Divorce (contested and uncontested)
Our office is experienced in handling all types of divorce, from the complex situation involving disputes over custody and property allocation, which may lead to trial, to amicable dissolutions wherein the parties desire to enter into a settlement agreement and need legal help in finalizing their divorce.
In Florida, alimony can be awarded to either party as the result of a divorce, either by agreement of the parties or a judge in court. Alimony is not automatic; it is determined by the need and ability to pay of each party, the length of the marriage, and other factors. Alimony can be long-term, temporary, paid in a lump sum, or rehabilitative in nature.
Equitable Distribution of Assets/Debts
Equitable Distribution refers to the apportioning of all marital assets and debts at the conclusion of a marriage, including real property, homes, businesses, vehicles, personal property, and household items. In Florida, there is a presumption that all marital assets and debts be split evenly (50/50%) between the parties, however there are some exceptions to this rule.
Child Custody and Visitation
Child custody and visitation issues (now referred to as “time sharing” by Florida law) arise during divorce, as well as when non-married couples have a child in common but no longer remain a couple. Our office is experienced in drafting agreed-upon parenting plans enforceable by the court, as well as going to trial when necessary to aggressively pursue your rights regarding your minor children.
Child Support, including Department of Revenue cases
In Florida, each parent has a legal responsibility to support their child, whether the parents are married or not. Parents who have a minor child living with them have the right to seek child support from the other parent. This can occur during a divorce, a paternity action, or by applying to the Department of Revenue. Parents being sued by either a parent or the Department of Revenue on behalf of a parent have a right to defend themselves in a child support action to ensure they are not ordered to pay in excess of what the law requires.
A paternity action is filed when the paternity of a father needs to be proven, usually in order to establish child support, custody, or visitation (now referred to as “time sharing” by Florida law). In Florida, paternity of the father is already presumed if the parents are married when the child is born.
In Florida, a parent desiring to relocate with a minor child at least 50 miles away for at least 60 consecutive days must either obtain the other parent’s agreement to do so or must apply to the Court for permission, and the other party must respond to such a petition within 20 days or lose the right to object to the relocation. The Court bases its decision on whether to allow a parent to relocate on several factors, mainly relating to the best interests of the minor child.
Enforcement of Court Orders/Settlement Agreements (alimony, child support, visitation, etc.)
When someone is not complying with a provision in a settlement agreement or an order of the court, the other party has a right to enforce that provision, such as failure to pay alimony or child support, failure to turn over property, or failure to properly follow a parenting schedule. The party whom the provision is being enforced against also has a right to a defense.
Modification of Court Orders/Settlement Agreements (child support, alimony, custody, etc.)
You may have the right to modify a provision of your settlement agreement or a previous court order. For instance, you may be able to modify your child support amount if there has been a significant enough increase or decrease in yours or the other parent’s income.
Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs)
Upon divorce, each party is entitled to 50% of any retirement funds the other party owns, from the date of marriage through the date of separation. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or “QDRO,” is the Court Order needed to transfer those funds from one party’s retirement or similar account to the other party.
Domestic Violence / Restraining Orders
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you have a right to seek an injunction (more commonly known as a restraining order) against your abuser. You may even be entitled to an injunction based on stalking. If you are accused of domestic violence and served with a Petition for Injunction Against Domestic Violence, you are entitled to a defense to protect your rights.
Termination of Parental Rights
Under certain circumstances, a parent is entitled to terminate his or her rights to a minor child. Whether to terminate parental rights is probably the most serious decision a parent can ever make, and one that cannot be undone. Our office can guide you through the pros and cons of terminating parental rights, as well as draft the paperwork and provide you with a final Court Order in the event you do decide to terminate.
Stepparent / Grandparent Adoption
Subsequent to a termination of parental rights, our office can assist you in the stepparent or grandparent adoption process.
It sometimes becomes necessary to petition the Court for guardianship of an incapacitated relative or friend. This process involves a multitude of court documents to be filed, an examining committee to be formed, and a final Court Order to be executed. Our office is experienced in this area and can obtain guardianship status for you.
Florida has very specific rules regarding validity of wills. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney and know the law before attempting to draft a will. Our office has done many wills and is familiar with the various legal requirements which make a will valid or can invalidate a will.
Our office has experience in obtaining formal name changes, whether it is the result of a divorce, a paternity action, or simply a person’s desire to change their name.
In Florida, any couple wishing to define their respective property rights in the event of a divorce, separation, or annulment, may enter into a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement. This agreement is a binding contract, like any other legal contract. It is also subject to some particular family law rules regarding what type of provisions will actually be enforced should the agreement be contested later on. Therefore, it is extremely important for both parties entering into this type of agreement to have legal representation and receive the correct legal advice when doing so.
Mrs. Nichols is able to assist clients in many counties throughout Northeastern Florida, including Duval, Clay, St. John’s, Nassau, Baker, and other surrounding areas.