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What Should You Know About Florida Guardianships?

Posted on: February 10, 2019 by in Family Law
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Florida Guardianships

If you’re reading this, you might be in the position of becoming a guardian in the state of Florida. Becoming a guardian can be a daunting process for some, as it is a very important position with many responsibilities. However, if you become more aware of the guidelines and you understand the roles and rights of guardians, you can start feeling more comfortable with your new title. That’s why we composed this list of things you should know about Florida guardianships. You’ll learn more about what a guardian is, how these roles are legally obtained, and how to terminate a guardianship if necessary.

 

What Is a Guardian and Why Are They Necessary?

Florida guardianships are an important part of the family law and child services departments in the state. Basically, a guardian is an adult who is legally assigned to make decisions for a minor or an adult who is not capable of making decisions on their own, commonly due to an illness. There are a variety of reasons why someone would need a legal guardian. In the case of becoming a guardian for a child, it’s likely that the parents have passed or they have no other family members to care for them. Florida guardianships are also used in cases of adults who are incapacitated, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or suffer from some other illness that deems them incapable of making sound choices.

 

How are Guardians Selected?

Of course, it’s always better if a guardian is a spouse, a close relative, or a friend close to the family. With legal documentation, the child or adult in need (often referred to as the ‘ward’) can also designate a guardian for themselves. If none of these options are possible, the court will choose a guardian for the ward. When considering a guardian for a ward, Florida courts take many factors into consideration. This includes the guardian’s experience caring for others, their education, finances, medical history, mental stability, suitability of their home, and other characteristics. While all of these factors are considered for Florida guardianships, having a lower income or a limited education will not disqualify any individual from becoming a guardian.

 

What Exactly Does a Guardian Do?

As stated above, a guardian is someone who is designated to make decisions for the ward (a minor child or an incapacitated adult). But what kinds of decisions are these? How significant are these decisions for Florida guardianships? The decisions made by guardians are normally decisions that hold a lot of weight in the ward’s life. For instance, a guardian will often make decisions regarding their medical care, education, and finances. In addition, a guardian will assist in their everyday purchases of basic necessities like food, clothing, and other personal care items.

 

What are the Two Types of Guardianships?

Florida Guardianships are broken down into two separate categories: testamentary guardianships and temporary guardianships. A testamentary guardianship is when parents assign a person as a guardian in the case that one or both parents pass away. These are the types of guardianships that you normally see stated in wills. Parents will often name a relative or family friend as a guardian to watch over their children in the event of a devastating illness or accident. A temporary guardianship is one that is legally provided for a limited amount of time. Normally, there’s a reason why someone needs a temporary guardian. For instance, an adult with a disability who is undergoing surgery might assign a temporary guardian to make medical decisions. Once the surgery is complete and the ward has recovered and is of sound mind, the guardianship is terminated.

 

How Do You Terminate Florida Guardianships?

There are a number of different scenarios that might result in a guardianship being terminated. One was briefly mentioned in the example above. If a ward has recovered from an illness or surgery and is now of sound mind to make decisions on their own, the guardian can terminate their role. A guardianship may also be terminated if there’s a change in the ward’s legal residence. In these cases, it’s important to make sure that the ward’s case file is moved to the new location. Of course, a guardianship can also be terminated upon the passing of the ward. In any case of termination of a Florida guardianship, proper legal proceedings need to take place. Guardians can’t simply quit or stop being guardians on their own. The state has specific legal procedures to follow.

 

For More Information on Florida Guardianships

If you need more information on becoming a legal guardian in the state of Florida, it’s important to speak with a Boca Raton Guardianship attorney. In addition, if you are currently a legal guardian and you wish the terminate the relationship, you will also need the assistance of an attorney. You can face a long list of legal troubles if these types of relationships aren’t created or terminated properly. While we don’t handle guardianship cases at Lewert Law, we do feel that it is important to put this information out there for anyone considering a Florida guardianship. For any other family law matters, contact Lewert Law today for a consultation!

How To Prepare For A Divorce

Posted on: January 29, 2019 by in Uncategorized
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How To Prepare For A Divorce

When you’ve decided that it’s time for you and your spouse to divorce, life can feel a bit chaotic. Conflict and stress will naturally go hand and hand in these situations. Your emotions may be running high and it can seem almost impossible to communicate. Of course, if kids are involved, it can make the situation even more complicated. That’s why sitting down and preparing yourself for a divorce can make life a little bit easier. People will often underestimate how organization and preparation can create a more peaceful transition. That’s why we’ve composed this list of tips and advice for those who might need assistance on how to prepare for a divorce.

