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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I’m sorry to hear that. Yes, fortunately you can still get a divorce if your spouse is not able to be located. If Florida didn’t have such laws, it could place people in legal limbo until they were able to locate their spouse to serve divorce papers.
By law, a person who is being sued must get notice of a lawsuit, so he or she can defend against it. This normally involves sheriff or a private process server handing the defendant a copy of the papers. A divorce is a type of lawsuit, and the defendant must have notice.
If the defendant cannot be found, you can ask the Florida divorce court for permission to use something called “constructive service”. This involves publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper that is approved by the court once a week for four weeks. Not everyone can use constructive service. To be able to use constructive service, you must show that you conducted a diligent search for your spouse. You will fill out an affidavit provided by the court, and you must tell the court exactly how you tried to find you spouse. Once you have finished looking for your spouse, you can file the affidavit.
You may be able to get the divorce without your spouse being present, but it may be difficult to be awarded child support or alimony. Issues of property division may be difficult too if your spouse is not present.
Call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250 if your spouse cannot be located and you want to file for a divorce. He works with clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call today to learn more.

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Sexual Violence Injunctions Explained By Florida Family Law Attorney

An injunction against sexual violence is for individuals who have been the victim of sexual violence in Florida. “Sexual violence” is defined as sexual battery, a lewd sexual act involving a person younger than 16, or any other forcible felony where a sexual act is committed or attempted.

In order to be eligible to file a petition for an injunction against sexual violence, you must have reported the incident to the police or another law enforcement agency. You also must be cooperating in any criminal proceeding against the abuser, if the law enforcement agency decides to bring criminal charges against him or her. You can also file a petition for an injunction against sexual violence on behalf of any minor child who is living at home and who is the victim of the violence for which protection is sought.

In order to get the injunction, you will fill out the necessary forms and file them in the circuit courthouse where you live, the abuser lives, or where the sexual violence occurred. You do not have to pay a fee. After you file the petition, the judge will review it and may issue a temporary injunction, based on the facts.

You may also get a long term injunction. However, you will have to have a full court hearing in which the abuser has the opportunity to be present. The judge will give you a date for the hearing, which will be scheduled before the temporary injunction expires. At the hearing, you will be asked to testify about the sexual abuse you experienced. The abuser will also have the opportunity to testify at the hearing. If the abuser chooses to not show up, you may receive a final injunction, or a date for a new court hearing may be set.

If you have been the victim of sexual violence in Florida, you may choose to obtain an injunction against sexual violence. Call Florida family law attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He helps clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.

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Grandparent Visitation Rights Discussed By Florida Custody Lawyer

A new law took effect July 1 that is being heralded as the first law advancing grandparent visitation rights in Florida in decades. However, the law is extremely narrow, and only gives grandparents visitation rights in very limited circumstances.

The law only applies to a situation where the grandchild’s parents are both either dead, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state. It also applies if one of the parents is dead, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state, and the other parent has been convicted of a felony. In either of those situations, grandparents are allowed to sue for visitation. However, even under these conditions, grandparents must prove that the parents are unfit, or that there is a risk of “significant harm to the child” in order for the visitation to be granted.

Although this law applies only in extremely limited circumstances, some are seeing it as a step in the right direction. Florida has one of the largest populations of grandparents in the country. Almost a fifth of its population is age 65 and older, and about 75 percent of those individuals are estimated to be grandparents.

In some cases in which grandparents wish to take their children out of a bad living environment, grandparents have no choice but to adopt their grandchildren. This requires either consent from the parents, or proving in court that the parents are unfit.

If you are a Florida grandparent who is concerned about your grandchildren’s welfare, and you want to learn more about your legal rights, call Florida child custody attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He helps clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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No, you do not necessarily split your assets equally in a divorce in Florida. Florida law says that assets and debts will be equitably divided. Any non-marital assets and debts acquired before the marriage will not be divisible in a divorce. For example, if you had a paid-for house or a student loan before the marriage, the house and the student loan will normally be yours after the divorce.

