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Common Misconceptions of Divorce

In our society today, it can sometimes be difficult to avoid the influence of media and television. While we know that many real-life circumstances are portrayed with exaggeration and embellishment, the lines between reality and fantasy are often blurred. The divorce process is regularly explored in film, sitcoms, and even reality television. However, have you ever wondered just how much of what we see on television is an accurate representation of family law?

Below are a few common misconceptions of the divorce process.

All cases require both parties to attend court proceedings: This statement is false. In the state of Florida, mediation is a required part of the divorce process. What does this mean? Spouses (and their attorneys, if legal representation has been retained) meet with a neutral professional in an effort to resolve the case. During mediation, each spouse has the opportunity to make decisions and have a direct impact on the outcome of their case. Rather than rely on a Judge to come to a final ruling, mediation allows couples to explore solutions that work best for everyone involved.

Child custody arrangements only revolve around an every other weekend schedule: On television, we see this custody arrangement displayed more often than not. Timesharing, formerly known as Child Custody is more complex and personal than an every other weekend schedule. In some divorce cases, one parent may have the children during the week, while the other is awarded weekends, or there may be a 50/50 timesharing schedule, or something in between. Each family dynamic is unique, and timesharing is determined by taking many factors into consideration such as work schedules, living arrangements, etc. Before initiating a divorce, you may want to communicate any expectations regarding timesharing with your spouse.

Once you begin the steps to initiate your divorce, reconciliation is no longer an option: While some attorneys may not support the opportunity to reconcile with your spouse, our Team at The Marks Law Firm, P.A. encourages reconciliation when appropriate. We gladly refer our Clients to trusted marriage counselors and other professionals who would positively impact the marriage. Our experienced family law attorneys are committed to serving Clients in a way that honors God and what is best for the family. Several of our Former Clients have withdrawn their divorce petitions in favor of reconciliation.

It is our Mission: “To Honor God and Faithfully Represent our Clients with Great Leadership, Attitude, Excellence and Teamwork.”

To speak with one of our attorneys about the steps in the divorce process, contact us to schedule a consultation today.


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Three Things You Should Know Before Filing for Divorce

While in many cases, divorce allows former spouses to move forward from conflict, reevaluate priorities, and learn to co-parent efficiently, the early stages of separation can be challenging. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, we encourage you to become more familiar with the process.

Before filing for divorce, you should be aware of the following:

1. Options that would meet your specific needs: Do you have minor children? Have you heard about parenting plans? Are you familiar with collaborative divorce? Did you know that mediation is generally required in the state of Florida? These are all questions to ask yourself before pursuing the divorce process.

For parents with children, it is important to consider how to navigate co-parenting successfully. The two of you should be on the same page regarding important timelines and the overall needs of your family. Children often have full schedules including school engagements, after school activities, etc. Also, it is important to make sure birthdays and holidays are accounted for in your conversations and development of a parenting plan. Perhaps you and your former spouse have a general idea of how many overnight visits each of you would like with the children. Discussing such details in the beginning of the divorce process may alleviate tension as you move forward.

In order to avoid court fees and increased wait times to appear in front of a judge, mediation is an imperative step in Florida divorce proceedings. Unlike a full trial, meditation is typically resolved with attorneys and an impartial (third-party) mediator. This route allows former spouses to directly contribute to solutions that will impact the outcome of their case.

As suggested by its name, collaborative divorce involves an environment where both parties work together with trained professionals to come to a resolution in the best interest of the family as a whole. When couples choose collaborative divorce, they work with an entire team including the attorneys on both sides, a mediator, financial professional and mental health counselor.

2. Potential timelines for a resolution: According to DivorceNet, on average a divorce case can take 6 months + to complete. Timelines are often determined by how long it takes for parties to agree on child support payments, custody (timesharing), visitation, division of property and debts, and alimony. Cases where former couples can come to an agreement rather quickly may be resolved in a matter of weeks.

3. Associated costs: In addition to initial consultation fees, many attorneys have specific hourly rates depending on certifications, years of experience, educational background, etc. When you are searching for an attorney to represent you in your divorce, you may want to ask about the costs that will accumulate throughout your case.

