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Family Law2018-02-01T23:46:41+00:00

Complex Family Law

Family Complex Litigation & Collaborative Group (“FCLC Group”) is devoted to the resolution of high-stakes, complex or complicated marital and family law cases, whether through the litigation process, the appellate process, mediation, settlement or the collaborative process.

Complex Family Law

Family Complex Litigation & Collaborative Group (“FCLC Group”) is devoted to the resolution of high-stakes, complex or complicated marital and family law cases, whether through the litigation process, the appellate process, mediation, settlement or the collaborative process.

Practice Areas

Relief in the trial court is not always the end of the case. A party may appeal the case to the appellate court for a review of the order or judgment issued by the trial court. Throughout his 36-year career, John Foster of FCLC Group has represented numerous clients before the Florida appellate courts, including the Florida Supreme Court. For a representative list of reported appellate cases handled by John, please read his biographical information on the FCLC Team page of this website. In short, FCLC Group is prepared to be your Orlando family law team from start to finish.

One of the important children issues facing parents in family law matters is the financial support of the children. Child support is not really considered a parental right—it is a right that belongs to the children. Indeed, child support is a dual “obligation” imposed by the law on all parents. This parental obligation (or, perhaps, better said, the children’s right to financial support) cannot be waived or contracted away by the parents. Under §61.13(1)(a), Florida Statutes, the court in an action for dissolution of marriage “may at any time order either or both parents who owe a duty of support to a child to pay support in accordance with the guidelines in s. 61.30.”

The guidelines at §61.30 include a table that sets forth the basic or presumptive amount that must be ordered by the courts for child support based upon the parents’ combined net monthly incomes and the number of children. Any allowable child care costs, costs of health insurance coverage for the children and costs of noncovered medical care, dental care and prescription medications for the children may be added to the basic child support obligation. And, then each parent’s percentage share of said child support amount is determined by dividing each parent’s net income by the combined net income, and then by multiplying each parent’s percentage share by the total child support amount.

Section 61.30 allows the courts to deviate from the presumptive or guideline amount by greater than 5% (either plus or minus) after consideration of a number of factors that are set forth in the statute.

In cases in which the children spend a substantial amount (20% or more) of overnights with each parent, the courts must adjust the paying parent’s child support obligation by applying a mathematical formula that is set forth in the statute. See §61.30(11)(b).

Under §61.1301, when a court orders child support, other than a temporary order, the court must enter a separate income deduction order. Child support payments made by immediate income deduction shall be paid through the State Disbursement Unit or local depository (the “SDU”). See §61.13(1)(d). If both parties request and the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child, the support payments may not be subject to immediate income deduction and any such payments may be ordered payable through the SDU or directly to the obligee (i.e., the parent receiving the child support payment). Id.

If a parent has received or is receiving public benefits, such as a monthly allotment for food under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) or cash assistance under the Welfare Transition Program (“WT”), then the Department of Revenue may become involved to establish or enforce the other parent’s child support obligations through administrative or court proceedings.

In addition to divorce cases, child support may be ordered in other types of cases such as paternity cases, domestic violence cases, adoption matters or an action for child support unconnected with a dissolution of the marriage.

The paternity statute for Florida is found at Chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes. This statute deals with the establishment and disestablishment of parental rights and responsibilities for children born out of wedlock. Currently, the statute has a gap for matters involving a “quasi-marital child”, who is a child born during an intact marriage but the biological father is not the mother’s husband. In other words, a quasi-marital child is born during wedlock; however, the child’s biological father is not the married mother’s husband. In such matters, the common law has created a rebuttable presumption that the mother’s husband is the child’s legal father. See Kendrick v. Everheart, 390 So.2d 53 (Fla. 1980); Fernandez v. McKenney, 776 So.2d 1118 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). This presumption has led to many disputed cases between the biological father and the “legal” father involving parental rights and responsibilities. And, these cases proceed in somewhat of a rudderless fashion through a judicial system that has been given no legislative guidance. Indeed, as was observed by the 1st DCA in 2010, “Cases involving children are never easy, and cases involving ‘quasi-marital children’ are particularly complicated because they ‘present major public policy issues that are difficult, if not impossible, to address with the case law method.’” Nevitt v. Bonomo, 53 So.3d 1078, 1084 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010). Before then, in a well-reasoned concurring decision, Judge Winifred Sharp of the 5th DCA wrote: “I have sympathy for trial judges in such cases, because the ‘law’ is not clear. As Judge Altenbernd [of the 2nd DCA] has cogently observed, the advent of genetically accurate testing for paternity has partially ‘broken the back’ of the common law presumption [that the husband is the father] for children born while a mother and her husband are married.” Fernandez v. McKenney, 776 So.2d at 1119. More recently, the 2nd DCA directly addressed the need for legislative action when it stated, in pertinent part, “…because similar circumstances could arise in other cases, the legislature may choose to readdress the issue of a biological father’s right to establish paternity where the child is conceived and born during an intact marriage to another man.” C.G. v. J.R. and J.R., 130 So.3d 776, 782 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014). Finally, when it comes to the need for legislative action, please read Chris W. Altenbernd, Quasi-Marital Children: The Common Law’s Failure in Privette and Daniel Calls for Statutory Reform, 26 Fla.St.U. Law Review 219 (Winter 1997) (the title says it all).

