General Family Law FAQs
In an effort to help you obtain as much information needed as possible, our attorneys have compiled the list of questions that are most commonly asked about family law in Florida. Feel free to browse through them and navigate to other pages of our site where more information is available:
- What is a family trust?
- What is a guardian ad litem?
- How do I change my name after marriage?
- What is dissolution of marriage?
- What is collaborative divorce?
A family trust is a trust created to benefit persons who are related to one another by blood, affinity, or law. When you set up a family trust you decide what will happen to your assets. A trustee is appointed and the trustee must follow specific instructions. When you set up a trust your family can avoid having to go through the court system to access your finances and assets if you ever become disabled. Back to Family Law FAQs
A Guardian Ad Litem (or "GAL") is an adult volunteer who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child suspected to be the victim of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
"A GAL establishes an ongoing relationship with a child (or group of siblings) and conducts a thorough investigation to determine what recommendations to make on the child's behalf in court. The GAL helps advocate for medical, mental health, educational or economic services needed to bring stability and wholeness to the child’s life, and acts as a monitor to see if court orders are carried out in a timely fashion." www.legalaidocba.org Back to Family Law FAQs
In All Florida Counties: A person who desires to change his or her name must file a petition in the chancery court in the county in which he or she resides. The petitioner must submit a copy of his/her fingerprints for a criminal background check, which is required before a hearing may be set.
In Orange County: Name change packets may be purchased from the Clerk of Courts for $5.00, or requested by mail with payment and a self-addressed stamped envelope.
The address is:
425 N. Orange Ave.
Orlando, FL 32801
When filing for a Dissolution of Marriage, Paternity or Name Change at the courthouse you must first go to Room 330, Family Court Services, before 3:30 pm to have your pleadings reviewed and notarized.
The fee for a name change request in Orange County is $412.50.
Dissolution of Marriage is the official term for divorce in the State of Florida. Florida is a “no-fault” state, therefore one who petitions for dissolution need only show that the marriage is "irretrievably broken". There are two types of Dissolutions of Marriage in Florida:
- Regular Dissolution of Marriage: Requires submitting a financial affidavit to the court and in some counties may require a couple to attend mediation. Although the couple is permitted to enter into a written agreement concerning property disposition, if no agreement is reached, a judge will hold a trial and make the final decision on contested issues.
- Simplified Dissolution of Marriage: Certain couples are eligible to dissolve their marriage by way of a simplified procedure. This type of dissolution was designed so the services of an attorney may not be necessary. Couples are responsible, however, for filing all necessary documents correctly, and both parties are required to appear before a judge together when the final dissolution is granted. You can, however, retain an attorney to represent you even in an uncontested matter. The cost for such services is generally much less than in a contested case. A Simple dissolution form requires:
- They both agree to the use of this form of dissolution proceeding
- They have no minor (under 18) or dependent children
- They have no adopted children under the age of 18
- The wife is not pregnant
- At least one of the parties has lived in Florida for the past six months
- The parties have agreed on the division of all of their property (assets) and obligations (debts)
- Neither party is seeking alimony; and
- Both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
A collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial divorce process designed to avoid the hostility traditionally associated with divorce proceedings. In a collaborative divorce, attorneys for both sides enter into a binding agreement to withdraw as counsel if the spouses are unable to agree to mutual terms of divorce. By proceeding in a non-adversarial manner, a collaborative divorce aims to protect the privacy of the divorcing couple as well as better fit their individual needs by independently reaching a mutual agreement instead of through a final order of a judge. A collaborative divorce may include enlisting the help of specialists in mental health, children, and finance in order to assist the attorneys and their clients on the way to a satisfactory agreement. Back to Family Law FAQs