The news is filled with reports of Facebook causing divorces. Facebook has made it much easier to get in touch with and rekindle old flames. But, does Facebook matter once a divorce case has started in Florida? The answer is no, yes and it depends.

Florida is a non-fault divorce state, which means that you need not allege a specific factual situation, such as my husband or wife cheated on me, to get a divorce. In most cases, all that needs to be alleged is the marriage is irretrievably broken. In the majority of cases, a court is not going to consider whether or not infidelity occurred during a marriage. To establish grounds for divorce, any evidence of infidelity gleaned from Facebook will be of little value.

Here is where it matters. In divorces involving child custody, what is posted on Facebook can definitely impact the outcome of a case.   Child custody disputes often involve the fitness of a parent. Substance abuse is a common parental fitness issue that can impact child custody decisions. If substance of abuse of a parent is made an issue in a child custody dispute, an image from a Facebook posted of a drunken parent from a bar at 2:00 a.m. could definitely have a negative impact on a parent seeking significant parenting time in a divorce case.

While it is good practice to never post anything that you would not want your employer or grandmother to see on Facebook, if you are or think you may be involved in divorce where custody of child may be issue, think twice about what you post on Facebook. Your posts could be subject to discovery and end up in court.

If you have questions about divorce and live in the Jacksonville Metropolitan Area, give us a call. We are happy to sit down with you and discuss your case in a free initial consultation. Please contact The Taylor Law Office at 904.339.LAW8 (5298), via e-mail at ctaylor@thetaylorlawofficefl.com,  or through this website.

Are you looking for an attorney to handle your divorce? If so, one of the first questions you may ask is what makes a good divorce attorney? Different lawyers and people will have different opinions. Here are some points to consider:

1)     How long has the attorney been practicing law? 1 to 5 years, 5 to 10 years, 10 to 20 years? Lawyers develop at different rates, but, generally speaking, someone who has been practicing more than 10 years will be more comfortable in their abilities. Experience is more than just technical skills. Experience is also about knowing when to push for an amicable resolution and when resolving a dispute in the courtroom is appropriate.

2)     Life experience is also important. Has the attorney been married? Does he or she have kids? Someone who has stood in your shoes will be able understand what you are going through.

3)     Does the attorney care about their clients? Is the attorney passionate about their practice? This is hard to measure, but probably the most important factor. An attorney that cares about people and has your best interested at heart is going to do a better job. The initial consultation is critical to determining whether or not the attorney is passionate about their practice and clients. It’s important to go with your intuition on this point.

4)     When you meet the attorney, do you like them? Divorce is a stressful process; it’s important to work with someone you like. Fortunately, there are many attorneys to choose from with different styles and personalities.

5)     Is the attorney available when you have a question? Are phone calls or e-mails promptly returned? Customer service seems like a no brainer, but surprisingly, not all firms are customer service oriented. Ask about the attorney communication policy during the initial consultation.

6)     Does the attorney have reasonable fees? You want to ensure that you will be able to afford the attorney representation through the entire process.

Florida attorneys are prohibited from saying that they are the best. If I could, I wouldn’t say I was the best divorce attorney, because it is such a subjective term. The best attorney for one person may not be the best for another. At The Taylor Law Office, we strive to provide excellent client service at reasonable prices.

If you have questions about divorce and live in the Jacksonville, Florida Metropolitan Area, give attorney Chris Taylor call. Please contact The Taylor Law Office at 904.339.LAW8 (5298), via e-mail at ctaylor@thetaylorlawofficefl.com, through this website.

Mark Zuckerberg was married the day after Facebook’s enormous IPO. Did Mr. Zuckerberg obtain a pre-nuptial agreement (“pre-nup”)?

It is no secret that extremely wealthy people often enter into pre-nupitial agreements prior to marriage. Wealthy people, such as Zuckerberg, can avoid the publicity associated with a nasty divorce and protect business interests with well drafted pre-nups.

In many ways, Zuckerberg is Facebook; he controls the majority of the Facebook’s voting stock.  When you buy Facebook, you get Zuckerberg. The underwriters of Facebook’s recent IPO almost certainly considered the possibility that Zuckerberg’s girlfriend, now wife could gain access to Zuckerberg’s controlling interest in a company initially valued at over 100 billion dollars.  A well drafted pre-nup would allay underwriter concerns about who would control Facebook in the event of a divorce proceeding involving Zuckerberg.

In terms of timing, Zuckerberg may have gotten married the day after the IPO due to the fact state laws governing pre-nups require full disclosure of the value of each party’s assets. Expensive experts are often needed to value assets, such as privately held companies. The last thing a client, or his or her attorney, wants is to leave a pre-nup open to attack by not properly valuing assets in disclosures. After the IPO, Zuckerberg’s stake in Facebook was easy to value and disclose.

It’s hard to imagine that a shrewd businessman like Zuckerberg did not have a pre-nup, but we may never know. Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have been together since college. It appears to be a strong relationship that has held up well in the glare of the spotlight.

If you have questions about Florida prenuptial agreements, please call The Taylor Law Office at (904)-339-5298 or e-mail us at ctaylor@thetaylorlawofficefl.com. The Taylor Law Office is based in Jacksonville, Florida.

Under Florida law, if a parent chooses to relocate more than 50 miles from the child(ren)’s current residence, the parent proposing relocation must file either a Relocation By Agreement or Petition to Permit Relocation with Minor Children.

