are to have the kids, the schedule must be followed.

However, if you two can both agree on a schedule change, the visitation schedule can be revised.

The key is that you two both must agree. One of you cannot decide to change the schedule without an agreement from the other spouse.

If you two have an amicable relationship and have had no major problems with visitation, you can probably verbally agree to make schedule changes.

If there have been issues in the past with changes in visitation, if you two can agree to a change, it should be in writing.

Some parents will refuse to revise the visitation schedule at all, not for any good reason, but simply to be mean.

For example, one parent may have an important event coming up, and the other parent will refuse to switch weekends to allow the children to attend the event.

An emergency may arise, and one parent may refuse to help out with the kids so that the family emergency can be attended to by the other parent.

In a situation where you really want your kids to attend an important event, such as your remarriage, you may consider asking the court for a temporary order allowing the kids to attend.

If you need emergency help with the kids and your spouse will not cooperate, consider asking friends or family members to help out in the immediate future, and consider asking the court for a revised custody schedule if it appears that the situation will be ongoing.

It’s always great when parents can work together on the custody schedule for the benefit of the children.

Unfortunately, in some cases one parent may make custody issues a constant battle.

If you are in the middle of custody problems in Florida, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250.

He works in the divorce courts in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call to learn more.


This is a very difficult, but actually common issue.

Because a spouse of an American citizen is able to obtain a green card, people who are desperate to get into the United States may pretend to fall in love with an American citizen just long enough to get a green card, and then dump the spouse promptly afterwards.

The spouse who perpetrates the fraud could face civil and criminal penalties, as well as possibly deportation.

If you believe that your spouse wanted you only for a green card and never intended to enter into a valid marriage with you, you may be able to get an annulment instead of a divorce.

An annulment is a court order that declares a marriage invalid. Not only does it dissolve the marriage, it also says that a legal marriage never existed.

Although the prospect of an annulment instead of a divorce may sounds appealing, you should be aware that annulment cases can be complex, expensive, and you may go through the entire process only to have your request denied by a judge.

For many people, the expense and time involved in obtaining an annulment is worth it for religious or other reasons.

One of the grounds for annulment in Florida includes a sham marriage such as you described.

If the time frame is short between when the marriage occurred and when the marriage failed, the marriage could be considered fraudulent.

The facts of the case must show that there was no intent on the part of the wrongful spouse to live together as husband or wife.

If you want to get an annulment instead of divorce, you must speak with an attorney.

Annulments can be a tricky process, and an attorney can help.

If you are in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas or Hillsborough County in Florida, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He can help you with your case.


Legally, Florida grandparents have the right to seek visitation with their grandchildren in certain situations in Florida.

If they do have visitation rights under law, they could also object to their grandchildren moving away.

However, traditionally Florida has been hesitant to grant a grandparent visitation rights, especially if it is not something the parents want.

Currently under Florida law, grandparents can ask for visitation rights if the parents are divorced, if one parent has deserted the child, or if the child is born out of wedlock and the parents never marry.

A court can consider a number of factors in awarding visitation to grandparents, including the quality of the relationship between the grandparents and grandchildren before the divorce, the mental and physical health of the child and the grandparents, and the willingness of the grandparents to encourage a close relationship between the child and the parents.

If a grandparent does have visitation rights with a grandchild, and the grandchild’s parent wishes to relocate the children to another area, the grandparent can file an objection in court.

The grandparent could argue that the move will not be in the best interest of the child and that his or her relationship with the child would be seriously damaged by the move.

You would need to prove in court that the move is in the best interest of the child.

The best solution in this situation would be to work something out with the grandparents.

You can put together a visitation schedule, and let them know you will encourage phone calls, Skype calls, etc. You can file your schedule with the court, which may reassure them.

If you can’t work something out, the children’s grandparents already have visitation rights, and they are objecting to a move, you need to consult with an attorney. An attorney can help you present your case in court about why the move should occur.

If you are in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas or Hillsborough County in Florida, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250.

He has a significant amount of experience in family law matters, and can help you with your case.


You have a few options. First, you could ask your husband what he is making. He may give you a truthful answer, and you can use that information to decide if you want to file for divorce or not.

You can go ahead and file for divorce, and then your lawyer can subpoena your husband’s business records.

However, it can be very tough to determine the income of a person who is self-employed, especially when the business is new.

You can also request a copy of the personal or income tax return filed with the IRS.

If the business is brand new, this may not be an option because the business may not have filed a return yet.

It’s natural for you to want to file for divorce once his finances and income are where they should be, since your alimony and child support will be based on his income and assets.

However, if you decide to wait until your husband builds up his business to the point where you believe it should be, you may end up in an unhappy marriage for years.

The business may never give him the kind of income you believe it should.

Also, keep in mind that alimony and child support can be modified later.

If you believe he has an artificially low income now, you could try to reach some type of agreement that will allow the amount to be changed every year if there’s a change in circumstances later.

If you have questions about what to do concerning the timing of your divorce and money, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein.

He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.

Call to schedule your free consultation or to learn more about his practice.


In and of itself, a divorce does not prevent you from getting a mortgage.

Divorces do not appear on your credit report, so any potential lender would not be able to tell you were divorced unless you shared that information.

There are some reasons you may not be able to qualify for a mortgage if you are divorced, however.

First, as you probably know, in order to qualify for a mortgage, a lender will look at your income, debt, and credit score in order to decide whether or not to give you a mortgage.

