IF MY SPOUSE RELOCATES, WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS?

If the Court orders relocation either through agreement of the parties or during a hearing, one of the factors the Court looks into is what the transportation costs are going to be for the non-custodial parent.

 What does this mean in plain English?

 If my spouse is the one that relocates the kids, how much is it going to cost me to see my kids?

One thing that we know is that long distance travel and transportation costs can be extremely expensive in certain situations.  We’ve seen various costs associated with transportation ranging from a small amount of gas money for a trip, to extensive airfare associated with overseas and international travel. 

 The factors for costs of the transportation differ on where the parents live, depending on if it’s a flight situation, whether there is an airport hub or multiple connecting flights and depending on the age of the child if they can fly without an adult. These different factors will all affect the transportation costs associated with the relocation. 

 So when making my long distance agreement, what do I need to take into consideration for the costs?

 Let’s use an example that your child is 2 years old when you agree to a relocation of the other party with the child, that would equal at least 16 years of transportation expenses associated with your time-sharing with the minor child.  Multiple that by each child if you have more than 1 child.

 To start to get an idea of the costs involved, let’s say in the example above the long distance timesharing was limited to:

                - one full month  (30 days) during the summer for the       

                 noncustodial parent, and

                - then some time at Christmas (how about 10 days?), and

                - let’s also include every other thanksgiving and spring break.

             * this is not necessarily a normal schedule, it’s just an example.

Christmas is one of the most expensive times to fly as children are normally out of school at that time and it is a peak travel time; this is usually true for Christmas, Thanksgiving, spring break, and summer break. These breaks all turn into good periods of time to make up time for the noncustodial parent if you live 2,000 miles away from each other; as every other weekend is not likely going to occur.  The transportation costs are going to be higher than a weekend in September, as these periods are the most regularly traveled periods. This has to be factored into the analysis of payment of transportation costs.

So if in the example the noncustodial parent is flying in to pick up the child that would be a roundtrip ticket home and then to bring the child back and then fly back would be another roundtrip ticket plus the child’s roundtrip ticket.  So just for one timesharing break if you bring the child back to the noncustodial’s home that could be a number of roundtrip tickets and if you multiply that over two to four times per year and then multiple that by 16 years, the costs associated with the timesharing could be substantial while the child is a minor. Keep in mind there are a lot of other variables for timesharing, which could necessitate additional costs associated with transportation.  So again this is a very important factor to remember to remember that this may not just be someone paying for a tank of gas for a 3-hour round-trip drive from city to city. 

How do people figure the payment of the transportation costs out?

 Of course we have to give the normal legal answer that every situation is usually different.

 Why is this so? Why can’t it be one size fits all?

Well, there are different situations that necessitate different results:

  • Sometimes parties will split the costs pursuant to a percentage either 50/50, 75/25, 90/10 – dependent on a whole host of factors, or
  • Sometimes one party bears all the costs, again this is based on each parties’ set of unique circumstances
  •  and then again it can be taken into consideration for child support and the Courts can take into consideration for a deviation from the child support guidelines based upon the expenses associated with the noncustodial parent’s timesharing.  Again, we stress the word “can”, the Court is free to Order what they feel is in the best interest of the child and what is fair and just for each situation. The parties can settle out of Court for payment that they deem to be fair as well if the Court will approve it.

What if I want more time?

 In some situations the parties are able to fly in for weekend timesharing or if they lived close they can drive if the financial circumstances allow for this type of timesharing.  Again, flights to and from distant locations for a short weekend are less prevalent. Sometimes we will see flights in to a locale and staying in a hotel or apartment near the other party’s residence for weekend timesharing, but again, the most frequent long distance time-sharing does not include more than about 5-8 weekends out of the year. This is an option to use floating weekends that can occur during the year at the request of the noncustodial parent, so it won’t be 26 every other weekends during the year, but it will be almost monthly contact with the minor child.

Again, this article does NOT suggest that relocations are always granted, but merely that IF the relocation is agreed to or Ordered by the Court, everyone needs to look at the transportation costs as this is a big issue in most cases. The Courts look at many factors in deciding a relocation, but this is not the topic of this article.

In conclusion it’s very important to keep this very potentially expensive factor in mind when you’re agreeing to or formulating a long-distance timesharing schedule, or an agreement based upon a proposed relocation. 

