Orange County Law Blog

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What is the role of mediation in a Florida divorce?

Most Floridians who are contemplating divorce are more concerned about enduring a long and bitter struggle than they are about the actual outcome. One way of reducing the rancor between the spouses and ensuring a better result for both (and any children that may be involved) is engaging in divorce mediation.

The purpose and nature of mediation are often misunderstood. Mediation is essentially a voluntary process that is guided by a neutral third party. The neutral third party is the mediator, and most mediators have received special training in how to conduct mediation sessions. A mediator is not - repeat, not - a decision maker. The only decisions that come out of a mediation are mutual decisions by the two divorcing spouses. The mediator uses his or her training to help the couple resolve what may seem to be intractable disputes. For example, the mediator might suggest a flexible visitation schedule to help resolve custody issues, or the mediator may be able to help the couple set values on their assets to expedite property division.

Review of Florida's child support guidelines

As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, Florida has a set of child support guidelines that are supposed to apply to all parents in Winter Park who are living in separate homes and have children whom they legally must work to together to provide for financially. The idea behind these guidelines is to make sure that child support is fair and is relatively consistent across the state.

While most if not all other states also have child support guidelines, it is still helpful to review exactly what Florida's guidelines will consider in their formula for determining support.

Three men charged with Fruitland Park murder

Some criminal suspects are arrested very soon after they committed a crime. Others remain free while police investigators gather evidence and compile information that will lead to identifying the suspects. On April 10, 2018, a man was shot to death in his garage in Fruitland Park. Police have just now announced that three suspects have been arrested and charged with the murder.

The victim was working in his garage repairing a truck. Three men stopped in the alley, and two of them entered the garage to rob the victim. The victim was shot and killed in the garage, and the three men fled the scene. Investigators were able to learn that they were traveling in a black Honda. A vehicle matching the description was stopped a few days later, but all occupants of the car were able to escape on foot.

Seeking modifications of child support orders

Your children are your world, and you likely spend much less time with them than you would like. While you may have balked at the amount of child support the court ordered you to pay, you know it is your obligation to provide for your kids, and you willingly comply with the order.

However, things are getting tough. Maybe you have lost your job, suffered a medical emergency or are dealing with another type of financial setback. If you are having trouble meeting your other bills, you may worry about your ability to keep up with child support payments. Since the penalties and consequences are significant for falling behind on your support obligations, you will want to investigate the potential for modifying your court order.

Parental relocation with a child after a divorce

Many residents of Orlando and Winter Park who have finalized a divorce and been awarded custody of their children wonder whether they can move and take the children with them. Conversely, many residents respond with anger and fear when they learn that their ex-spouse plans to move and take the children. Fortunately, for both parties, Florida law provides two basic methods for resolving the problem of parent relocation when children are involved.

For purposes of the statute, "relocation" is defined as any move for a distance of 50 miles or more. The parents and "every other person entitled to access or time-sharing with the child" can agree among themselves to any relocation, if they sign a written agreement that specifies the move, contains language that expresses individual consent to the move and defines an access or time-sharing for all individuals entitled to visitation with the child. The agreement must be filed with the court. If no one objects to the agreement within 10 days, the relocation is presumed to be in the best interests of the child.

What happens to a HELOC in a Florida divorce?

HELOC stands for home equity line of credit. It is a line of credit that is secured by a lien on the equity in a person's home. In Florida, HELOC loans are usually made by banks or lending companies. A person may borrow up to a specified maximum percentage of the value of the home after deducting the amount owed on the mortgage loan used to purchase the house. Many couples use equity lines of credit to finance a home renovation, a vacation or perhaps pay unexpected medical bills. HELOCs can be very useful, but what happens to the HELOC if the couple gets a divorce?

The first question is whether the line of credit remains open after the divorce proceeding begins and whether both spouses can continue to draw money from it. Each HELOC loan reduces the home's equity by the amount of the loan. If one spouse ends the divorce with title to the house, and if the other spouse continues to draw cash from the HELOC, that spouse is effectively taking property from the other spouse. The simple solution to this problem is to terminate the HELOC as soon as the divorce petition is filed. The failure to take this precaution may cause any number of financial headaches after the divorce.

Sailor loses fight to have parents fulfill temporary time-sharing

Florida is home to many military installations for all five branches of service. In recognition of this fact, the legislature passed a law permitting military members who were placed on temporary assignment to designate a person to fulfill their time-sharing responsibility with their children. One member of the Navy recently argued that his three-year assignment to Guam was "temporary" and wanted to allow his parents to fulfill his paternal role while he was overseas. However, an appellate court disagreed.

The statute allows a parent who is "temporarily assigned to military service" for more than 90 days and the assignment "materially affects" the parent's ability to comply with shared custody requirements, to designate one or more people to fulfill the time-sharing requirements on the parent's behalf. When the Navy assigned the sailor to a three-year term in Guam, the sailor used the statute to designate his parents to take his place under the court-ordered time-sharing plan. The mother of the child objected to the arrangement, and a lawsuit followed.

Carjacking suspect captured in Tampa

On the morning of April 25, four carjackings occurred along I-4 between Orlando and Tampa. According to police, the crimes all occurred with the space of an hour. The suspect first stole a 2009 Cadillac in Orlando around 10:00 a.m. The Cadillac was spotted being driven into Hillsborough County. The car was involved in a minor collision, and the suspect abandoned the vehicle near an I-4 entrance ramp. According to witnesses, he ran across the exit ramp into a nearby residential area. A resident allegedly watched the suspect steal his pick-up truck. The man then followed the suspect in his other car to a Marathon gas station.

The two men are said to have confronted each other at the gas station and argued. The suspect then fired two shots at his pursuer. The shots missed and struck one of the vehicles. The suspect then headed south on Thonotosassa Road, still driving the pickup truck.

Yes, a prenuptial agreement can improve your marriage

Planning your wedding may be one of the most overwhelming and time-consuming tasks you ever take on. From finding the perfect venue to curating the guest list, it may seem like the process never ends. Florida couples usually realize the work is well worth it when their day goes off without a hitch.

Despite picture perfect days, most people miss out on an incredibly value pre-marital planning tool -- a prenuptial agreement. Often unfairly vilified in popular media, prenups can be essential for not only protecting each person's interests, but also for creating the opportunity for open dialogue.

Romantic jealousy may have led to murder

The ashes of a broken romance often rekindle, and the resulting flames can be intense and all-consuming. In some cases, the re-kindled flames can lead to violent crime. This scenario is the possible cause of the recent murder of a woman from Apopka.

The woman was found by police in response to a 911 call, allegedly made by the woman's former boyfriend. The man called 911 and told them that a masked, armed female intruder had shot him in the foot as he was returning a key to the victim. When deputies arrived at the home, the woman was allegedly wearing only underwear, and her hands and face were covered in duct tape. Her feet were attached to the bottom of a bed post with cable ties. Police say that she was unresponsive when they arrived, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

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