Archive for the ‘ Family Law ’ Category

What are The Child Custody Laws For Unmarried Parents in Florida?

Posted on: June 3, 2019 by in Family Law
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custody laws for unmarried parents

When a couple separates, it is never easy on a family. If children are involved, it’s important for parents to try to reach a compromise on child custody, visitation rights, and child support. However, achieving this level of compromise may be easier said than done for most people. Parents who are going through a divorce should always try to settle these matters outside of the courtroom. Florida family courts always encourage divorcing parents to agree to the terms and conditions of their divorce through mediation or other means. However, what if you’re unmarried? How are custody laws determined for unmarried parents? Can the mother keep the child away from the father in Florida? Does an unwed father have rights? In this article, we’ll answer these and other questions concerning custody laws for unmarried parents.

What Is Best For Divorcing Parents — And Their Children?

If the two divorcing parents can agree to some compromises, and if they can arrange for their own custody, support, and visitation agreements, a judge will sign off on the agreement in most cases, provided that it satisfies the child’s best interests. Florida, like other states, prefers joint or shared legal custody when possible after a divorce. That gives each parent equal authority over the decisions in the child’s life (such as schooling and medical care), and it also means that both parents are legally obligated to care for and support the child.


Actual physical custody of the child is typically also shared by both parents, with the child spending some days or weeks with one parent and other times with the other parent. In some states, a court will award both parents “joint legal custody” with the stipulation that one parent is the “primary physical custodian.” In other states, the court will give “primary” custody to one parent while the other parent receives “reasonable” visitation rights.

Generally, however, and beyond all of the legal terminology and the many quite minor legal differences among the states, what typically happens after a typical divorce is that the parent who is not the primary caretaker during the school week is granted weekends or other time with the child. This is unless there is strong evidence that such an arrangement would be detrimental to the child’s best interests.

Adhering To The Visitation Arrangement

Divorced parents must adhere to the visitation arrangement that they have agreed upon or to the arrangement that has been imposed by the court. However, when a non-custodial parent’s efforts to spend court-ordered visitation time with his or her child are blocked or frustrated by the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent will have to file a court action and request that a judge enforce the visitation order. In South Florida, non-custodial parents can obtain legal help by contacting an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney.

Child Support For Divorcing Couples

In every state, both legal parents are required by the law to support their children financially, regardless of whether or not the parents were married when the child was born, or whether or not they married at a later time. In most divorces with children, the court will order the noncustodial parent to contribute a specified amount of child support each month. A family law court can modify the monthly amount of child support if parental incomes or the needs of the children change.

The precise child support amount a court will order hinges on each parent’s assets, income, and the cost of housing, healthcare, and other necessary expenses including dental bills and school expenses. Each state has its own child support guidelines that are established by law. In your own state, an experienced family law attorney can probably give you a rough idea of the child support amount that the court will require.


When a Florida court issues a child support order or a visitation order, that order must be followed. If an ex-spouse fails to comply fully with a court order, the state of Florida provides a number of legal tools to persuade the parent into cooperating. Noncompliance can lead to stiff penalties in this state. If a parent doesn’t pay despite the ability to do so, that parent can face contempt of court or even criminal prosecution.

Florida Custody Laws For Unmarried Parents

  • All mothers instantly get parental rights to their children at birth.
  • Fathers are granted custody and visitation rights depending on a DNA paternity test.
  • Florida custody laws for unmarried parents state both parents share equal custody rights.
  • Unmarried child custody includes the parent’s right to decide things about the child’s life like education, religion, and medical care.


  • Both biological parents are given the legal term “parent.”
  • For joint custody, a parenting plan must be submitted to the court along with the proof paternity.
  • If a child is old enough, the Florida custody laws for unmarried parents take the child’s preference for where to live into account.

Who Gets Custody?

If both parents of a child are legally established, then unmarried parents will go through the same procedures to obtain custody, visitation rights, and child support as if they were married. They might go through something similar to mediation to discuss terms on schedules, finances, and living arrangements. However, if the child was born to the unwed mother without legally establishing paternity from the father, the mother will have sole custody of the child in the state of Florida.