Our office deals with relocations on a regular basis and you can give us a call at (813) 272-2345 to set up a consultation relating to your proposed relocation or if you are the noncustodial parent and you are objecting to a relocation.  Sometimes it’s also helpful to speak to an attorney if either party is thinking about agreeing to the relocation and wishes to have more information or have an attorney assist in the process of negotiating the long distance timesharing and payment of transportation costs

By: William S. Foley, Esq.

Jurisdiction: Florida

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What if I need support but I don’t want a divorce?

            Sometimes when parties are married they choose for whatever reason not to proceed forward with a divorce but they still separate.  As there is no legal separation in Florida, one method used is to file an action called “support unconnected with a divorce” in order to receive support without filing for the divorce. 

This is only used in certain situations.  Again these cases are not routinely filed but it is another option available for alimony and child support for a party to receive some support prior to a final dissolution of marriage. 

The relevant Florida Statute is 61.09 and reads as follows:

61.09 Alimony and child support unconnected with dissolution.—If a person having the ability to contribute to the maintenance of his or her spouse and support of his or her minor child fails to do so, the spouse who is not receiving support may apply to the court for alimony and for support for the child without seeking dissolution of marriage, and the court shall enter an order as it deems just and proper.”

         61.10 is also another Florida statute which explains the adjudication of the support action:

61.10 Adjudication of obligation to support spouse or minor child unconnected with dissolution; parenting plan.—Except when relief is afforded by some other pending civil action or proceeding, a spouse residing in this state apart from his or her spouse and minor child, whether or not such separation is through his or her fault, may obtain an adjudication of obligation to maintain the spouse and minor child, if any. The court shall adjudicate his or her financial obligations to the spouse and child and shall establish the parenting plan for the parties. Such an action does not preclude either party from maintaining any other proceeding under this chapter for other or additional relief at any time.”

                              - 2013 version of statute

Speak to an attorney about this area of the law as again since it is not filed very often sometimes it can be confused by some parties as being an actual dissolution proceeding rather than just a support unconnected with a dissolution of marriage proceeding.

By: William S. Foley, Esq.

Jurisdiction: Florida

What is Mediation?

Mediation is an opportunity to get things done. 

What we mean by that is that litigation is time consuming, costly and many times results in an outcome that would be more advantageous if the parties were able to come to a settlement as it costs money to get to the judge. 

Mediation is that option to get the case moving in the right direction to come to a settlement. 

It takes a meeting of the minds. 

It takes restraint. 

It takes compromise. 

It also takes reason and sometimes what would seem like a little bit of luck but attorneys know that a lot of times through hard work, preparation and consistent contact with their clients prior to the mediation helps prepare them to better informed and more able to make a decision at the mediation. 

Mediation itself in Florida is confidential and privileged.  In family law and divorce cases, which is the subject of this article, the relevant rules provide for confidentiality of mediation and settlement negotiations that take place at mediation.  So if the parties do not enter into a settlement agreement, offers and counteroffers made in compromise should not be used against them later. 

Confidentiality is very helpful as sometimes parties may be more willing to offer more than they would be willing to offer when they go to court, so then they want to make sure that these offers of compromise and settlement are not used against them later if the mediation does not work out, so it gives a forum for parties to feel comfortable to make their best offer.

A mediator is neutral and works for the agreement. The mediator is NOT the Judge. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties; the mediator helps facilitate an agreement. If you can’t agree, that’s when you turn it over to the Judge for the Judge to decide.

If you are interested in mediation in Tampa, Florida, Saint Petersburg, Florida, Clearwater, Dade City, New Port Richie, Plant City, Sarasota, Bradenton, Bartow, Lakeland, Spring Hill, Hernando, please give our office a call at (813) 272-2345 to speak with a divorce and family law lawyer that deals with mediation and is experienced in settling and litigating divorce and family law issues.

By: William S. Foley, Esq.

Jurisdiction: Florida

 http://www.wfoleylaw.com

we can help… seriously.

We are here to help.

The mantra of our office is we are here to help you.

We believe in The Reasonable Divorce, and what that means is that if both parties are able to be reasonable about their lives, their property, their children, their finances and then we are here to help the parties come to an agreeable resolution.