 

Collaborative Process

For 36 years, John Foster has assisted clients in the resolution of their cases through the litigation process and trials, mediation and settlement, and appeals. Additionally, John completed the Collaborative Law training program at Barry Law School, and he is well-able to make the paradigm shift necessary for the successful resolution of family law cases through the Collaborative Process. Indeed, John has assisted numerous clients in successfully resolving their cases through the Collaborative Process. John Foster and the Team at FCLC Group stand prepared to assist each client in seeking a resolution that serves the best
interests of our clients and the minor children.

FCLC Icon Dark

Commitment to Collaborative

Prior to the commencement of the Collaborative Process, both parties and their respective lawyers sign participation agreements which prohibit any litigation from taking place during the Collaborative Process.  This prohibition is sometimes the incentive needed for parties to see the Collaborative Process through to the end and to the successful resolution of their case. In the rare instance that the Collaborative Process is unsuccessful, the lawyers for the parties can not represent them in litigation and each party must secure new counsel to litigate the case.

FCLC Icon Child

Parenting Plan Issues

Often, disputes over time sharing schedules and other issues in parenting plans are the most contentious and costly aspects of divorce cases.  As with financial issues, the parties agree to a neutral professional, typically a psychologist. This neutral is trained and experienced in dealing with matters that pertain to the best interests of children. Thus, he or she is typically able to assist the parties in drafting a parenting plan that serves the best interests of their children. This diffuses conflict amongst the parents and helps focus the attention on the children.

FCLC Icon Pie

Financial Issues

In the Collaborative Process, a neutral financial professional is appointed by the parties to review and analyze the parties’ financial situation.  This typically leads to less conflict in the discovery process and sets reasonable financial expectations for the parties.

FCLC Icon Money

 Costs of  Collaborative

One of the goals of the collaborative process is to minimize the overall costs by creating an environment and process more conducive to a prompt, efficient and amicable resolution than the litigation process. By avoiding formal discovery, motions, hearings, trials and other aspects of a contentious litigation process, significant cost savings may be achieved.

Practice Areas

Relief in the trial court is not always the end of the case. A party may appeal the case to the appellate court for a review of the order or judgment issued by the trial court. Throughout his 36-year career, John Foster of FCLC Group has represented numerous clients before the Florida appellate courts, including the Florida Supreme Court. For a representative list of reported appellate cases handled by John, please read his biographical information on the FCLC Team page of this website. In short, FCLC Group is prepared to be your Orlando family law team from start to finish.

One of the important children issues facing parents in family law matters is the financial support of the children. Child support is not really considered a parental right—it is a right that belongs to the children. Indeed, child support is a dual “obligation” imposed by the law on all parents. This parental obligation (or, perhaps, better said, the children’s right to financial support) cannot be waived or contracted away by the parents. Under §61.13(1)(a), Florida Statutes, the court in an action for dissolution of marriage “may at any time order either or both parents who owe a duty of support to a child to pay support in accordance with the guidelines in s. 61.30.”

The guidelines at §61.30 include a table that sets forth the basic or presumptive amount that must be ordered by the courts for child support based upon the parents’ combined net monthly incomes and the number of children. Any allowable child care costs, costs of health insurance coverage for the children and costs of noncovered medical care, dental care and prescription medications for the children may be added to the basic child support obligation. And, then each parent’s percentage share of said child support amount is determined by dividing each parent’s net income by the combined net income, and then by multiplying each parent’s percentage share by the total child support amount.

Section 61.30 allows the courts to deviate from the presumptive or guideline amount by greater than 5% (either plus or minus) after consideration of a number of factors that are set forth in the statute.

In cases in which the children spend a substantial amount (20% or more) of overnights with each parent, the courts must adjust the paying parent’s child support obligation by applying a mathematical formula that is set forth in the statute. See §61.30(11)(b).

Under §61.1301, when a court orders child support, other than a temporary order, the court must enter a separate income deduction order. Child support payments made by immediate income deduction shall be paid through the State Disbursement Unit or local depository (the “SDU”). See §61.13(1)(d). If both parties request and the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child, the support payments may not be subject to immediate income deduction and any such payments may be ordered payable through the SDU or directly to the obligee (i.e., the parent receiving the child support payment). Id.

