Orlando Divorce Attorney Providing Award-Winning Results in Family Law Since 2011
Sean Smallwood is an Orlando divorce attorney who practices only divorce and family law. If your case involves a divorce, child custody, or family law you can rest assured that we have helped many clients get results over the years and can help you too. Call Now 407-574-6155
We work to strategically obtain the best outcome for your dissolution of marriage or family law case whether by amicable settlement or in a court of law.
Our Orlando divorce attorneys understand the emotional aspect of every case and pay close attention to protecting children from the damage that a divorce or family law matter can inflict.
Need to discuss your situation now? Call 407-574-6155
Informational Divorce Attorney Videos To Help Your Situation
Uncontested Divorce and How Not to Mess One Up
How Much Should I Pay For A Divorce Attorney?
The Value of Divorce Mediation
Who Should Pay the Bills During a Divorce?
How to Get Emergency Custody in Florida
Can I Set Aside a Divorce Agreement?
We also feel very strongly that many people seeking a divorce attorney in Orlando, FL have not explored every possible option to avoid divorce and that is why we encourage every potential client to at least try to seek marriage counseling before finalizing their case when
“When people find out that we offer refundable fees I think they realize that they really can trust us as their divorce and family law attorney”
Sean Smallwood, Esq.
A Divorce Attorney in Orlando, FL Can Guide You Through Complex Family Law Issues
As a divorce lawyer in Orlando, we are often are tasked with many highly complicated legal issues to tackle in a dissolution of marriage litigation. The list of these legal issues is extensive and if any of the following applies to your case then you need an experienced family law attorney on your side.
Any case involving children under the age of 18 will need to have a determination made by the divorce court regarding child custody. This will include a review of the statutory factors for child’s best interests and a comparison of the facts of your case to see which parent has acted in the children’s best interests.
There are often emergency situations in the divorce case that require the judge to step in and make immediate temporary orders on time-sharing issues. This will only happen in situations where the children’s emotional or physical safety are in jeopardy. Our advocates understand how an emergency motion must be crafted in order to receive the best opportunity to be addressed by the court.
Once child custody is addressed and the parties to the action have exchanged their financial discovery, the divorce lawyers will run child support guideline calculations to determine how much financial support the child is entitled to receive. These days the majority of child support payments are made via income withholding orders which deduct the support payments from the obligor’s paycheck.
When the parties to the divorce own a home then the divorce lawyers in Orlando, FL will need to address who will have exclusive use and possession of the home, who will pay the mortgage, whether the home will be sole via a petition for partition, and how the equity in the home will be divided.
Any asset that was obtained during the marriage will be subject to equitable distribution. This means that each party to the case is entitled to half of the value of the asset. This division will apply to anything of value including cars, collectibles, gun collections, retirement accounts, military pensions, businesses opened, and the list goes on. Very often it becomes necessary to enlist the help of a business valuation expert, forensic accountant, or other type of professional appraiser in order to accomplish this in a fair and equitable way.
Just like assets are subject to equitable division in the divorce, all deaths are also subject to be divided. It is very common for one spouse to request more of the assets and less of the debt, however, the courts will generally a tribute half of the debt to each party in the divorce unless there is a substantial disparity in the incomes of the parties that would lead the court to do otherwise. Divisible liabilities include any kind of debt such as credit card debt, auto loans, IRS debt, student loan debt, personal loans, second mortgages, and many others. It is always a good idea for anyone going through a divorce to request a copy of their credit report in order to ensure that there is no marital debt that they are not aware of before entering into a settlement or going to court for trial.