Should you be interested in discussing further details of divorce or dissolution of marriage, contact us today.

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4 Steps to Take After Your Initial Consultation

Meeting with an attorney for an initial consultation can be overwhelming. Perhaps you have not been in the position to seek legal advice before. Once you have an opportunity to discuss your family law case with an experienced Central Florida attorney, you may be left wondering what to do next.

Depending on your overall experience going through the consultation process, you may want to consider the following steps:

  1. Contemplate your options: Before you decide to retain an attorney, you might want to ask yourself the following questions.
  • Can my marriage be saved?
  • Have my spouse and I exhausted all efforts to maintain our relationship?
  • Are my spouse and I willing to try counseling?
  • Would a Collaborative strategy meet the needs of my family?
  • Am I ready to take legal action?
  1. Review your notes: During your initial consultation, the attorney will ask questions to get to know you and the specifics of your case better. Many potential clients use this time to write down how the meeting went from their personal point of view. Did you feel comfortable discussing the details of your case with an attorney? Are you confident in his or her ability to serve as a legal advocate on your behalf?
  1. Determine your ability to follow through with a fee agreement: There are many factors that contribute to an attorney’s hourly rate such as experience, industry training, educational background, etc. Be sure to carefully read any documentation related to fees and/or retainers. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if there is anything you don’t fully understand.
  2. Contact the attorney to retain services: Once you have made the decision to take legal action, it is imperative to get in touch with the attorney you would like to represent you. Remember, every case is unique and different. It is important to manage your expectations. Should you have questions regarding policies and procedures that the attorney and/or legal team follow, let them know as soon as possible.

If it turns out that the timing isn’t right to move forward, you still might choose to keep your notes and contact information for the attorney in a safe place, in the event that you decide to pursue your case at a later date.

To speak with one of our attorneys, contact us today.

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FAQ Initial Consultation Edition

Prior to scheduling an initial consultation, you may have several questions regarding the legal process. Below are examples of questions we have received from potential clients who have been interested in coming in for an initial consultation. Corresponding answers are included as well.

It is our Mission: “To Honor God and Faithfully Represent our Clients with Great Leadership, Attitude, Excellence and Teamwork.”

Q: How many years of experience do each of the attorneys have?

A: To view specific levels of experience for each attorney, visit their respective profiles here.

Q: Are there different hourly rates for each attorney at The Marks Law Firm, P.A.?

A: Yes, if you are interested in learning more about each attorney’s hourly rate, please contact us at 407-872-3161.

Q: Do I need to submit a deposit prior to coming in for an initial consultation?

A: Yes, to reserve your initial consultation appointment time, you may call our office.

Q: How do I move forward with booking an initial consultation at The Marks Law Firm, P.A.?

A: If you are interested in scheduling an initial consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys, you may fill out our contact form or do so over the phone.

Q: Is it possible to hold an initial consultation with an attorney over the phone or via Skype?

A: Yes, if you would prefer to attend an initial consultation over the phone or via Skype, please let us know when scheduling your appointment and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

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Four Reasons to Thank Your Stepdad This Father’s Day

We live in a time where many families include stepparents, so it is important that we honor them on holidays as well. This Father’s Day let’s take a moment to celebrate and show gratitude to the father figures in our lives.

Stepfathers especially deserve recognition for their role in the lives of children. To our stepdads, on Father’s Day and every day, we thank you for…

Being patient: Children of divorce may be hesitant to accept new relationships. Even in situations where both parents have moved on, it may take several months for children to adjust to their new normal.

Showing up: While many divorce cases involve two co-parents who are committed to playing an active role in the lives of their children, life gets in the way. Often, stepfathers help with homework, transportation, meals, etc.  The little things leave a lasting impact and are worthy of appreciation.

Respecting boundaries: Perhaps the children’s father is involved in their daily lives. Knowing when to step in and when to allow co-parents to make decisions regarding the children’s best interest requires humility.

Creating new traditions: At first, adapting to new living arrangements and blending families may not be easy. However, with change comes the opportunity to start fresh.

Visit our Pinterest page for more on the impact of stepparents, co-parenting strategies, transitioning to a blended family, etc.

