Attorney Agnieszka Piasecka
Divorce in Clearwater, Florida
Sadly, Florida remains one of the states with the highest divorce rates in the U.S. According to most statistic sources, 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. According to other surveys, divorce is one of the most stressful and painful events in one’s life. If you are one of many Floridians, who are considering filing for a divorce or were served by their spouse with divorce papers, you may be wondering if you should hire a divorce attorney.
Should you hire a Divorce Attorney?
Before you make a decision as to whether or not you need to hire a divorce attorney to handle your divorce, I highly recommend that you at least consult a divorce attorney for a legal advice. Many divorce attorneys, including myself, offer a free first consultation, which will help you get a general idea of your rights and help you determine if you need a divorce attorney to represent you. My primary goal is to help my clients efficiently resolve their legal problems and support them in this difficult time. I strive to be an excellent aggressive advocate for my clients and a compassionate counselor.
Personalized Divorce Assistance in Clearwater, Florida
I have gone through a divorce myself and I know that a divorce can be one of the most difficult times of your life. That is why I give every one of my clients the personalized attention they deserve. I have the knowledge and experience to provide you with the assistance you need through every step of your divorce process.
Divorce and Family Law
My areas of practice include, but are not limited to:
Domestic Violence Injunctions
Equitable Distribution of Property
High Asset Divorce
Marital Settlement Agreements
Modification of Prior Judgments
Post Nuptial Agreements
Pre Nuptial Agreements
Unequitable Distribution of Property
Divorce Commonly Asked Questions and Answers
Q: How is property divided in divorce proceeding?
A: In Florida, marital property is divided between spouses by equitable distribution.
Q: What is equitable distribution of assets?
A: Equitable distribution of assets means division of marital property in a divorce under statutory guidelines. Equitable distribution is fair but not necessarily equal division of assets and liabilities between spouses.
Q: What are the statutory guidelines for equitable distribution of property?
A: Fla. Stat. 67.075 provides for equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. Specifically:
“(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, in addition to all other remedies available to a court to do equity between the parties, or in a proceeding for disposition of assets following a dissolution of marriage by a court which lacked jurisdiction over the absent spouse or lacked jurisdiction to dispose of the assets, the court shall set apart to each spouse that spouse’s nonmarital assets and liabilities, and in distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors, including:
(a) The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
(b) The economic circumstances of the parties.
(c) The duration of the marriage.
(d) Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
(e) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
(f) The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
(g) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
(h) The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
(i) The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
(j) Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.”
Q: What is marital property?
A: Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 61.075(6)(a)1, “marital assets and liabilities” comprise of:
“a. Assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them.
b. The enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets resulting either from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution to or expenditure thereon of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both.
c. Interspousal gifts during the marriage.
d. All vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs.”
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 61.075(8), all assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage and not specifically established as nonmarital assets or liabilities are presumed to be marital assets and liabilities. Also, all real property held by the parties as tenants by entireties, whether acquired prior or during the marriage, is presumed to be marital.
Assets acquired prior to marriage are nonmarital assets and remain separate property of the owner absent evidence of a gift or conveyance of the assets to the owner’s spouse. Moss v. Moss, 829 So. 2d 302 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002).
However, property acquired during the marriage through the exchange of nonmarital assets is nonmarital. Beaty v. Gribble, 652 So. 2d 1156 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995).
Q: What is nonmarital property?
A: Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 61.075(6)(b), “nonmarital assets and liabilities” include:
“1. Assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party prior to the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities;
2. Assets acquired separately by either party by noninterspousal gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and assets acquired in exchange for such assets;
3. All income derived from nonmarital assets during the marriage unless the income was treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset;
4. Assets and liabilities excluded from marital assets and liabilities by valid written agreement of the parties, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities; and
5. Any liability incurred by forgery or unauthorized signature of one spouse signing the name of the other spouse. Any such liability shall be a nonmarital liability only of the party having committed the forgery or having affixed the unauthorized signature. In determining an award of attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to s. 61.16, the court may consider forgery or an unauthorized signature by a party and may make a separate award for attorney’s fees and costs occasioned by the forgery or unauthorized signature. This subparagraph does not apply to any forged or unauthorized signature that was subsequently ratified by the other spouse.”
Q: Is an engagement ring marital property?
A: The general rule is that an engagement ring is nonmarital property. Randall v. Randall, 56 So.3d 817 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011).
Q: What is the cut-off date for identifying marital assets?