Relocation with Child(ren) by Agreement in Florida (“Agreement”) is a relatively simple process. The Agreement requires:

a)      The parents agree to the relocation.

b)      Articulation of a time-sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent.

c)      Description of travel arrangements for the child(ren).

d)      A proposed order to be submitted to the court. Unless requested, a hearing is not necessary to secure relocation of children when both parties agree.

Petition to Permit Relocation with Minor Children in Florida

When the parents cannot agree on a proposal to relocate with the child(ren), a  Petition to Permit Relocation with Minor Children (“Petition”) is filed.  The Petition requires:

a)      Address and phone number of the new residence.

b)      The date of the proposed relocation.

c)      A detailed statement providing the reason for the relocation.

d)      A proposed relocation time-sharing schedule that includes logistical issues, such as travel arrangements.

e)      Clear notice to the other parent that they must object to the Petition within 20 days after service of the Petition.

Here are some of the factors a court will consider when ruling on a Petition:

a)      The nature, quality and extent of the child(ren)’s involvement with the parents, family and other persons in the child(ren)’s life.

b)      The age and development stage of the child(ren), including any disabilities.

c)      The child(ren)’s preference.

d)      Will the relocation enhance the quality of life of the child(ren) and parent.

e)      The reason for the relocation, including whether or not the parent seeking or opposing the relocation is doing so in good faith.

If you are seeking to relocate with your child(ren) or opposing the relocation of your child(ren), please call The Taylor Law Office at (904)-339-5298, e-mail us at ctaylor@thetaylorlawofficefl.com or stop by the Jacksonville, Florida office.  The Taylor Law Office is  ready to assist you to navigate the complexities of Florida law related to relocation with children.

As a Jacksonville child custody attorney, I occasionally encounter situations where a parent is seeking custody of a child living with non-parents.  A recent case, Slover v. Meyer, Case No. 2D10-6074 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012) provides a good discussion of Florida law favoring custody rights for fit natural parents.

In Slover, the Court reversed the trial court’s decision due to the use of the incorrect legal standard ruling on a father’s petition seeking to modify a parenting plan granting legal and physical custody of the child residing with the child’s maternal step-grandparent.

The Slover case involved the child of two unmarried parents who lived in Colorado. Shortly after the birth of the child, the mother left Colorado with the child. When the child was three years old, the mother died. After the death of the mother, the father filed a petition in Colorado seeking custody of the child. Due to the father‘s substance abuse issues, the parties entered into a parenting plan granting the step-grandmother, residing in Florida, custody of the child.

About two years later, the father filed a petition in Lee County, Florida seeking custody of his child alleging a substantial change in circumstances due to the fact the father had been sober for a number of years, was in a stable marriage and employed.

Following a hearing, the trial court denied the father’s petition utilizing the substantial change in circumstances standard. The trial court noted that the father was a fit parent, but determined that there had not been a “substantial change in circumstances” warranting modification of the parenting plan.   In reversing the trial court, the Court noted that a “substantial change in circumstances” applies to modifications involving two fit parents, not between a fit parent and a third party. The Court quoted In re Guardianship of DA McW., 460 So. 2d 368, 369-70 (Fla. 1984):

When a custody dispute is between two parents, where both are fit and have equal rights to custody, the test involves only the determination of the best interests of the child. When the custody dispute is between a natural parent and a third party, however, . . . custody should be denied to the natural parent only when such an award will, in fact, be detrimental to the welfare of the child.

The Court remanded the case back to the trial court to rule on the matter utilizing the child custody modification standard favoring the natural parent unless the modification would be detrimental to the child.

If have any questions about Florida child custody laws as they related to parents and grandparents or other third parties, please call the Taylor Law Office at 904.339.LAW8 (5298) or contact The Taylor Law Office through this website.

A recent Florida 2nd District Court of Appeals case reversing a bridge-the-gap alimony award underscores the need to accurately present financial information during a divorce proceeding.

In Crick v. Crick, Case. No. 2D11-629 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012), the Court reversed an alimony award holding that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding $2000 per month in bridge-the-gap alimony to the former wife.

The Court noted the trial court did not “…include findings…” in its alimony award “…as to the former wife’s net or gross income or the former husband’s net income.” The Court also noted that even when considering the former husband’s gross income, the trial court’s alimony award along with child support and payment on the marital home debt exceeded the husband’s ability to pay.

It is unclear from the Crick opinion whether the parties did not properly present and introduce the parties’ financial information to the trial court or the trial court neglected to consider the financial information submitted in the case. Either way, the result was an award that was impossible for the husband to comply with in light of his financial situation.

The Crick case illustrates the need to discover and introduce accurate financial information in a divorce matter. A good divorce attorney will carefully analyze the party’s financial affidavits and compare them to other documents obtained in the discovery process, such as pay stubs and taxes returns, to ensure that financial information is stated accurately.

Attorney analysis is important because it is not uncommon for one or both spouse(s) to misstate financial information in their financial affidavits. Often times, misstatements of financial information are unintentional, but failure to correct any misstatement could lead a trial court to order an inequitable alimony award, child support order or property division.

If you have any questions about family law, divorce or alimony, do not hesitate to contact Attorney Christopher (“Chris”) Taylor in Jacksonville, Florida office. Please call 904-339-5298 or send an e-mail to ctaylor@thetaylorlawofficefl.com.