DIVORCE LAW

Child Custody & Visitation
Child Support
Modification of Orders
Paternity Disputes
Relocation
Spousal Support

Child Custody and Visitation

Florida Custody Lawyers all too often work in the best interest of their client, not necessarily the best interest of the child. When I began my Family Law practice years ago, I wanted to provide an alternative to the prevailing attitude that all a child needs is his or her mother. I am a mother. I am a proud, hard-working, die-for-my-children mother, but I am also a great believer in the value and role of fathers in a child’s life. Countless studies have proven that a father’s influence—especially in the lives of their daughters, can prevent societal ills such as teen pregnancy, and promote scholastic achievement, empathy, and positive self-image in children. For this reason, I have decided to further “specialize” my family law practice in such a way that I can embrace and protect the role father’s play through the Family Court system.

I believe that by virtue of being a female, I offer a unique perspective in the courtroom when it comes to a father’s parental custody rights. However, I am by no means anti-women or anti-mother’s rights. My practice also includes supporting the rights of mothers and any disenfranchised care-giver because the strength of my practice relies not on winning in the courtroom, but in promoting child welfare. That’s the kind of Florida lawyer I want to be.

Shared Parenting

It is the children who suffer when Florida custody lawyers create inflexible rotating and shared custody agreements. Children want and deserve access to both parents. When both parents want custody of the child because of a true desire to be with their child (as opposed to hurting the other parents) the child, naturally, feels loved and their self-esteem remains intact. When a child is kept from a parent that wants to spend time with them, or hoarded by a parent who is more concerned with their own schedule the child feels as though their feelings are secondary and unimportant. It is our job as Florida custody lawyers to create a solution that promotes the child’s own sense of self-worth and happiness. This is accomplished through fair “shared parenting” arrangements that provide the child with flexible access to both parents.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

While the courtroom scenario makes for good television, I feel that it can escalate an already tense situation. Whenever possible, I urge the use of mediation and other methods of ADR to resolve issues of child custody. As a Florida lawyer and a parent myself, I know that children are best served by healthy, harmonious environments. While it may not be possible for the mother and father to live harmoniously under the same roof, it is always possible for them to put aside enmity in order to provide a stable and united front when it comes to custodial resolutions.

Modification of Orders

Divorce Lawyers Practicing Family Law are well-versed in the process of modifying previous court orders. In this economy, you have to be. Job loss, loss of benefits, relocation—all of these unexpected events can create a situation where custody, child support, and spousal benefits are brought once more to the table for amendment and modification. The loss of a job does not mean that you are relieved of your court-approved settlements and agreements unless you create what is called a “Modification of Orders” that is also approved by the family courts.

Should you decide on your own, without the court’s permission, to discontinue paying child support or spousal support your ex can petition the courts for wage garnishment, property liens, or to have the money removed from your bank account without your consent.

When an unexpected event happens, you must follow the correct legal process and appeal to the courts for a modification, temporary or permanent, to the final orders issued in your case.

I help individuals all the time work within the court system to have their final orders modified when an event such as job loss or hospitalization occurs. If you find yourself in a situation beyond your control that will affect your ability to meet your court-ordered obligations, please seek legal counsel. I can assist you with finding an appropriate solution to your life changing event.

Child Support

Florida Divorce Lawyers are responsible in cases where children are involved to follow the child support guidelines determined by the State of Florida. This means that a Child Support Worksheet must be filed with the courts along with a Family Law Financial Affidavit. Child support is highly regulated here in Florida so that the best interests of children are served. The courts look at the parent’s net income, child care costs in an area, health insurance costs, percentage of time spent with each parent, and other expenses before determining child support payments.

In some instances, both parties will attempt to negotiate and resolve payments prior to going before the court for approval. The Florida divorce lawyers attempting to negotiate this type of settlement must have the approval of the courts to deviate from the state’s mandated child support guidelines.
Should you or your former partner wish to amend the child support worksheet, it is my job to assist in the fair negotiation of an alternative settlement.

