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Divorce & Family Law
Choosing an attorney is one of your most important decisions when considering a divorce. From addressing co-parenting issues to asset division, you need an attorney that is compassionate, level-headed, and in control. The best attorneys do not insert their own emotions into a case but zealously represent your interests, whether at a negotiation table or in a courtroom. Divorce proceedings can be complex and hurtful. Attorneys often tell you: “In criminal court, you’ll see bad people at their best, and in family court, you’ll see good people at their worst.” Divorce, family separation, and co-parenting cases are very personal, and you can often lose perspective. Not only are good divorce attorneys knowledgeable about the laws governing such issues, but also they are professionals trained to advocate for you. Here are the types of family law cases the Ambrose Family Law firm can assist you with.
Contact Ambrose Family Law today to meet with an attorney to discuss your case. Call us at (407) 388- 8740.
Filing for Divorce
Couples seeking a divorce need to file a Dissolution of Marriage Petition with the local family court. In the petition, you need to specify the grounds for divorce. In Florida, there are only two legal grounds for divorce: 1) the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” or 2) the mental incapacity of one of the parties (this is much rarer). Rather than assigning “fault” for a divorce, such as adultery, you can put on the public record that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This protects the reputations and any children involved in the marriage. After filing a divorce petition, your spouse will be served and has 20 days to respond by signing or entering a counter-petition. At Ambrose Family Law, we guide you through every step of the divorce filing process until the final paperwork is filed—and beyond.
Second only to resolving matters involving minor children, the division of property and debt are some of the most critical issues in a divorce. Florida is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning assets are split equally between spouses. However, this doesn’t entitle each spouse to a 50/50 split of all assets. Many factors impact how assets and liabilities are divided during and after a divorce. This includes, but is not limited to, determining marital and non-marital property.
Marital property is a legal term that refers to assets and debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of who owns the property or who incurred the debt. An example would be purchasing a car in one spouse’s name. Even though it is titled to one person, it remains an asset or debt of both spouses during a divorce. Other marital property examples include the spouses’ earnings, bank accounts, retirement, and investment accounts.
Non-marital property is protected from your spouse’s settlement in a divorce decree. Property owned or acquired before marriage is considered premarital property and can be excluded from a divorce settlement in certain circumstances. However, the law allows for a portion of the asset to be regarded as marital property. In this case, your spouse may be entitled to some of the home’s equity.
Contempt & Court Order Enforcement
After an order of final judgment has been issued in a case, there may come a time when one of the parties doesn’t follow the court’s orders. Perhaps a judge awarded you alimony, but your ex-spouse refuses to pay. Or, your parenting agreement was accepted by the court, but your ex-spouse refuses to honor it. In Florida, contempt of court is issued when a party refuses to obey a judge’s order. In family law matters, indirect civil contempt is the most prevalent action taken.
Acts of civil contempt of court in family law matters include, but aren’t limited to:
- Non-payment of child support
- Refusal to pay alimony
- Violations of the parenting plan
- Withholding timesharing and contact with the children
- Refusal to maintain insurance for the children
The contempt of court order may impose sanctions or rules on the other party, such as going to jail while paying back some of the money owed, taking mandated parenting classes, paying fines or attorney fees, garnishing wages, property liens, or making up lost time sharing.
Pre & Post-Nuptial Agreements
Pre-nuptial agreements are about planning for the future before marriage. A pre-nuptial agreement establishes what financial terms will apply should the couple file for divorce regarding premarital assets, income, and alimony. A post-nuptial agreement has the same objective but is prepared after the couple is married. A valid and binding pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement requires specific financial disclosures and adequate timing. You can avoid the court determining that the agreement is invalid with them.
A settlement agreement or joint stipulation is a written agreement between two or more parties that settles all or a portion of the legal disputes surrounding a divorce, paternity, modification, or other family law issues.
Once both parties sign a settlement agreement, it is a legally binding contract that is enforceable by the court. You are encouraged to cover everything important to you in the settlement, such as child custody, child support payments, alimony, and asset division. The agreement should also include your debts and expected expenses. If you have children, all relatable costs, such as health care, college savings, school expenses, and daycare, should be included in the settlement agreement.
Every parent is required to contribute to the financial support of their children. Child support is a child’s right and cannot be waived. Child support is determined by several factors, following Florida’s Child Support Guidelines as stated in Florida Statute 61.30. These factors include each parent’s gross and net income, the number of overnights the child spends with each parent over the year, and the cost of insurance or daycare. Both parents must file accurate financial affidavits and provide other supporting financial documents before calculating the child support amount.
Spousal support, also called alimony, is a payment from one spouse to another. Alimony provides financial assistance to a spouse who earns less than their partner or has been left in a worse financial position due to the divorce. Spousal support most often assists a lesser-earning spouse after a divorce. Spousal support is calculated using various factors, including:
- Marriage longevity
- Age and health of both spouses
- Court discretion
Durational alimony is money awarded to provide financial assistance for a specific period following the divorce. Permanent alimony continues indefinitely.
Parenting Plans and Custody Arrangements
Having parents work together to develop a parenting plan is an attempt to encourage amicable settlements in divorce proceedings. Parents are no longer fighting for custody but must work together and develop a plan for sharing time with their children. A parenting plan is a legal document that discusses significant matters related to children, such as time-sharing, holidays, medical decisions, extracurricular activities, and more. Parents may seek the assistance of attorneys and mental health professionals to create a parenting plan that is in their children’s best interests.
Ambrose Family Law is Here For You
Attorney Sandra Ambrose has been a Florida-licensed family law and divorce attorney for over 35 years. She’s advocated for both men and women in divorce cases, and she’s represented children, as well. Learn more about Sandra K. Ambrose here. Ambrose Family Law helps families in Seminole, Volusia, and Lake counties with all matters regarding family law. Contact us at 407-388-8740 to schedule an appointment.
What People Say
Ms. Ambrose is absolutely hands down the best attorney you can find. Not only does she do her job right she does it with compassion. I had wasted so much money on other lawyers that wasted my money, didn’t do anything right or have any compassion for my case. Thank God I fired them and found her. She is no pushover and she will let you know how it is. No sugar coating the issue like some or fake promises. You need to hear the truth even if you are in the wrong. I had an attorney that told me what I wanted to hear and I almost lost my battle. Sandy picked up my case and turned it around. It was work…she made me realize what was important but it was worth the time heartache and money. Please don’t make the same mistakes I made. Ms. Ambrose is rated so high for a reason. Shes also a really good person with a heart of gold that goes after exactly what you need. Don’t settle for anyone else. She’s the best!