 

10 Tips on How to Prepare for a Divorce

 

  1. Take Responsibility

When you are absolutely certain that a divorce is the right path for you, you need to take responsibility before you move forward. Remember that you were an active participant in the marriage and you will also be an active participant in the divorce. When you take responsibility, you take control of the situation. Being passive or unassertive is not the best way to prepare for a divorce. Trust yourself that you’ve made the right decision.

 

  1. Be Civil

This is one piece of advice that many divorcing couples see as a challenge. You may be feeling hurt, regretful, guilty, stressed out, or depressed. These emotions are not exactly built for being civil, but it’s very important to keep the lines of communication open. Try to avoid digging up the reasons for the divorce and focus on getting through the divorce.

 

  1. Give the Kids the New Together

If kids are involved, it’s always better to give them the news together, especially if they’re young. If both parents are giving separate and different accounts of what happened and what will happen, it can be very confusing for a child. This is one area when it’s much better to be on the same page.

 

  1. Talk With Friends Who Have Also Gone Through Divorce

Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends that have also gone through a divorce. It’s important to see how people live after the divorce storm has passed. Not only is it nice to have support from someone who has gone through something similar, but it’s a great reminder that things will get better.

 

  1. Avoid Social Media

Advertising your break-up on social media is no way to prepare for a divorce. You never know when a comment or picture can come back to haunt you. It’s better for you and your family to keep the conflict private until everything is resolved.

 

  1. Visualize Your New Living Situation

Where do you see yourself after the divorce is finalized? What’s the best case scenario for you? It’s important to know where you want to live in order to negotiate. When you prepare for a divorce, visualize yourself in your space without your spouse. Is it better to stay in your home or move to a new home? You should have the answer to this question before speaking with a lawyer.

 

  1. Organize Your Documents

Start collecting all of the documents that you may need. Any kind of paperwork that your divorce lawyer will want to see should be together in a file. To prepare for a divorce, you need to dig through all shared bank accounts, property, and contracts. Staying organized and keeping tabs of documents you have and documents you need to find will help to reduce stress.

 

  1. Know the Value of Your Shared Assets

To make the separation of assets easier, have a professional appraise the value of your shared property and holdings. If you want the most out of your divorce settlement, it’s better to have an exact value of your possessions than just a random number.

 

  1. Understand Your Financial Future

In order to prepare for a divorce, you must make a monthly budget. Know exactly what your monthly spending looks like now so you can understand how you will meet that financial expectation after the divorce. If you want to keep your lifestyle, you’ll want to know how much it costs. If you have children, remember to include a budget for them as well. Keep in mind what life might look like in the future. If one of your children is about to go off to college, have a plan of how you and your spouse will handle college tuition.

 

      10.  Find the Right Divorce Lawyer

Without a doubt, the best way to move through a divorce is to have the right divorce lawyer on your side. Let your lawyer know your visions of your future and what you want out of your divorce. If you see you and your spouse resolving issues through mediation, then explain that this is your goal. An experienced divorce lawyer will be there to walk you through all possible scenarios. Contact a lawyer today to learn more.

 

10 Tips For Filing 2018 Tax Returns When You Are Divorced

Posted on: January 17, 2019 by in Divorce
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Filing 2018 Tax Returns When You Are Divorced

If you’ve recently gone through a divorce, you know that untangling the web that’s formed by marriage can be messy. Going through the act of separating property, valuables, credit cards, bank accounts, and even time with the kids can take its toll on you. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for filing 2018 tax returns when you are divorced. While the task may seem small or insignificant there are a lot of things you must do differently when filing after a divorce. That’s why we’ve composed this list of tips and facts that every new divorcee should be aware of when filing in 2018.

Filing 2018 Tax Returns When You Are Divorced:

 

  1. There’s a new alimony update for the 2018 tax year. It’s always important to be aware of any changes in the tax laws and codes. For instance, this year there’s been a change to how you file alimony payments. If a divorce was finalized by January 31, 2018, there are no changes to the way in which you would handle federal income tax of alimony payments. If you make alimony payments, they can be written off on your 1040 form. These payments do not have to be itemized. The spouse receiving the alimony payments must list them as income for 2018. However, if your divorce was finalized after December 31, 2018, a new law removes the deduction for alimony payments. The spouse receiving these alimony payments will not be including them as taxable income.

 

  1. Know your filing status. If you are filing 2018 tax returns when you are divorced, you must know the status of your separation before filing. For instance, if you are already separated, but your divorced hasn’t exactly been finalized yet, you still need to file as ‘married’. You can file as Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. However, if your divorce was finalized by or before December 31st, you can file as Single or Head of Household.