Does an Unwed Father Have Visitation Rights?

A father that hasn’t legally established paternity to a child has no legal rights. Custody laws for unmarried couples in Florida state that the mother is the natural guardian. She has legal custody the second the child is born. A father can request visitation, but it will be completely up to the mother to decide if she wants the child to see the father. If the mother is concerned about the father refusing to give the child back after a visitation, she should proceed with caution. It’s always recommended for visitations to take place inside the mother’s home with supervision or a safe public place. This is especially true if it’s the first time that a father is meeting the child.


Can the Father or Another Relative Take the Child Away?

An unmarried mother who is the sole custodian of the child must remember that she is protected under the child custody laws for unmarried parents. No one, not even the natural father, can take the child without a court order and a legally established paternity test. If a relative of the father or the father has taken the child, it’s important to call law enforcement and the Department of Children and Families immediately.


What if the Parents Decide to Get Married?

Under Florida law, the father doesn’t need to have a paternity test in order to get married or be considered the legal parent of the child. If the couple does marry, the marriage along will legitimize the child. Both parents will have equal rights if they get married.


Why Does the Mother Get Sole Custody?

Some people find the custody laws for unmarried parents to be unfair or solely favoring the mother. Since the mother automatically gains sole custody when the child is born, many fathers find these laws to be unjust. The father has no legal right to visit with the child in these circumstances. However, this same law also prevents unwed mothers from filing for child support from fathers without a paternity test. It’s important to remember that there’s a balance to this system. If a father would like visitation rights, shared custody, or the ability to influence the child’s life at all, the father needs to take a paternity test. It’s the only way to resolve the issue and move forward with custody arrangements. Child custody lawyers will always recommend a paternity test to establish legal parenthood.

What Happens When Things Change?

No custody, support, or visitation agreement is necessarily permanent. As circumstances in a family’s life change, the agreements or court orders regarding custody, support, or visitation can be modified to reflect those changes. A job loss or an unexpected injury or illness, for example, may require a return to the court for a modification of the court’s orders. Parents can’t do this privately even if they are in agreement – the court must approve any changes to court orders. In South Florida, a Boca Raton family law attorney can assist parents who need to have court orders modified.


The key to success for parents in all of these situations is the best interests of the child. If both parents are sincerely committed to working in the child’s best interests,  most disputes and acrimony can be avoided. Remaining disagreements can usually be compromised or negotiated. If divorcing parents can cooperate and put their children first, they can almost always remain in charge of their family’s future. It is possible to avoid harsh orders from a judge.

For More Information on Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents

If you have questions or concerns about your rights as an unmarried parent, it’s important to speak with a Boca Raton child custody attorney as soon as possible. Even if there are no conflicts or obstacles presenting themselves now, there could be in the future. A family law attorney can help you to provide proof of paternity, gain visitation rights, or establish joint custody. An attorney can also help you to protect your child from a parent that does not have their best interest in mind. Reach out to an experienced family attorney today.

How To Handle An Uncooperative Co-Parent

Posted on: May 3, 2019 by in Family Law
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How To Handle An Uncooperative Co-Parent

If you’re currently dealing with an uncooperative co-parent, you’re not the only one. While some couples fall into a stress-free co-parenting relationship after divorce, not everyone is that lucky. Most couples will struggle in the early stages. You may need time to allow emotions to settle and get into a co-parenting groove. But even with time, some bad co-parenting habits are hard to break. If you believe you’re dealing with an uncooperative co-parent, it can be difficult to know how to handle conflict or navigate their uncompromising behavior. That’s why we’ve composed this list of tips and best practices to help you deal with an uncooperative co-parent.


1. Preemptively Address Issues

If you anticipate that your ex will choose conflict over reason, there are ways to address it early. You can place successful co-parenting strategies into the language of your divorce settlement. For instance, you can request that each parent attends co-parenting counseling sessions if problems arise after the divorce is finalized. This allows you to share expectations about your co-parenting relationship. It also shows you have a willingness to participate in conflict resolution.