In Orlando Florida and throughout the entire state, anyone going through a contested dissolution of marriage will need to comply with rule 12.285 which governs mandatory financial disclosure for dissolution of marriage actions in the state of Florida. This basically means that within 45 days of the summons being served on the respondent both parties will need to file and serve a fully executed financial affidavit, three years of tax returns, three months of bank statements for personal accounts, 12 months of savings account statements, three months of pay stubs, a copy of any deeds to real estate owned for the last three years, a copy of a residential lease if you are renting, the most recent statement from your retirement account, and health insurance card copies. It is very common for additional discovery demands to be filed that would require each party to turn over even more information than this. The most common additional discovery demands include a request for production of documents and Florida standard interrogatories.
Alimony in Florida was created as a tool to ensure equity in each parties ability to leave the marriage and support themselves based on the standard of living that was established during the marriage. The courts will generally examine the length of the marriage and the financial positions of each party.The analysis for length of marriage is broken up into three parts short, moderate, and long-term. The standard for financial ability is summed up by saying that the requesting spouse needs to demonstrate that they have a need for alimony and that the other spouse has an ability to pay. Alimony cases require a great deal of strategy and can be extremely complex when it comes to supportive relationships, in-kind income, and using equitable division strategies to increase or minimize one’s need.
This is one of the most important factors that people facing a divorce will initially have to deal with. While every divorce attorney may charge a slightly different retainer to start work, it is universally understood that divorce attorneys charge a specific hourly rate for their time, they keep track of how much time they spend on your Case, and then bill that time against your retainer. Most divorce and family lawyers in Florida request nonrefundable retainer’s. You should always be educated on what a nonrefundable retainer entails. Our firm has a refundable retainer system in place for the benefit of our clients.
This is by far our favorite type of divorce to assist our clients with. An uncontested divorce is truly every reasonable person’s goal and consists of a situation where all legal issues associated with the case are agreed-upon by both the petitioner and the respondent. If there is even one issue that is not completely in agreement then the case would have to proceed on a contested basis. Cases that settle at mediation begin contested but finish as uncontested. Our firm has time-tested strategies that we have developed over the years to obtain uncontested outcomes that we can use for your case.
We receive countless questions every single day regarding divorce issues in Florida and we do our best to write legal blog posts for our blog that address these questions. We have also begun filming a short informational divorce attorney videos which we also post on our website. Some of the recent videos that we have created which address some common divorce questions are included above.
This is a very complicated area of divorce when the case involves children with special needs such as autism. When a child has a disability or special need there is always a laundry list of therapy appointments, doctor appointments, and school meetings that are scheduled and that the parents are expected to attend. It is very important for any parent going through a divorce and dealing with custody issues that involve children with special needs to be as involved as possible in these types of appointments and therapies.
One very common and very heartbreaking legal issue that divorce attorneys in Orlando have to grapple with on a regular basis is the divorce including allegations of domestic violence. One of the biggest problems with domestic violence allegations coming out during the divorce is the fact that there are a very large number of petitioners who make false or exaggerated claims of domestic violence in order to gain an advantage in the case. Because of this fact the courts are very cautious when evaluating allegations of domestic violence and sometimes may even be forced to deny claims of violence even when they are legitimate. When someone is a victim of domestic violence they will go to the clerk of courts office and complete a petition for protection against domestic violence. A duty judge will review the petition to see if the allegations, if assumed to be accurate, would satisfy the statutory requirements for an order of protection to be entered. If it is granted it is temporary and an evidentiary return hearing is scheduled within a couple of weeks to decide if the injunction will be made permanent or will be dismissed.
It is very common for there to be a need to request a temporary order during a divorce. This can be for temporary custody, temporary child support , temporary alimony, temporary equitable division, or temporary attorney’s fees. Here in Orlando, Florida there is an administrative order that states that the case must have been through the first mediation before one can request a hearing for temporary relief.
Whenever one of the parents wishes to change the child’s residence a distance greater than 50 miles there is a need to file a specific type of petition requesting a relocation. Relocations are a highly complex area of family law and require a high degree of strategy.