 

  1. Remember to deduct IRA retirement contributions. If your divorce hasn’t been finalized or you are not considered legally separated by December 31 of 2018, you can deduct contributions to your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s IRA.

 

  1. Take advantage of Special Enrollment Periods in the Marketplace for health insurance coverage. If you’ve suddenly lost your health insurance due to a divorce or legal separation, you’re eligible to enroll in during the Special Enrollment period. It will show on your 2018 tax returns that you did indeed have insurance, but you lost coverage due to a major life event. This will help you to avoid paying any penalties for lacking health insurance coverage throughout the year.

 

  1. Understand how to claim dependents. If you are filing 2018 tax returns when you are divorced, and you have been named the primary custodial parent, you will claim the child or children as dependents. However, if you’ve been separated but your divorce has not been finalized, you can either file separate returns (Married Filing Separately) and you each can claim the child as a dependent on your returns, or you can file jointly and claim the child together.

 

  1. Remember that child support is different than alimony. Alimony and child support are not filed in the same way, despite the fact that they’re both payments to your ex-spouse. You cannot deduct child support payments on your 2018 tax return.

 

  1. Child Support payments are not reported as taxable income. Regardless of when your divorce or legal separation was finalized, you don’t have to report child support payments as income.

 

  1. Alimony payments can be deducted if you are filing 2018 tax returns when you are divorced. These payments can classify as a tax deduction if they are:

-in the form of cash

-authorized by court order for divorce

-not filed as a joint tax return for you and your spouse

-paid when you are your spouse are not living in the same primary address

-not part of a child support payment.

 

  1. You must report any alimony payments that you received. It’s important to remember that if you are an alimony recipient, you need to state these payments on both federal and state income tax returns. The new tax laws do not apply to you yet.

 

  1. Beneficiaries of transferred properties do not have to pay tax on the transfer. If you’ve received property from your ex-spouse, the transfer itself is not taxed. However, if you later sell that property, you will pay a capital gains tax.

 

For More Information on Filing 2018 Tax Returns When You Are Divorced

 

It’s always strongly recommended to have a tax expert assisting you when you file after a divorce. While the tax laws and codes are readily available to you, deciphering them in a way that works for you should be left up to a tax professional. To get more information on how to handle your tax returns this year, contact a trusted divorce attorney for all of the resources you need.

 

How to Serve Divorce Papers Overseas

Posted on: January 7, 2019 by in Divorce
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Serve Divorce Papers Overseas

Everyone knows that divorce can be difficult. It’s rarely a seamless process filled with casualness, simplicity, and cooperation. Of course, if your soon-to-be ex-spouse is living overseas, then life at home could possibly lack the dramatic and emotional scenes that most households have during a separation. Unfortunately, serving divorce papers overseas can be much more difficult than simply putting documents into an envelope and placing them in a mailbox. In order to serve divorce papers overseas, you must follow a specific step-by-step process to ensure that you’re doing it legally and effectively. You must keep in mind that each step will be determined by the location of your spouse and the jurisdiction of where he or she is located. If you want to know more about how to serve divorce papers overseas, here is a brief guide to help get you started.

Step One: File the Petition and Summons

First, you’ll start with your own location. However, you have to take into consideration where most of your marital property is located. If you have multiple properties and choose to live in different areas throughout the year, always go with the location that holds the majority of the properties that you own together. This will be where the state court holds jurisdiction over your properties. This is where you will file the divorce petition and summons. You’ll also need to determine if you’ll be seeking property in another country. If so, it’s important to know that country’s service laws. Having an experienced divorce lawyer is highly recommended at this stage if this is the path you’ll be taking.

Step Two: Find Where Your Spouse Is Located

This legal procedure is referred to as “service of process”. Because you’ll need to follow the law of the overseas jurisdiction, you need to know the legal way to serve divorce papers overseas. It’s very important to have a specific address of where he or she is located. It would be frustrating and costly to go through the procedure of service of process if you have the wrong address or you’re unaware of their specific location. It’s vital to know exactly where your spouse is.

Step Three: Long Arm Statute

It’s also important for your divorce lawyer to know and understand the extent of your state’s “long arm” statute. Basically, this is a statute that permits a local court jurisdiction over foreign defendants. This will determine if you state can or cannot serve your spouse or rule on your case.

Step Four: Determine Your Method of Service

You must consider a number of different factors at this step if you wish to effectively serve divorce papers overseas. It’s important to know if you believe your spouse will attempt to avoid the service of process or if he or she is willing to sign and follow appropriate protocols. For instance, if you believe your spouse will evade the service of process, you may need to know the service of process laws of the jurisdiction of the particular country where your spouse is located. If this country is a member of the Hague Service Convention, then you’ll have to follow certain procedures that match their international service of process laws. You’ll also have to determine if the divorce papers need to be translated into the native language of the country.

