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The Law Office of Elizabeth J. Coviello, P.A. is dedicated to helping families navigate the often complex legal issues that are likely to arise throughout the course of family alterations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1

How long will my divorce take, and how much will it cost?

Understandably, this is one of the most common questions asked by clients. For the most part, both parties to a case hold the mutual power to determine how long a divorce proceeding will last, and this will often determine how much the divorce will ultimately cost. If the parties are reasonable and cooperative with
one another, a settlement agreement can be reached sooner resulting in a much less expensive resolution. Conversely, if the parties are not able to cooperatively work together, a longer more expensive divorce proceeding may result. However, regardless of either scenario, the attorney who represents a client in divorce should make certain that this very legitimate concern is always considered and discussed throughout each stage of the client’s case. A client has a right to understand the purpose and cost for the strategies and recommendations of Counsel throughout the litigation.

2

Will my spouse have to pay me child support?

Child support is calculated based upon guidelines set forth by Florida Statute. Generally, a parent’s child support obligation is computed by a formula that incorporates, among other things: the combined family income, the number of children, and the number of overnights the children spend with each parent.

3

Can I avoid paying child support if my spouse agrees to waive the obligation?

Generally, the answer is no. Although the Court may exercise some discretion as to a downward deviation from the child support guidelines based upon good cause, this form of support is exclusively for the benefit of the children and neither parent can waive the legal obligation both parents have to financially support their children.

If my name is on my child’s birth certificate, does that establish my legal rights and obligations as the child’s Father?

No. In the State of Florida, a Father is presumed to be the Father of a child based upon the Father’s marital status with the child’s biological Mother. If a child is born out of wed-lock the biological father generally has no legal rights or obligations to the child without establishing paternity through the Court.

If the Deed to my home where I live with my spouse or my child’s other parent is in my name alone, can I have my spouse or child’s parent removed from the home?

This can only be accomplished through an appropriate legal proceeding. Florida Law does not permit an individual to physically or forcefully remove a person from his or her place of residence without Court or law enforcement involvement.

Will my spouse have to pay for my attorney’s fees for the divorce proceedings?

In a divorce, the Court may order one spouse to pay the attorney’s fees for the other spouse. This determination is primarily based upon one spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay attorney’s fees. However, there are other situations and circumstances that may arise which require one party to pay the attorney’s fees incurred by the other party.

Can the parties agree to waive alimony (spousal support)?

Yes. Unlike a child support obligation, alimony is negotiable. It can be waived or altered in an infinite number of ways. There are certain statutory factors the Court considers in making a determination as to an alimony award. The Court’s analysis begins with a determination that one party has a need for spousal support and the other party has the ability to provide the needed support. If it is
established that there is a need and an ability to pay spousal support, the Court will then consider, at a minimum, the following criteria set forth in Florida law:
(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

If the other parent and I are unable to agree on a time-sharing schedule for our children, how does the Court decide who will exercise the majority of time-sharing?

Generally, the Judge will consider, but is not limited to, the following statutory criteria designed to determine a time-sharing schedule in the best interest of the children:

(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in
writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

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