Any business that is opened during the marriage is subject to equitable division just like most other marital assets. It the parties are not able to agree on the value of the business then a business valuation expert must be retained in order to address business value. Though the business is rarely sold in order to achieve division, the lawyers must figure out realistic ways to achieve equity.
After the final judgment has been entered there is always a possibility for modification for parenting plans, child support payments, and alimony payments. Anyone asking for a modification must assert a substantial change in circumstances as this is what the statute requires. The key takeaway here is that if there has not been a sufficient change in circumstances then the petition for modification likely will not survive a motion to dismiss.
In Orlando divorce cases it is uncomfortably common for a party to attempt to conceal income from the court. This can be done in an attempt to reduce support payments and may require additional discovery, depositions, non-party subpoenas, and other maneuvers to uncover.
What If I Do Not Want To Fight And Only Want An Orlando Attorney To File An Uncontested Divorce For Me?
Many cases are resolved peacefully early in the process and without the need for costly litigation. Others will settle after the discovery process at a mediation conference. When either of these happens it means that the remainder of the case proceeds on an uncontested basis.
Uncontested cases still need to go in front of a judge for a final determination of the dissolution of the marriage, but, only one of the parties needs to attend any hearings of this type only last a few moments.
Your Orlando Florida divorce attorney will explain to you that the case can only move forward as an “uncontested” case only when the parties to the case are in complete agreement on all issues.
Any disagreement on any issue would require litigation of your case which is why having a good strategy and an ability to negotiate is crucial to your case.
Call A Family Law And Divorce Attorney Who Has Your Best Interests In Mind
Whether you have a divorce or other family law issue sometimes there is no other choice for parents other than to involve the divorce courts.
Orlando family law attorney Sean Smallwood is familiar with a wide array of legal issues and strategic maneuvers that need to be addressed in your family law case in order to maximize the odds that you will obtain the best possible result while spending as little in attorney fees as possible.
Parents who are going to court need to remember that regardless of any emotional hurts they may have toward the other party the courts will be looking to make sure that everyone’s conduct during the case is going to benefit the best interests of the children involved in the case.
We are Lawyers With Knowledge of Family and Divorce Law in Orlando, FL
Family law is often used as a catch-all phrase to describe legal issues that may arise from divorce, child custody, child support, paternity establishment, child relocation, adoption, and other similar case types.
Matrimonial attorneys in Orlando deal with cases that are different from other areas of law due to the very high degree of emotions that are involved in these types of cases.
As the name suggests, family law cases all stem from issues that arise between family members whether they are married couples, children, or grandparents.
What Sort of Strategy Will a Lawyer for Divorce Use in My Case?
Nearly every case that is filed with the courts will go to a mandatory settlement conference called “mediation” before it can be set for a contested family law trial.
It is very important for divorce attorneys to take full advantage of the beginning phase of the case in order to strategically work the case in a way that will provide the other party with as much incentive as possible to come to mediation with an open mind to settle the case in a reasonable way that is in the best interests of the children involved in the case.
We believe that in nearly every family law case it is best if the parents can settle the case amicably at the divorce mediation. This is because a contested family law trial can cost the parties more in legal fees, cause stress to children, destroy any chance the parents may have to get along later for the good of the children, and more.
For this reason, a contested trial should only be a last resort and family law attorneys should always be focused on how they can use their experience to get great negotiated settlements for their clients.
What Sort Of Fee Should I Expect To Pay For a Divorce and Family Lawyer in Orlando?
One of the most common questions that we receive from prospective clients contacting our Orlando divorce law firm is “what will my divorce cost me?”
The truth is that the fee associated with representation for your case depends entirely on the facts of the case as they are at the tie and are subject to change if things get worse. This means that a simple divorce with no children or property will cost much less than a highly contested divorce involving children, alimony, and property division where the parties are not getting along at all.
Regardless of the facts of your case, we will do our very best to craft a strategic approach to your family law and divorce case that is aimed at giving you the best result while stretching your dollars as far as possible.