Your divorce lawyer will help you to decide if the documents should be mailed through service by publication, personal service, waiver of service, service by rogatory, service by certified mail, or service through a central authority. Of course, getting your spouse to waive service and sign documents at an American embassy is the simplest way to handle service of process overseas.

Step Five: Follow-Up

As mentioned above, the details and tasks in each of these steps will change according to the country that your soon-to-be ex-spouse is located. Many of these procedures can become easier or more complicated depending on the nature of your case and the country you’re dealing with. It’s imperative to follow-up in the country where your spouse is located to assure that you’re following proper protocol and the documents are prepared correctly.

For More Information on How to Serve Divorce Papers Overseas

If you’d like more information on how to serve divorce papers overseas, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to help guide you through the process. As mentioned above, these steps can be incredibly complex and require extensive research into local jurisdiction as well as knowledge in the process of service laws in another country. It’s never recommended to go through this process alone. Divorce can be stressful, exhausting, and emotionally taxing. It can become even more difficult to attempt to serve divorce papers overseas without any legal experience. Call a trusted divorce lawyer today to ensure your moving in the right direction.

Should You Change Your Name After Divorce?

Posted on: December 30, 2018 by in Divorce
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Change Your Name After Divorce

Many people assume you should change your name after divorce. However, it is not always that cut and dry. In some cases, it is mandatory, such as with a divorce decree name change order. If you do not have to go back to your maiden name, the choice is yours. Sometimes, people choose not to because of the long process involved. If you want to know how to change your name after divorce in Florida, a member of the legal team at Lewert Law, L.L.C. can help. There are many reasons to change your name after divorce, as well as reasons not to. If you are still on the fence, you will find for and against changing your name after divorce below.

Reasons to Change Your Name After Divorce

Have you ever wondered “Is it illegal to keep your married name after divorce?” The answer depends on your divorce decree. Your lawyer can guide you as you go through the divorce proceedings. While there are many reasons to keep your married name, the below are reasons why you may want to revert to your birth name.

 

A Fresh Start

Changing your name after divorce can offer a fresh start. For instance, people calling you by your married name on a daily basis may remind you of your married life and relationship. While there are certainly good memories, the pain of the breakup may be too fresh. A name change may enable you to mentally separate yourself from that pain and allow you to focus on moving forward mentally and spiritually. You get to take all the lessons you learned and move forward into a new chapter of your life.

The Breakup was Devastating

Sometimes, divorces can get messy. Several people who change back to their maiden name after divorce cite infidelity, abuse, and other traumatic experiences. Having your ex’s name attached to you after a breakup is not as enticing as it once was.

There is Potential for Future Remarriage

Keeping your married name after you divorce may complicate things if you want to remarry. For instance, changing back to your maiden name before your new marriage may require you to petition the court. If you are successful, you then have to go through the process of changing your last name to your new spouse’s name. That means changing your name on several accounts and government documents several times over. The process alone can be daunting.

You Like Your Maiden Name Better

Put simply, you may want to change your name after divorce because you like your maiden name better. Many women change their name only because “it’s what society expects,” or what their ex-husband wanted. Some women propose hyphenating their last name as a compromise.

Reasons to Not Change Your Name After Divorce

If the court does not make it mandatory for you to change your married name, you may want to keep it. Review the following for more information on keeping your married name after you divorce your ex-spouse.

For the Kids

The most common reason to maintain an ex’s last name after a divorce is your children. Many mothers want to share the same last name as their children, and cite this as a reason to keep their married name. While some only keep the name for a limited time, many keep the name indefinitely.

To Maintain Your Identity

You may not want to change your name after a divorce for several reasons pertaining to your identity. For example, your married last name may be how people know you through:

  • Long-term friendships
  • School functions
  • Professional relationships
  • Certification and degree programs

Depending on how long you have had it, changing your name after divorce might not be a priority at all. Especially if you no longer identify with your maiden name.

The Process and Cost

Aside from the above, a name change after divorce can be a complicated or expensive process. Just think about all the steps you took to change from your maiden name. Now consider the stipulations of your divorce. Unless there is a divorce decree name change order, you do not have to go through that process again.

 

Some people elect not to change back after divorce simply because they would have to change the name with too many institutions, including their profiles, accounts, statements and other documents.

 

Speak to a Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer

Consider your options and the long-term consequences of your choices. If you are still unsure, speak to an attorney who can help. Are you ending your marriage and in need of a divorce lawyer who can inform you of your rights? Do you want to know how to change your last name after divorce? Call Lewert Law, L.L.C. at (561) 220-0123 for a consultation today.

