Jerome C. Williams, Jr., Attorney at Law
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What happens if the other party misses a child support payment? What if they do not show up to exchange the child(ren) on the day/time Ordered? Do I just file a "Motion for Contempt of Court?"

by Jerome Williams on 03/21/21

This is a question that comes up fairly often in our area of practice.  What do I do when one party has not complied with a Final Judgment that is child related?  For example, when one party is not making his/her child support payments on time, or if they are not complying with a court ordered Parenting Plan.  To begin, it is always best (and encouraged), to always engage in conflict resolution.  Let's say that a parent has missed a child support payment.  Take it upon yourself, to inquire as to why that payment was missed (assuming that there is not an I.W.O. in place).  Perhaps the parent forgot, something came up, or they may be dealing with financial hardships (COVID-19) that make it very difficult to meet their child support obligation.  It is always encouraged to try to resolve the issue with the other parent before going to Court.  The same applies with any issues regarding timesharing.  If a parent has missed an exchange or two, reach out to the other parent and inquire as to why the timesharing visit was missed.  More importantly, it's good to have documentation to show the judge you were acting reasonably, prior to filing your motion for contempt of Court.  

If you are seeking assistance with a Family Law Matter where the other party is not complying with a court order, please reach out to us at (727) 474-1227 to see if we can be of assistance.   We offer free Case Evaluations and affordable retainers to get started on your legal matter. 

My spouse has just served me with Florida divorce papers! What do I do?

by Jerome Williams on 03/21/21

This is a question that I hear most frequently upon speaking to a potential client regarding a divorce matter.  The first thing to do, is breathe.  Everything will be okay.  While it may be stressful and somewhat surprising that you were served divorce papers via a process server (or sheriff), you don't want to overreact and make an irrational decision.  Generally, I always suggest the following, upon being served with divorce papers:

1) First, read through the paperwork [usually it will at least contain a summons, petition for dissolution of marriage, UCCJEA (if children are involved), and maybe a few other documents].  

2) If you have a difficult time understanding the legal jargon in the paperwork, do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney to have him/her explain it to you.  Some attorneys offer free consultations (but will not review your paperwork).  We charge a nominal fee if you are seeking assistance regarding representation.  

3)  In the meantime, we always suggest that you mark on your calendar twenty "20 days" from the date you were served (to file a responsive pleading).  Please note that the 20th day cannot fall on a weekend, or a court observed holiday.  If the 20th day falls on any of those days, your responsive pleading will be due the following business day.  

4) File a "Motion for Enlargement of Time to File Response to the Petition," as to avoid being defaulted by the clerk.  You can obtain a template online.  This will in essence, provide you additional time to respond to the pleading, or retain a lawyer, without the fear of being defaulted by the clerk.

   Hopefully this short article assists you in properly responding to being served with divorce documents.  Of course, if you are seeking assistance with representation, we would be glad to help.  Please fill out our questionnaire online, or call us at (727) 474-1227 to see how we can help!

Child Support Guidelines Worksheet must be consistent with Financial Affidavit; Travel Expenses & Child Care

by Jerome Williams on 09/25/16

McWilson v. McWilson, __ So. 3d__, 2016 WL 3191135 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016). Former wife appealed the distribution of the marital home, the child support calculation, and the parenting plan in her appeal of a dissolution of marriage. The appellate court affirmed the distribution of the marital home and parenting plan without comment, but agreed with former wife that the gross income used on the child support guidelines worksheet did not match the figures on the spouses’ most recent financial affidavits. Unable to discern whether the child support award was made in accordance with the guidelines, the appellate court reversed and remanded for recalculation. Because visitation expenses should be allocated at the same rate as other child care expenses, the appellate court instructed the trial court on remand to either allocate former husband’s travel expenses for visitation according to the ratios in the recalculated child support or to make findings to support a different allocation. 

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If you have a family law issue that requires immediate attention, please contact our office to schedule your 60 minute consultation (free if retained).


by Jerome Williams on 08/07/16

One of the parties, the petitioner or respondent, must reside in the state of Florida for six months before the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage and have the intent to remain a resident of the state of Florida at the time of filing. [Fla Stat Sec. 61.021.]

The burden of proof is on the petitioner to demonstrate this at final hearing.  [Speigner v. Speigner, 621 So 2d 758 (Fla 1st DCA 1993) (six months residence must be pleaded and proved for court to have subject matter jurisdiction to enter dissolution of marriage); Keveloh v. Carter, 699 So 2d 285 (Fla 5th DCA 1997) (failure to meet statutory requirement of six months residence is jurisdictional defect requiring dismissal of petition for dissolution of marriage).]  The standard of proof for residence requirements is clear and convincing evidence. [Orbe v. Orbe, 651 So 2d 1295) (Fla 5th DCA 1995) (for purpose or residence requirements for dissolution of marriage, standard of proof of residence is clear and convincing evidence; corroborative evidence of residence is Florida driver's license or Florida voter registration).]