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How can I modify a previous court order in my family law case?

How can I modify a previous court order in my family law case?

            After finalizing your divorce or paternity matter, things often change and your final agreements may need to be changed.  The courts deal with these changes through the modification process.  In order to prevent the court system from being bogged down with modification requests, Florida law requires a strict standard be met before a modification action can be filed.  The party filing the modification action must prove a “substantial change in circumstance,” in order for their petition for modification to be legally valid.

AlimonyUnless your divorce decree specifically states that the alimony awarded in your case is non-modifiable, a party can typically modify alimony.  Modifications of alimony are usually needed due to a change in either parties’ financial circumstances after divorce. Alimony is based on one parties need and the others ability to pay.  The moving party must prove a “substantial change in circumstance” in their petition for modification.  A “substantial change in circumstance” may include, one party losing their job or making significantly less money, or a salary increase.

Child Support.  If the financial circumstances of either party change, child support can be legally modified upon a showing of a “substantial change of circumstance.”  Such circumstances may include, one party losing their job, one party making significantly more or less money, or daycare and health insurance changes.  It is important to note that the change in financial circumstances must not be voluntary.  For example, taking a lower paying job purposefully in order to reduce child support obligations.

Time-sharing/Parenting PlanIn order to change a parenting plan the moving party will have to prove both a “substantial change in circumstance” and that the change is in the best interests of the child(ren).  Some situations may include, one household becoming abusive or unsafe, relocation of a parent, or life style changes that include increased work hours and substance abuse.

The modification process is legally complex.  If you are considering a modification of your current alimony, child support, or time-sharing agreement, it is important to contact a South Florida Modification lawyer for more information.

If you or a loved one are considering a modification of an existing agreement, please contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or susan@winstonlawpa.com.

I’m representing myself, but I have some questions, how can a lawyer help me?

May 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Florida Family Law, Florida Lawyer

I’m representing myself, but I have some questions, how can a South Florida Family lawyer help me?

            In today’s economy I find that quite often people are representing themselves in their own divorce, modification, contempt and paternity matters.  The family law system is set up to allow for pro se litigants.  Palm Beach County has a self-help center allowing pro se parties to buy legal forms in every family law matter.  The problem starts when it comes time to fill out those forms.  Understanding what each form is for, which forms you need to file, and how to fill them out is the challenge.  The Clerk of Courts and the court staff cannot give legal advice, which means they cannot tell you what to write or whether you are filing the correct forms.  Even after filing the appropriate forms, pro se litigants then need to prepare for mediation, court hearings, and possibly trial. 

            If you need help, you best option is to consult with a South Florida Family Lawyer.  Often lawyers will offer pro se litigants assistance for an hourly fee.  Lawyers can help pro se litigants in the following ways:

  • Preparing the pro se forms that are available through self-help and/or preparing more customized documents that are not within the self-help forms.
  • Preparing for mediation.
  • Preparing settlement proposals and responding to settlement proposals. 
  • Preparing for trial, explaining the rules of evidence, and researching case law to back up your position.
  • Represent you at a particular hearing or mediation only.

If you choose to use an attorney on an hourly basis to help you with your case, it is important to understand that attorney will not file any documents with the court stating that he/she represents you.  If the attorney does go to court, they will be entering a Limited Notice of Appearance for only the matter they are handling. 

While you will not become an attorney overnight, hiring a South Florida Family Law attorney to help with pieces of your case can help you save money and get a better result. 

If you or a loved one is a pro se litigant in a family law case and has questions, please contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or susan@winstonlawpa.com.

How do I file an Injunction Against Domestic Violence?

How do I file an Injunction Against Domestic Violence?

            Domestic Violence Injunctions are court orders requiring a person not to threaten, batter or harass another. An injunction can require a party to have no contact with the person filing the injunction or limited phone contact. Further, at an injunction hearing, the Court can require a party to vacate a shared home or award temporary child custody. Injunctions against violence may become necessary in my different types of relationships including marriages, families, dating relationships or friendships.