Children’s Vaccinations in a Parenting Plan

Posted on: November 30, 2018 by in Uncategorized
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Children's Vaccinations

When it comes to parenting, there are some common disagreements that can cause friction. This can be true for any parent, but when you’re going through a separation or divorce, it can become a significant challenge. Whether or not your child should attend private school, eat certain foods, or play contact sports, are just a handful of common disputes amongst parents. Recently, one source of conflict that has raised a lot of issues for divorcing parents is whether or not they should vaccinate their child. What do you do if you and your ex-spouse disagree on something so important? What happens if neither parent can agree on this? In this article, we explore both sides of the children’s vaccinations issue and how this issue has been resolved in the past.

Reasons Against Children’s Vaccinations



We live in a world with a constant flow of communication and information. If you truly believe in something and you want it to be true, it’s easy to find details online that can support your opinion, regardless if it’s legitimate or not. This is what makes disputes like this so difficult to settle. There are a few commonly used arguments against children’s vaccinations that raise a lot of confusion and uncertainty around this issue. Research has shown that there are mainly four reasons why many parents will refuse immunizations: religious beliefs, personal or philosophical beliefs, safety concerns, or a desire for additional information. Each reason has its own primary set of details as to why a parent would want to stay away from immunizations.

It can be very difficult to reach a compromise when religious reasons are used against children’s vaccinations. Parents who have strongly held beliefs on the negative effects of Westernized medicines usually don’t waver on this. It has nothing to do with ignorance. It’s deliberate, planned, and it can sometimes feel disrespectful to argue with someone with these beliefs. Personal/philosophical beliefs can also fall into this category since religious and philosophical beliefs can both be powerful reasons. Medical concerns or a desire for additional information, on the other hand, can hold the possibility of debate. Parents who fall into this category are more likely to be open to discussing the issue and can sometimes reach an agreement. When a parent is open to hearing facts and figures, there is a stronger chance of compromise.

Reasons For Children’s Vaccinations



Anyone who has ever seen a person suffer from Polio would be more likely to get their child vaccinated. Despite the arguments against it, there’s no denying that these medical advances are a strong case for immunizations. Thousands of children died from debilitating diseases like Polio or Measles until these vaccinations were discovered. Every major health organization, pediatric association, and the CDC supports children’s vaccinations. It can be hard to argue against this issue when you have almost every doctor worldwide supporting the case for vaccines. But what happens in a parenting plan when you and your ex can’t agree on something this critical? The courts step in to decide for you.

In the state of Florida, this specific dispute was presented in 2011. In Winters v. Brown, the mother was against vaccinating the child, while the father was for vaccinating the child. In this case, the Florida District Court of Appeal in the Fourth District sided with the father. Numerous experts were called to the hearings to present cases on both sides of the vaccination issue. After much deliberation and discussion, the courts decided that there was sufficient evidence for the child to be immunized. Florida family courts will always base their decisions on the best interest of the child. While religious beliefs can present a strong case for the freedom to make many decisions, in this case, it wasn’t strong enough.

For More Information on Parenting Plans



When parents divorce, issues like this can be difficult to resolve on their own. If both parents can’t negotiate a solution to these matters, Florida law requires that the courts approve a parenting plan. In a parenting plan, major issues, like vaccinations or other medical decisions, are assigned to one parent or the other. When parents can’t agree, the court will step in to decide who should be able to make these decisions for their child. If you’ve recently found yourself in a dispute over something as major as vaccinations, it might be time to contact an attorney to learn more about parenting plans. A law office can provide resources for you to understand how to move forward with disputes like this. Divorce and family law attorneys can help you to know if there’s potential for negotiation, or if it’s necessary to go to court. When it comes to important decisions regarding your child’s health, you need professional help. Contact a trusted attorney today to learn more about your options.

 

What to Include in Your Holiday Visitation Schedule in Florida

Posted on: November 20, 2018 by in Uncategorized
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Holiday Visitation Schedule

Creating a shared custody holiday schedule for the first time can be challenging in more ways than one. Time-sharing, as it’s referred to in the state of Florida, can be tough on recently divorced parents. Most parents will dread setting a holiday visitation schedule, especially when they’re used to being with their children full-time. When emotions are running high, it can be difficult to compromise or be willing to sacrifice quality time. This is especially true around this time of year. However, Florida family courts always promote a time-sharing visitation schedule that works for both parents. Agreed upon holiday schedules can help the entire family to relax and enjoy their time together. In order to make the arrangement as smooth as possible, we’ve created a list of holiday visitation options. Here are a few different ways you can create a holiday visitation schedule that works for the whole family.

