44. Why Are So Many People Entrusting Their Family Law Cases to MLG?

At Mackey Law Group, our trial lawyers have been inundated with family law cases over the past few years. Why is that? The answer is very simple and explained below.

First, a divorce/family law case is, in fact, a litigation case; do not let someone or a “divorce lawyer” convince you that your divorce case is a friendly get together where everyone sings Kum Ba Yah around the campfire or that your divorce case can be settled via “collaborative” resolution. A divorce/family law case is usually complicated, both legally and emotionally. Let’s face it, a divorce involves one spouse wanting out of the marriage, usually being mean, and most always attempting to take advantage of the other spouse.  Second, anyone in a contested divorce/family law proceeding needs a good trial lawyer. You need to know that your lawyer has been there before, tried cases to conclusion, and knows how to win.

And third, results matter. Results matter a lot. We believe Mackey Law Group has the highest intake of divorce/family law cases over the past few years, relative to any other law firm in Manatee or Sarasota Counties. Why? Because “the word is out”. People know that our lawyers are up on the law, know how to handle the other side of a divorce/family law case, and know how to get positive results for our divorce clients. Yes, there can be a winner and a loser in a divorce/family law case. Our litigators are current on Florida’s child support/timesharing law, the law concerning division of assets and liabilities between spouses, and all aspects of alimony. Equally important, our litigators are just that: we are litigators and trial lawyers. We don’t panic and throw our clients under the bus if settlement cannot be attained; we try the case and we usually win for our law firm’s clients.

Our initial consults usually last no more than an hour. In that time, we let our clients know where they stand and where we can take them in a divorce/family law proceeding. If you have already been to another lawyer or if you have even hired another lawyer and don’t think you’ve got the right-one on your side, schedule a consult with us; if you don’t, you could be going into a divorce gunfight-of-a-trial with a lawyer who draws water-pistols.

By: Pete J. Mackey, Esq.

40. “I’m getting divorced, can I move with my kids?”

This is a common question people ask when getting divorced and have children.

Florida law is very specific about what is allowed in a “relocation” with minor children.  There is a maximum distance that you can move without the necessity of a court order.  A lot of people, including many lawyers, are not aware that the distance is measured “as the crow flies” (straight line on a map). The answer to the question really hinges on several factors including the reasons for the move and how far the move will be.

Assuming your spouse or ex-spouse does not agree with you, relocating elsewhere with the minor children requires a Petition for Relocation.  Very precise and particular language has to be included in the petition or your case can be thrown out.

There are eleven (11) factors under Florida law that the court will look at to determine whether relocation is in the best interests of the minor children.  Some of the factors include:  the current employment and economic circumstances of each parent and whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the relocating parent and the minor children.  You will have to prove these factors to a judge.

Because of all these nuances, it is best to hire a skilled and experienced family law attorney if you are considering a relocation with minor children.  Do not hesitate to contact the litigators at Mackey Law Group.  We litigate these types of cases and win!

By: Jose Estigarribia, Esq.

31. Legal Father vs. Biological Father

In today’s society, it is common for couples to have children prior to marriage.  As a result, it is extremely important for fathers to know their rights.  Although it may seem as though a biological father and a legal father are one in the same, that is not always the case.  Believe it or not there is a distinction between a biological father and a legal father, and the distinction can have financial consequences.

A biological father is identified by the man that indeed “fathered” the child, whereas, a legal father is the man that has the legal rights and resulting responsibilities to the child. A child’s legal father can be established by biology, marriage, adoption, or court ruling.

Florida law establishes a legal father to be a man that is either the natural (biological) father, adoptive father, or the man who has contracted to care and support the child.  Contracting to care for a child is becoming more and more prevalent in our society; therefore, this is a topic that all men and even mothers should be aware of.  For example, if a man allows himself to be listed on the birth certificate and holds the child out as his own for a significant period of time, the man may be deemed the legal father and be responsible for child support obligations.  Of course, this legal father would be entitled to visitation with the child.

