Family Law Attorney in Fort Myers

Issues like divorce and child custody are complex, and the laws surrounding them are even more complex. If your family is in the midst of a dispute that involves family law, there are many laws of which you need to be aware. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend your time with your nose buried inside of a family law book. With the help of an aggressive Fort Myers family law attorney, you can get all the information you need to know about your legal issue.

Patrick McLain Law is ready to represent you. We’ll give you the information you need to know about your case and can represent you in all of your family law matters.

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What You Should Know About Divorce in Fort Myers

In 2020, the divorce rate in Fort Myers was 16%. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that divorce is one of the most common family law issues in the city. Many couples struggle to deal with the end of their marriage.
Whether you’re considering a divorce or you’ve already started the process, there are a few things you should know about Florida divorce laws.

Florida is a No-Fault State

As a no-fault divorce state, the Florida court does not care who is responsible for the divorce. Even if someone had an affair, the fault does not play a part in the divorce. 

As long as one individual admits that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the couple may begin the divorce process. There is no need to cite a reason for the divorce.

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Uncontested and Contested Divorce​

In Florida, there are two basic types of divorce. First, there’s an uncontested divorce. This occurs when both parties are willing and able to work together to resolve the divorce. They agree on all terms of the divorce, from child custody to property distribution. 

Contested divorces are more complex. With this type of divorce, both parties cannot agree upon the terms of their divorce. They may only be in disagreement about some terms or all of them. In any case, the dissent lengthens the divorce process. You may need to go through mediation in an attempt to come up with a written parenting plan.

If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement in mediation, you’ll need to go to court. A judge will be the one to decide the outcome of your divorce. 

Alimony

Typically, alimony is only temporary. The court could grant alimony to one spouse in the divorce, and the money would be used to help the spouse get back on their feet. For example, one spouse may have quit their job to take care of the household. While that spouse tries to build new skills or find a new job, alimony helps support them.

Alimony could be given in monthly payments or in one lump sum. Before determining alimony, the court looks at many factors that include both spouse’s income, education, and contribution to the household.

Children

What You Should Know About Child Custody in Fort Myers

Child custody is another common family law issue in Southwest Florida. Although many people think of child custody as a family law issue, this isn’t always the case. If a couple never married, they can share custody of a child.

Typically, child custody is one of the most heated issues in family law. Custody disputes are often emotional and result in both parties fighting for the rights of their child. If you and the other parent cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the court will make the decision.

The Court Favors Joint Legal Custody

The Florida court system favors joint legal custody. However, this doesn’t mean that every case ends with each parent getting the child 50% of the time. The court assesses each situation and tries to do what’s in the best interest of the child. If there are certain circumstances in your case, you could get more time with the child.

Legal custody refers to the decision-making ability of a parent. Typically, this is shared by both parents. Each parent has a say in the discipline, education, and medical care of the child. On the other hand, physical custody refers to the time a parent spends with the child. One parent could receive physical custody but no legal custody. 

The Court Looks at the Child’s Best Interest

Despite favoring a 50/50 child custody agreement, the court does put the best interest of the child first. They consider all of the following details:

  • Health and safety of the child
  • Developmental needs of the child
  • Moral fitness of each parent
  • Location of each parent

If you want to prove it’s in the child’s best interest to spend more time with you, then you need to build a strong legal argument. The court does not take child custody lightly and wants firm evidence that the outcome you want is best for the child. 

Child Support is Required

According to Florida law, both parents need to financially provide for their child. This is the case even if one parent receives no parenting time with the child. 
To determine child support, the court uses a formula. They consider the income of each parent, the costs of the child’s medical care and actual care, and the standard needs of the child. If you believe that you are receiving too little in support or paying too much in support, you could go to court to change your agreement. An attorney could petition to have your child support agreement modified based on a change in circumstances. If you have no legal child support agreement, you can work with an attorney to have a legally binding agreement.

FAQ About Fort Myers Family Law

Family law issues can get complicated and each case is special. We have provided the following frequently asked questions to help guide you through your specific family law situation:

At what age can my child decide with which parent they want to live in Florida?
As a child gets older, their opinions will bear more weight in family law proceedings. A judge will take your teenage or adolescent child’s testimony into consideration. However, your child won’t be able to decide which parent they want to live with until they’re of the legal age of 18.

What rights do fathers have to their children in Florida?
Unmarried fathers have no legal rights to custody until paternity is established. Unless paternity is legally established, the mother has the sole, legal, and physical right to custody.

How much does a Fort Myers family lawyer cost?
Fort Myer family attorney costs vary but most charge a retainer in advance, and the hourly rate is subtracted as they work through your case. Even though hourly rates are some of the most common, each attorney uses their own pricing structure, including which legal fees and services they’ll provide. 

What makes a parent unfit to raise a child in Florida?
Florida Statute 751.05 states that a parent can be found unfit if they have abused, neglected, or abandoned the child. A parent could also be found unfit if they have a prevalent history of drug abuse or mental illness.

Can parents legally keep their children away from one another?
Parents cannot prevent their child from seeing the other parent unless there is a court order that states otherwise. Parents with justifiable reasons for wanting to keep their children away have to bring their concerns to the court’s attention, seek an appropriate child custody judgment, and obtain new visitation orders. 

Get the Guidance and Representation You Deserve with a Fort Myers Family Law Attorney

According to U.S. Census data from 2015 to 2019, there were 30,265 households in Fort Myers. While some of those households lived in harmony, others did not. Issues like divorce and custody battles are common occurrences in the city.

If you’re in the midst of a situation that involves family law or you foresee some trouble in the future, you need the help of an experienced Fort Myers family law attorney. Esq. Patrick McLain Law is dedicated to serving the residents of Southwest Florida. Whatever your family law needs may be, Esq. Patrick McLain is ready to help. Contact the office today and learn more.