St. Augustine lawyers and attorneys serving St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Daytona, Flagler, Palm Coast Florida. Divorce family law, personal injury, criminal law. Home
St. Augustine lawyers and attorneys serving St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Daytona, Flagler, Palm Coast Florida. Divorce family law, personal injury, criminal law.

Family Law

St. Augustine lawyers and attorneys serving St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Daytona, Flagler, Palm Coast Florida. Divorce family law, personal injury, criminal law.Our firm can help you with any family law problem, ranging in complexity from uncontested short-term, childless, or low-asset divorce, to the most difficult and complex cases involving high-asset marital estates, complex marital property valuation or discovery problems, family-held business assets, special-needs child support obligations, and structured settlement strategies. We can also help you with modification or enforcement of existing child support or visitation orders, and alimony obligations.

Please contact us today to schedule your appointment for help.

 


Divorce

No one wants to hire a divorce lawyer, but the fact is that millions of men and women go through divorce and custody proceeding every year. Studies have shown that divorce is one of the most stressful and emotionally painful experiences that people endure. Divorce does not have to be a lonely, painful, and frightening experience. The right attorney will help you through the many issues involved in a divorce. In contrast, retaining the wrong lawyer is extremely costly and is more likely to result in an adverse result. The wrong lawyer can become part of the nightmare itself.

A divorce requires the resolution of several issues, including:

  • Division of Property
  • Division of Debt
  • Alimony
  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Child Support

A divorce can be either "contested" or "uncontested". If you and your spouse can agree on how you are going to divide your marital property and marital debt and, if applicable, the custody and visitation of you minor children, you can do what is called an uncontested divorce. Even though your divorce is uncontested, the use of a quality attorney can be important. The improper preparation of all of the divorce documents can delay your divorce and a poorly drafted Settlement Agreement may cause future problems.

Your divorce is usually considered contested if you and your spouse cannot agree on the division of property, debt, alimony, and child custody visitation.

Steps of a Divorce

Many clients have limited experience with the court system. A lawsuit can spark emotions ranging from anger to frustration. Knowing what stage your lawsuit is in will relieve anxieties about what happens next.  Knowing what comes next will also allow you with to plan your strategy and also provide you with a better understanding of the legal system. I have outlined below a basic guide to the steps of a lawsuit.

1. FILING THE CASE:  A case begins with the filing of a petition. A petition is a written request to the court for some type of
legal action. The person who originally asks for the legal action is called the Petitioner and remains the petitioner throughout the case. A Petition is filed with the clerk of the circuit court. A case number is assigned and an official court file is opened. A filling fee is usually required.

2. SERVICE OF PROCESS:  When one party files a Petition, the other party must be "served" with a copy of the document. This means that the other party is given proper notice of the pending action (s) and any scheduled hearings. Personal service of the petition and summons upon the respondent by a deputy sheriff or a private process server is required in all original petitions.

3. RESPONSIVE PLEADING:  After being served with a petition, the other party has 20 days to file an answer admitting or denying each of the allegations contained in the petition. If a response to the petition is not filed, the petitioner may file a motion for default with the clerk. This means you may proceed with your case.

4. MANDATORY DISCLOSURE:  Florida Law requires each party to exchange certain information and documents, and file a financial affidavit.  Failure to make this required disclosure within the time required may allow the Court to dismiss the case or refuse to consider the pleadings of the party failing to comply.

5. DISCOVERY:  Refers to the formal procedures used by parties to obtain information from each other and from witnesses. The information is meant to help the party to prepare for trial or settle the case. The primary discovery methods are: depositions, interrogatories, request for production of documents, request for inspections, subpoenas, and request for psychological evaluations.

6. SETTLEMENT:  Usually settlement discussions begin after the value of the marital estate has been determined.  However, there are cases in which clients already have an idea of the terms they are willing to accept before all assets and liabilities have been accounted for. In the event a settlement is reached, an agreement is prepared that outlines the settlement terms. If a settlement is not reached, then the case will proceed to mediation.

7. MEDIATION:  Family Mediation is a procedure designed to assist people who are separating, divorcing, or dealing with matters arising after a divorce. A neutral and impartial third party, called a mediator, will use his or her skills to assist the individuals to make decisions, and suggest possible compromises.

Each party is urged to have independent legal counsel because although some mediators are attorneys, the mediator is not authorized to give legal advice. The mediator's role is neutral and does not substitute for independent legal advice.

8. TRIAL:  If the case is not settled by discovery and mediation, you will eventually find yourself at a trial. In a trial, a judge makes all the legal decisions, such as whether or not a particular item of evidence can be used. At the same time the judge makes all the factual decisions.

At the trial, you will be required to present your case according to very specific rules of procedure and evidence. If the parties choose to proceed to a trial, they need to be prepared to realistically accept the consequences of putting their lives, their children, and their future in the court's hands, as they will totally give control to a stranger to decide their fate and that of their children.

Christopher W. Adamec will be glad to discuss with you the general principles of Florida Family Law.

Please contact us today to schedule your appointment for help.


Child Support

Child support is determined by a formula. At first glance, this may make it seem cut and dried. That is not the case. A formula is only as good as the figures that are entered into it. If those figures are inaccurate, so is the resulting child support amount. At the Law Office of Christopher W. Adamec, P.A., we will work to make certain that the numbers are correct; we will work for you.

One key aspect in making certain that the child support guidelines lead to an accurate amount is getting the correct details about each parent's income and assets. A second important piece is determining the needs of the child, taking into account special medical needs or other factors. The Law Office of Christopher W. Adamec, P.A. will carefully investigate your case to make certain that all of the facts are on the table to ensure that the custodial parent receives the financial support necessary to raise a child.