If the divorce has caused your income to drop significantly, you may not be able to qualify for a mortgage.

Also, if the divorce has left you with a great deal of debt, you may not qualify.

In some cases, your credit score could be harmed by the divorce, if some of your bills went unpaid during the divorce process.

Another reason you may not be able to qualify for a mortgage because of your divorce is if you still obligated on your old mortgage.

You may no longer be living in the home, but are still listed on the home’s mortgage.

Also, if you have very large child support or alimony obligations because of your divorce, lenders may not want to give you a mortgage for fear that you will be unable to pay it.

It can be very frustrating to work through the mortgage issues that can arise as the result of a divorce.

If you can obtain good counsel through the divorce process, you may be able to reduce some of those obligations, such as alimony or the mortgage obligation, which can help you get a mortgage in the future so you can move on with your life.

If you are in Florida and wish to speak with an attorney about your options, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250.

He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.

Call today to learn more about how he can help.


I’m sorry to hear about your situation. It can be difficult to have a child alone, and I hope you are able to get some help.

Legally, if you are still married, you can still be on his health insurance plan.

If you get divorced, you can continue on his insurance plan through a federal law called COBRA.

COBRA allows you to continue on your spouse’s insurance plan for up to three years after a divorce.

However, you must pay the entire health insurance premium, which can in some cases be quite expensive.

That may be the best option since you are pregnant. You probably do not want to try to find a new insurer who may not cover the doctors you currently use.

If your husband does not have insurance, the issue becomes a little more complicated. You can apply for Medicaid if your income is below certain levels.

You may also ask for help from your local social services department, and see what options are available for you.

You should consider asking the court for temporary spousal support.

This is an amount the court can award to help you with your bills, and you can ask for money for health insurance or an amount to cover the costs of the birth at the hospital.

You can also ask for child support once the child is born.

If you are in this situation in Florida, you need to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help you determine the best course of action.

If you are in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas or Hillsborough County in Florida, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250.

He can help you evaluate your legal options.


If you do not have full custody, your ex will most likely not be turned away from Pasco County schools if he or she shows up to pick your kids up.

If your ex has some visitation rights, that gives him or her the right to pick your kids up, unless you have a court order that prohibits him or her from picking up the kids.

If you do not want your ex picking up the kids, you need to let the school know who can and cannot pick up your children from now on.

You should attach paperwork from the court showing that your ex is not allowed to pick up the children, or if your divorce decree doesn’t specify that, just let the school know that it is your preference that your ex not be allowed to pick up the kids.

If your ex is showing up at your child’s school unannounced and picking up your kids, it also sounds like you need to work on a visitation plan. The visitation plan should clearly list who picks up the kids from school and where they go, so that there are no more surprises.

This will also help the kids to have a more stable schedule. If you two can’t agree, a mediator could help with the process. As a last resort, you could consider going back to court to work on your visitation plan.

If your ex has been showing up unannounced at school, or taking other actions that are not in line with what the two of you have agreed to, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250.

He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. He can help you your legal situation. Call today to learn more.


If you have visitation rights with your children, your ex-spouse cannot leave the Pasco Couny area with the children without your permission. If your ex has sole custody of the children, he or she can move away without your permission.

If you find out that your ex has plans to move away, you can file a petition in family court asking to prevent the move. He or she would have to prove in court that the move would be in your children’s best interest, and that you would have enough access to your children to be able to continue your relationship. The court would then decide to either allow the move or prohibit the move.

If your ex has already moved away with the kids without your permission, your ex could be in legal hot water. You will have to file an emergency petition in court and ask that your ex be forbidden from leaving the state. If your ex leaves with your children without your knowledge or permission, that can be considered kidnapping, and you could wind up with full custody of your children.

If your ex has threatened to move away with the kids, or has already moved away, you need an attorney right away. An attorney can help with preventing the move or with petitioning the court to get your kids back. Now is not a time to attempt to serve as your own attorney.

If you are facing an issue like this with your ex, call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He works in the divorce courts in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call today to schedule your consultation.


When a married couple discovers they don’t want to be married anymore, it’s not uncommon to look for a way out of the situation without a divorce. Some people have religious or moral objections to divorce.

Others may fear that a divorce is too expensive or that they will be stuck paying a large amount of alimony. The couple may decide to look back at the circumstances under which they got married in order to see if there’s an easy way out of the situation.

In most cases, there is not an easy way out of the marriage. If you have a minor mistake on your marriage certificate, such as a misspelling of a name, that is not enough to make your marriage invalid.

If there was a major problem with how the marriage occurred, however, you may not be legally married. For example, if you got a marriage license but never performed the ceremony, you are not legally married. If the person who married you was not licensed to perform weddings in your state, you are probably not legally married.

In some cases, you may be able to get an annulment. An annulment is a legal procedure that dissolves a couple’s marital status by showing that a valid marriage never existed. Some people think that annulments can be done in cases involving short marriages but the length of the marriage does not affect whether or not you can get an annulment.

To get an annulment, generally you must prove that one of the parties was underage or legally married at the time of the marriage, that one of the spouses entered the marriage under duress or did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage, or that the marriage was entered into fraudulently.

Annulments are much less common than divorces, because the grounds for an annulment are so narrow.

If you have questions about whether or not your marriage is valid, call New Port Richey, Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.