A: In Florida, the cut-off date for determining whether or not assets and liabilities are marital is “the earliest of the date the parties enter into a valid separation agreement, such other date as may be expressly established by such agreement, or the date of the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage. The date for determining value of assets and the amount of liabilities identified or classified as marital is the date or dates as the judge determines is just and equitable under the circumstances. Different assets may be valued as of different dates, as, in the judge’s discretion, the circumstances require.” Fla. Stat. 61.075(7).
Q: Are assets obtained after filing for dissolution of marriage marital?
A: Assets acquired by one spouse after filing for a divorce are generally deemed to be nonmarital. Beers v. Beers, 724 So.3d 388 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009).
Q: Are debts acquired by one spouse during marriage marital?
A: Generally, debts acquired by one spouse during marriage are marital. Fla. Stat. 61.075(6)(a)1.
Q: Are one spouse’s student loans marital debt if they were acquired during marriage?
A: Unfortunately, yes. Florida courts consider student loans of one spouse marital debt that should be shared equally amongst both spouses if the student loans were obtained during marriage. Rogers v. Rogers, 12 So.3d 388 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009).
Q: Can nonmarital property become marital?
A: Yes. Nonmarital property may turn to marital asset when it is commingled with marital assets (e.g. money is deposited in joint marital account). Pfrengle v. Pfrengle, 976 So.2d 1134 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008). The spouse seeking to have property declared as nonmarital asset has the burden of overcoming the presumption of gift by proving that a gift was not intended. Robertson v. Robertson, 593 So.2d 491, 494 (Fla. 1991).
Furthermore, pursuant to Fla. Stat. 61.075(6)(a)1b, a nonmarital asset may be become a marital asset to the extent that its value has been enhanced by marital funds or labor. Cole v. Robert, 661 So.2d 1156 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995). However, it has to be active appreciation in value.
Q: What is active appreciation of an asset?
A: Active appreciation occurs when one spouse’s marital efforts caused the increase in value of the asset.
Q: Is paying off the mortgage considered active appreciation?
A: The mortgage reduction may be considered an “enhancement value” subject to equitable distribution if the mortgage was partially or fully paid off during the marriage from marital funds. Stevens v. Stevens, 651 So.2d 1306 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995). When marital assets are used during the marriage to reduce the mortgage on non-marital property, the increase in equity is a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. See e.g. Gaetani-Slade v. Slade, 852 So.2d 343 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003).
Q: What is passive appreciation of an asset?
A: Passive appreciation occurs when the increase or decrease of value is a result of passive or market forces, rather than the particular actions of a spouse.
Q: Who gets a jointly held business after divorce?
A: When deciding who the closely held business goes to, the court should take into consideration the desirability of retaining an interest in a business intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party. Fla. Stat. 61.075. Generally, it is improper for the court to leave the parties as joint owners of a joint business. Ross v. Bandi, 566 So.2d 55 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990). In many situations forcing the spouses to be business partners after divorce creates an “intolerable situation” especially when the spouses clearly state that they do not want to continue working together after the divorce. Id.
Q: Who gets marital residence after divorce?
A: Whenever children are involved, usually the spouse with the majority of the timesharing is awarded exclusive use and possession of the marital home until the minor children reach the majority or become emancipated or until the former spouse remarries. See Dolch v. Dolch, 368 So.2d 618 (Fla. 2d DCA 1979).
Q: How are the assets valued in a divorce proceeding?
A: Assets are valued according to the fair market value.
Q: What is fair market value?
A: Fair market value is the price that a seller is willing to accept and a buyer is willing to pay on the open market for a similar property.
Q: Can spouses agree to a different than equitable distribution of assets?
A: Yes, the spouses can always agree to a different distribution of assets in a marital settlement agreement, prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement.
Q: What is a prenuptial agreement?
A: A prenuptial agreement, also called “prenup” or premarital agreement is “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” Fla. Stat. 61.079.
Q: What are the formalities required for a prenuptial agreement to be valid?
A: It must be in writing and signed by both parties. Fla. Stat. 61.079.
Q: What can a prenuptial agreement contain?
A: Pursuant to the Florida Statute 61.079, the parties to a prenup may contract with each other with regards to:
The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;
The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
The establishment, modification, waiver, or elimination of spousal support;
The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of either the public policy of this state or a law imposing a criminal penalty.
Q: Can child support be reduced by a prenuptial agreement?
A: No. The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement. Fla. Stat. 61.079.
Q: When does a prenuptial agreement become effective?
A: A premarital agreement becomes effective upon marriage of the parties. Fla. Stat. 61.079.