Happy Father’s Day to all dads!  YOU are important!

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Are You Interested in Adoption?

Whether you are planning to start a family through adoption or would like to give your child and/or children a sibling, we encourage you to be mindful of the unique journey ahead. There are many moving parts in the adoption process. Before you initiate adoption, it is important to consider the potential steps involved.

Are you unsure of where to begin?

Be bold in prayer: Our God is faithful and knows the desires of our hearts. During your alone time with Him, share your deepest fears, ask for patience and guidance while you are vulnerable, and don’t be afraid to voice your greatest wishes for your family. It is also important to pray for any others who are a part of the adoption equation. Birth parents and their families are experiencing incredible sacrifice. Pray for peace of mind and clarity while they enter a life changing decision.

Seek support: Sometimes when we make such life altering decisions, it can be difficult to lean on others. Perhaps you don’t want to burden your loved ones with the what-ifs. However, you should not hesitate to allow those closest to you to support your growing family.  Also, choosing adoption connects parents and families with others who are experiencing similar circumstances. If you would rather confide in an objective third party, consider speaking with a mental health professional.

Do your research: Depending on your area, there may be certain guidelines and timetables associated with the adoption process. Look into possible requirements, including proof of residency, family history documents, health records, etc. You might want to compile a notebook or digital file of any necessary paperwork or related materials.

Explore different options: Have you considered fostering a child as part of your adoption journey? There are many children in need of a loving home within our communities.

Contact an attorney: Many family law attorneys handle adoption cases. Once you have made the decision to adopt, it is important to familiarize yourself with the legal aspects involved. Schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the first steps toward growing your family.

Call us today to speak with one of our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys regarding adoption.

Three Ways to Support Single Moms This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is around the corner. On this day, many families are intentional about catering to the matriarch of their home. What about single mothers? In our society today, many retailers and companies feature ideal gift ideas for mom. While many of those ideas are centered around two parent households, it is important to consider the needs and wants of single mothers as well.

Is there a single mom in your life who would benefit from an act of kindness? Are you unsure of what she might want or need? Do you want to show her support? Even small gestures can make a difference this Mother’s Day.

  1. Pray for her. Being a single parent can be challenging and lonely, especially for new moms. Offer empathy and pray for her patience as she experiences parenthood without a partner. Ask her if she has any specific prayer requests.
  2. Invite her to celebrate with you. If you are planning to spend the day with your family, suggest she tag along. Open your home to her if you are staying in. This can be especially welcoming for single mothers who are unable to share the day with their children due to timesharing arrangements.
  3. Prepare a meal for her family. Perhaps she is able to celebrate with her children. As the end of the school year approaches, she may be putting their needs above her own wishes for the holiday. Find an easy recipe that she might enjoy. Surprise her with it and allow her to have one less task on her to do list.

If you or someone you know is a single mother, who is navigating the challenges of parenthood alone, we invite you to visit our Therapists Corner column for more insight.

How to Maintain a Family Unit After Your Divorce

With emotions at an all time high, going through a divorce may leave you feeling defeated. The future you envisioned for your children no longer lines up with your current circumstances. Timesharing schedules (formerly known as custody arrangements) and parenting plans are part of your new reality. It may be difficult to move forward at first, but there are certain measures you can try that may help you and your former spouse create a new normal for your family and children. We encourage you to keep an open mind and make an effort to avoid allowing your judgment to be clouded by fear or assumptions.

In our society today, there are many types of families. Despite your marriage ending, it is possible for your family to keep going.

Determine what works best for you: Although you may have witnessed someone close to you experience divorce, it is important to realize that no two cases are resolved in the same way. Each case is unique.

Recognize the needs of your children: Getting caught up in new responsibilities and expenses can be overwhelming. Some changes may be more subtle than others. To help maintain stability for your children, prioritize their needs. Doing so, especially in the beginning of your family’s transition will help you and your former spouse work toward a common goal as co-parents. Separate any conflict you might experience due to the divorce from the other parent’s ability and opportunity to continue to be present in the lives of your children. Put your children first, and when appropriate, come together as a team.