Relocation

Central Florida Custody Attorneys are often called upon to assist in the resolution of relocation applications. In these economic times, many parents who have lost a job find themselves in a situation where they might be required to relocate, either for a job or even a cheaper place to reside. The law states that a custodial parent may not move a child more than 50 miles away from their current location without court approval. In these instances, a parent must apply for permission to relocate. The non-custodial parent will be served with a notice that clarifies their intent to relocate to another area.

For the non-custodial parent, this can be a very difficult situation that he (or she) may wish to object to within the court system. Again, most
Attorneys will first attempt to work outside of the presence of a courtroom to negotiate terms that can be submitted to the court for approval, but in the event that an agreement cannot be reached between parental parties the case will go before a judge for adjudication.

Paternity Disputes

Orlando, FL Custody Lawyers must, from time to time, deal with issues of paternity within the courts. These disputes are never something to be taken lightly, and they can (and do) become contentious due to the nature of the dispute itself. Some men will dispute their paternity of a child that they do not believe is theirs, still others will petition the courts to have a child’s DNA established because they believe a child might be theirs. As I’ve said, these cases are never easy and almost always become highly emotional, regardless of the outcomes.

I work with men who have found themselves in a situation of unresolved paternity so that they might have some form of closure in regards to the existence of a child that may or may not be theirs. For those who wish to not only establish paternity, but also win the right to assist in the parenting of a child I will work with you to not only petition the courts for testing that can prove your paternity but also to negotiate your rights to access.

For those who are on the opposite end of the spectrum, where perhaps they feel as if they are responsible for the well-being of a child that is not theirs, they can naturally feel taken advantage of and heartbroken.

As your Divorce Attorney, I can advise you of your rights in this situation, but I also try to help you work through your initial reaction towards a long-term outcome that you can live with. I’ve found that the initial hurt can propel a case such as this forward at break-neck momentum, and then months later the individual feels regret regarding the decision to abdicate himself from the life of a child he had grown to love and view as his own.

If you are in the middle of a paternity conundrum, I urge you to give me a call so that we can discuss your options regarding the dispute.

Spousal Support

Orlando Divorce Lawyers are responsible for negotiating financial settlements, such as alimony, on behalf and in the best interests of their client. However, we are also beholden to Florida statutes regarding alimony and must adhere to the laws governing spousal support. It is an unfortunate fact that these troubling economic times can make spousal support even more contentious, but the truth is the laws governing spousal support prohibit alimony payments that do not correspond to a demonstrated need. I work closely with all of my clients to better understand the needs of the spouse who is requesting alimony, as well as, the financial capabilities of the spouse being asked to make support payments.

As a Family Law Lawyer practicing in this area, I know that the courts will determine spousal support based upon the following criteria:

  1. Need
  2. Standard of living during the marriage
  3. The length and duration of the marriage
  4. The financial resources and assets of both parties
  5. Age and physical condition of both parties
  6. Contribution to the marriage in terms of support (worked while one went to school, childcare, career contribution, etc.)
  7. The time necessary to get a job, go back to school, etc.

How the court chooses to appropriate spousal support is based upon case law and has many options in regards to type of alimony and duration. They have the options ranging from temporary to permanent, or the court may choose to apply the alimony in a lump sum payment.

Florida Divorce Lawyers will attempt to create favorable spousal support agreements for their clients, and will usually work prior to a court appearance to negotiate a settlement with the other party as the courts can be fickle in interpretation of case law. I want to see a fair outcome in all family law settlements and will be a firm and aggressive advocate for just treatment.

The Law Firm of Beryl Thompson-McClary & Divorce lawyer Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary specializes in the various areas of family law & divorce. Domestic Violence, personal, family, and relationship matters are covered in our website’s blog. If you’re in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando Area with questions on domestic matters, in need of experienced advice, and/or representation contact us by phone or email today. Our consultation is free and our office is conveniently located in Downtown Orlando, FL.