Q: Can a prenuptial agreement be changed or revoked?
A: Yes. A premarital agreement may be amended, revoked, or abandoned but it must be done only by a written agreement signed by the parties. Fla. Stat. 61.079.
Q: How can a prenuptial agreement be challenged?
A: Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.079, a prenup is not enforceable “if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves that:
1. The party did not execute the agreement voluntarily;
2. The agreement was the product of fraud, duress, coercion, or overreaching; or
3. The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed and, before execution of the agreement, that party:
a. Was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party;
b. Did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided; and
c. Did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
Q: What is alimony?
A: Alimony or spousal support is defined as “an allotment of sums of money payable at regular intervals or in lump sum, as distinguished from a portion of a spouse’s estate, and it is an obligation imposed by law separate and distinct from the parties’ property rights.” Cullen v. Cullen, 413 So.2d 1196, 1198 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982). In other words, it is court-ordered money that one spouse has to pay to the other spouse for maintenance or support during the lawsuit or after the divorce.
Q: What types of alimony are available in Florida?
A: Florida Statute 61.08 recognizes 5 different types of alimony (or any combination of these forms):
Q: How does the court determine whether or not to award alimony?
A: Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.08(2)(a)-(j), income must be calculated for each party, which includes all sources of income. Income may also be imputed.
Q: How is alimony paid?
A: Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.08(1), “the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both.”
Q: Which factors does the court consider in determining the alimony award and its amount?
A: First, the court must “make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. If the court finds that a party has a need for alimony or maintenance and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance, then in determining the proper type and amount of alimony or maintenance under subsections (5)-(8), the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(2).
Q: Does it matter if my spouse cheated on me?
A: Yes. Although Florida is a non-fault state, in determination of alimony award courts “may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(1).
Q: How can I ensure that I actually receive my alimony?
A: “To the extent necessary to protect an award of alimony, the court may order any party who is ordered to pay alimony to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure such alimony award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose. Fla. Stat. 61.08(3).
Q: Does the length of marriage matter in determination of alimony award?
A: “For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(4).
Q: What is a short-term marriage?
A: A short- term marriage is a marriage of 7 years or shorter. Fla. Stat. 61.08(4).
Q: What is a moderate-term marriage?
A: A moderate- term marriage is a marriage greater then 7 years but shorter than 17 years. Fla. Stat. 61.08(4).
Q: What is a long-term marriage?
A: A long – term marriage is a marriage of 17 years or longer. Fla. Stat. 61.08(4).
Q: What is temporary alimony?
A: Temporary alimony is spousal support and/or suit money, which can be obtained during the divorce proceeding if a spouse can show well founded need for support and the other spouse has the ability to pay. See Vickers v. Vickers, 413 So.2d 788, 789 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982). “Throughout the pendency of a dissolution of marriage action, a party should not have consume a separate asset in order to support himself/herself in the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.” Byers v. Byers, 910 So.2d 336 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).
Q: What is bridge-the-gap alimony?
A: “Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs, and the length of an award may not exceed 2 years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony shall not be modifiable in amount or duration.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(5).
Q: What is rehabilitative alimony?
A: “Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either:
1. The redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or
2. The acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials.
(b) In order to award rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan which shall be included as a part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony.
(c) An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated in accordance with s.61.14 based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(6).
Q: What is durational alimony?
A: “Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances in accordance with s. 61.14. However, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(7).
Q: What is durational alimony?
A: “Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration if such an award is appropriate upon consideration of the factors set forth in subsection (2), following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate based upon clear and convincing evidence after consideration of the factors set forth in subsection (2), or following a marriage of short duration if there are written findings of exceptional circumstances. In awarding permanent alimony, the court shall include a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship in accordance with s.61.14.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(8).
Q: Can the court order alimony to be paid through depository?
A: “If there is no minor child, alimony payments need not be directed through the depository. If there is a minor child of the parties and both parties so request, the court may order that alimony payments need not be directed through the depository.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(10)(c)-(d).
Q: What is permanent alimony?
A: “Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage.” Fla. Stat. 61.08(8). Generally, permanent alimony may be appropriate upon consideration of statutory factors in a long-term marriage of 17 years and more. See generally Levy v. Levy, 900 So.2d 737 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005). In moderate-term marriage, permanent alimony is allowed upon clear and convincing evidence and consideration of statutory factors. Id. Permanent alimony is not appropriate in short-term marriage absent exceptional circumstances. Id.
Q: What is lump sum alimony?
