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 40-year career, John Foster of FCLC Group has represented numerous clients before the Florida appellate courts, including the Florida Supreme Court. In short, FCLC Group is prepared to be your Orlando family law team from start to finish.

One of the important issues parents face in family law matters is the financial support of the children. Child support is not considered a parental right—it is a right (to financial support) that belongs to the children. The law imposes a dual parental “obligation” that cannot be waived or contracted away by the parents.

Alimony is one issue of several that arises in a marriage dissolution action. Unlike child support, there is no mathematical calculation in determining alimony.

There was a significant change to alimony tax laws about which you should be aware. More specifically, as to alimony awarded on or after January 1, 2019, the alimony payments are no longer taxable to the recipient or deductible by the payor under the new tax law.

For alimony payments made pursuant to a final judgment entered before January 1, 2019, the payments may still be taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payor.

Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state – meaning that when a couple files for a dissolution of marriage, neither of them is required to show any evidence of wrongdoing. The only requirement to dissolve a marriage is for one of the parties to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

If your marriage is irretrievably broken, give us a call. Our Orlando, Florida, family law attorneys will help you navigate this difficult time and fight to get you the best possible results.

Divorce can be difficult, especially when children are involved and assets are at stake. At FCLC Group, we have over 40 years of collective experience handling complex family law matters in Orlando, Florida.

Whether your divorce is simple, uncontested, or contested, it is crucial you hire an experienced divorce attorney who is compassionate and dedicated to helping you resolve all issues as efficiently as possible.

An injunction is a court order, sometimes called a “Restraining Order,” that directs a person not to have any contact with you. It is one legal means of helping to protect a person from threats or acts of violence by another person.

Domestic violence includes assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death to petitioner by any of petitioner’s family or household members.

Click here for information on the summary judgment process in domestic violence cases.

Child custody, or what is now statutorily referred to as “time-sharing,” is the amount of time a parent shares with their child(ren), generally measured in overnights. It can be called visitation or custody, but in Florida the proper terminology is time-sharing, and it should be reflected in a written parenting plan that includes a time-sharing schedule.

In a Florida divorce or child custody case, the judge must consider the child(ren)’s best interests when deciding how time-sharing will be allocated amongst the parents. See Florida Statute 61.13 (2020). Florida custody law does not give any preference to mothers or fathers when determining child custody matters. In other words, there is currently no presumption in favor of either the mother or father. Each case must be decided based upon the circumstances of each unique family after consideration of the best-interest factors set forth in s. 61.13, Florida Statutes.

A child’s best interests must be the primary consideration to any child custody decision in Florida. Judges expect parents to put the needs of their children first, before their own. A court will consider the extent to which each parent has demonstrated an ability and desire to meet a child’s developmental needs and be involved in the child’s life. Specifically, the following factors are relevant to a child’s best interests in Florida:

  • each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs
  • each parent’s physical and mental health
  • each parent’s moral fitness
  • each parent’s ability to provide the child with a consistent routine
  • geographic viability of the parenting plan, specifically the amount of travel it would take to honor the time-sharing schedule
  • child’s adjustment to home and community
  • reasonable preference of the child if of sufficient age and understanding
  • evidence of domestic violence, if any
  • each parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child
  • the child’s developmental age, needs, and abilities, and
  • any other relevant factor.

If a child’s safety is at issue, a judge may order supervised time-sharing or suspend contact and time-sharing provided that the steps are put into place for reuniting the offending parent and the child(ren). A safety-focused parenting plan may be established if necessary for the child(ren)’s safety.

Moral Fitness

Florida’s custody laws require a judge to assess each parent’s moral fitness when determining a child’s best interests. “Moral fitness” generally refers to circumstances that might affect a child’s moral and ethical development—for example, substance abuse, frequent casual relationships with multiple partners, verbal abuse, violence, or illegal behavior.

Whether or not a court might consider an adulterous parent’s behavior during the marriage would depend upon whether such behavior had a significant negative impact upon the child. A parent’s time-sharing may be impacted if he or she provides false evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect against the other parent in a custody case.

Parents are expected to protect a child from the stress of divorce, including refraining from making disparaging comments about the other parent in front of the child.

Once a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule is established, the schedule may be changed or modified only if there is showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances that the requested modification is in the best interests of the child(ren).

In an action for dissolution of marriage, marital assets and liabilities must be equitably distributed between the parties. Florida courts must set apart to each spouse that spouse’s non-marital assets and liabilities.

With certain exceptions, each asset acquired during the marriage is considered a marital asset regardless of which spouse acquires the asset or in which spouse’s name the asset is acquired. Clear definitions for “marital assets and liabilities” and “non-marital assets and liabilities” are set forth in Florida’s equitable distribution statute, § 61.075, Florida Statutes.

The equitable distribution statute instructs Florida courts to begin with the premise that marital assets and liabilities should be equally distributed (50-50); however, the statute allows the court to make an unequal distribution if there is justification for same based upon ten (10) statutory factors, including:

(a) The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker,

(b) The economic circumstances of the parties,

(c) The duration of the marriage, and

(d) six (6) other specified factors plus the catch-all of “any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.”

When distributing marital assets and liabilities, whether equal or unequal, the court must include specific written findings of fact in its judgment as to the identification of non-marital assets and ownership interests, the identification and valuation of marital assets and liabilities, a designation of which spouse shall be entitled to each asset and which spouse shall be responsible for each liabilit