We do know that some cases are unable to be settled and many times that’s due to one party being unreasonable. Sometimes, it’s just because both parties want the same exact thing, such as primary custody of the children. So we do our best to suggest reasonable behavior, but in some circumstances but parties just want the exact same thing.

The firm firmly believes that the vast majority of cases where both parties are being reasonable that an agreement settlement is imminent. We are here to help in all cases which the parties as well wish to be reasonable.

We feel our office has reasonable fees and reasonable staff to help you through your problems. This does not mean that we work for free as nothing in life is truly for free and again the phrase as everyone has heard a million times - you get what you pay for - we are clearly a proponent in that phrase, that we feel we are worth what we charge and that it’s a reasonable fee.

We feel we can show you as well how we can be of help to you in your family law matter. It can be divorce, paternity, child support or other related family law matter in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Manatee, Orange, Seminole, or Hernando counties.

We are here to help and to be there for you during this time in your life.

We understand it’s hard.

We understand it’s stressful.

We’ve had hundreds of cases that have helped us to be able to know how to deal with your specific situation which is different than everybody else’s situation. We’re finally attuned to that, that we have to approach each situation differently and look it from the context of what our client’s goals are.

Again, if your goals are reasonable and your spouse’s goals are reasonable and there are two reasonable attorneys involved, we feel there’s a good opportunity for settlement so you can move on with your life, save money in the time being and create a better future for your children.

Again, call us today at (813) 272 2345, we’re here to help.

www.wfoleylaw.com

Is Florida a ‘No Fault Divorce’ State?

The concept of no fault divorce is one that has evolved over time as state legislatures attempted to redefine the legal rules surrounding the dissolution of marriages. Historically, states required parties to a divorce to prove ‘fault’ regarding the demise of the marriage. For example, New York required that a party prove cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, confinement, or abandonment, in order to successfully dissolve a marriage. The policy reason behind this was that states wanted to protect the institution of marriage and encourage reconciliation amongst the parties.

So, what happened?

The simple answer is that state legislatures came to the realization that divorces often do not involve ‘fault’ in the traditional statutory sense. Instead, couples may often be incompatible, unhappy, and simply feel that their marriage is broken beyond repair. For this reason, states opted to introduce the concept of ‘no fault divorce.’

What is no fault divorce?

No fault divorce essentially means that the parties to a divorce only have to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken or there are irreconcilable differences between the parties.

How do I file for a no fault divorce in Florida?

In Florida, the process for filing for a no fault divorce is simple. First, a legal marriage must exist. Second, one of the parties must have been a permanent resident of the State of Florida for a minimum of 6 months prior to the initiation of divorce proceedings. Third, the parties must properly allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that irreconcilable differences exist within the marriage.

But what if fault exists?

Often divorces are precipitated through the fault of one of the parties. For example, adultery is a common catalyst for divorces.

So, what role does adultery or other types of fault play in divorce proceedings?

Surprisingly to most clients, adultery is not considered in the decision to grant a dissolution of marriage. However, adultery or other types of fault may play a critical role in the allocation of marital assets through equitable distribution. For example, if your spouse is engaged in an adulterous relationship, and makes expenditures on that relationship, than you may be entitled to receive a share of what your spouse spent on their adulterous relationship. While, adultery may not play a pivotal role in the decision on whether or not to grant a divorce, it can become a crucial factor in determining proper distribution of marital assets.

In Conclusion, Florida is a ‘No Fault’ State and William S. Foley, PA can help you in your divorce. Please call today at (813) 272-2345 to speak to an attorney about your divorce and family law questions.

 Click here to visit the William S. Foley, PA website for more information

What is Stalking?

            Like many things, stalking comes in all shapes and sizes and victimizes a broad range of individuals. Sometimes an act of stalking is easy to point out, but in many cases the behavior in question straddles a fine line between being lawful or constituting stalking. Understanding this distinction in behavior is critical in the law of stalking.

           So, what is stalking?

            In Florida, an individual commits misdemeanor stalking if they “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follow, harass, or cyberstalk” another person. In some instances, an individual may commit felony aggravated stalking if they make a “credible threat” to the person they are stalking. Whatever the degree of stalking may be, courts use a fact based inquiry to decide whether or not the legal threshold for stalking has been met.