A: Lump sum alimony is a payment of specific amount of spousal support paid at once or in installments. Lump sum alimony can also be awarded to ensure that property acquired throughout marriage is equitably divided.
Q: When is alimony awarded?
A: In every request for alimony, the requesting spouse must proof her/his need for alimony and the other spouse’s ability to pay. Fla. Stat. 60.08(2). In Canakaris v. Canakaris, 382 So.2d 1197 (Fla. 1980), the Supreme Court held that both above factors must be present in order for any alimony to be awarded. When determining need, the court should consider the spouses’ earning ability, age, health, education, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage. Quinones v. Quinones, 84 So.3d 1101 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012). Ability to pay is established based on income available to the spouse. See Zold v. Zold, 911 So.2d 1222 (Fla. 2005). In Williams v. Williams, 10 So. 3d 651, 652 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009), the court reasoned that alimony awards should leave the paying spouse with significantly less income that the net income of the receiving spouse. In Hoffman v. Hoffman, 127 So.3d 863 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013), the trial court erred in ordering the husband to pay child support, temporary alimony and temporary attorney’s fees and costs totaling more than 80% of the husband’s net monthly income.
Q: Is alimony taxable?
A: Alimony may be taxable to the receiving spouse if it meets the IRS’s definition of alimony and other requirements of the Internal Revenue Code.
Q: Is alimony tax-deductible?
A: Alimony may be tax deductible for the paying spouse if it meets the IRS’s definition of alimony and other requirements of the Internal Revenue Code.
Q: Can I seek alimony during marriage without filing for a divorce?
A: Yes. Pursuant to Florida Statue 61.09, “If a person having the ability to contribute to the maintenance of his or her spouse and support of his or her minor child fails to do so, the spouse who is not receiving support may apply to the court for alimony and for support for the child without seeking dissolution of marriage, and the court shall enter an order as it deems just and proper.”
Adoption Commonly Asked Questions and Answers
Q: Where can I find information about Florida adoption laws?
A: Private adoptions are regulated by Chapter 63 of the Florida Statutes – “Florida Adoption Act” Fla. Stat. 63. Public adoptions (permanency proceedings) are regulated by Chapter 39 of Florida Statutes. Fla. Stat. 39.
Q: What does “adoption” mean?
A: “Adoption” means the act of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where it did not exist, thereby declaring the child to be legally the child of the adoptive parents and their heir at law and entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child born to such adoptive parents in lawful wedlock. Fla. Stat. 63.032(2)
Q: Are adoption records public record?
A: No. Adoption records are confidential and not available to public. Fla. Stat. 63
Q: Who may be adopted or who may adopt?
A: Any person, a minor or adult may be adopted. The persons who may adopt are the following: a husband and wife jointly; and unmarried adult; or a married person without the other spouse joining as a petitioner, if the person to be adopted is not his or her spouse and if the other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and consents to the adoption or the failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to consent to the adoption is excused by the court for good cause shown or in the best interest of the child. Fla. Stat. 63.042(1) and (2)
Q: What are the rights of an unmarried biological father?
A: Generally (with certain exceptions), in order to preserve the right to notice and consent to an adoption, an unmarried biological father has to file a notarized claim of paternity form with the Florida Putative Father Registry maintained by the Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health, in which he must confirm his willingness and intent to support the child for whom paternity is claimed in accordance with state law. The claim of paternity must be filed before a petition for termination of parental rights is filed. Fla. Stat. 63.054.
An unmarried biological father has the responsibility to protect his rights and timely comply with the available legal steps to substantiate his parental interest. If he fails to act, he may lose his parental interest and the child may be adopted without his consent. Fla. Stat. 63.053.
In every adoption proceeding, in order to avoid entry of the default judgment, the unmarried biological father must: file a claim of paternity with the Florida Putative Father Registry, file a verified response with the court, which includes a pledge of commitment to the child and provide support for the birth mother and a child. Fla. Stat. 63.062.
Q: What is Florida Putative Father Registry?
A: Florida Putative Father Registry is a registry run by the Office of Vital Statistics for the purpose of registration of unmarried biological fathers. Fla. Stat. 63.054.
Q: Is Florida Putative Father Registry public record?
A: No. All information contained in the Florida Putative Father Registry is confidential and not available to public. Fla. Stat. 63.0541.
Q: Whose must consent to adoption?
