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Tampa Divorce Lawyer
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Tampa Family Lawyer

The legal team at Westchase Law P.A. includes a Florida Board-Certified Specialist in Marital & Family Law that is experienced in a wide range of family law matters, including both contested and uncontested divorce and paternity cases of varying degrees of complexity. No matter what your needs, you can count on Westchase Law P.A. to approach your case with care, compassion, zealousness, and a commitment to meeting your needs and helping you reach your goals.

Below is a look at just some of our firm’s comprehensive family law practice. For help with divorce or other Florida family law matters in Tampa Bay, contact the family lawyers at Westchase Law P.A. today.

Divorce

We represent a variety of clients in divorce cases ranging from the amicable and uncontested to the high-asset and high-conflict cases involving complex property matters or intractable child custody disputes. Our experienced divorce lawyers work to make sure that your rights are protected, and your needs and goals are considered in every aspect of your divorce case, including the equitable distribution of marital property, alimony, child support, and timesharing. Whether your case is best served through negotiations, mediation, or courtroom litigation, our attorneys provide expert advice and assistance to complete your divorce efficiently and effectively. From drafting prenuptial agreements to handling post-judgment modifications and enforcement actions, our family law team handles every aspect of marriage and divorce that requires skilled and knowledgeable legal help.

Domestic Violence

Florida has enacted special laws when it comes to assault, battery, stalking and injury to a relative or member of the household. Florida’s domestic violence laws cover not only physical violence and sexual violence but also other harmful acts such as emotional abuse and threats. Victims of domestic violence can go to court for a protective order, and the judge granting the order has wide discretion to fashion the order in the best way to protect both the victims and their families. Protective orders can command a person to move out of the family home and cease contact with family members. These orders can decide child custody as well as financial support.

Courts can put temporary orders in place immediately that last up to 15 days. For a longer-term order lasting one year or longer, the court must hold a hearing and allow both sides to present evidence of why such an order should or should not be granted. Allegations of domestic violence can have wide-ranging impacts and consequences, including on a divorce or child custody dispute. Westchase Law P.A. represents parties seeking protective orders or defending against unfounded allegations of domestic violence. We’ll help make sure you and your family are protected and safe, or, if you are the respondent in one of these matters, we have extensive experience in defending against such claims which is of utmost importance because an injunction entered against you can have long-term and extensive repercussions.

Paternity

For couples who are married when their child is born, the husband is presumed to be the child’s father. Unmarried couples, on the other hand, must take further affirmative steps to establish the father’s parentage, such as through voluntary acknowledgment and filing of the appropriate forms or proving paternity in court. However, even a married husband’s presumed paternity can be attacked by the mother, child or some other third party under certain circumstances.

Establishing paternity means establishing who a child’s father is in the eyes of the law. Whether married, divorced, or never married in the first place, a child’s legal father can be held legally responsible for child support, and a legal father can assert rights to parenting and timesharing as well.

Establishing a child’s legal father has many benefits for the child, including access to health insurance and pension benefits through the father, inheritance rights, important family medical history, and having a more complete sense of identity. Westchase Law P.A. represents mothers, fathers and other interested parties in paternity cases brought in conjunction with divorces, child custody disputes, or as standalone proceedings.

Grandparents’ & Extended Family Members’ Rights

Parental rights are heavily favored in Florida, and if the parents feel inclined to cut off contact between their children and the children’s grandparents, Florida public policy deems that the parents know what is best for their children. However, grandparents and other extended family members are not completely without rights. For instance, if a child has been removed from the home, grandparents can petition the court for visitation or even temporary custody, pending reunification between the children and their parents. As with all family law matters involving children, the courts consider the best interests of the children first and foremost. If you are a parent or grandparent seeking or opposing visitation rights, Westchase Law P.A. can help you fashion a strong, evidence-based argument of why your position reflects the children’s best interest and ought to be recognized.

Attorneys’ Fees

Divorce is a difficult and highly emotional process. It’s also an expensive process. In Florida, the average cost of divorce without children involved is $13,500. With kids, you’re looking at an average of $20,300. But the actual amount can be much more, depending on the issues involved and how you resolve them. When the couple comes from a single-income household or has vastly disparate financial means, it might prove difficult for the lower-earning party to afford an attorney and be on equal footing with their future ex- spouse. Florida law allows parties in such a situation to petition the court to have their attorney’s fees paid for by the other party. Seeking attorneys’ fees from the other party is also available in paternity matters. Westchase Laws P.A. represents parties seeking or opposing requests for attorney’s fees. As a Florida Board-Certified Specialist in Marital & Family Law, Kelly M. Albanese has handled the issue of attorneys’ fees a substantial number of times and can provide expert advice and assistance in this critical area.

Having to pay for a divorce may deter many Florida residents from getting one. However, there are ways to save money on costs such as attorneys’ fees. Plus, if you avoid going to court, you can save even more.

Want to know more about attorneys’ fees? The team at Westchase Law can work with you so you can divorce inexpensively. Contact us to learn more about Tampa divorce lawyer fees.

Determining Attorneys’ Fees

When deciding on a lawyer for your divorce case, be sure to discuss fees and how they are paid. Some charge by the hour, while others charge flat fees or large retainers. In Florida, the average hourly rate is around $260-$330 per hour. This will depend on the lawyer’s experience and location.

Many family law attorneys will ask for a large retainer upfront so they can draw from it as they complete the work. This retainer may be $2,000-$5,000. If the divorce is complex or contested, multiple retainers may be necessary. If the case goes to court, expect an even larger retainer.

There are also lawyers who offer flat-fee services for uncontested divorces or certain parts of a client’s case. These unbundled legal services can help save on divorce attorney fees, as the client handles some parts while the lawyer handles others. This is a way to save money while still getting help from a lawyer.

Can My Spouse Pay My Attorneys’ Fees?

In cases where there is a huge disparity in income, the court may ask the breadwinner spouse to pay for the other spouse’s legal fees. This is especially common when one spouse makes a significant amount of money (six figures or more), while the other spouse is a stay at home parent with no income. The court may consider the financial resources of both spouses and order one spouse to pay attorneys’ fees in order to level the playing field.

The attorney of the income-producing spouse could also propose an equitable distribution strategy which would allow the spouse with no income to use marital funds to pay for attorneys’ fees. This saves time and money in the long run.

We keep track of the latest laws in Tampa

State statutes and regulations regularly undergo a great deal of change and revision.  Westchase Law, P.A., welcomes opportunities to help clients navigate the latest alterations in Tampa law, as well as provide legal guidance and advocacy wherever they are needed.

For example, recent changes to child custody laws in Florida include elimination of the tender years doctrine. This doctrine held that it was typically in the best interest of minor children for the mother to have priority in custody proceedings.  The role of the non-custodial parent (in this case, the father) was minimized.  Presently, equal opportunity is given to both parents or guardians to take an active role in the life of their child.

Differences in Florida law?

The federal government leaves many family law issues to the states to decide.  Florida has a strong policy that encourages shared parental responsibility of minor children in the event of a divorce.  Unless shared responsibility is found to be counter-productive, the goal of family law in Tampa is to keep both parents or guardians involved in the life of the child.

The child, or children, may still live primarily with one parent or the other.  However, Tampa law calls for both caregivers to provide input and make decisions about the upbringing of the child.

Contact Westchase Law P.A. Today

Westchase Law P.A. is a full-service family law firm ready to advise you, represent you, and meet all your needs. For help with divorce, child custody, paternity, or other family law matters, contact the experienced Tampa family law attorneys at Westchase Law P.A. today.

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