Family Law

Our family law practice handles issues of divorce, child custody, child and spousal support, paternity, and marital property rights. Negotiations for many of these issues often overlap.

Family law issues can be emotional and overwhelming. We do our best to ease the anxiety of this wearisome process by guiding you through the proceedings. When appropriate and with the goal of reducing the stress and cost associated with family law matters, we seek to resolve issues through mediation, in order to facilitate a successful outcome reached through negotiation and cooperation. Haven Del Pino is a skilled negotiator who can direct the mediation process toward equitable solutions, while still advocating for her client.


CHILD SUPPORT

If your spouse has fallen behind on child support payments, you may need assistance to collect the money that rightfully belongs to your child. We take on the task of protecting your child’s rights by doing everything in our power to ensure that your child support order is enforced.

Financial problems may put you in a different financial situation than when you were originally ordered to pay a particular amount of child support. However, you must continue to pay child support until the court modifies your order. We help you process a modification of your child support order so that you and your former spouse can more equitably share in the expenses of raising your child.


CHILD CUSTODY

There are two concepts associated with the “custody” of children. The first concept is “parental responsibility.” Parental responsibility describes the equal or, in some cases, the unequal division of decision making authority as it pertains to the parents’ children. In most cases parental responsibility is shared equally. However, in unique circumstances it may be necessary to provide one parent the ability to cast a deciding vote in major decisions (i.e. education, health care decisions).

The second concept pertaining to child custody is “time-sharing,” which is the division of the actual time the children will spend with each parent and where the child is going to live. There is no normal or usual arrangement when it comes to time-sharing. Fathers are accorded the same consideration as mothers in determining primary residence, regardless of the age or sex of the child. When ordering a parenting and time-sharing plan for the child, the court's primary consideration is the best interest of the child and practicality. To determine the best interest of the child, the court considers numerous factors.

Parenting plans may be established by agreement of the parents or by a judge. Plans established by the parents are subject to court approval to ensure that the plan is in the best interests of the children. Once a plan is approved by the court, both parties must comply with the plan.


DIVORCE

In Florida, divorce is referred to as “dissolution of marriage”. Florida is a no-fault state, which means that it is not necessary to prove that either party is at fault for the marriage ending. Nonetheless, fault may be relevant to issues such as child custody, alimony and dividing assets


What do I need to prove to file for Divorce in Florida?

In order to file for a divorce in Florida, you must only prove that the marriage exists, that one party has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, and that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that one spouse is mentally incapacitated.


What is a contested divorce?

A divorce is considered contested if some terms of the breakup are in dispute, such as child custody, child support, property division or spousal support. Couples in the process of being divorced often find it difficult to agree on terms of the divorce. Many couples, even those without children, still end up in a contested divorce because they are unable to reach an agreement regarding the division of marital assets and debts.


PATERNITY

Fathers can be denied rights to their children because they are not legally recognized as fathers. Paternity directly affects a man’s rights and responsibilities to a child, including in areas of child support and child custody. If the mother is married when the child is born, then her husband is presumed to be the legal father of the child. Mothers, fathers and even children can file actions in Florida if the legal presumption does not apply and the parties do not agree to paternity. Legal paternity has to be established for a child born to an unwed mother. For children born outside of marriage, paternity must be established in one of several ways before an individual can be considered the father of a child and have parental rights.


How do I establish paternity in Florida?

In Florida, there are five ways to establish paternity:

  • Marriage: The parents are married to each other when the child is born
  • Acknowledgement of Paternity: The unmarried couple signs a legal document in the hospital when the child is born, or later
  • Administrative Order Based on Genetic Testing: Paternity is ordered if a genetic test proves fatherhood
  • Court Order: A judge orders paternity in court
  • Legitimation: The mother and natural father get married to each other after the child is born and update the birth record through the Florida Office of Vital Statistics

What is the difference between legal and biological paternity?

The legal father is the person recognized by the court. He enjoys all the legal rights and responsibilities of a father. When a child is born to a married couple, the husband is presumed to be the father, even if the mother was having an affair. In other words, if a woman is married, it does not matter whether her husband is the biological father. He is presumed by law to be the legal father. If the husband later decides to challenge paternity or another man wants to establish paternity of the child, the issue must be decided by a judge.


What if I do not believe I am the father?

If a mother seeks child support from you and you believe you are not the father of the child in question, you can file a paternity action to contest the child support request. All the parties must submit to a DNA test, and the court determines paternity based on the test results. We provide high-quality representation in paternity actions and any subsequent child custody and child support actions.

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