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Orange County Law Blog

Uncontested divorce is the right choice for some Florida couples

Divorce is never an easy process, but there are some options available to Florida couples that may make it a bit easier. When you think of divorce, a picture of two people yelling at each other in a courtroom may come to mind, but that is not a realistic picture of what it could be like for you.

For some couples, it is possible to file for an uncontested divorce. This is a faster and more cost-effective divorce option, but it is not the right option for everyone. If you are considering your choices regarding divorce and both parties are already in agreement on the terms of the final divorce order, this could be the most beneficial path for your unique situation.

Understanding Florida bankruptcy exemptions

Many people in central Florida who are considering filing a bankruptcy petition worry that all of their property, including their home, will be taken from them to pay the claims of creditors. If a person seeks discharge of all of their debts in a Chapter 7 proceeding, most, if not all, of their assets will indeed be sold to provide cash to pay creditors. In a Chapter 13 proceeding, debtors may be able to keep a significant portion of their assets by working out a satisfactory repayment plan. Regardless of which bankruptcy proceeding is selected, Florida law permits debtors to declare certain assets "exempt" from the claims of creditors. The list of exemptions is quite long, but the major exemptions can be easily summarized.

Perhaps the most important exemption is the unlimited exemption for a person's homestead. To take advantage of this exemption, the debtor must file a notice with the circuit court stating the intention to take advantage of the exemption. A second important exemption is the death or disability benefit payable to a specific individual. Alimony and child support are also exempt from the claims of creditors. Pensions belonging to state highway patrol officers, police officers, teachers and other state officers are exempt.

Understanding how the automatic stay works in bankruptcy

Many people in Central Florida think of bankruptcy as a dark, twisted road with an unknown outcome. While the end of a bankruptcy case cannot always be accurately predicted, virtually every personal bankruptcy case begins with the same event: the issuance of a court order called the "automatic stay." The automatic stay provides the debtor with immediate protection from collection actions by creditors while the evaluation of the debtor's assets proceeds.

Whenever a petition for bankruptcy petition is filed under Chapter 7, Chapter 11 or Chapter 13, the court where the petition is filed automatically issues an order that tells every creditor of the debtor to stop any and all collection actions against the debtor or the property held in the bankruptcy estate. The automatic stay affects actions to obtain possession of property from the debtor, to create, perfect or enforce any lien against property of the debtor, or to collect, assess or recovery a claim against the debtor that arose before the petition was filed.

Police officer charged with DUI after causing four-vehicle crash

Police officers are usually viewed as community leaders in addition to their role as enforcers of the law. Whenever a police officer is arrested and charged with a crime, the community takes notice. The recent arrest of a police officer from St. Cloud, Florida and accusation of a DUI offense jumped to the top of the news recently.

According to witnesses, the officer was driving recklessly toward U.S. Hwy. 192 when he failed to slow down for traffic stopped ahead of his vehicle. The officer hit the back of one of the vehicles while traveling about 35 miles per hour. That impact led to a four-vehicle chain reaction, with three additional vehicles involved in the collision. No injuries were reported. When officers of the Florida Highway Patrol arrived at the scene, the police officer said that he was off duty and was driving his department-owned SUV home for the night. After he was placed in an ambulance for transportation to a nearby hospital, the off-duty officer allegedly became belligerent and began throwing medical equipment to the ground. Witnesses also reported that he had difficulty maintaining his balance.

How does alimony work in the state of Florida?

You are getting a divorce and you want to know what your financial picture will look like when all is complete. Planning ahead is good, particularly if you are not sure if your dissolution settlement will include an alimony order. In the state of Florida, the awarding of alimony certainly is a possibility; however, every divorce case is different, and there are no guarantees that a judge will award it.

Regardless of whether you are on the potential receiving or paying end, it is good to know how spousal support works. The purpose of alimony is to help the spouse who has been the lower-wage-earner during the marriage get on his or her feet financially. Usually, a judge only awards this on a temporary basis, but Florida does allow for the awarding of permanent alimony in select cases.

Can an order for child support from a Florida court be modified?

Florida judges generally devote a substantial amount of energy into devising an order for child support that will serve the child's best interests and be fair to both parents. Sometimes, however, the parents' or the child's circumstances change after an order for child support is entered, and the change in circumstances may motivate one of the parents to seek a modification of the original order.

Divorced parents are often able to negotiate a modification of the support order without seeking the court's intervention. Any such modification must, however, be presented to the court for approval. If the court approves the changes, the new agreement will replace the existing child support order. If the parents cannot agree on a modification, one or both parents must seek relief from the court.

Alleged drunk driver charged with killing two pedestrians

Drunk driving often leads to other crimes, some of which are serious. Drunk drivers often exercise poor judgment, and this can frequently result in more serious offenses. According to reports, a man from Palm Bay, Florida was recently charged with killing two pedestrians while he was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to Palm Bay police, the defendant was driving south on Palm Bay road when he allegedly struck and killed two pedestrians. Police responded to witness reports of a collision involving a pedestrian, and they found two victims in the median. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Proving paternity in Florida

In Florida, a child born to a man and woman who are married is conclusively believed to be the biological child of the man. Unfortunately, children who are born to women who are not married may not have a clear idea of the identity of their father. Without a determination of paternity, such children may live in poverty with their mother because the unknown father cannot be ordered to pay child support. In order to close this gap in the family welfare net, the state has established judicial procedures for determining the identity of a child's father.

Some fathers of children born out of wedlock voluntarily acknowledge that they are the biological father, and the two parents often agree on child support and related issues. When a man believed to be a child's biological father refuses to admit paternity, a court action is required to resolve the issue. An action to determine paternity can be started in the county where the plaintiff or the defendant resides. Most paternity cases are started by mothers who want the father to pay child support. The complaint in a paternity case must allege facts sufficient to show that the defendant is the biological father of the child in question. As with all civil judicial proceedings, a copy of the petition must be served on the defendant. The defendant must file a written answer, and the court may issue an order preventing the defendant from leaving the jurisdiction until the case is resolved.

Alleged DUI suspect worsens situation by making racist threats

Florida residents who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs often make their situations worse by insulting or threatening police officers after they have been arrested. A woman from Volusia County recently had this experience while she was being investigated on DUI charges.

The suspect was stopped by Volusia County sheriff's deputies on suspicion of DUI. While the arresting officer was completing paperwork, his body camera was running and recording the suspect's comments. According to police, the suspect allegedly told the officer, who is black, that he would receive "a visit from the KKK, a cross burning in his yard and harm to him and his family." Police said that the woman's image was not captured by the body cam, but her voice can be easily heard.

Understanding parenting plans in a divorce case in Florida

Parenting plans are a critical step for every couple in Florida who have minor children and are ending their relationship by divorce or by simply separating. Each couple must prepare a parenting plan that sets out visitation and custody schedules. The plan must be submitted to the court for approval and, if the couple cannot agree on a plan, the court will prepare its own plan.

Parenting plans must, at a minimum, describe the following elements of the parents' new relationship with the children: The manner in which the parents will share and take responsibility for the daily tasks that are necessary for the upbringing of the children; The schedule of visitation arrangements, including regular visitation, vacations and holidays; A designation of which parent will be responsible for health care, school related matters and the address that will be used for school boundary determination and registration; and The methods and schedules by which the parents will communicate with the children.

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