2. Set Emotional Boundaries

It’s important to set proper boundaries the second your co-parenting relationship starts. Once the divorce is over, there’s no reason to dig up old issues or emotions. Try not to engage when your ex is provoking you. Setting emotional boundaries can help you move on. In addition, your children will be exposed to less conflict if you refuse to participate in it.


3. Let Go of What You Can’t Control

Remember that you cannot control what your ex-spouse does or feels. High-conflict personalities will choose to engage in anger over logic any day of the week. That’s a challenge that they have to overcome. Be sure to identify what battles do and don’t belong to you.


4. Use Non-Combative Language

Somedays, it can feel almost impossible to communicate with an uncooperative co-parent. No matter what you say or do, you can’t seem to escape the conflict. While using the right language won’t solve all of your problems, it can help. Avoid using violent or combative words with your ex. When speaking about the children, try to use “we language” so your ex knows you’re in this together.


5. Stick to Your Commitments

It is possible to lead by example after your divorce. Sticking to the terms of the divorce settlement and co-parenting plan puts you in a powerful position. Just because your ex likes to throw a wrench into your co-parenting plan, it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. If you end up back in court, it will be highly beneficial for you if you’re seen as the responsible parent.


6. Know Their Triggers

It’s important to become aware of your uncooperative co-parent’s trigger points. Expenses? Extended family issues? Scheduling? What are the key issues that create conflict between both of you? By being more aware of what these triggers are, you can navigate around them in a more peaceful way or avoid these topics altogether.


7. Encourage a Healthy Relationship with the Kids

Don’t forget at the end of the day, you want your kids to have a healthy relationship with both of their parents. That is your goal after divorce. Despite how angry you are or how much hate you hold for this person, they’re still a staple in your child’s life. Don’t forget about what’s most important here.


8. Avoid Direct Contact with the Uncooperative Co-Parent

Research shows that reducing the amount of direct contact in high-conflict divorce is your best defense. This might mean communicating via text or email more often than in person. You may want to have relatives help with transitions between homes. If emotions are still running high, taking space and focusing on your relationship with your children is highly recommended. You may have to only avoid direct contact temporarily until the dust starts to settle.


9. Keep a Record

If this uncooperative co-parent continues to showcase bad co-parenting behavior, you need to keep a record of it. Remember to save emails or text messages that express their uncompromising behavior. Start to keep documentation of any major issues. While everyone hopes that their behavior will change, sometimes it doesn’t. If you end up back in court for whatever reason, you want to have enough evidence to support your points.


10. Get Support from a Parental Responsibility Lawyer

If the issues persist with your uncooperative co-parent, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact a parental responsibility lawyer that has experience with high-conflict divorce. A lawyer can help you set new co-parenting goals as well as proper boundaries between you and your ex. Give a parental responsibility lawyer a call today to learn more about how to make your co-parenting relationship better.

What is Voluntary Impoverishment in Florida?

Posted on: April 27, 2019 by in Family Law
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Voluntary Impoverishment in Florida

Unfortunately, some parents will go to great lengths to stop paying child support. One of the more common ways a parent thinks he or she can beat the system is to put themselves in poverty, or at least make it look like they are living in poverty and claim they can’t afford the payments.

However, if your ex-partner has stopped paying child support, he or she may still be liable to pay if a judge determines they are voluntarily impoverished. Sometimes, they claim they can no longer afford to pay due to a change in circumstances, or they are no longer earning enough to carry on with their child support payments.

If you’ve never heard of voluntary impoverishment before, don’t worry. Below contains everything you need to know about it, what the courts typically look for when determining if a parent is voluntarily impoverishing themselves, and what you need to do to file a claim for the child support you and your child are due.

Voluntary Impoverishment Explained

Voluntary impoverishment is the term given to a parent that is manipulating the system to avoid paying child support.

It means a person is voluntarily, or deliberately, choosing to become poor and reduce his or her standard of living to a state of poverty. Believing that if they are living in poverty, they will not have to pay child support as they do not have the money to do so.

There are a few ways one can do this.

  1. One way is to change job/pay to earn less than they are capable of
  2. Start hiding some of their earnings from the Internal Revenue Service to come under the threshold for paying child support

This is not fair to the other parent or the child. Voluntary impoverishment is a severe matter. The court can base child support payments on what they believe a parent is capable of earning, rather than what the parent is making if the judge suspects a parent is trying to game the system.