If a parent has received or is receiving public benefits, such as a monthly allotment for food under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) or cash assistance under the Welfare Transition Program (“WT”), then the Department of Revenue may become involved to establish or enforce the other parent’s child support obligations through administrative or court proceedings.

In addition to divorce cases, child support may be ordered in other types of cases such as paternity cases, domestic violence cases, adoption matters or an action for child support unconnected with a dissolution of the marriage.

The paternity statute for Florida is found at Chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes. This statute deals with the establishment and disestablishment of parental rights and responsibilities for children born out of wedlock. Currently, the statute has a gap for matters involving a “quasi-marital child”, who is a child born during an intact marriage but the biological father is not the mother’s husband. In other words, a quasi-marital child is born during wedlock; however, the child’s biological father is not the married mother’s husband. In such matters, the common law has created a rebuttable presumption that the mother’s husband is the child’s legal father. See Kendrick v. Everheart, 390 So.2d 53 (Fla. 1980); Fernandez v. McKenney, 776 So.2d 1118 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). This presumption has led to many disputed cases between the biological father and the “legal” father involving parental rights and responsibilities. And, these cases proceed in somewhat of a rudderless fashion through a judicial system that has been given no legislative guidance. Indeed, as was observed by the 1st DCA in 2010, “Cases involving children are never easy, and cases involving ‘quasi-marital children’ are particularly complicated because they ‘present major public policy issues that are difficult, if not impossible, to address with the case law method.’” Nevitt v. Bonomo, 53 So.3d 1078, 1084 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010). Before then, in a well-reasoned concurring decision, Judge Winifred Sharp of the 5th DCA wrote: “I have sympathy for trial judges in such cases, because the ‘law’ is not clear. As Judge Altenbernd [of the 2nd DCA] has cogently observed, the advent of genetically accurate testing for paternity has partially ‘broken the back’ of the common law presumption [that the husband is the father] for children born while a mother and her husband are married.” Fernandez v. McKenney, 776 So.2d at 1119. More recently, the 2nd DCA directly addressed the need for legislative action when it stated, in pertinent part, “…because similar circumstances could arise in other cases, the legislature may choose to readdress the issue of a biological father’s right to establish paternity where the child is conceived and born during an intact marriage to another man.” C.G. v. J.R. and J.R., 130 So.3d 776, 782 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014). Finally, when it comes to the need for legislative action, please read Chris W. Altenbernd, Quasi-Marital Children: The Common Law’s Failure in Privette and Daniel Calls for Statutory Reform, 26 Fla.St.U. Law Review 219 (Winter 1997) (the title says it all).

 

Collaborative Process

For 36 years, John Foster has assisted clients in the resolution of their cases through the litigation process and trials, mediation and settlement, and appeals. Additionally, John completed the Collaborative Law training program at Barry Law School, and he is well-able to make the paradigm shift necessary for the successful resolution of family law cases through the Collaborative Process. Indeed, John has assisted numerous clients in successfully resolving their cases through the Collaborative Process. John Foster and the Team at FCLC Group stand prepared to assist each client in seeking a resolution that serves the best interests of our clients and the minor children.

FCLC Icon Dark

Commitment to Collaborative

Prior to the commencement of the Collaborative Process, both parties and their respective lawyers sign participation agreements which prohibit any litigation from taking place during the Collaborative Process.  This prohibition is sometimes the incentive needed for parties to see the Collaborative Process through to the end and to the successful resolution of their case. In the rare instance that the Collaborative Process is unsuccessful, the lawyers for the parties can not represent them in litigation and each party must secure new counsel to litigate the case.

FCLC Icon Child

Parenting Plan Issues

Often, disputes over time sharing schedules and other issues in parenting plans are the most contentious and costly aspects of divorce cases.  As with financial issues, the parties agree to a neutral professional, typically a psychologist. This neutral is trained and experienced in dealing with matters that pertain to the best interests of children. Thus, he or she is typically able to assist the parties in drafting a parenting plan that serves the best interests of their children. This diffuses conflict amongst the parents and helps focus the attention on the children.

FCLC Icon Pie

Financial Issues

In the Collaborative Process, a neutral financial professional is appointed by the parties to review and analyze the parties’ financial situation.  This typically leads to less conflict in the discovery process and sets reasonable financial expectations for the parties.

FCLC Icon Money

 Costs of  Collaborative

One of the goals of the collaborative process is to minimize the overall costs by creating an environment and process more conducive to a prompt, efficient and amicable resolution than the litigation process. By avoiding formal discovery, motions, hearings, trials and other aspects of a contentious litigation process, significant cost savings may be achieved.

LET’S WORK TOGETHER:
THE TEAM APPROACH

FCLC Group works as a Team. We strive to ensure that, for each case with which we become involved, our client is an active part of our Team.

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