Orlando Divorce Lawyer
Sean Smallwood is an Orlando divorce lawyer who focuses exclusively on divorce and family law in Orlando Florida. Case types handled include divorce, alimony, child custody, paternity establishment, relocation, and child support matters.
If you are facing a divorce in Orlando, FL you can rest assured that our compassionate divorce lawyers have helped many clients get results over the years and can help you too. Call an experienced divorce attorney in Orlando, FL Now 407-574-6155
Need A Divorce Lawyer in Orlando FL? These Videos Can Help
Uncontested Divorce and How To Not Mess One Up:
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We understand Florida divorce law and work to strategically obtain the best outcome for your divorce or family law case whether by amicable settlement or in a court of law.
Our Orlando divorce lawyer understands the emotional aspect of every case and our law firm pays close attention to protecting children from the damage that legal issues in a complex divorce or family law matter can inflict in Orlando Florida.
If you are faced with a dissolution of marriage or other family law matter involving time-sharing with children, spousal support, property division, domestic violence, attorney’s fees, or any other associated legal issue then it is highly recommended that you consult an experienced divorce attorney in Orlando, FL. From the initial consultation, you will rest assured that you have found a divorce advocate that cares about and puts your best interests first. Call today 407-574-6155
What Sort of Strategy Will Orange County FL Divorce Lawyer Sean Smallwood Create for My Case?
When developing a divorce case strategy our Orange County FL divorce lawyer located near you will begin from the moment you first call our office. An intake paralegal will listen carefully to the facts of your situation and take detailed notes for the attorney.
Our family and marital legal team will always maintain a caring and professional approach to your situation throughout the intake process.
When you come in for a consultation we will listen carefully to your perspective on the case and will pay close attention to your goals in the case. At this point in the process, we will determine if we are a good fit to represent you on your case and what your odds of success may be.
Next, we will create a strategic roadmap to be followed during the case that is aimed at working the case up in a way that will provide the maximum incentive to the other party to settle the pending legal matters in a way that you are satisfied with.
Depending on how complex the facts of your divorce case are our approach may include intensive discovery demands, depositions, emergency motions to the court, face-to-face meetings with the opposing attorney, guidance as to proper communication with the other party in divorces involving child custody, and many strategies.
Our goal for representing you for your legal issues is to showcase our litigation skills so that you feel at all times that we are providing the zealous representation in your difficult situation that you expect when you retain our family law firm. Whether your case settles at meditation or goes to trial we will provide the help you need to move on with your life.
Our Central Florida Divorce Lawyer Will Explain All Your Options
We also feel very strongly that many people seeking the best divorce attorney in Orlando, Orange County Florida, and other areas of Central Florida 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.
We also believe that every Orlando, FL divorce lawyer should be advising their clients that a reasonable settlement is in these best interests.
All contested divorce actions will need to go to court-ordered mediation and our experienced divorce advocates will work hard to achieve an amicable resolution to every dissolution of marriage.
“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.
Divorce and Family Lawyers in Orlando Working for an Uncontested Resolution To Your Case
Our uncontested divorce attorneys will always seek a peaceful path for your Orlando, FL case, and are experienced in obtaining peaceful settlements without the need for costly litigation. This is part of our commitment to provide the best legal advice when we represent clients who need our help to advocate for their rights.
Other cases 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 divorce 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 family lawyers 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 Us Today To Discuss Your Case
Whether you have a divorce, marital, or other family law issue sometimes there is no other choice for parents other than to involve the divorce courts.
Orlando family lawyer 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.
How Do Our Orlando Family Law Attorneys Charge Fees to Our Clients?
Among divorce and family law lawyers in Orlando, FL there are two common types of fee structures that one will usually see. These can be grouped into one of two classes: Non-refundable fees or Refundable fees.
Non-refundable fees are by far the most common type of fee charged by an Orlando divorce attorney near you. The main drawback to these types of fees occurs when a case settles early or a client wants to change to a different attorney. Often these clients will ask about a refund of remaining funds only to be told: “Sorry, that was a non-refundable fee”.
At our Orlando divorce law firm, the majority of our dissolution of marriage clients are quoted a refundable deposit amount. Since the fees are refundable any unused portion at the end of the case will be given back to the client and the law firm will not keep funds that are not actually earned by performing work on the case.
Under this fee structure, the firm is essentially doing the work in advance on a monthly basis before getting paid. This also increases the firm’s incentive to do great work for our clients knowing that they can take their funds elsewhere if they are not satisfied.
Our Orlando Divorce Law Firm Has Been Recognized For Working Hard For Our Clients
Divorce Attorney Sean Smallwood has been featured by Super Lawyers, is rated “Superb” by AVVO, and has been recognized as one of the “10 Best in Client Satisfaction” by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys, was named one of Orlando’s Legal Elite Rising Stars by Orlando Style Magazine among other recognitions. Call us today to find out how we can assist you.
You Need An Attorney Who Can Guide You Through Complex Family Law Issues
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 divorce in Florida 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 a 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 is in jeopardy. Our family law and divorce attorneys near you in Orlando, FL 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.
Dividing the Marital Home
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 sold via a petition for partition, and how the equity in the home will be divided.
Division of Assets
Any asset that was obtained during the marriage will be subject to equitable distribution via division of assets. 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 types of professional appraisers in order to accomplish this in a fair and equitable way.
Division of Debt
Just like assets are subject to equitable division in the divorce, all debts 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 attribute 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 the production of documents and Florida standard interrogatories.
Alimony in Orlando, Florida was created as a tool to ensure equity in each party’s 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 the length of the 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.
Cost of an Orlando Divorce Lawyer
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 non-refundable retainers. 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.
Uncontested Divorce in Orlando, FL
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 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.
Divorce Involving Children With Autism
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.
Divorce and Domestic Violence in Orlando
One very common and very heartbreaking legal issue that divorce attorneys in Orlando have to grapple with on a regular basis is 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 court 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.
Temporary Relief in Divorce
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.
Divorce and Child Relocation
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.
Dividing a Marital Business
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.
Modification of Custody After Divorce
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.
Hidden Assets in Divorce
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 Areas Of Orlando Do The Divorce Attorneys At Sean Smallwood, P.A. Serve?
The Orlando lawyers at Sean Smallwood, P.A. proudly serve all areas of Orlando, FL including Orange County Florida, downtown Orlando, Lake Nona, Doctor Philips, Apopka, Windermere, College Park, Delany Park, Winter Garden, Maitland, Lake Eola Heights, Baldwin Park, Thornton Park, Hunters Creek, and all other areas of Orlando Florida.
Sean Smallwood, P.A.