A: The following persons must execute a consent to adoption: (1) the mother of the minor, (2) the father of the minor (if the minor was born during his marriage to the mother, if he adopted the child or if he was adjudicated by court to be the father before the date of a petition for termination of parental rights was filed), (3) certain unmarried biological fathers, (4) the minor, if 12 years of age or older, (5) any person lawfully entitled to custody of the minor if required by the court, (6) the court having jurisdiction to determine custody of the minor, if the person having physical custody of the minor does not have authority to consent to the adoption. If parental rights to the minor have previously been terminated, the adoption entity with which the minor has been placed for subsequent adoption may provide consent to the adoption. In such case, no other consent is required. In certain situations, the adoption entity’s consent may be waived by court. Fla. Stat. 63.062.
Q: What are the formalities required for the consent to adoption or affidavit of nonpaternity?
A: The consent to adoption or affidavit of nonpaternity must be signed in presence of two witnesses and acknowledged before a notary public, who cannot be one of the witnesses. Fla. Stat. 63.082.
Q: Which factors are taken into consideration by court in adoptions proceedings?
A: The court takes into consideration whether or not adoption is in the best interests of the child. “In determining the best interests of the child are served by transferring the custody of the minor child to the prospective adoptive parent selected by the parent or adoption entity, the court shall consider and weigh all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
1. The permanency offered;
2. The established bonded relationship between the child and the current caregiver in any potential adoptive home in which the child has been residing;
3. The stability of the potential adoptive home in which the child has been residing as well as the desirability of maintaining continuity of placement;
4. The importance of maintaining sibling relationships, if possible;
5. The reasonable preferences and wishes of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient maturity, understanding, and experience to express a preference;
6. Whether a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed pursuant to s. 39.806(1)(f), (g), or (h);
7. What is best for the child; and
8. The right of the parent to determine an appropriate placement for the child.” Fla. Stat. 63.082(e).
Q: Who must attend the adoption hearing?
A: The petitioner and the person to be adopted must appear at the hearing, unless the person to be adopted is a minor under 12 years of age or the court excused their appearance for good cause. Fla. Stat. 63.142.
More commonly asked questions about Family Law
I have just been served with divorce papers in Clearwater, Florida. What should I do?
Should I hire a divorce attorney after I get served with divorce papers?
Can I file for a divorce in Florida if my spouse does not want a divorce?
Can I file for a divorce in Clearwater, Florida if my spouse is not in Clearwater, Florida?
Can I file for a divorce in Clearwater, Florida if my spouse is not in Florida?
Can I file for a divorce in Clearwater, Florida if my spouse is not in the United States?
Can I file for a divorce in Clearwater, Florida if I do not know where my spouse is?
How much does a divorce cost in Clearwater, Florida?
How much does a contested divorce cost in Clearwater, Florida?
How much does an uncontested divorce cost in Clearwater, Florida?
How long does a divorce take in Clearwater, Florida?
How long does a contested divorce take in Clearwater, Florida?
How long does an uncontested divorce take in Clearwater, Florida?
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Do I qualify for an Uncontested Divorce?
Do I have to be living in Clearwater, Florida to qualify for a uncontested divorce in Tampa, Florida?
Does my spouse have to be living in Clearwater, Florida for me to qualify for a uncontested divorce in Clearwater, Florida?
Do I have to be living in Florida to qualify for a uncontested divorce in Clearwater, Florida?
Does my spouse have to be living in Florida for me to qualify for a uncontested divorce in Clearwater, Florida?
Do I qualify for alimony in Florida?
Do I qualify for alimony in Clearwater, Florida?
Can I collect alimony before my divorce is finalized?
Can I collect alimony during my divorce proceedings?
How much alimony will I receive after my divorce is finalized?
Can I collect child support before my divorce is finalized?
Can I collect child support during my divorce proceedings?
How much child support will I receive after my divorce is finalized?
How is child custody determined in Clearwater, Florida?
Who gets custody of the child during the divorce proceedings in Clearwater, Florida?
What is time sharing?
Can I get a domestic violence injunction on my spouse in Clearwater, Florida?
How do I get a domestic violence injunction in Clearwater, Florida?
What is equitable distribution of property?
In Clearwater, Florida am I only entitled to equitable distribution of property?
What is unequitable distribution of property?
Can I ask for unequitable distribution of property in Clearwater, Florida?
Has a judge ever agreed to the unequitable distribution of property in Clearwater, Florida?
Would signing a marital settlement agreement make the divorce process in Clearwater, Florida quicker?
Would the courts in Clearwater, Florida agree to the modification of prior judgments?
Do I need to contact the court in Clearwater, Florida before relocating with my child after a divorce?
In Clearwater, Florida does it matter if my souse cheated on me?
