Three Common Reasons for a Post-Divorce Modification in Orlando, Florida

Divorce is a life-altering event, and the terms of your Final Judgment may not always perfectly suit your evolving circumstances. In Central Florida, Post-Divorce modifications are quite common as people seek to adapt their Divorce agreements to better reflect their current realities. In this blog, we will explore three common reasons for a Post-Divorce modification in Orlando.

1. Financial Changes: Alimony and Child Support Modifications

Financial circumstances can change significantly following a Divorce, leading to the need for Post-Dissolution modifications. Two primary areas where financial adjustments may be required are Alimony and Child Support.

Alimony Modification:

Alimony, or Spousal Support, is typically awarded to one spouse to provide financial assistance after a Divorce. However, the situation could change, and a prior awarded arrangement may no longer be suitable. Common reasons for Alimony modifications include:

Job Loss: If the payor spouse loses their job or faces a substantial reduction in income, they may be unable to meet their Alimony obligations. In such cases, a modification can be sought to reduce the payments.

Also, if the recipient spouse loses their job or faces a substantial reduction in income, they may need additional support. In such cases, a modification may be sought to increase the payments.

Income Increase: On the other hand, if the recipient spouse experiences a significant increase in their income, it may be appropriate to reduce or terminate Alimony payments, as the need for financial support may diminish.

And if the payor spouse experiences a significant increase in their income, it may be appropriate to increase the alimony payments to the recipient spouse as the payor spouses’ financial ability may have increased substantially.

Child Support Modification:

Child Support is another financial aspect that may require adjustment Post-Divorce, primarily to ensure the child’s financial needs are met. Some reasons for Child Support modifications include:

Ability to Pay: If either parent experiences a significant change in income, it can impact the Child Support calculations. An increase in the paying parent’s income may lead to higher support payments, while a decrease in income might result in reduced payments.

And an increase in a recipient parent’s income may result in a decrease in the Child Support obligation, while a decrease in the recipient parent’s income may result in an increase in the Child Support obligation.

Changes in Child’s Needs: As children grow, their financial needs may change. For example, if a child’s medical expenses increase or their educational needs evolve, Child Support modifications may be necessary to address these new requirements.

2. Timesharing:
In Orlando, Florida, the term “Timesharing” is used to refer to Child Custody and visitation arrangements. These arrangements are crucial for the well-being of the child, but they may require modifications due to changing circumstances.

Changes in Parenting Ability: If a parent’s living situation, behavior, or relationships put the minor child’s well-being at risk, the Court may need to modify the Timesharing arrangement to protect the minor child’s best interests.

3. Relocation:

If one parent needs to move more than 50 miles from their current residence for work or personal reasons, it can disrupt the existing Timesharing schedule and necessitate the filing of a supplemental petition for Relocation or reaching an agreement with the other spouse with certain formalities.
Modifications may be needed to accommodate the new distance and ensure the child’s continued access to both parents.

As mentioned, Post-Divorce modifications in Orlando, Florida, are often pursued to adapt Divorce agreements to new life circumstances. Whether it’s financial changes related to Alimony and Child Support, modifications to Timesharing arrangements, or changes in Child Custody, the Court is open to revisiting Divorce terms when it’s in the best interests of the parties involved, especially the minor children. When life circumstances evolve, seeking a Post-Divorce modification with the assistance of a Family Law Attorney can help ensure that your Divorce agreement continues to meet your needs.
All of our Orlando Divorce Attorneys are here to help Family Law Clients navigate moving forward with a modification. To schedule a consultation, give us a call at 407-872-3161.

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Successful Timesharing in Divorce: Nurturing a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship

Divorce is an emotionally challenging process for any couple, especially when minor children are involved. As parents, it is our utmost responsibility to prioritize the well-being and safety of our children, even amidst the difficulties of Separation. One key aspect of Post-Divorce life is establishing successful Timesharing or Child Custody arrangements that promote stability, consistency, and a healthy Co-Parenting relationship. Our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys are committed to exploring essential strategies and guidelines mentioned below to help our Clients achieve successful Timesharing in a Divorce, and a positive environment for their children’s growth and development.

Open and Honest Communication:
The foundation of any successful Co-Parenting relationship is effective and open communication. Despite the personal differences that led to the Divorce, it is crucial to establish clear and respectful channels of communication with your former spouse or other parent. In situations where it is appropriate, discuss your children’s needs, schedules, and any concerns that may arise. Keep the lines of communication open and focused solely on the children, allowing them to feel secure and loved by both parents.