How Do Courts Determine if a Parent is Guilty of Voluntary Impoverishment?

Generally speaking, a court will look at these factors to evaluate if a parent is trying to game the system with voluntary impoverishment:

  • The timing of when/if they changed jobs to a lesser paying job.
  • The physical condition of the parent to determine how able they are to work.
  • Their level of education to determine the types of jobs they can do and earnings expectancy.
  • If they have avoided paying or fallen behind in child support in the past.
  • Their work history to look for any suspicious changes in behavior.
  • Any other concerns raised by the other parent.

If a court has reason to suspect a parent is guilty of any of the above, it has the legal power to start investigating them to look for conclusive evidence.

Even if their earnings have dropped so much that they don’t have to pay child support under their current agreement if a judge determines the parent has done this deliberately a court can still enforce them to pay child support based on the amount they should be earning.

The amount the parent must pay depends on the judge and the parent’s unique circumstances. It’ll come down to an individual’s circumstances and calculated based on several factors.

What Should You Do if Your Ex-Partner is Participating in Voluntary Impoverishment?

The first thing you need to do is to contact the Office of Child Support Enforcement. They will be able to give you the correct legal advice tailored to the information you’re giving them and where you live.

They may advise you to speak to a family lawyer or a localized governing body. This depends on where you live and your circumstances, but it’s a good idea to be prepared with information. Hopefully, you can summarize any previous child support payments, how much/many payments your ex-partner has fallen behind on, and what you think they’ve done to change their circumstances to avoid paying child support.

Don’t panic if not, in any case. If they suspect there is a good reason to investigate a parent for voluntary impoverishment, they will take all the necessary steps to ensure they seek a correct and just amount of child support.

It’s worth noting that a parent can still be labeled voluntarily impoverished if they have never been employed, or haven’t worked since the child was born, or longer. So, if you’re currently not receiving any child support due to the other parent not working, it’s worth seeking legal advice.

The key here is to do something about it if you suspect your ex-partner is doing something to avoid paying. The Office of Child Support Enforcement cannot investigate without you speaking up and raising suspicion.hSpeak with a child support lawyer at Lewert Law, L.L.C. today to see how we can be of service. Call (561) 220-0123 for a free consultation.

Fact or Myth: Courts Favor The Mother in a Child Custody Case

Posted on: March 29, 2019 by in Family Law
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Courts Favor The Mother in a Child Custody Case

When parents get divorced, the terms of child custody can weigh on the entire family. Not knowing who gets custody can be stressful and frustrating. Not only is the process stressful, but parents can become confused and misled by all the myths circling around child custody cases. Gossip from other families’ divorce cases can spark a lot of fear. For instance, many people believe that the courts favor the mother in a child custody case. This myth has been proven wrong time and time again, but the idea still haunts a lot of fathers out there going through a divorce. The truth is, the courts do not favor one parent or the other without hearing from the family first. There are a lot of factors that are taken into consideration before a final custody decision is made. In this article, we discuss why people may believe the courts favor the mother in a child custody case, how one parent gets full custody, and what you have to prove to make that happen.


Courts Favor The Mother in a Child Custody Case: Myth

Today, family courts all over the country will approach a child custody case with an open mind and a balanced perspective. They encourage both parents to be a part of the child’s life whenever possible. Leaning towards one parent or the other before hearing the case is not common practice. However, there’s a good reason why people might still believe this myth that the courts favor the mother in a child custody case. This is because it used to be common practice for the courts to lean towards putting custody of the child with the mother. This was especially true if the children were young (toddlers or early elementary school age children). This was also at a time when mothers served more traditional roles in the home. Now, it’s more common to see both parents working full time and sharing responsibilities. That’s precisely why this practice has been phased out. The judge will rule on whatever path is in the best interest of the child.


What Factors Determine the ‘Best Interest of the Child’?

