Frequently Asked Questions

Our Sarasota Family Attorneys understand that during this difficult time you have many questions. We want to make sure some of your most pressing questions are answered. Below we've compiled some of the most common questions we receive from our clients and made their answers available to you.

Family Law & Divorce FAQs

How Is The Amount of My Child Support Payments Determined?

In the state of Florida, there is a statute called the Child Support Guidelines. Your net income, along with the number of children you have, is used to determine the total child support amount that you will need to pay on a monthly basis.

What If My Child's Parent and I Are Not Married?

The first thing you will need to do is to prove paternity of the child through a test. A paternity test can often be ordered by a Florida court. After issues of paternity are determined, then your family law attorney can advocate for you as they normally would in a family law case.

Is it true that the Mother always gets custody of the minor children?

Years ago, the "tender years doctrine" held that it was in the best interests of minor children for the Mother to have custody during the early years of their life. This is no longer the case, and Florida law has no presumption with respect to which parent should have more, or less, time with the children.

In fact, a series of pieces of proposed legislation have suggested that Florida is likely to enact a law that presumes that the parents are to divide their time with the children equally. While this isn't the law yet, Sarasota and Bradenton Courts are already starting to reflect this concept in their custody and time-sharing Orders. The amount of overnights one parent has with the children can have a dramatic impact on child support, as well, so as is common with family law, custody is one of many moving parts that make up a well planned settlement, or successfully litigated divorce.

My Spouse or Partner Refuses to Report All of Their Income/My Spouse or Partner Earns Well Below Their Capacity. Can I Force the Court to Increase Child Support or Alimony?

In Florida, the State can impute income to a spouse or partner. In other words, a family law lawyer can argue that their client's spouse or partner earns below their capacity and ask the court to calculate child support or alimony as if the spouse or partner earns what they could.

If a spouse or partner is earning money "under the table" or is otherwise hiding sources of income, it will be up to you and your Sarasota family attorneys to prove that.

How Do I Get a Divorce In Florida?

  • You will need to attest to the fact that your marriage is no longer able to be mended through counseling or other means. In Florida, you do not need to prove anything other than that your marriage is "irretrievably broken" in order to file for divorce.
  • Either you or your spouse needs to be a resident of Florida for the six month period before you file a divorce petition.
  • The first thing you will need to do is file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This reveals your claims to property and debts, child support, or alimony. Your spouse will need to be served papers by a process server. If there are children in the relationship, you and your spouse will also be required to complete a parenting seminar before the two of you can proceed.

Can One Lawyer Represent Both Me and My Spouse?

There should never be one attorney representing both parties. You and your spouse may have very different goals when it comes to child support, alimony, division of property and/or debts. Therefore you and your spouse should have different Sarasota divorce lawyers representing both parties.

What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a pre-marriage contract that is signed by both parties. This agreement determines what will happen regarding alimony, division of property and/or debts in the event of a divorce. These contracts can be important as what one party will get can differ greatly depending on whether one exists or not.

For the most part, prenup agreements are upheld in Florida courts. However, they can be contested if one party can prove that the other hid assets prior to the signing of the agreement, or otherwise was not truthful about the financial holdings. Prenuptial agreements can also be contested if one party felt coerced, intimidated or forced to sign the agreement.

Am I Eligible For an Annulment in Florida?

If you are considering an annulment vs. divorce, you should know that it is difficult to get the former granted by a Florida court. To get an annulment, you will need to prove that one of the following scenarios occurred:

  • One of the parties was unable to enter the contract due to an inability to understand the proceedings;
  • One of the parties was intoxicated at the time of contract;
  • The two parties never consummated the marriage contract;
  • One of the parties seriously misrepresented themselves prior to the marriage.

If none of the above scenarios occurred, or you wait a long time before filing for an annulment, a Florida judge may require you and your spouse to file a regular Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

Divorce With Young Children FAQs

Do children understand divorce at a young age?

Generally, no. Babies and toddlers feel conflict and tension between parents, but don’t comprehend why it’s occurring.

How will divorce affect my kids?

It depends on your kids’ maturity and development at the time and how you and your spouse get along during the divorce. High levels of conflict between divorcing parents have been found to lead to a poorer adjustment for their kids.

Is divorce bad for children?

This can be a subjective area. Studies and psychologists have found children may prosper emotionally after the divorce of conflicting parents. However, there are many individual factors that go into whether a divorce has a harmful effect on children.

How do children cope with divorce?

Each child copes differently and how they handle the stress of divorce depends often depends on their age, personality, and circumstances of the divorce. Parents can help their children by keeping visible conflict such as heated discussions away from them and try to minimize any changes in the children’s daily routine.

Does my child need a lawyer?

Generally no. But, the court may appoint a Sarasota divorce attorney for your child if the court believes the child needs legal representation, or you ask for a lawyer and the court agrees.

Why did the court appoint a guardian for my child?

A Guardian Ad Litem is often appointed when a divorce has allegations of abuse and/or neglect involved. The role of the guardian is to look out for the child’s best interest as a neutral individual during the divorce proceedings.

Why would my child need a lawyer?

Children often benefit from the help of a lawyer when there is:

  • A high level of conflict between their parents;
  • The child has strong views;
  • A history of family violence, drug or alcohol issues, or mental health problems; or
  • Interference with the child custody arrangement.

Tobaygo Law is a law firm of divorce lawyers Sarasota parents and children depend on to ensure the best interest of the children is always put first.

What if I ask the court to give my child a lawyer, but the court does not agree?

You then have the option to hire a lawyer for your child. The Sarasota divorce attorneys with Tobaygo Law have years of experience working with and representing children during a divorce.

What will my child’s lawyer do?

The child’s lawyer advises the court what is best for the child, how their parents can best meet the child’s needs, and the best way to handle any conflicts. To speak with a divorce attorney Sarasota parents and children know will put the children’s best interests first, contact Tobaygo Law.

How will the lawyer know what’s best for my child?

A family law attorney Sarasota meets with your child and learns about their beliefs, feelings, and wishes. The lawyer will also meet with you, the child’s other parent, and others who know the child, such as teachers, doctors, and daycare providers.

Do I have to help the lawyer?

Yes. The child must be available to meet with the lawyer when the lawyer asks. You’re also required to sign legal forms allowing the lawyer to view the child’s health records, school records, and/or other information pertinent to the case.

Who pays for my child’s lawyer?

You and the other parent. How much each parent is responsible for is determined by the court based on each’s financial situation.

How do I ask for a lawyer for my child?

If a lawyer isn’t appointed by the court, and your case is still open, you can fill out Motion for Orders before Judgment and Financial Affidavit forms. A Sarasota divorce attorney with Tobaygo Law can help with these forms and any other questions or concerns regarding a divorce with children.