Consistency and Flexibility:
Consistency is imperative when it comes to Timesharing. Establishing a Timesharing schedule will provide stability for your children. Sticking to the agreed-upon times and dates, documented in your Parenting Plan will show that both parents are committed to its success. However, it is important to be flexible and understanding when unexpected circumstances arise. Be willing to accommodate reasonable requests for adjustments, as it demonstrates grace and a willingness to prioritize the children’s best interests.

Prioritize the Children’s Well-being:
Our Team encourages Clients to prioritize the well-being of minor children above personal disagreements or conflicts with their Co-Parent. After all, a nurturing and positive environment may foster healthy relationships with both parents. While speaking negatively about your former spouse or other parent in front of the children can cause emotional distress and impact their self-esteem. Instead, focus on developing an atmosphere of love, respect, and support for your new family dynamic.

Cooperation and Collaboration:
Successful Timesharing requires a cooperative and collaborative approach from both parents. Shared Parental Responsibility allows both parties to make joint decisions regarding the children’s education, health, and extracurricular activities. In cases where both Co-Parents are solution oriented and able to engage in productive discussions, all opinions and input are heard. By presenting a united front as Co-Parents, you demonstrate to your children that their needs and well-being are the top priority.

Be Mindful of Transition Periods:
Navigating life between households can be challenging for children. Transitions can be made smoother by planning ahead and communicating with your children about what to expect. If both households offer familiar items and routines, a sense of security is more likely. Depending on their ages, sense of understanding and specific needs, provide the children with reassurance and support.

Seek Professional Support:
Divorce can be draining for both parents and minor children. If necessary, consider additional support from Family Therapists, Counselors, or Clergy. These professionals can offer guidance and help resolve conflicts amicably. Their expertise can also help address any emotional challenges your children may face during the Divorce process. Each of our Orlando Divorce Attorneys recognize the value of Mental Health advocates and often provide referrals to trusted Therapists in our community.

By following the above strategies and guidelines, you may establish a healthy Co-Parenting relationship that nurtures your children’s growth and happiness. Remember, the Divorce or Final Judgment of Paternity may have ended your Marriage or time living together, but it doesn’t have to diminish your role as loving and responsible parents. With open communication, consistency, collaboration, and a child-centric approach, you have an opportunity create a bright and fulfilling future for your children, even in such a vulnerable season.

Should you have any questions regarding Timesharing, formerly known as Child Custody, contact The Marks Law Firm, P.A. at 407-872-3161 to schedule a Consultation.

Is Sole Custody Possible in a Family Law Case?

Are you in the middle of a custody battle with your spouse or former spouse? Perhaps you are wondering if you can be awarded sole custody of your minor child or children. In recent years, the Florida statutes began referring to child custody as “timesharing” or contact. The legislature felt like the term custody or visitation was more applicable to hospital or jail visits.

Often times, Family Law Clients come to our firm and ask about sole custody. Florida utilizes the following terms: sole parental responsibility and shared parental responsibility. You may be wondering what each of these terms mean. Sole parental responsibility relates to decision making for the minor child or children. A Client who is awarded sole parental responsibility makes all the major decisions affecting the welfare of the minor children.

Cases with shared parental responsibility allow each parent equal decision making regarding all the major choices impacting the welfare of the minor children. Examples include, but are not limited to education, medical, religion, extracurricular activities, etc.

When Family Law Clients consider custody (timesharing), they are mostly concerned about where the minor child or children will live. Visitation (contact) relates to living arrangements. There are certain cases where a Client may be determined to have his or her children live with him or her exclusively, and not with the other parent. However, this outcome is highly unlikely. Special circumstances where the other parent has a criminal record, felony convictions, history of alcohol/drug abuse, etc. or is a registered sex offender that would show detriment to the minor children.

One possible solution that would allow both parents to be involved in the lives of the children is known as supervised timesharing. Family Ties is a facility in Orange County that allow deputies to oversee timesharing on weekends. Doing so, ensures that the parent who has a limited amount of supervised timesharing is observed and watched very carefully while he or she is interacting with the minor children. There are also less restrictive forms of supervised timesharing.

Ultimately, it is very difficult to be awarded sole custody in Florida. Keep in mind, there are other options, even in a situation where timesharing is awarded to the other parent. Many people believe that 50/50 timesharing is presumed in the Florida Statutes. However, Florida Statue 61.13 sub factors A through T cover 20 factors that the court must consider in every timesharing (custody) case. Thus, 50/50 timesharing is not automatically awarded.

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Do you have questions regarding timesharing in your Family Law case? Our experienced Family Law Attorneys are here for you. To set up a consultation, call our office at (407) 872-3161.