Since we’ve established that you can’t trust that the courts favor the mother in a child custody case, we can cover the factors that do matter. When deciding a child custody case, family courts will want to determine what is in the best interest of the child. The courts will want to know:

  • Both parents’ medical histories, mental and physical. Is one parent or the other physically or mentally incapable of caring for the child?
  • The financial stability of both parents. Do they hold steady employment? Does one parent make a significantly higher salary than the other? Are they able to provide basics like shelter, food, clothes, and medical care?
  • The child’s age and gender.
  • The child’s medical history, both mental and physical.
  • If the child is over the age of 12, what is their desired outcome? The courts will ask what they prefer in these cases.
  • Is the child more emotionally connected to one parent or the other? The emotional bond is an important factor in all custody cases.
  • What do the parents want? Is the arrangement amicable? Do they agree on joint custody? Is there a chance the ruling will be challenged?
  • Does each parent support and encourage the child to have a connection with the other parent?
  • The quality of life each parent can provide.
  • Each parents’ lifestyle and habits. Is one parent struggling with alcohol, drug, or gambling addictions?
  • Is there a history of domestic abuse in the home?
  • How long will it take for the child to adapt to their new home or lifestyle? Does living with one parent over the other disrupt the child’s routine? Will the child have to change schools? Will it involve moving to a new city or state?


Is Full Custody a Possibility?

As mentioned above, when it comes to child custody, the family courts want both parents to be involved in the child’s life whenever possible. However, of course, full custody is possible in certain circumstances.

  • If one parent moves away and shows little to no interest in caring for the child
  • If there’s a long history of physical or sexual abuse with one parent
  • If one parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • If one parent has no home or shelter to provide for the child

These sort of situations might lead to full custody of one parent. However, you’ll have to provide evidence of these circumstances in order to get full custody.


For More Information on Child Custody Cases

If you’d like more information, contact a trusted Boca Raton child custody attorney. They can provide you with all of the resources you need in order to move forward with your case. Connect with Lewert Law today to learn more about your child custody options!

What Are Supportive Relationships?

Posted on: March 16, 2019 by in Family Law
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What Is A Supportive Relationship

After a divorce, there’s always a chance that one spouse will have to pay alimony to the other. Alimony payments serve an important purpose. Alimony is seen as necessary financial assistance to the spouse that earns significantly less than the other. But what happens if these circumstances change in the future? What if your ex-spouse meets someone new and moves in with this person? Does this change the amount you pay? Can this new supportive relationship terminate alimony payments altogether? These and other questions are answered in this summary of supportive relationships and their effect on alimony payments after a divorce.


Can Alimony be Modified or Terminated?

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that alimony can be modified due to a number of factors besides remarriage or death. For instance, a significant change in income or cost of living could modify alimony payments. Even tax laws, a sudden disability, or financial emergencies could all spark an adjustment in alimony payments. In addition, if the person receiving alimony payments becomes involved in a supportive relationship that provides financial assistance, this could also be a reason why alimony payments are modified.


What Are Supportive Relationships?

Florida legislature passed the Supportive Relationship Statute in 2005. This opened the door to legally adjusting alimony payments if the alimony recipient is receiving financial assistance from a new supportive relationship. The entire point of the legislation was to prevent an alimony recipient from receiving regular alimony payments as well as substantial financial support from a new relationship. However, this legislation never specifically defined what a supportive relationship is, making it difficult to prove that this relationship exists. Divorce attorneys and alimony payers are responsible for providing evidence that an ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship that offers considerable financial assistance.


How Do You Prove a Supportive Relationship Exists?

It’s important to note that if you strongly believe that your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship, you can’t simply stop your alimony payments based on these beliefs. As stated above, this needs to be proven in a court of law. A judge will only terminate the payments if the supportive relationship is proven “by a preponderance of the evidence”. The alimony recipient is not responsible for disproving any of the evidence that is brought forward by the spouse paying alimony. The judge will review various economic and lifestyle factors before he or she can determine if alimony payments should be modified. For instance:


  • How long have the two individuals been living together? Would this location be considered a permanent residence for both of them? Florida courts will want to know the extent of time of their cohabitation. The longer they’ve lived together, the more likely the chances are of proving a supportive relationship exists.
  • What does the relationship look like? Are they in a romantic relationship? Is it a business relationship? Are they open about this relationship in public? A judge might ask about how the two individuals met and how they spend their time together.
  • Are they sharing assets? Do they have joint bank accounts? Do they split bills down the middle or is one person paying utilities and rent? If they’re sharing assets and bills or if the new partner is providing all of this, it’s more likely to be labeled as a supportive relationship.
  • Have they purchased properties together? Have they made any sizable purchases together? For instance, if they both purchased a car that they share and pay for together, this could be a strong sign of a supportive relationship.  


