The only thing constant in life is change.

John Clarke: Fort Lauderdale Family Law Lawyer in South Florida

If you are seeking to adopt a child, enter into a marriage, or are facing the breakdown of a marriage, there are important legal consequences to consider. ClarkeLaw represents clients in family matters such as divorce, stepparent adoption, child custody, and pre-nuptial agreements.

 

Divorce

When you are facing the breakdown of a marriage, you will likely experience emotional and financial stress. You may be unsure of how to proceed to protect your interests and the interests of your children. Let ClarkeLaw use its experience to help you navigate each step of the divorce process and put your best case forward.

Stepparent Adoption 

A stepparent adoption allows a stepparent to become a legal parent of a child in place of one of the child's natural parents. The child then has two legal parents who are married to one another. A family may seek a stepparent adoption when a parent who has raised the child has remarried, and the child’s other birth parent has disappeared or has ceased to be involved in the child's life.

Child Custody 

Maintaining a close relationship with one's child is usually a top concern of a parent. Child custody issues arise in the context of divorce as well as domestic violence. Courts decide child custody issues according to the perceived best interests of the child.

Prenuptial Agreement 

A prenuptial agreement ("prenup") is a written contract created by two people planning to marry. The purpose of the prenup is to define each party's rights to the property that the parties acquire during the marriage (without a valid prenup, state law determines who owns this property and what happens to it in case of divorce or death). The prenup typically lists the property each party owns at the time of marriage and delineates the property rights of each party after the marriage.

Prenups are not just for the rich and famous! They are useful for many reasons, such as protecting spouses from each other's creditors, passing property to children from prior marriages, and avoiding litigation in a subsequent divorce.

 

Divorce in florida:

 

The divorce process begins when one spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the circuit court of the county where he or she lives. The Petition is an official form on which the petitioner requests a divorce, and asks the Court for division of marital property, alimony, child support and custody arrangements. After completing the Petition, the "petitioner" must sign it before a notary public. Then the petitioner files the original Petition with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where he or she lives. The petitioner is required to file other documents to verify his identity and finances along with the Petition. A simplified dissolution is also available, but only if the parties have no dependent children.

Once the petitioner has filed the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, she must properly notify her spouse of the divorce action. If she knows where her spouse lives, she must use personal service to serve him with a summons. If she doesn't know where he resides, she may be able to satisfy the notice requirement by "publication" (publishing a notice of the divorce petition in a prominent local newspaper for a statutory time period). Once her spouse receives notice of the divorce, he has 20 days to file an answer.

The answer may agree or disagree with all or part of the divorce petition. If the respondent doesn't contest the divorce (agrees with all the terms of the petition), the court will usually grant the divorce. If the divorce is contested, resolution is delayed so that the parties can engage in discovery. In the discovery process, the attorneys for the parties gather information on their adversaries (discovery usually involves a financial investigation but may also encompass personal information).

If the divorcing parents can't agree on issues relating to their children such as child custody and child support, the Court will order mediation prior to ruling on the Petition (in which a neutral mediator engages both parties to strive for a mutually acceptable solution ). The guiding principle that the Court applies to questions of child custody is the best interest of the child. The parties usually

resolve a contested divorce through mediation or negotiation between their respective attorneys during the pre-trial phase.

If the parties are unable to resolve the divorce on their own, however, The Court will hold a trial on the matter. In rare cases, the judge may require the spouses to attend marital counseling prior to scheduling this proceeding. At the trial, each party, typically represented by an attorney, presents evidence gained in discovery for its case. Once the trial has concluded, the judge considers all the evidence presented and issues a divorce decree, which is a final judgment concerning all outstanding issues in the divorce.