Celebrate Twice

Many divorced parents will choose to celebrate the holiday on two separate days. For instance, Christmas can be celebrated on December 25th, but also on the 23rd. This can help each parent to feel as though they’re not missing a holiday or having to wait until next year. In addition, kids are often excited to have the opportunity to celebrate with both parents. This type of holiday visitation schedule can be very simple, especially if one parent is okay with not celebrating on the actual holiday. They have an opportunity to make another day during the holiday season unique for the children.

Alternating Holidays

Taking turns each year is a very common approach to a holiday visitation schedule. Every year, the children stay with one parent for the holidays. This can be a great option for parents who live in different cities and find sharing holiday time inconvenient. Instead of driving back and forth and splitting daytime schedules, the children stay with one parent throughout the holiday season. This allows each parent to be able to experience the holidays with the children in its entirety. This is especially helpful if one parent likes to travel or have individual time every other year.

Celebrate Half-Holidays

A lot of parents will choose to split the day in half and share the holiday. For instance, the children can spend the morning at one home, then celebrate in the afternoon with the other. While this works very well with many families, this kind of holiday visitation schedule requires a lot of planning and compromise. Setting times for pick-ups need to be specific and each parent needs to be committed to being on time. It’s a great way for each parent to be able to celebrate the holiday with their children. Unfortunately, jumping from one home to another on the same day can sometimes be exhausting for the children. It’s important to always check-in to see if this kind of holiday visitation schedule works for them as well as you and your ex.

Designate a Certain Holiday

For some people, certain holidays are more important to them than others. In instances like these, setting a fixed holiday visitation schedule can be very appealing. For example, some people enjoy Thanksgiving more than Christmas. They like to cook and serve a big traditional meal for their family and friends. This is a perfect scenario to claim Thanksgivings and allow your ex to enjoy Christmas or Hanukkah with the kids. Remember that these don’t have to be permanent decisions. You can try a holiday visitation schedule like this for a year or two, then make changes as you and your ex see fit.

Take Special Days into Consideration

It’s always important to remember any other special occasions that take place during the holidays. A child’s birthday, a school play, a holiday carnival or any other event that is important to your child needs to be considered. Around this time of year, there are always holiday celebrations that might not be on your calendar but are certainly special to your child. Remember to check school calendars and incorporate these days into the shared holiday visitation schedule. Knowing about these special days can help you be prepared and prevent conflict. You always want to avoid any surprises in the schedule around this time of year.

More Information on Setting a Holiday Visitation Schedule

If you need any further information on what to include in your holiday visitation schedule, don’t hesitate to contact your family lawyer. Family law attorneys know that these arrangements can be difficult for those who have recently gone through a divorce. Family law attorneys can offer advice on how to handle a difficult custody situation or point you to other resources in the community. Reach out to a family law firm today to assure a smooth and relaxing holiday schedule for you and your children.

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5 Reasons to Settle on the Terms of Divorce During Mediation

Posted on: November 12, 2018 by in Divorce
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settle terms of divorce during mediation

A divorce can be a complicated and emotional time, but there are things you can do to make the transition easier. Mediation is the key that makes a divorce less of a battle. You can use a mediator at any point during the divorce process to help settle matters, whether you’re at the beginning or right in the middle of it.

What is mediation?

Mediation in divorce is when both spouses sit down with a neutral third party to work out their differences. This mediator will help a couple decide on crucial issues like splitting their assets and liabilities, childcare, property distribution and any other problem they are having. The mediator will help them decide with as little conflict as possible.

Why should you aim to settle divorce and time-sharing matters during mediation?

There are several reasons why mediation is a good idea during a divorce. They are saving time, cost, and stress, as well as maintaining control over your privacy and your life.

1. Time

Divorces that go to trial can drag on for years. Many times, the desire for revenge, anger, and bitterness are what drives these battles.

Using a mediator means the process is possibly over in months instead of years. Another thing to think about is, after all that time spent in court, 90% of divorce cases wind up settling. The trial proceedings waste precious time, especially when children are involved.

2. Cost

The costs of a litigated divorce can soar into the tens of thousands of dollars. This situation puts the financial security of both parties in jeopardy, as well as their children. There is no need to add financial peril to an already life-changing situation. Mediation reduces the cost of a divorce in many significant ways.

You don’t have to pay for two lawyers.
You have reduced court costs and fees.
Less time spent results in less money out of your pockets.

While mediation isn’t free, in the end, it is much less costly than a litigated divorce.