All of the remaining assets and liabilities, which are considered marital assets and liabilities, will normally be distributed equally. However, they do not have to be distributed equally. In some cases, an unequal distribution would be more equitable under the circumstances.

Some of the situations the courts consider in deciding whether or not to equally divide assets in a divorce include:
– How long the marriage lasted
– The economic circumstances of each spouse
– How much each spouse contributed to the marriage, either as a breadwinner or as a homemaker or parent
– Whether or not it would be in the best interest of the minor children to remain in the marital home
– Whether either spouse contributed to the education or career of the other spouse
– If there is any evidence of waste or destruction of marital assets within two years prior to filing the divorce petition, or after it was filed

Therefore, if you are concerned about being awarded more than half of the marital assets, it’s possible. It depends on a number of factors. Your attorney can make a strong showing about why you are entitled to more than half of the marital assets.

Call Dale Bernstein, Florida family law attorney, at 727-478-3250 if you have questions about dividing property in a divorce in Florida. He helps clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call to learn more or schedule a consultation.

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How Nonpayment of Child Support Impacts Visitation Discussed By Florida Divorce Attorney

No, your ex cannot stop paying child support if he doesn’t see the kids. Child support and child visitation are two completely separate issues. Your ex owes child support because he is the father of children and has an obligation to help support them. He does not get to stop paying child support just because he does not choose to see the kids.
Also, you cannot stop letting your ex see the kids if he chooses not to pay child support.

Again, child support and visitation are two separate issues. If he chooses not to pay, you need to file papers with the court for enforcement. If you choose to withhold visitation, that could be considered custodial interference, and that could negatively impact your custody rights in the future.

If your ex does stop paying child support in Florida, the Florida Department of Revenue can take steps to enforce the child support order. Some of the steps that can be taken is directing your ex’s employer to withhold child support from their paychecks and send it directly to the Department of Revenue, suspending your ex’s driver’s license, intercepting tax returns, deducting amounts from unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits, placing a lien on a motor vehicle owned by your ex, garnishing bank accounts of your ex, denying a renewal of your ex’s passport, and filing in court to enforce the order. These actions will often result in your ex finally paying.

If you are in Florida and you have questions about child support, child visitation, and related issues, call Dale Bernstein, Florida family law attorney, at 727-478-3250. He helps clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call today to learn more or to schedule a consultation.

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Florida is a no-fault state for divorce, so the parties can get divorced without proving any reason beyond irreconcilable differences. Some issues of fault could come into play, such as the division of marital property, alimony, and child support.

Uncontested divorces are the quickest and least expensive. An uncontested divorce happens when the parties are able to agree on all issues related to the divorce, including issues such as division of marital property, alimony, child custody, and child support. If the couple is able to agree on all of these issues, they can put their agreement in writing, and the divorce can be quick and may be inexpensive.

A contested divorce occurs when the spouses do not agree with the terms of the divorce. They may disagree on how much the marital assets are worth and how they should be distributed. They may disagree on parenting time with the children and how child support will be calculated. If the divorce is contested, the process will begin with a lawsuit, followed by discovery, and if the clients are not able to settle the case there will be a contested hearing on all or some of the issues.

In many cases, an uncontested divorce is best for clients, but if they are not able to agree a contested divorce may be better. You should evaluate your options carefully before deciding what type of divorce is right for you. If you are in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, call Dale Bernstein, Florida family law attorney, at 727-478-3250. He works with clients to help them through the divorce process, and will be happy to provide you with a free consultation on your case. Call to learn more.

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I’m very sorry to hear about that your ex-husband is tormenting you and making you feel unsafe in your own home. In a situation like that, you have a couple of options.

First, if a court has not issued a ruling denying him access to the marital home, you cannot keep him out. You must get permission from a court to deny him access to the home. However, if he is threatening you or taking your things, you may consider obtaining a protective order against him. You could also ask the court for an emergency hearing to rule on the issue of him having access to the home. If he only wants his things, you could arrange a time with him to come by and pick up his things with a third party present.

