Even in the most amicable, straightforward family law cases, mistakes can easily be made that compromise one or more parties and draw out litigation. Follow this advice to sidestep common mistakes that could cost you in your Florida family law case.
Know the basics of family law
Family law usually involves significant life changes, such as planning for a wedding, adopting a child, separating, or divorcing. All types of family law involve unique stresses that may put you under a great deal of strain if you are uninformed.
One mistake to avoid is having no knowledge of family law requirements. For example, you could get yourself in a huge financial bind for many years if you don’t understand how marital assets are divided in a divorce settlement. Another example would be if you didn’t learn the legal process and costs involved in an international adoption.
The best way to learn the basics of family law is to consult with an experienced family law attorney. The first consultation should always be free, and you can get a reasonable idea of what the laws require from the initial meeting with a skilled attorney. Online searches are limited in their ability to help you, since the specific details of your case make all the difference in the outcome.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. In stress-causing family law cases, knowledge can give you a refreshing measure of control over what may feel like an overwhelming situation.
Learn about your specific case details
You need to have clear goals on what you expect out of your family law case. Here are the various types of family law cases that may apply to your current legal needs:
Prenuptial Agreement: Before marriage, a couple agrees to forfeit rights to each other’s property if divorce or death occurs.
Paternity: The process of determining the biological father of a child or children. This is normally accomplished through DNA testing. Usually the mother of the child files a paternity suit to gain child support from the father, but sometimes fathers file a paternity suit to establish rights to have contact with their child or children.
Divorce or Legal Separation: In these cases, each spouse is represented by their own lawyer. The lawyers help the parting spouses divide marital property and form a financial support plan. If the couple has children, the lawyers will assist in proposing custody, visitation, and child support.
Marital Property Division: Over the course of a marriage, a couple typically acquires different kinds of assets or properties. A family law attorney helps a divorcing couple separate the assets in a reasonable manner.
Alimony: After a legal separation or divorce, one spouse may be required to financially support the other according to an amount set by the court.
Child Support and Child Custody: In divorce proceedings, the custody and support of children is established. Over time, the situation may change and could need to be brought before the court again. For example, if one parent moves out of state, the visitation schedule would likely need to change. Another example is if the financial situation of the parent who pays child support significantly changes.
Adoption or Foster Care: The legal process of adoption or foster care involves many different factors, so these cases are complex and involved. A family law attorney can help you understand the different legal requirements in either of these cases.
Emancipation: If a minor chooses to support himself or herself and assumes total responsibility for his or her own care and well-being, the court may grant the minor emancipation from his or her parents.
Gather important paperwork
In every case above, you will need to gather official records, bank statements, insurance documents, and other important papers to help your attorney do the best job possible. Don’t make the mistake of leaving anything out or it could work against you in court and cost you plenty. Skim through your files with a fine-toothed comb and bring all the records you can find to the table.
Choose a lawyer who specializes in family law
Many attorneys practice in a variety of areas, but family law cases each follow a specific set of laws and procedures. By choosing a specialist, you avail yourself to the expertise of an attorney with years of experience handling cases just like yours.
Don’t make the mistake of working with a “one-stop shop” lawyer. Arrange a free initial consultation today to discuss your case’s possibilities with a qualified family law attorney.