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Communicating with the Neutrals in a Collaborative Case

Florida’s Collaborative Process is a neutral process where both parties agree on an alternative to litigation. Potential candidates for Collaborative Law include spouses and unmarried parents who have at least some common goals, a genuine desire to protect their minor children from the Divorce process, as well as those who are intentional about being solution-focused.

Who are the Collaborative Neutrals? In a Collaborative setting, two neutrals are present throughout Team meetings with both parties and their Family Law Collaborative Attorneys. The Mental Health Neutral serves as the Facilitator, meaning he or she will in essence run each Collaborative Team Meeting. Both parties will work with the Mental Health Neutral to complete the Parenting Plan. As a Neutral, the Mental Health Professional will consider goals that are in the best interest of the minor children, rather than just the wishes of the Family Law Clients.

Known as a more private approach to Family Law, sensitive financial documents in a Collaborative case do not need to be filed publicly with the Court. Instead, the Financial Neutral will assist both parties in preparing the financial affidavit, mandatory disclosure, equitable distribution worksheet, etc. Examples of qualified and Collaboratively trained Financial Neutrals are Certified Public Accountants, Forensic Accountants, or Business Valuation Experts.

What separates Collaborative Neutrals from the Collaboratively trained Family Law Attorneys?

While Orlando Family Law Attorneys in a Collaborative case are not considered opposing counsel, they are still ethically obligated to advocate for their respective Client and not for the other party. Confidentiality between Clients and their attorneys is still a priority. However, in circumstances where Clients meet with their Mental Health Neutral or Financial Neutral, confidentiality is not required.

According to the Florida Supreme Court, all Family Law Attorneys must provide Collaborative Law as an option to all prospective Family Law Clients as an alternative to the traditional litigation model. However, not all Family Law Attorneys in Florida are Collaboratively trained. Our Team at The Marks Law Firm, P.A. – Family Law & Divorce Attorneys is dedicated to navigating the Divorce process in a way that honors everyone involved and we believe that Collaborative Law offers our Clients an opportunity to resolve their case in a way that is peaceful and amicable. All of our Family Law Attorneys are Collaboratively trained and are here to help you.

If you have questions regarding communicating with the neutrals in a Collaborative case, or would like to speak with one of our Orlando Family Law Attorneys about the Collaborative Process, please call our office at (407) 872-3161.

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

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What to Expect in the First Collaborative Team Meeting

As a Family Law Client who chooses to proceed with your case by utilizing the Collaborative Process in Florida, you may be curious about what will happen in the first meeting. Remember, Collaborative Law is a voluntary process. Both you and your spouse will work with Collaboratively trained Family Law Attorneys who will prepare you for this meeting.

At the first meeting, you and your spouse will come together with your respective attorneys, a Financial Neutral and a Mental Health Neutral. You can anticipate that the Mental Health Neutral on your Collaborative Team will facilitate each meeting. Right away, he or she will explain the Collaborative Process and its purpose. Once an overview of Collaborative Law has been presented, the Mental Health Neutral will go over the necessary documents needed for your case to be resolved. Examples of such documents include a Collaborative Participation Agreement.

Our Collaboratively trained Orlando Family Law Attorneys at The Marks Law Firm, P.A. – Family Law & Divorce Attorneys believe the most important part of the meeting follows, which is goal setting. At this point, you and your spouse will each share what your goals are and what you would like to see come out of the Collaborative Process for your Family Law case. Each professional on your Collaborative Team wants to see the process succeed and will support you along the way.

Prior to the first Collaborative Team meeting, you should meet with your Family Law Attorney to discuss your specific goals and gain his or her insight. You are an important part of the Team and your trusted Collaboratively trained Family Law Attorney should have sound legal advice for you in order to make sure the Collaborative Process runs smoothly.

During the goal setting stage of the first Collaborative Team Meeting, it is imperative that both parties present their goals in a way that can be easily understood and agreed upon. Of course, the most common goals in many Collaborative cases involve protecting the minor children and ensuring their security and stability. By choosing the Collaborative Process, you are remaining focused on solutions and prioritizing peace and transparency throughout your case.

One specific goal might involve where the children will reside once your divorce has been finalized. Some Clients decide it’s best for the minor children to remain in the marital home where they can maintain familiarity (friendships, neighborhood activities, schooling, etc.) however, it is a common goal that the children spend as much time as possible with both parents. Another common goal could revolve around the children’s financial future.

Looking ahead to building a foundation of ongoing and positive communication amongst the co-parents may be a common goal as well. While your marriage may be ending, your commitment to the wellbeing of your children and the preservation of your family as you and your spouse move forward should not change.