There are a couple of types of protective orders in Florida that could help in your situation. You may consider an injunction for protection against domestic violence, or an injunction for protection against stalking. An injunction for protection against domestic violence is appropriate if there has been abuse involved, and orders the abuser to do certain acts and to stop doing certain acts.

An injunction for protection against stalking may also be appropriate. Stalking occurs when one person repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person. You may consider filing papers in court to prevent him from stalking you, which would include going into your home.

In this situation, you should speak with an attorney. There may be reasons you would want a protective order, but also reasons you may not want to do that. If you are in Florida and you believe that you may need an injunction, call Dale Bernstein, Florida family law attorney, at 727-478-3250. He helps clients in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call today to learn more or to schedule a consultation.

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Lawyer For Establishing Child Support In Florida When A Parent Takes a Lower Paying Job On Purpose

It’s unfortunate when one parent decides to quit working, or to take a lower-paying job in an attempt to lessen the amount of child support he or she has to pay. For example, an engineer with three children may discover that his child support obligation is $1,500 per month, so he decides to quit and take a job as an administrative assistant, because child support will only be $500 a month with the reduced salary.

However, taking a lower paying job will not relieve a parent of his or her child support obligations. Florida courts do not approve of parents intentionally trying to shirk their obligations. If a court finds that one parent is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, the court may impute income to that parent based on the parent’s employment potential in light of the parent’s qualifications, recent work history, and salaries in the community. To impute income means to pretend that the parent is working at a certain salary, and to base the child support on that salary.

If a parent refuses to participate in a child support hearing, or does not produce enough adequate information regarding income and finances, the court will automatically impute income to that parent, unless the court finds that the parent needs to stay home with the child. The court will apply a presumption that the income will be equivalent to the median income of a year-round full-time worker in the U.S.

If your ex is trying to shirk his child support obligation by being underemployed or unemployed, 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.

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Florida Guidelines For Payment of Private School Tuition After A Divorce

Florida law does not specifically state that parents can be forced to pay for private school tuition in a divorce. Instead, it publishes a guideline amount for child support. If parents have extraordinary expenses related to education, they can request a child support amount that differs from the guideline amount, which is called a deviation.

Normally, if the parents agree that the children should go to a private school, they will split the costs. However, if only one parent wants to send the children to a private school, but the other parent does not, a court will hold a hearing to hear both sides of the case. The judge will consider whether or not the non-custodial parent has the ability to pay, whether the children were attending private schools before the divorce, any agreements made between the parents, any special needs the children may have that would necessitate a private school, any lack of the non-custodial parent in the child’s education, and the religious background of the parties if the school is religious in nature.

At the hearing, the judge will consider all of these factors and will decide whether or not private school is in the best interests of the children. The judge will also consider whether the parents can afford private school. If the judge decides private school would be in the children’s best interest, and that the parents can afford it, he or she may make the parents pay for it.

It’s important to determine these issues during your divorce, so that you do not have to go back to court later. If you have any questions about private school tuition in a divorce or any other related issues, 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 or to schedule a consultation.

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Divorce Lawyer Talks About Options For Filing Taxes After a Divorce In Florida

Anyone with questions about taxes and divorce should consult with a tax specialist. However, in general it’s advantageous for most taxpayers to file as head of household. The standard deduction is higher, and your tax rate is generally lower when compared with filing jointly with your spouse or as a single person.

There are some requirements that must be met in order to file your taxes under the head of household status. You must be considered the custodial parent. Your spouse must not have lived in your home for the last six months in the year for which you are filing your taxes. You cannot file a joint return with your spouse and file as head of household. You must have paid over half the cost of maintaining your home for that tax year. Finally, your child must have lived in the home for over half the year, and your child must be under the age of 19 or younger than 24 and a student.

Who is the custodial parent is determined by who the children spends more nights with during the tax year. You and your ex cannot agree, however, to let one file as head of household instead of the other. Instead, you have to meet the requirements to be able to file as head of household.

If you have tax questions, you should consult with a tax specialist. If you have legal questions related to divorce, you should 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 or to schedule a free consultation.

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