            When a claim of stalking is based on an individual being repeatedly followed the inquiry is usually simple. Prove that you have been repeatedly followed, with proper documentation, and a court will most likely find that you have been stalked. However, things are different when stalking is based off of harassment.

            Harassment is a course of conduct directed at a specific individual that; 1) Causes substantial emotional distress; and 2) Serves no legitimate purpose. As a practical matter, course of conduct is a series of acts over a period of time that demonstrate a common purpose. Even though, a series of acts is required, courts have held that the time-span between the acts can be as little as hours. So, the classic Hollywood idea that stalking takes place over weeks, months, or even years is not entirely accurate and should never deter someone from seeking legal protection if they are a victim of stalking. Instead, stalking can occur over a matter of a few hours or a few days. It all depends on the circumstances.

            Once a pattern of behavior has been established the next inquiry by the court will be to determine whether the victim suffered substantial emotional distress as a direct result of the harassment. In doing so, a court will use the “reasonable person standard” to judge if a person, under similar circumstances, would suffer substantial emotional distress. If the substantial emotional distress is based off of conduct that enjoys special constitutional protection, like picketing, then a court will rule that there was no stalking.

            As has been said, stalking comes in many ways, but one thing is consistent: the longer it goes on the more severe the behavior becomes. Many people mistakenly think that they are powerless to do anything about their stalker because even though they are fearful and upset over the harassment, they are unsure as to whether they are “legally” being stalked and reluctant to seek help. Never take this risk. First, if you strongly feel as though your life is in immediate danger then call the police. Additionally, a qualified family law attorney can advise you on civil protection such as temporary and permanent injunctions and additional measures to protect yourself from a stalker. 

            To conclude, stalking is an extremely serious offense and should be taken very seriously regardless of the form that it takes place in. It occurs throughout a multitude of places, such as the home and the workplace, and affects a broad range of people. It is important to remember to evaluate the elements of stalking when considering whether conduct amounts to stalking and it is also advisable to seek professional help and consultation.

 By: William S. Foley, PA

http://www.wfoleylaw.com

Why Should I Retain a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer?

Some people think that a collaborative divorce is appropriate for 
their situation, when it may actually not be appropriate. But the 
greater percentage have never even heard of collaborative 
divorce, or if they have don’t know the benefits. So this is an 
article to go over some of the benefits of Collaborative Divorce:

Some benefits of Collaborative Divorce —-

A.        
Humane Divorce —- Some people feel that the normal 
way of litigation is a very impersonal stress-inducing, sometimes 
pretty traumatizing event that occurs in their life.  Collaborative 
divorce is not the easy thing to do and is still challenging, but is a 
much more humane way of dealing with such an emotional time 
in someone’s life.  

B.        Team Approach —- In a collaborative divorce everybody 
in the team, which would be the two attorneys, the two parties 
and two experts, one financial and one mental health expert, work 
together as a team to get to an agreement.  So, during team 
meetings where all six of the team members will sit around the 
table and try to make sure they can figure out what it is the 
parties and their children and their lives best interest.  

C.        No posturing  —- What makes this so much different 
than a normal divorce proceeding is that the aspect of attorneys 
posturing back and forth and other litigation tactics are not 
necessary and are not used as they are working towards a final 
resolution.  

D.        Carrot at the end of the stick —- The carrot at the 
end of the stick the parties to follow through to conclusion is that 
if the parties do not settle during the collaborative process, they 
must fire their attorneys and the experts and start all over to file 
for divorce.  So, this is much different than a normal divorce 
proceeding and it entices people to try to find a way, if at all 
possible, to settle.  There’s different statistics that we’ve seen, but 
it appears that somewhere between 90 to 95 percent of 
collaborative divorce cases ultimately settle and are successful.

http://www.wfoleylaw.com

The Gray Divorce: Divorce in the Golden Years of Life

            Coping with and managing a divorce at any stage of life is a difficult concept for most people to master. For some people, this may be the first time that they have had to get a job in order to support themselves. For others, it may mean that they are now single parents. The simple fact is that post marriage life can be extremely difficult to adapt to and can bring a whole list of financial and emotional worries. This is particularly true for those people who are at least 50 years old.