In Clearwater, Florida does it matter who’s fault it is that the marriage failed?
Can I ask the court in Clearwater, Florida to perform a paternity test during my divorce proceedings?
Can I ask the court to have my spouse pay for my divorce attorney’s fees in Clearwater, Florida?
Do courts in Clearwater, Florida award divorce attorney’s fees?
I, Attorney Aga Piasecka, can answer these and many other Divorce and Family Law questions regarding: Alimony, Child Support, Child Custody, Domestic Violence Injunctions, Equitable, Distribution of Property, Marital Settlement Agreements, Modification of Prior Judgments, Paternity Actions, Post Nuptial Agreements, Pre Nuptial Agreements, and Relocation. I am experienced in divorce, uncontested divorce, contested divorce and high-asset divorce. I have the knowledge and experience needed to obtain the best possible results for my divorce clients. I offer FREE consultations regarding all divorce matters and FLAT FEE uncontested divorces in Clearwater, Florida.
For a FREE consultation about your Divorce and Family Law needs please call: 727-538-4171 or 813-786-3911
Divorce & Family Law
Attorney Aga Piasecka has experience with Wills, Trusts and Probate Law and can assist you with:
Probate is a court-supervised legal process, through which the assets of a deceased person are identified and distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries under a will or, if there is no will, pursuant to Florida probate law. A will typically appoints a personal representative to administer the estate. If the deceased left no will and there are assets to be probated, the estate of the decedent must be distributed pursuant to probate law.
Generally, the decedent’s assets are identified and gathered and they are first used to pay the costs of probate proceedings, then to pay the decedent’s debts, and the remainder is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
There are two types of probate proceedings in Florida:
1. A “Formal Administration” is filed when there are assets exceeding $ 75,000 and/or when it is necessary to appoint a representative to administer the estate.
2. A “Summary Administration” is filed when the value of the entire estate subject to probate administration does not exceed $ 75,000 and the appointment of a personal representative is not necessary.
There is also a non-court supervised administration proceeding called “Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration”. This type of probate administration applies only to limited circumstances and may be filed via informal petition to request release of the decedent’s assets to reimburse the person who paid the final expenses such as e.g. funeral costs, medical bills etc.
Probate proceedings may be lengthy and very expensive. The duration of legal proceedings depends on many factors but in general it may take from a few months up to a few years to administer one’s estate. During this time the decedent’s assets remain “locked” in the court proceedings and unavailable to heirs and/or beneficiaries. The typical costs of probate proceedings may be as high as several percent of the estate’s value. Moreover, probate proceedings are public record, which means there is no privacy assured when your estate goes through probate. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead in order to avoid probate whenever possible.
Last Will and Testament
A “last will”, also called “testament” is a written legal instrument, in which a person disposes of his or her property after death. Under Florida law, in order to be valid, a will must fulfill certain legal requirements. Wills must be validate by probate court in probate proceedings. After one’s death, a will must be admitted to probate court and go through probate proceedings. The custodian of the deceased’s original will, must file the will with the Clerk of the Court in the county where the decedent was domiciled, within 10 days after learning the person is deceased.
A will typically appoints a person to administer the deceased’s estate, so-called personal representative. If no personal representative has been named, it may be necessary for an attorney to file a petition with a court on behalf of the heirs, beneficiaries and other interested parties to a appoint a personal representative. Florida rules of law govern, who can become a personal representative and how will she or he be compensated.
A “living will” is a written legal instrument stating a person’s desires regarding his or her medical treatment and/or end-of-life medical care in case of serious illness when they are no longer able to express informed consent and communicate their decisions to physicians and medical personnel. It is also called a “health care directive” or “advance directive”. A “living will” is different than a regular will, in which a person expresses their desires regarding distribution of their assets after death. Unlike a will, a “living will” has no power after one’s death.
A “living will” is a very important document, which can give doctors and family members invaluable guidance with making critical decisions as to a choice of medical treatment when a person becomes seriously ill and can no longer give informed consent and communicate their preferences.
Health Care Directive
A “health care directive” also called “advance directive” to physicians is another name for a “living will”, in which a person states his or her desires regarding medical treatment preferences in case of serious illness, when they are no longer able to give informed consent and communicate their wishes.
An “advance directive” is another term for a “living will” or “advance directive”, which is a written legal instrument, in which a person states his or her desires and preferences regarding medical treatment in case of serious illness, when they are no longer able to give informed consent and communicate their decisions.