3. Privacy

Mediation keeps your personal business between you and your spouse. Without it, a trial drags everyone’s affairs out into the open. Each person must go through the painstaking paperwork. The process will reveal all of the couples finances, indiscretions, habits, parenting skills, employment history, and more.

With mediation, all of these discussions can go on behind closed doors, or not at all. In no-fault divorces, couples have the opportunity to leave the problems of the past in the past. Mediation helps people move forward with a clean slate, without having everything about themselves revealed.

4. Control

In a trial, the judge decides the result. If a divorcing couple chooses mediation, they have control over what happens. Since the couple is making the decisions for themselves, they are more likely to be happy with the agreement.

Also, a mediator is not on one side or the other. He or she is a neutral party who listens and helps guide the couple towards a solution. This circumstance is very different from two lawyers battling it out in a courtroom setting. The process focuses on compromise.

5. Stress

All of the above factors together combine to create less stress for both parties. Divorce is almost always stressful to a certain degree, but mediation makes the process much easier to handle.

Mediation stresses respectful communication, and participants use non-threatening language in a peaceful environment. This situation cuts down on stress and leads to better solutions for everyone.

Mediation means less stress on children.

If there are children from the marriage, mediation is even more beneficial. The court process for kids can make an already upsetting situation even worse. The court could interview and observe the couple’s children, and they may also be required to appear in court. This situation is incredibly stressful for kids.

Further, seeing the animosity between parents is very stressful for children. With mediation, divorcing couples make decisions calmly and rationally, and children do not need to be present.

What are the setbacks of going to trial?

Going to trial over a divorce is very uncommon these days. It is an emotionally grueling process not just for the spouses, but for their children as well. All of the five points above are excellent reasons to consider mediation for an easier divorce.

In a trial, it is a lawyer’s job to be their client’s advocate. This role means that all the dirty laundry is hung out and scrutinized and there is no privacy for either spouse. One spouse may hire an aggressive or hostile attorney, which can turn a trial a costly process that can drag on for years. Mediation saves everyone a lot of pain, anger, and expense.

If you have any questions about mediation, talk to our divorce legal experts. Our experienced attorneys will schedule a free consultation to go over all your options.

How to Change A Child Support Order in Florida

Posted on: October 30, 2018 by in Family Law
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How to Change Child Support Order in Florida

Things change in life. You were once single without responsibilities, and then you had a child. Your life changed. No matter if you went through a divorce or weren’t in a relationship with the other parent, you are both tied together through the child. Child support is meant to help the custodial parent provide a good life for the child through financial assistance. That doesn’t mean that things won’t change after a child support order is put into place. Learn more about how to change a child support order in Florida.

What Is a Child Support Order

A child support order in Florida is the court document that determines how much money one parent has to pay the other. This payment is intended to help support the child financially. It’s often based on the income of both parents. Other factors are often used towards this amount, such as if the child is disabled or has medical concerns. The order determines who pays the support and who receives it. It also determines how much is to be paid, when, and the frequency of payments.

What Is the Process for Modifying a Child Support Order?

A child support order can be reviewed for modification by the courts as long as some conditions are met. The first is that the current order is enforceable for longer than six months from the time you place the request. The second is that you haven’t had it reviewed or changed in the previous three years. The final condition is that you can show that there was a big change that impacts your finances. Some examples of this would be if the child becomes disabled or if there is a significant change in income of the parties involved.

Other Conditions That Can Result in a Change

There can be other reasons why a child support order is changed in Florida. One is to remove or add a child from the order. An example would be if there are several children involved in the order, and one is no longer a dependent. Another reason that an order can be changed is to extend the time period. An example here would be if a child doesn’t pass a grade, and will remain in high school longer than expected when the order was written. Also, an order can be changed if medical support needs to be added or removed from the order. An example here would be if there’s a change in the child’s health.

How Long Does it Take?

The overall period for the review and implementing any changes is about six months. Once your review is finished, you’ll be notified of the decision. The courts will then be working on implementing the change in the order.

What Do You Need to Change A Child Support Order?

The main thing that you will need to have to change a child support order is documentation. You need to be able to document the changes. They need to see a diagnosis if a medical reason is behind the requested review. The reviewers need to see the paperwork regarding your lost job or increased salary. They may also require you to fill out and return forms for the review process. Be sure to always complete and return these forms right away to not slow your review down or have it decided against you.

What Happens If You’re the Parent Paying Child Support?