A party can file for an injunction against domestic violence if they are victims of domestic violence or are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence.  The process is started by the Petitioner (the moving party) filing a notarized request with the local clerk’s office for a temporary injunction. This request is then reviewed by the court. If it meets the required standard, a temporary order against domestic violence will be issued. This order requires the Respondent (the person accused) to stay away from the Petitioner. The Respondent is then served with notice of a final hearing date. This temporary order lasts 15 days or until a hearing can be set by the court. At the hearing, the Petitioner must prove that he or she is a victim of domestic violence or is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. If the Petitioner meets this burden, the court will then enter a permanent order. This order usually requires the Respondent to stay away from the Petitioner, the Petitioner’s vehicle, home and place of business for a year. Additionally, the court can order a temporary timesharing plan, temporary spousal support and temporary child support.

            Before filing a Petition for Injunction Against Domestic Violence, you may want to consider hiring an experienced South Florida Domestic Violence lawyer.  While you can file the petition on your own, it is important to file it correctly the first time.  Each petition is reviewed by a judge who determines whether to grant a temporary injunction.  If you do not prove that you are either a victim of domestic violence or are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence, the judge will not grant a temporary injunction.  It is important to specific when describing the violence or threats of violence.  It is also extremely important to request the proper relief at the time you file the Petition.  For example, if you need exclusive use of the marital home, child support, or spousal support, the petition is the place to request it. 

            It is also important to have the assistance of an experienced South Florida domestic violence attorney at your hearing.  If the court grants a temporary injunction and sets a hearing, the petition must prove through evidence that he/she is either a victim of domestic violence or are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence.  An experienced West Palm Beach domestic violence lawyer can develop a strategy to prove your case and further this strategy by calling witnesses on your behalf and elicit testimony (evidence) of prior domestic violence or threats.

            If you or loved one is considering filing for an injunction against domestic violence in South Florida, please contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or susan@winstonlawpa.com.

I am a father who was never married to my child’s mother, what are my rights?

I am a father who was never married to my child’s mother, what are my rights?

As a West Palm Beach Family Lawyer, I get several phone
calls a week from unmarried parents trying to figure out how the legal system
handles the parental rights of the father.
Unmarried parents fall into the legal category of Paternity.  Perhaps somewhat archaic and backwards and
regardless of whether the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate,
Florida law does not establish parental rights of an unmarried father until a
Paternity lawsuit is properly filed.

A Paternity lawsuit can be filed by either the mother or
father of the child.  Its purpose is to
establish the father’s parental rights toward the child, child support, and a
time-sharing plan between the two parents.
If you are a mother, you will likely want to file a Paternity lawsuit in
order to legally establish paternity and also have court ordered child
support.

If you are a father and you want an active role in your
child’s life, it is imperative to file a Paternity lawsuit in order to
establish your parental rights.  Without
filing for Paternity, the court will not recognize your rights as a
parent.  You may have an agreement with
your child’s mother that dictates when you will see the child and the amount of
money you will give her each month to support your child, but if this agreement
is not signed by the courts, it will not be recognized.  What does this mean?  The mother of your child can at any time stop
allowing you visitation with the child.
The mother can also make any and all parenting decisions without
consulting you. To avoid this, you need to file a Paternity Petition which will
result in establishing the paternity of the child, a parenting plan and a child
support order.

Fathers should also beware that often mothers file a
Petition to Establish Paternity and only request that child support be
ordered.  In these situations, the father
must file a request to establish a parenting plan in order to guarantee
time-sharing with the child.

If you need a West Palm Beach Family Law attorney, please
contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or susan@winstonlawpa.com.

Welcome to the new Winston Law, P.A. website!

Welcome to the new Winston Law, P.A. website! Winston Law Firm in Palm Beach County Florida for criminal defense, family law, and estate planning services in South Florida.