A “trust” is a legal arrangement regarding property, in which the creator of the trust (called Settlor) transfers ownership of assets into care of another person (called Trustee), who holds legal title to property of the settlor with equitable duties to administer it for the benefit of a third person (called Beneficiary). A settlor can be the same person as trustee and there can be more than one beneficiary of the trust. In order to form a valid trust, one must meet certain legal requirements. The document that establishes the responsibilities of the trustee and the rights of the beneficiaries is called the “trust”, “trust instrument” or “trust agreement”.
The main advantage of creating a trust (as opposed to a will) is to avoid probate proceedings and spare your beneficiaries the expense and delay of probate court proceedings after your death. Certain trusts can be also used for asset protection against creditors.
There are many different types of trusts including:
1. Living trusts
A living trust, also called inter vivos trust is created during the settlor’s lifetime . Living trusts can be either revocable or irrevocable.
a. Revocable trusts
The settlor remains in control and ownership of his or her assets and can be changed and terminated at any time. This type of trust does not provide protection against creditors but it is an excellent tool to dispose of your property after death by avoiding probate proceedings.
Once assets are transferred into the trust, they belong to the trust itself, and remain subject to the rules and instructions set up in the trust instrument. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to administer the trust funds accordingly for the benefit of trust beneficiaries. At settlors death, the trust assets pass directly to the beneficiaries and avoid probate proceedings.
b. Irrevocable trusts
Once the irrevocable trust is created, the settlor can no longer control trust assets, modify, change or revoke the trust instrument. Once a property is transferred to the irrevocable trust, no one, including the settlor, can remove the property out of the trust. Generally, this type of trust provides protection against creditors and assures that upon your death, your assets are passed to trust beneficiaries and not to your creditors. However, a court can sometimes invalidate an irrevocable trust if it finds that the trust was established with the intention of defrauding creditors. Therefore, it is important to plan for asset protection well before you even anticipate to be subject to any creditor claims.
2. Testamentary trusts
A testamentary trust, also called a “will trust” or a “trust under will” is set up in a will . A testamentary trust is established only after the settlor’s death, in which it differs from a living trust, which is created during the settlor’s lifetime.
3. Charitable trusts
A charitable trust is established with the intent to benefit a specific charity or general public rather than a private individual or entity. Charitable trusts are eligible for a favorable tax treatment and they are often established as part of an estate plan to lower or avoid imposition of estate and gift tax.
4. Spendthrift trusts
A spendthrift trust is created for the benefit of a person, who is often unable to manage money and control his or her spending and it gives a trustee an authority to make decisions as to how the trusts funds may be distributed and spent for the benefit of the beneficiary. Such a trust limits the beneficiary’s access to the trust funds and also provides protection against beneficiary’s creditors. The beneficiary is prohibited or restricted in assigning present or future income and/or principal in the trust to his or her creditors.
5. Discretionary trusts
A discretionary trust is a trust, in which a settlor has delegated nearly complete or limited discretion to the trustee to decide as to how the trust income and/or principal is distributed to beneficiaries.
6. Support trusts
A support trust is a discretionary trust, in which a trustee has discretion to pay the beneficiary as much income or principal as the trustee believes is needed for support or the beneficiary. The type of support can be determined by terms of trust e.g. “for comfortable support” or for “support in accordance with the beneficiary’s standard of living”. Such a trust provides the beneficiary with partial protection from creditors. The beneficiary’s interest cannot be voluntarily transferred or assigned and is unavailable to general creditors but creditors, who provide necessaries to the beneficiary can usually reach it.
7. Totten trusts
A totten trust, also called “POD (Payable Upon Death) Account” is a revocable trust created during the lifetime of the settlor by depositing his or her money into an account or financial institution, typically in a savings account, in the depositor’s name as trustee for another. An individual or an entity can be named as beneficiary. Upon the settlor’s death, the money passes directly to the beneficiary and avoids probate. A totten trust can be revoked at any time as the gift is not completed until the settlor’s death. A totten trust is commonly used to indicate a successor to the bank account without having to create a will.
8. Self-settled trusts
A self-settled trust is a type of trust, in which the settlor is also the beneficiary, i.e. the one, who receives benefits from the trust.
Power of Attorney
Aga offers flat rates on preparation of powers of attorney. A power of attorney is a written legal instrument that gives someone authority to act on another person’s (principal) behalf and represent him or her in private affairs business, medical, or some other legal matters
Medical Power of Attorney
Aga offers flat fees on preparation of medical powers of attorney. A medical power of attorney is a written legal instrument that allows you (principal) to appoint a person that will have authority to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you become unable to make them for yourself.
