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Alimony is financial support, paid by one spouse to the other, and it comes in different shapes and sizes, depending on the circumstances. A court may order alimony only between spouses; if you are unmarried, the court does not have jurisdiction to award it. Additionally, for a court to order alimony, the judge must find that the receiving spouse has a need for it, and that the paying spouse has the ability to pay it. Need without ability, or vice versa, will preclude a judge from awarding alimony.

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Child Custody/Time-Sharing/Parenting Plan

In 2008, the Florida Legislature abolished the term “custody” and replaced it with the term “time-sharing.” The concept of “time-sharing” refers to the amount of time each parent physically spends with the child. In determining time-sharing issues, the court enters a “Parenting Plan,” which is a comprehensive document that specifically lays out the days of the week, hours, holidays, and/or special events that each parent has with the child.

Read more about Child Custody, Time-Sharing and Parenting Plan’s.

Child Relocation

Under Florida law, a parent may permanently move with a child only within 50 miles or less from their original residence. If the move consists of 50 miles or more, the parent cannot permanently move with the child unless the other parent provides written consent or the court permits the parent to relocate with the child. This applies only to permanent relocation’s that are more than 60 consecutive days (i.e., an extended trip or vacation lasting less than 60 consecutive days does not qualify).

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Child Support

Child Support cases have many different faces. You may be going through a divorce involving minor children, and child support will need to be calculated. You might be separating from a partner you were never married to, and he or she may have filed a paternity case, in which child support must be awarded. Perhaps you already pay or receive child support, and you are seeking to modify that amount downward or upward. Or maybe the other parent has failed to make his or her payments, and you want to enforce the court’s order on child support. Either way, child support is an essential element in cases involving children.

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It is a common misconception that a court may hold a party in contempt only if he or she fails to make child support payments. In actuality, contempt and enforcement apply to many other types of court orders. The term “contempt” refers to a party refusing to obey an order from a judge.

Read more on Contempt Enforcement.

Dissolution of Marriage/Divorce

Florida is a no-fault state, which means that neither party has to provide the court with a reason for the divorce. However, the court may take adultery into consideration when it comes to property division if a spouse has intentionally dissipated, depleted, or wasted marital assets.

Read more on the Dissolution of Marriage.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is defined by Florida statute as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

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“Modification” refers to when a party seeks to change a part of their final judgment and, in family law, it usually refers to alimony, child support, or time-sharing/parental responsibility. Each matter has its own separate standard under Florida law:

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Parental Responsibility

In 2008, the Florida Legislature abolished the term “custody” and replaced it with the concept of “time-sharing.” This concept refers to the amount of time each parent physically spends with the child. However, there is another side to a parent’s relationship with his or her child, and that is where parental responsibility comes in. Parental responsibility is the right of a parent to make important day-to-day decisions that affect the child’s life, regardless of the time-sharing schedule. Some examples are: which doctor will care for the child; what types of vaccines the child will receive; which school the child will attend, and which extra-curricular activities the child will participate in. There are generally two types of parental responsibility:

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Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some families have only one parent doing it alone, while others may have a mother and father, two mothers, two fathers, or perhaps one parent with lots of extended family members who help out, etc. It is a common misconception that it’s easy to tell who a child’s mother is, just because she gave birth to the child. In our society today, that may not be the case, and the law is slowly reflecting this change. The reality is that, in some cases, establishing both the actual mother and/or father of the child may be challenging.

Read more on Paternity and Maternity.

Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements

Contrary to popular belief, signing a pre-nuptial agreement is not the only opportunity a couple has to establish their ground rules. Both a pre-nuptial and a post-nuptial agreement may be signed by two parties who wish to define their rights and obligations during their marriage, in the event of death, or in the event of a divorce. However, the difference between the two is that a pre-nuptial is signed by two parties who intend to be married, and a post-nuptial is signed by two parties who are already married.

Read more about Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage/Divorce

A simplified dissolution of marriage is when both parties are in agreement with the terms of their divorce, neither party is seeking alimony, nor there are any minor children. The parties must be prepared to sign a written agreement, which will then be presented to the court at a final hearing.

Read more about Simplified Dissolution of Marriage/Divorce.

Support Unconnected with Dissolution of Marriage

Florida law permits people who are not residents of the state to petition for either child support or alimony (or both) from their spouse without seeking a divorce. Some refer to this as Florida’s “separation” law. However, that is not entirely correct. Florida does not legally recognize separation. Therefore, the court cannot declare the parties to be “separated,” and it cannot legally divide the parties’ assets and debts. The court can only award child support and/or alimony and, if there are children, the court may enter a parenting plan so that the parties have a time-sharing schedule, if they wish. All other laws that apply to married couples will continue to apply.

Read more about Support Unconnected with Dissolution of Marriage.


For couples who cannot naturally conceive a child, surrogacy is an option that is available to them if they want to start a family. “Surrogacy” is defined as a woman (the “surrogate mother”) becoming pregnant and giving birth to a baby in order to give it to someone who cannot have children.

Read more about Surrogacy.

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