If your case has already been resolved, but you are not receiving child support payments from your former spouse, we can help. We can pursue payment through the court, which may order wage garnishment, an income deduction order, or hold the payer in contempt of court.

If you are receiving child support, but there have been major changes in the life of you or your former spouse in relation to income, we can help you seek modification of the child support order. Whether you have had your wages reduced or your former spouse has received a promotion, or another factor has changed, we can seek to have it reflected in the support orders.

Please contact us today to schedule your appointment for help.


Child Custody

When going through a divorce, the well-being of your child is definitely on your mind. An experienced attorney can stand by your side to help you protect your child.

Our office can assist with the many varied aspects of child custody matters. We can assist with matters related to determining the primary residential parent (the parent the child will live with), and the non-residential parent. We understand the rules that the courts look at when making decisions about parenting time, visitation rights, and whether the case will be resolved with shared custody between both parents, or with sole custody going to only one parent.

At the Law Office of Christopher W. Adamec, P.A., our job is to find out about your situation and learn about your goal. We will take the time to find out what you would like to see as the outcome of your legal custody case. Then we will develop a strategy that is designed to see that outcome happen.

Whether your child custody dispute is related to a current divorce, or you are seeking modification of a previous custody arrangement, we can help. Life changes, such as changes in salary, changes in job, and fear of endangerment from the other parent, can be grounds to seek modification of child visitation and custody plans. We can work with you to determine your options and pursue your case.

Please contact us today to schedule your appointment for help.


Paternity

Several reasons exist for the filing of a paternity lawsuit. They may include cases in which a child was born into a marriage, but the husband suspects he is not the biological father. They may involve children born out of wedlock, in which the father wants to claim unwed fathers rights, but the mother feels he is not the father. These can be complex cases that involve establishing paternity through DNA paternity testing. At the Law Office of Christopher W. Adamec, P.A., we can sort through these challenging cases and stand by your side to protect your rights.

A paternity test can be the first step in determining a variety of other matters, including:

  • Child Custody (residential custody, legal custody, primary custody)
  • Visitation Rights
  • Child Support

If you have a question about paternity, we encourage you to act quickly. Time limits exist for when paternity cases can be filed. Our office will explain to you the time limits. We will talk to you and learn about your concerns and your situation. We will help you decide the best move to make by providing you with all of the facts and details about the process.

At our law firm, the term "legal counselor" still has meaning. We are here to work with you. By taking a hands-on approach to each case, we will keep you involved in the important decisions. When you choose us, we will get to know you. We will know your name, not just your case number.

Please contact us today to schedule your appointment for help.


Alimony

Financial arrangements can pose some of the most difficult challenges to finalizing a workable divorce settlement. At The Law Office of Christopher W. Adamec, P.A., we are prepared to tackle these challenges on your behalf, using our experience to explain the situation to you and advocate for a favorable resolution. We serve clients who face division of assets and alimony issues.

Many factors are involved in deciding whether alimony (spousal support or spousal maintenance) will be awarded - and if so, what type. Depending on the circumstances, the court may order:

  • Temporary alimony - until the divorce settlement becomes final.
  • Permanent periodic alimony - payment of a specified amount at regular intervals.
  • Lump sum alimony - can be tax benefits to this type.
  • Rehabilitative alimony - requires a concrete, well-defined plan about how it will be used to help the recipient gain the skills and income to become self-supporting.
  • "Bridge-the-gap" alimony - for professionals who have temporarily put their career on hold.

In a lengthy marriage (30 or more years, for example), permanent alimony may be awarded. In a shorter-term marriage, the court may award rehabilitative alimony. The court will also consider age, education, and financial resources.

Please contact us today to schedule your appointment for help.


Modifications

After a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or a Final Judgment of Paternity is entered, a party may seek to modify certain terms of the Final Judgment. It is important to know that not all terms of the Final Judgment are subject to modification (i.e. being divorced, property division, attorney fee award, etc.). Pursuant Florida Statute 61.14, a party may seek to modify child support and/or alimony when there has been a substantial change in circumstances warranting an increase or decrease. This means that one or both of party’s circumstances has changed from the time the Final Judgment was entered, which has affected his or her income.

In a child support modification proceeding, the substantial change would have to be a 15% increase or decrease to warrant a modification. Many times people think that a remarriage is a change in circumstance for child support because the perception that the other party’s income increases. This is just not true because child support is solely calculated on each party’s income and not their spouse. Other factors that may warrant a child support modification are daycare expenses increasing or decreasing, health insurance, and a child reaching the age of majority. It is imperative that when a substantial change in circumstance is triggered for child support or alimony that a party immediately file a Supplemental Petition to Modify the Final Judgment seeking all requests since the judge can only consider giving retroactive support or credit from the date of filing and not the date of the substantial change occurred.

As for child custody, a two-prong test applies: (1) is there a substantial and material change, and (2) the best interest of the child(ren). No longer does the court look at a third prong: the detriment to the child(ren). If custody is at issue in a modification proceeding, the judge will typically order a child custody evaluation. The child custody evaluation in a modification proceeding is a different standard as provided above than in an original proceeding (divorce or paternity).  The child custody evaluator will be a person jointly agreed on by the judge and both parties, and who is recognized by the judge and the attorneys for both parties as someone whose training and background make them uniquely able to help the court determine if a substantial and material change has occurred and if it is in the best interest of the child(ren) to change custody. In a modification proceeding, most judges order the party requesting the change in custody to initially pay the fee for the custody evaluator; however, the judge can order both parties to share in cost.

For more detailed information about what’s involved in a child custody evaluation, click here.

Please contact us today to schedule your appointment for help.