“Family Defined” – Why is the definition family so important to my legal rights in Florida?

 Family law encompasses a wide spectrum of human actives, from the definition of “family” to the intimate aspects of our family lives.  Generally, family law matters are governed by state law and vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another.  However, constitutional rights to privacy, due process, and equal protection have imposed federal standards throughout.  The views and definition of family are reflected in the laws of each state. 
The law recognizes the “traditional family” by granting certain legal privileges that other groups may desire even though they do not fit neatly within the legal definition of the traditional family.  The definition of family has evolved over the years from the very narrow traditional view to the contemporary extended family. 
Each state and jurisdiction has its own definition of family.  Within each state’s definition of family, different benefits of the family unit are recognized under the law, such as: inheritance rights, the right to bring suit for wrongful death, survivor benefits, homestead rights and protections, the presumption of joint ownership of property, privilege of marital communications, hospital visitation rights, the right to receive spousal support and share in property in the event of a separation or divorce.   
If you have a question of your legal rights under Florida’s family law call the Law Office of Garrett J. Starhl located in Jacksonville Florida at 904-342-1050.  Garrett J. Strahl, is experienced in handling delicate family law questions. 
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. Outcome or results are not guaranteed. The information presented on this Blog is for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. An attorney-client relationship will not be established until we have confirmed our representation of your case in writing.  

Not every court has jurisdiction over a divorce, support, or custody matter.

The authority of the court must comply with due process by providing an individual with notice and a hearing before a court can deprive any person of their property.  Personal Jurisdiction is the term used to describe the authority of the court over a person or a person’s property.  An Order from a court that lacks personal jurisdiction over an individual is unenforceable.  Therefore, a court order for dissolution or division of assets would be worthless in a divorce proceeding if the court lacks personal jurisdiction over both the individual parties.

Generally, when both parties seeking a divorce live in the same state there is no question of jurisdiction.  Because different states have differing residency requirements, the question of jurisdiction may arise in several situations where parties move to different states then seek dissolution of marriage.  The question of jurisdiction may arise when one party moves out of state because one party wants to obtain an easier divorce or to make it more difficult for the other spouse to get a divorce. 

A matter of jurisdiction is further complicated when there is a child from the marriage and one party leaves the state with the child before seeking dissolution.  During a determination of jurisdiction by a court over a child or child support matter the court will consider several factors, which may change over time.  In some cases, a court having personal jurisdiction may decline to exercise that jurisdiction because the best interest of the child may be better served by another jurisdiction. 

Usually, questions of jurisdiction involving children occur in more complex cases of interstate custody disputes.  The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (“UCCJA”) or its successor, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) are uniform acts that been adopted in every state.  These acts were intended to eliminate conflicting decrees that result from concurring jurisdictions in more than one state.  Under the UCCJEA, a state may exercise jurisdiction if it is the home state of the child at the time the proceeding began or within six months of the proceedings and a parent still resides in the jurisdiction.  A child’s home state is the state in which a child lived with a parent for at least (6) six consecutive months prior to the commencement of the proceeding.

In addition, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (“PKPA”) is a federal act, which permits  a state to modify an out-of-state decree only when the forum state has jurisdiction under its own state law and under the PKPA and the original forum state either no longer has jurisdiction or has retained jurisdiction but refused to exercise its jurisdiction.

If you have a question of jurisdiction in a dissolution of marriage, support, or interstate child custody matter call the Law Office of Garrett J. Strahl at 904-342-1050.

Cost of Divorce in Jacksonville Florida

The costs of divorce may have you rethinking your decision to split.  While it is true, divorce can be expensive it does not have to be.  If you are committed to divorcing and plan to save money by not hiring an experienced family law attorney, think again.  You may be creating a bigger financial problem than you think.  It is understandable in an economy where money is tight you may feel the need to cut costs wherever you can.  However, foregoing the family law attorney in a divorce proceeding, legal separation, support, or child custody matter is not a wise decision. 

                During a divorce, you may not be thinking clearly regarding your long-term financial health because of the emotional chaos of your split or simply in denial of the repercussions a divorce can have.  Once initiating a divorce it is not long before all you can think about is, “I just want it over,” or “I just don’t want to deal with it anymore.”  Overwhelmed, physically and emotionally drained is not the right frame of mind you should be planning your future well-being of yourself and of your children.  Although it is possible to get a divorce without an attorney, it is not advisable and can lead to financial disaster.  The costs of an experienced Florida family law attorney may seem like an additional expense at first.  However, on the contrary, an experienced attorney has your best interests in mind while working hard for your future emotional and financial health at a time when you are overwhelmed with the process.

                It may be wise to consider that costs do not end merely by initiating a divorce proceeding but include maintaining or opposing the proceeding.  Costs can be minimized with careful planning when the choice to divorce is mutual (uncontested divorce).  Even an uncontested divorce without the expertise of an attorney can be financially devastating without proper guidance.  Although ideal, an uncontested divorce is not always the case.  When one party is not ready to divorce for any number of reasons, they may still be in denial or morning the relationship, which can make it difficult to communicate.  In any event, no matter how difficult, communication is essential to minimizing the costs of a divorce.  In some cases, mediation can assist parties to communicate to work out the details.  Mediation is often the first step toward a positive outcome that both parties can live with.  In fact, Florida family law requires a mandatory mediation, which can eliminate the need to escalate the proceeding to a costly litigation.

                Although, uncontested divorce costs are minimized by agreement not all cases are settled at mediation or before trial.  The costs to maintain a proceeding to the final hearing can vary from case to case.  However, where a divorce proceeding escalates to litigation and attorneys on both sides engage in the adversarial process costs can become exponential.  Costs may range from attorney’s fees, court costs, expert witnesses, depositions, travel time and expenses, court reporters, documents and exhibits, bonds, and tax.  The list goes on, which can be overwhelming at a time when emotions are at its highest and your financial health is at stake.  You need an attorney that will work with you and understand your financial needs. 

                It is possible to navigate the Florida family law court system without an attorney but it is not advisable.  Without an attorney, you can make critical mistakes in paperwork, negotiating, and strategies that can cost you a great deal of financial stress, emotional whirlwinds, and including costing you parental time with your children.  At a time when emotions are high and the stakes are even higher the costs of an attorney far outweigh the greater detriment of going it alone.

                Our Jacksonville divorce attorney understands your emotional needs as well as your financial need to minimize the costs associated with divorce, separation, or custody matter.  Call our Jacksonville family law attorney to set up an informative meeting to get all the answers you need to make an informed decision, call The Law Firm of Garrett J. Strahl at 904-342-1050