             According to a study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, the divorce rate for those aged 50 and over doubled in the United States from 1990 to 2010, and today, divorces of the 50 and older group account for approximately 25% of all divorces in the United States.[1]

            Handling and managing a “gray divorce” is something that must be done with extraordinary care. Often couples may have accumulated significant wealth at this stage in life which may have resulted in vast investment portfolios and property investments. In other cases, couples may be living on a fixed income. Whatever the individual facts of the particular case, divorces in the later stages of life involve factors that are not traditionally involved in divorces and special care must be afforded to them.

            These types of divorces can result in new, unforeseen obstacles and can cause great financial worry. As so, it is especially important that when considering an attorney, that you choose one who recognizes and has the ability to deal with the unique circumstances accompanying a divorce in a later stage of life.

           William S. Foley, P.A. has extensive experience managing and successfully resolving gray divorces. Whether you are a Fortune 500 CEO or a stay-at-home-spouse, William, S. Foley, P.A. will ensure that your rights and privileges are protected as our team helps to walk you through the divorce and settlement processes.

Florida Stalking Injunction

On October 1, 2012, Florida supplemented its list of available civil injunctions with a new independent injunction for stalking. This stand-alone injunction for victims of stalking offers a new civil protective remedy that is specifically tailored to protect those who have been affected by stalking. Stalking was already previously an offense that could allow a court to issue an injunction. So, the question that remains - is how will this injunction influence the current landscape of civil injunctions?

The short answer is that the addition of this injunction will not have an immense impact from a legal perspective; rather, there will just be another category in which to file an injunction in Florida. This is simply because - as mentioned above - other injunctions were in place that explicitly offered protection to individuals who are victims of stalking. Still, the addition of this injunction is an important legislative achievement for it shows how serious stalking has become and shows that lawmakers are taking important steps to protect the public by directly recognizing the prevalence of stalking in society. The injunction is no doubt a viable option for those who have been victimized by stalkers, but is it the best option for victims? 

Answering the question of whether seeking a stalking injunction is the best course of action really depends on the circumstances of each individual’s case. In some cases, where an individual feels that their or someone else’s life is in immediate and imminent danger, the police should be called to prevent the situation from escalating to a volatile level. Alternatively, an experienced family law attorney can lend great insight into whether or not an injunction would be appropriate in a particular case, and this can usually be done in an initial consultation to discuss all of the injunctions available in Florida.

There are some important things to keep in mind when seeking a stalking injunction against a particular individual or seeking to have one dismissed that has been filed. First, is that claims of stalking have to be supported by “competent substantial evidence.” In other words, solid proof of stalking is required before the court may issue an injunction or the court may risk being overturned by a higher court if an appeal is filed. This is extremely important and is often best supported through evidence and testimony. Documentation over a period of time allows a court to get a good grasp on the nature of a case and it gives the court an opportunity to make a better, more informed judgment. Persons in situations that may potentially result in a stalking injunction should be aware of this and should take any necessary steps to ensure that they have proper evidence to support their allegations. 

It should be noted that the process for obtaining a stalking injunction is virtually identical to the processes for injunctions concerning domestic violence, repeat violence, etc. A petition is filed, the court will either: 1)  issue a temporary order and set a return hearing, 2) not issue a temporary order and set a hearing for a within 15 days, or 3) or dismiss the injunction. After the final return hearing the court will issue its final ruling. Under this process, it is common for judges to be fairly liberal in granting temporary injunctions if the petition sufficiently alleges that stalking may have occurred. This is simply a matter of prudence as courts would rather err on the side of caution until a full hearing can be held and all of the evidence has been displayed. 

The issuance of an injunction can have very serious consequences in many areas of life. Those who have injunctions on their records are often unable to secure certain employment opportunities in careers that require background checks and security clearances. More importantly, injunctions can have a direct effect on whether or not someone can see and be with their loved ones, namely their children. Injunctions truly are a powerful remedy and should be approached under the guidance of a qualified attorney. 

Having a qualified attorney involved may mean the difference between a dismissal of an injunction and an issuance of one. Even more than that - legal proceedings involving stalking are highly emotional and can cause confusion and uncertainty. An attorney, who has been involved in injunction proceedings before, can be a tremendously stabling force through offering objective advice from an experienced perspective. It always helps to have someone there who has navigated through this process before. If you are interested in speaking with a Florida Family Law Attorney about a Stalking Injunction contact William S. Foley, Esquire at (813) 272-2345 toady. 

www.wfoleylaw.com