What Does NOT Qualify as a Supportive Relationship?

To properly understand what a supportive relationship is, it helps to know what is NOT a supportive relationship. If your ex-spouse moves in with their parents after the divorce, this is not considered a supportive relationship. Even if your ex-spouse is receiving financial assistance from their parents, it’s still not a supportive relationship. Blood relatives or relatives through marriage do not count as supportive relationships. In addition, if your ex-spouse is cohabiting with a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend, but they keep all of their finances completely separate, it’s not considered a supportive relationship. Remember that spouses paying alimony need to be able to prove that substantial financial assistance exists.


For More Information on Supportive Relationships

If you’re currently paying alimony, but you believe your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship, action should be taken. It’s unjust to make payments if their financial lifestyle has significantly changed. Since it is challenging to prove a supportive relationship in court, it’s highly recommended to work with an attorney. An experienced Boca Raton cohabitation lawyer can provide you with the guidance you need in these circumstances. They’re experts in alimony modifications and providing evidence to prove a supportive relationship exists. Contact a divorce attorney today to learn more!


10 Things You Should Know About Mandatory Disclosure in Florida

Posted on: February 18, 2019 by in Family Law
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Mandatory Disclosure in Florida

For most people, blending finances and assets is a natural step when you get married. You’ll likely share bank accounts, credit cards, property, and savings. Of course, when you divorce, you have to go through a process of untangling all of those items. This act of identifying and disclosing all the financial documents for the purpose of separation is called mandatory discovery. Mandatory disclosure in Florida (Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285), is one of the most critical steps in a divorce. It’s also one of the most time consuming and frustrating steps in the divorce procedure. Most people find the process invasive and challenging, but it is a critical step that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. To fully understand the concept of mandatory disclosure in Florida, we’ve composed a list of the most important things you should know about this process.

  1. Mandatory disclosure is part of the litigation process in which both parties request and provide essential documents. These are financial documents that will be reviewed by the courts to make fair and just rulings in regards to the separation of finances and assets. If children are involved, you must include any documents that describe their financial role in the home as well. This might consist of private school tuition, extracurricular activity costs, or summer camp costs.


  1. Mandatory disclosure in Florida contains a list of sixteen financial items that should be disclosed by both parties. These documents include but are not limited to: bank account statements, pay stubs, tax returns, retirement or pension plan statements, debts, and other official documents.


  1. You can also request answers to a list of questions, called Interrogatories. It is a requirement to answer these in writing.  Remember that these are considered official court documents for mandatory disclosure in Palm Beach County. You can be charged with perjury if you provide any false statements to these questions.


  1. Mandatory disclosure in Florida also allows each party to provide a Request of Admissions, which is when you ask the other party to admit to something or deny something in writing. Again, this will be an official court document, so, false statements can result in perjury. Putting statements like this early into the mandatory disclosure process can help to move the divorce proceedings along faster.


  1. Both parties also need to provide a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit and file it in the court. A Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit is an official court document and sworn statement of your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.


  1. In certain circumstances, it is possible to waive the requirement to hand over your financial documents, but waiving the Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit is not possible. Regardless if you’re going through mandatory disclosure or not, completing this step is always necessary.


  1. Mandatory disclosure in Florida requires all parties to hand over the documents requested within 45 days of the initial petition of the divorce. The documents must then be copied and inspected for legitimacy.


  1. You can request an extension for the mandatory disclosure process. Up to five days before the deadline, either party can request an extension, but both parties must agree to it. Requests are often granted when you need more time to collect certain documents from banks or other financial institutions.


  1. There are certain circumstances when mandatory disclosure in Florida doesn’t apply.  Simplified divorce cases usually do not involve minor children, and each party has already agreed on the terms of the divorce and the separation of finances, debts, and assets.