Either parent may go through the process for requesting that there be a change to the child support order. Parents that are paying out child support because they are the non-custodial parent can also have changes in their finances that can necessitate going through this process. For instance, the loss of your job through layoffs can have a significant impact on your finances. This event may make it impossible for you to continue paying the amount that was determined previously. You have the same right to go through the review process to reduce the amount you’re paying for your child.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer can always be helpful in a situation where one parent is seeking to change child support order agreements that were made in regards to the children. A custodial parent may seek out a modification to the amount of child support being paid to them because of changes in the financial circumstances of the parents. A non-custodial parent can also want to have the amount of child support changed based on differences. A lawyer is helpful because they can guide you through the process while advising you as to what is in your child’s best interests.

Are you considering asking the courts to change child support order in Florida? Lewert Law, LLC is here to help. Contact us today to learn about how we can assist you with your child support case. You deserve to receive the financial help you need to raise your child. Let us help you change a child support order.

 

 

What Determines a Time-Sharing Schedule in Florida

Posted on: October 18, 2018 by in Family Law
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time-sharing schedule

If you are facing a divorce, you may have to consider a time-sharing schedule, as Florida prefers shared parenting to over the concept of custody. A Florida shared parenting plan typically divides the responsibility of parenting to both parents if both demonstrate the ability and willingness to act in the interest of the minor children. If you have a dispute with your co-parent or questions about your joint custody schedule, contact a child custody lawyer who can guide you through the process and inform you of options.

What is a Time-Sharing Schedule?

Florida has converted from a “custody-centric” to shared parenting. A time-sharing schedule grants both parents the rights to spend time with their children as agreed upon. In this way, there is no custodial parent, giving each parent frequent and continual contact with the children. While the goal of a shared parenting agreement is to maximize the time between each parent, not all co-parents can determine an agreeable arrangement. If you have trouble agreeing with your child’s mother or father, the court considers several factors when determining a shared parenting schedule.

Factors Affecting a Time-Sharing Agreement

Florida Statute 61.13 outlines the laws regarding time-sharing schedules and co-parenting. The statute has set forth many stipulations that affect the common custody schedules of parents seeking more time with their children. The primary consideration of common custody schedules relies heavily on the best interest of the minor child.

The factors that affect a time-sharing schedule include:

  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to facilitate a close relationship with the child, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to allow for changes in the schedule within reason
  • Being able to agreeably divide the responsibilities of parenthood between each parent and to a third party if necessary.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to act in the interest of the child, despite the parent’s own needs or desires.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment, and the need to maintain continuity.
  • The viability of a shared parenting plan regarding the geographic location of each parent with the time in travel a consideration for school children.
  • The moral fitness of each parent.
  • The mental and physical wellness of each parent.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The preference of the child if the court decides the child has sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to relay his or her preference.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to actively know things about the child, such as his or her friends, teachers, healthcare providers, and favorite things.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline and daily routines including homework, meals, and bedtime.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to communicate with the other parent, informing them of issues and activities regarding the child, as well as the willingness to join in a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect. If there were prior or pending actions for the preceding, the court must acknowledge in writing that these were considered concerning the best interest of the child.
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided the court with false information regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
  • The tasks typically performed by each parent and the division of these duties before litigation, including how and when a third party may handle these duties when necessary.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to actively participate in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to maintain an environment free of substance abuse.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to protect the child form ongoing litigation by not discussing it with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and not making disparaging comments to the child about the other parent.
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child, as well as the demonstrated capacity of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule.

There are other stipulations to consider as well. For instance, a parent who must receive child support as a stipulation of the agreement cannot refuse to honor the shared custody schedule. Violating the shared parenting agreement can result in losing time with your child, having to pay for court costs and attorney fees, and mandatory attendance to a parenting course. Other disciplinary actions for violating your shared parenting plan include community service, and modifications the schedule.

If you need help devising a Florida standard visitation schedule or need answers regarding your time-sharing schedule, contact a child custody lawyer today. Our legal team is ready to fight for your rights as a parent. Get now for a consultation.

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Kelley Ms. Lewert never lost sight of the practical realities of my divorce. Although she listened compassionately so that she understood what she needed to, she did not let me lose sight of my goals and what was acheivable within the system even when things got emotional. She protected my financial interests and my personal interests. Thanks to Ms. Lewert, I no longer have to deal with a difficult ex-. She didn't always tell me what I wanted to hear, but because of that, my case did not drag out longer than it should have. I never felt that she put her own interests ahead of mine. Her judgment was reasonable and her advice sound. She and her staff were good at dealing with difficult and unreasonable people in a professional and ethical way. Thanks to Ms. Lewert, I never got drawn into senseless battles, recovered as quickly as possible from my divorce and was able to move on and enjoy a better life. I have recommended her repeatedly to others who need an excellent family lawyer.

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