Be patient: Trust the journey of this experience. Know that over time, the change will be easier to manage. Grief is part of the process as you come to terms with your divorce. Keep in mind, everyone expresses grief in their own way. Talk to your children and develop open communication so that they feel comfortable letting you know when they are struggling.

Remember, you do not have to walk through this season of your life alone. For those who are in need of a family counseling referral, we may be able to connect you with an experienced mental health professional.

Our Orlando Divorce Attorneys are able guides and remain committed to settling differences in a manner that reflects the best interest of the family as a whole, especially when there are children involved. Want to schedule a consultation? Call our office today.

Four Steps to Take When Considering a Divorce

Whether you’ve reached a breaking point in your relationship or your marriage has been in a state beyond repair for a while, divorce should not be approached lightly. There are many factors that influence settlements and final judgments. Our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys are solution-oriented and committed to demonstrating empathy for the client throughout the process of dissolution of marriage.

Before you begin the legal process to end your marriage you may want to take the following steps:

1. Consider Counseling: Sometimes our efforts to communicate with each other lead to misunderstandings or unintentional conflict. Working with an objective mental health professional may help you and your spouse develop strategies to move forward and be open about expectations regarding the future of your relationship. Don’t know where to start? Call us for a referral.

2. Evaluate Your Finances: Many couples underestimate the impact a divorce has on their finances. If you and your spouse cover expenses on a shared income, it is important to realize that ending your relationship could lead to necessary lifestyle changes in order to maintain financial stability. Attorney’s fees and other costs associated with your separation could affect your finances as well.

3. Maintain a Record of Important Documents: Any materials that may be relevant to your case should be easily accessible. Examples include: bank statements, credit card statements and balances, car loans and balances, pay stubs, mortgage statements, and business records, if applicable. Being organized will help avoid potential delays in divorce proceedings.

4. Schedule a Consultation with an Attorney: Once you are confident in your decision to move forward with a divorce, you may want to research Family Law Attorneys in your area. An ideal attorney/client relationship consists of open communication, honesty, clear and realistic expectations, etc. Legal advocates understand that no case is identical to another and recognize the importance of compassion and serving as a guide to clients in their time of need.

Every client of The Marks Law Firm is considered a pivotal part of the legal Team on their case. Does this resonate with you? Call our office to schedule a consultation today.

*Photo Credit: rawpixel via Unsplash

Three Ways to Invest in Your Marriage in 2019

January is recognized as the top month for divorce filings across the country. Once the holidays are over, spouses no longer feel pressure or obligation to keep up appearances regarding their marriage. Perhaps you are struggling in your relationship. The new year brings an opportunity to embrace change and recognize areas in our lives where improvement may be necessary.

In order to maintain healthy relationships, we must be willing to treat them as investments. While the fruits of your labor may not lead to immediate results, we encourage you to be patient and build on the foundation of your marriage.

  1. Communicate: When we are angry, it can be easy to shut down and give our partner the cold shoulder. Eventually, our emotions will build up and a minor issue may grow into something more significant. Although your intentions to work through your feelings alone were meant to avoid conflict, it is important to explore solutions as a team. Creating an open dialogue allows each of you to be upfront with your feelings, hopes, and goals.
  2. Be Intentional: Life is incredibly fast paced. With or without children, prioritizing marriage can be difficult. Don’t underestimate the impact of a well-planned schedule. Take advantage of alone time together when it is available. Social media fills our minds with the idea that happy couples thrive off of grand gestures and lavish vacations. Instead of being motivated by comparison, cater your plans to activities that fit your lifestyle. Pinterest, for example, offers many attainable options that may be beneficial for you and your spouse.
  3. Meet Each Other with Grace: Every relationship experiences conflict. It is imperative to be compassionate with one another despite disagreements, or other causes of marital tension. Compromise is essential for couples who are committed to moving forward and adopting solution-oriented mindsets. Often, the moments where it is the hardest to remain clear headed and kind are when our partner needs grace the most. By making an effort to see our spouse in the same way that God does, we allow ourselves to let go of unrealistic expectations, and invite both forgiveness and perspective to soften our hearts.

To speak to one of our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys, contact our office today.

*Photo Credit: Tú Anh via Pixabay