Attorney Aga Piasecka offers FLAT RATES on creation of Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney. For a FREE consultation please call: 727-538-4171 or 813-786-3911
Wills, Trusts & Probate
Attorney Agnieszka Piasecka was born in Poland, immigrated to the US, obtained her Green Card then her United States Citizenship. She has experienced the United States Immigration process first hand and has the knowledge and experience to assist you in obtaining your Green Card and United States Citizenship.
Attorney Piasecka offers FLAT FEE RATES and PACKAGE DEALS for most common immigration applications. Attorney Piasecka has Immigration Law experience and can assist you with:
Attorney Aga Piasecka can help you answer these and many other immigration questions. For a FREE consultation about your immigration needs please call: 727-538-4171 or 813-786-3911
Información en español sobre nuestros servicios de inmigración
Agnieszka “Aga” Piasecka es una Abogada Licenciada en los Estados Unidos y practica en el área de Derecho de Inmigración y Naturalización. Debido a que estas áreas son reguladas por Leyes Federales, Aga puede representar a clientes con casos de inmigracion y naturalizacion en todos los Estados Unidos. Aga tiene experiencia en Peticiones Familiares, Visas de No-Inmigrante, Procesos de Naturalización y Certificación Laboral (PERM), Ciudadanía Americana, Asilo, Residencia permanente, Visa K-1 para prometido(a), Ajuste de estatus y Residencia condicional.
Consulte con la Abogada Licenciada Aga Piasecka sobre su caso de inmigración antes de presentar su expediente a las oficinas de inmigracion.
Para información sobre nuestros servicios de inmigración en español, lláme hoy a la Abogada de Inmigración Agnieszka “Aga” Piasecka: 727-538-4171 813-786-3911
Agnieszka Piasecka, Polski Adwokat Imigracyjny / Polski Prawnik Emigracyjny USA
Agnieszka urodziła się i wychowała w Polsce, gdzie ukończyła studia prawnicze z wyróżnieniem na Uniwersytecie Jagiellońskim w Krakowie. Agnieszka studiowała również prawo międzynarodowe w Holandii oraz zdobyła doktorat prawa z wyróżnieniem na Florydzie, na Stetson University College of Law. Agnieszka ma łącznie ponad 18 lat doświadczenia w praktyce prawa. Agnieszka mówi biegle po polsku, angielsku i włosku.
Agnieszka wyemigrowała do Stanów Zjednoczonych w 2007 roku i osobiście doświadczyła wielu problemów z jakimi borykają się w tym kraju emigranci. Agnieszka przeszła przez rozwód oraz wszystkie etapy emigracyjne prowadzące do uzyskania obywatelstwa Stanów Zjednoczonych. Proces ubiegania się o zieloną kartę może być skomplikowany i frustrujący, a nawet małe błędy mogą kosztować odmowę i utratę poniesionych opłat oraz czasu. Sprawy komplikują się jeszcze bardziej, gdy brakuje wymaganych dokumentów lub gdy sponsor nie kwalifikuje się z powodu niskich zarobków lub gdy małżeństwo rozpadło się przed uzyskaniem zielonej karty. Zatrudnienie doświadczonego adwokata to klucz do wyeliminowania pomyłek, których można było łatwo uniknąć, a które mogą kosztować utratę nerwów, pieniędzy i czasu.
Agnieszka doskonale rozumie problemy swoich klientów, gdyż sama kiedyś była w ich sytuacji. Agnieszka może pomóc Wam w sprawach emigracyjnych, rodzinnych, cywilnych jak również w tłumaczeniu i interpretacji dokumentów prawnych. W celu ustalenia pierwszej bezpłatnej konsultacji, zadzwoń pod numer 727-538-4171 813-786-3911
Adwokat Agnieszka Piasecka jest emigrantką z Polski i ma doświadczenie w sprawach emigracyjnych i związanych z uzyskaniem obywatelstwa. Agnieszka Piasecka może pomóc Ci w uzyskaniu zielonej karty, obywatelstwa, sponsorawaniu na zieloną kartę małżonka i innych członków rodziny, oraz w uzyskaniu wiz: turystycznych i narzeczeńskich. Agnieszka Piasecka może także pomóc w zdobyciu zielonej karty przez biznes oraz w obronie przed deportacją. Adwokat Agnieszka Piasecka zajmuje się sprawami takimi jak:
Zadzwoń aby umówić się na BEZPŁATNĄ konsultację prawną: 727-538-4171 813-786-3911
Immigration, Green Card & U.S. Citizenship
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