When challenges arise in a family that can only be settled through the law, they can often be sensitive, confusing and heartwrenching. Family law is an area of the law that typically involves high conflict. Family issues often result in emotional pain and distress that lasts for many years. Depending on the family's situation, help may be needed walking through divorce and adoption.
We've All Heard of the Scary "D" Word: Divorce...
If a marriage between two people has ended, particularly with children, emotions can run high and the attorney’s fees and expenses of ending a relationship can be expensive. Stress can elevate, especially if you are concerned whether the ending of a marriage will cause you great financial harm. Understanding your rights and preventing the complete loss of a lifestyle can take on great importance if you have been served with divorce paperwork from an attorney, especially if it is unexpected.
Why Does Divorce Happen in the First Place?
There are many reasons why marriages end. However, the decision to get a divorce should be taken very seriously. Typically, a couple will try to work through their issues prior to filing for divorce. Professional help is offered by:
- Marriage counselors
- Other counselors
If the couple decides that their marriage is "irretrievably broken," even after discussing with a professional, they may file for divorce. Either the husband or the wife can file for divorce in Florida. Under state law, neither party needs to be at fault for the divorce. In order to file in Florida, at least one party has to have resided in the state for the six months prior to filing. The difficult part comes with determining what this means for the family and assets that the couple has shared.
What are the Different Aspects of Divorce?
During a marriage, a couple may begin a family or decide to buy a home. There are many aspects of the relationship that have to be divided when the couple decides they don't want to continue their lives together.
Important things to consider in a divorce include:
- Child custody
- Alimony payments
- Child support
- Property division
- Tax concerns
If the couple disagrees on any of the above issues, they may need attorneys to help during divorce proceedings. The time it takes to get divorced depends on whether or not the couple can work towards a compromise.
Regular vs. Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
Regular dissolution of marriage involves one spouse filing papers to begin divorce proceedings. The other spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition and mention anything they disagree with or wish to add. Both parties may be required to provide financial information to the court, especially if one party requests alimony or child support.
This form of divorce may require mediation. Mediation is a meeting between you, you lawyer, your spouse, and their lawyer. A mediator helps you work through the contentious issues of divorce, such as custody, alimony, or property division.
Simplified dissolution of marriage is for couples who decide to pursue divorce without legal representation. They are required to file all of the necessary paperwork and appear before a judge in order to have the agreement finalized. This option is only available to couples who agree to use the procedure, have no minor/dependent children, have agreed on how to divide their property, and do not seek alimony.
Compromise for Divorce Settlement
When the two spouses are able to work through their differences, their attorneys work to develop paperwork that makes this agreement official. To finalize a divorce, the couple and their lawyers appear before a judge and submit an agreement. If the couple cannot agree, the judge may make certain decisions for them.
Divorces never really leave people "happy" with the result. Instead, each person tries to get through the proceedings with the least emotional damage possible. The Florida Bar offers more information about divorce at their website.
Divorce can be devastating and stressful on the family as a whole. Ending a marriage can have a serious impact on many areas of your life. While you worry about the personal and emotional aspects of divorce, let an attorney work towards protecting your legal rights.
What Happens During the Adoption Process?
Parents choose adoption for many reasons when they wish to start or expand their family. This process can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. The legal aspects of adoption can be overwhelming to someone with no experience with the adoption system.
A family may decide on adoption for many reasons, including:
- The parents are unable to have children due to infertility.
- They have personal experience with adoption.
- They want to provide a safe and stable home for children in need.
- They want the ability to make legal decisions on behalf of a spouse's child or
- They prefer not to have a traditional pregnancy.
There are many more reasons that couples choose to adopt, most of which are personal. No matter the reasons for choosing adoption, it is a big step and requires careful consideration.
The Different Types of Adoption
Believe it or not, there is actually more than one type of adoption! A birth parent's relationship with the child defines the type of adoption.
- A closed adoption is when information about the child's adoptive family is not available to the birth parents, which usually also results in the birth parent having little to no contact with the child.
- Open adoption, on the other hand, allows the adoptive and biological parents to have contact with each other and communicate on a regular basis in regards to the child.
The terms of an adoption can be written or informal depending on the wishes of the biological parents and the adoptive parents. If you are the biological parent and want to maintain a relationship, or you want your adopted child to have no contact with their birth parents, it may be best to have an adoption contract. This can specifically outline the adoption terms and be legally binding. Having a written document stating an adoption arrangement can help protect your child's rights and your rights as a parent.
The Adoption Process in Florida
Adoption processes may vary from state to state, but Florida's requirements and recommendations are outlined at AdoptFlorida.org. There are a few standard steps in the process of adopting a child, including:
- Orientation to learn from adoptive parents and counselors.
- In-depth training about adoption. In Florida, this is called the Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP).
- Home study. This stage of the process determines whether or not a home is safe for a child. All adults living in the household must go through background checks, supply a list of references, and have an honest and detailed discussion with a counselor.
- Finding a match. After you're approved, you will want to find a child that is right for your family. There are many resources for parents looking to adopt, including support group meetings or Internet listings
Who Can Adopt a Child in Florida?
In general, an adult who lives and works in Florida, has displayed good character, and is able to care for and nurture a child is able to adopt in the state. Single adults, married couples, same-sex couples and stepparents may adopt children. Disabled individuals can adopt children if their physical disability does not interfere with their ability to be a good parent.
Adoption is exciting and joyful for parents and the adopted child. If your family is considering adopting a child, or has already completed the adoption process, our firm wants to help you protect your rights. The adoption lawyers at the Coye Law Firm may be able to consult you on your rights and draft documents to help make your family's adoption a smooth transition.
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The expert family law attorneys at Coye Law Firm are experienced with Florida, New York, Michigan, and District of Columbia law.