  1. Disclosing these documents and providing all the necessary information during this process helps to make it more efficient and cost-effective. While neither party may want to disclose this information, it’s essential to provide these documents to your divorce attorney. Handing over all required documents can help lower your expenses during the litigation process and make the divorce move forward. Any legal expert will tell you that it’s in your best interest to collect and provide these financial documents as soon as possible.

For More Information on Mandatory Disclosure in Florida

If you’d like more information on the mandatory discovery process and what it includes, contact an experienced divorce attorney. Your attorney can help you to understand why this process is necessary and how to complete this step efficiently and smoothly. Remember that when both parties make the mandatory disclosure process difficult or refuse to disclose certain documents or statements, it can not only become frustrating, but it can also become more expensive. It’s vital to gather and disclose these financial documents so you can find resolutions to the terms of the divorce and move forward. Contact a trusted Boca Raton divorce attorney today to learn more about your options.


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 Handle a Paternity Dispute

Posted on: December 10, 2018 by in Family Law
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paternity dispute

A paternity dispute can complicate and lengthen and be the hardest part of a divorce. Even after divorce or without a marriage, these proceedings can be the toughest in family court. The court wants to make sure that they are doing what is best for the child, so the feelings of the parents don’t usually matter as much. They want to make sure that whatever choice they make will be the best for the child and that can mean knowing more than you want them to.

Everything Matters

In cases like these, everything that is brought to the court matters. Whether it is social media, history of any drug use or what your marriage was like; it all makes a difference. This is because the court is deciding to place a child in your care. They want to make sure that they have as much information about you as possible, to make sure that they are making an educated decision. This means that something as simple as you being upset in court can turn a judge off and make them wonder about you. If you are visibly angry during a court proceeding when it is critical to be calm, what must you be like with your child? And because they know that children notice everything, they want to make sure that little things like that are in consideration.

The Father

The father doesn’t necessarily have to be the genetic creator. They don’t even necessarily have to be genetically related to the child. There are many ways to determine someone as the father of a child, even if they are not a relative. You can read more about that here. And contrary to popular belief, there is no one parent that is automatically granted favor in the courts. That means that they won’t necessarily choose to side with the mother or the father right off the bat. That is an urban myth that tends to circulate to justify the outcome of a case. In all actuality, they chose whichever parent shows to be the biggest asset to the child. Whether this is financially or emotionally, there is always a reason that the court chooses the side it does.


Though it doesn’t happen very often, you can settle a paternity dispute out of court. If you have a good attorney and the negotiations go well before the court date, you can have a legal document drafted and avoid the time with a judge. While this is something that happens, it happens less when divorce is involved, and even outside of that it happens rarely. There are cases where a legal document isn’t required, but these tend to end up needing one in the long run. This isn’t because of the fault of any party, only that a paternity dispute is best clearly given a resolution. And a legal document is a good way to do that. Not only does it clear things up, but it also gives a reference point. There is always an answer when you have a legal document that explains everything.

Your Attorney

Regardless of whether you go to court or not, an attorney is necessary. They will be your biggest asset in negotiating to avoid court and your loudest voice if you need to go. This means that having a good attorney will not only save you time but save you money. You want to make sure that you find someone with experience and knowledge of the law regarding a paternity dispute. Your lawyer will need to put together an excellent case for you, regardless of the route you take. If you try to settle out of court, they will need a good reason to try to avoid a judge. And a strong structure in your case can give you that. And if you do go to court, you want to make sure that your case will stand firm.

A paternity dispute can seem like the end of the world when you are going through it. However, it doesn’t have to feel that way. Having a strong attorney working for you will be a comfort. And being able to trust them will go a long way, as well. This will help you relax more through the process, but also save you money. The longer you have your attorney, the more you will have to pay. And having someone who has experience in these cases can make a big difference when trying to settle out of court. Even if you do have to go to court, having a Boca Raton family law attorney that will put up a great fight for you can make the process a bit faster. Not only will you spend less money, but you will have an amazing stronghold in your case. And that is a win-win. You can start your search here.


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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