While the goals mentioned above may be envisioned by both parties, in some Collaborative cases, Timesharing (also known as Child Custody) agreements may require more conversation and compromise from the co-parents. Ultimately, Timesharing schedules should reflect what is in the true best interest of the minor children, above the desires of either co-parent.

Another goal that may be brought up in the first Collaborative Team Meeting relates to spousal support. If you or your spouse has a financial need to receive alimony, and the other spouse has a financial ability to pay it, this should be expressed openly to the entire Collaborative Team. The Financial Neutral will help you navigate this part of the Collaborative Process.

Goal setting is considered the framework of the Collaborative Process and will allow both parties to move forward while collectively working towards what they would like to accomplish. However, if new goals arise, they may be shared at subsequent Collaborative Team Meetings.

Perhaps you can think of other goals that would come up during a Collaborative Team Meeting. If you are interested in learning more about this healthier approach to Family Law in Florida, please contact our office at (407) 872-3161 to speak with one of our experienced Orlando Family Law Attorneys today.

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

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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!

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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.

Three Common Challenges Blended Families Face

Many times, when couples are experiencing marriage again after a divorce, a new spouse isn’t the only addition to the family. Second marriages not only represent a sense of hope, but may also include a season filled with challenges and transition. For newlyweds with children from previous relationships, it is especially important to manage any expectations regarding the new family dynamic. While television shows and movies often idealize the lives of blended families, parents should make an effort to be sensitive and mindful of their children’s feelings.

When two families are coming together as one, the honeymoon phase may be short lived. Despite each parents’ willingness and determination to create a perfect new life as a blended family, they may not be able to avoid the tension and trials that come up as a result of their union. In fact, there are many challenges blended families struggle to overcome.

Coping with Sacrifice

Young children especially may not realize how many changes will take place once other siblings come into the picture. In situations where the stepsiblings didn’t have an opportunity to get to know each other prior to spending extended periods of time together, they may not understand or expect any sacrifice necessary, financial or otherwise. Validate their feelings, and explain how each member of your new family will need to sacrifice at one point or another for the overall benefit of everyone involved.

 Maintaining Inclusivity

Perhaps most of the new siblings get along and enjoy quality time together. However, it is not unusual for one or more of the children to experience feelings of isolation. Easing into a new normal where each child has an opportunity to express his or herself in a safe and open environment is imperative.

Keeping up with Schedules

Age groups, interests, commitments, academic needs, etc. all contribute to the family’s evolving calendar. At first, establishing a routine may seem impossible. After all, the children depend on you and your spouse for transportation and punctuality. Even if co-parents are present and willing to help, you might consider leaning on extended family to make sure everyone is accounted for. Communication is key.

Our Team at The Marks Law Firm, P.A. recognizes the support and patience necessary for blended families to blossom and thrive as a successful unit. We also value the insight and experience of mental health professionals in the Central Florida community. To learn more about blended families, visit our Therapists Corner column.

Co-parenting: How to Prepare for the School Year

For our children, it may seem as though summer just started. Department stores, television commercials, print advertisements, etc. remind us that the back to school season is on the horizon. Children and parents who are readjusting from a divorce, may experience more anxiety than typical concerns students have prior to the first day.

If you are attempting to balance the pressures of the upcoming school year along with easing into a co-parenting arrangement, we assure you, it is possible. While doing so may be challenging and emotional, communication and planning will benefit everyone involved.

Clearly Identify Responsibilities

Depending on the specifics of your parenting plan, both you and your former spouse may be expected to financially contribute to your child’s supply needs. In addition to the costs associated with back to school season, transportation and meals should be accounted for. We shouldn’t assume that carpooling arrangements will be the same as prior school years as professional commitments change and availability may be impacted. Remember, it is imperative to be upfront with what is expected of each parent prior to the first day of school.

Keep a Written or Digital Record of Schedules

Classes, extracurricular activities, tutoring, volunteering, etc. vary depending on your child’s needs and interests. With other responsibilities, it can be easy to lose track of events. Maintaining an agenda or digital calendar that can be shared with your former spouse will help ensure your kids are present for appointments or other points of interest. This will also eliminate any potential confusion regarding your children’s whereabouts.

Inform Teachers and School Staff of Co-parenting

When you have an opportunity to meet your child’s new teacher, let him or her know of any specific concerns you have regarding your co-parenting arrangement. Most cases resolve with the children staying with one parent for all or much of the school week. However, there are unique situations where the children may need to bring additional belongings to school for extended stays with your former spouse. Divorce comes with many moving parts. Be honest about how your child is handling the transition so that his or her teacher can anticipate any behavioral patterns.

Are you interested in speaking with one of our Central Florida Attorneys regarding your co-parenting concerns? Schedule a consultation here.