If you have such an above situation, you should hire an experienced family law attorney.  Mackey Law Group’s highly skilled attorneys can assist in determining exactly what your rights are.  Call us: (941) 746-6225.

By: Alison Breiter, Esq.

30. Paternity: Birth Certificate Enough?

Mackey Law Group has handled hundreds of paternity cases in Florida.  A common misconception in paternity cases is that if the Father’s name appears on the birth certificate of a minor child, that automatically means he is legally the Father and is entitled and/or accountable for all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges relating to that minor child without further action.  However, that is not the case when a child is born out of wedlock.

In order for either the Father or the Mother to establish timesharing, child support, etc. with the court for a child born out of wedlock, there must first be a determination and actual order by the Court establishing paternity for the Father.  This is often established via an agreement of the parties, which is then approved by the Court; the birth certificate does play a part by at least creating a presumption that the Father on the birth certificate is the actual legal Father. However, sometimes a DNA test is required if the parties do not agree on who the Father is.  This leads to yet another common misconception that any DNA test will suffice.

In a paternity lawsuit, establishing paternity is just the beginning, but it can be the most important component.  The timing and need to establish paternity can be critical in the beginning of a case, especially if one parent is threatening to move away.  Hiring an experienced lawyer in paternity, timesharing, and child support matters can make all the difference in obtaining a great result.

Mackey Law Group’s skilled attorneys are in Manatee and Sarasota courts on paternity cases winning day-in and day-out. Call us: (941)-746-6225.

By: B. Kyle Stalnaker, Esq.

 

25. Divorce as a Non-U.S. Citizen

Many non-U.S. citizens are hesitant to leave a spouse out of fear of the U.S. court system or concern for their residency status. You may be surprised to learn you don’t need to be a U.S. citizen to get divorced in the United States. Non-U.S. citizens are afforded the same resources and rights in divorce proceedings as U.S. citizens, including the ability to file for divorce and have an attorney represent them. However, a common question is how a divorce will affect their legal residency status.

Unless the marriage was fraudulent, or solely for the purposes of obtaining citizenship, the divorce will only have a small effect on the citizenship process. In most cases, the citizenship process may be delayed and additional proof may be required to show the marriage was legitimate. The proof required varies but factors include the length of the marriage and if any children were born of the marriage.

If you are considering divorce and are not sure how it will affect your residency status, contact an attorney at Mackey Law Group P.A. to help guide you through this process.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq.

19. Business Ownership and Divorce

Typically, in Florida divorce proceedings, the assets and liabilities owned by the Husband and Wife are subject to being either split via an agreement or by the Judge. However, what happens in a divorce when one of the parties owns a business to the exclusion of the other spouse, has an interest in a business, or the parties own a business together—does the business count as an asset? What about the debts of the business, who is responsible? What if the other spouse starts selling assets from the business quickly right as the divorce gets started? Can one spouse lock the other out of the business if they work together?

These are just a few of the questions that inevitably must be dealt with in a divorce proceeding where business ownership and interests are at issue. Some examples of the important steps that an experienced divorce lawyer should take to answer these questions involve: hiring an expert to value the business’s assets and debts, obtaining a court order to keep the business operating and earning money, and/or actually joining the business as a party to the divorce action, etc.

Mackey Law Group’s attorneys are not just blue-collar divorce attorneys—we are experienced business law litigators, with the skill and knowledge to navigate these complex waters and ensure you get what you deserve.

 

 

By: B. Kyle Stalnaker, Esq.

18. Florida Alimony Modification Victory!

On May 5, 2017, Kyle Stalnaker of Mackey Law Group took on oral argument in front of the Florida Second District Court of Appeal concerning a firefighter’s appeal of the denial of his alimony modification request case. The subject of the appeal was requested downward alimony modification due to retirement.

In Florida a party requesting an alimony modification must show: (i) there has been a substantial change in circumstances; (ii) the change was not contemplated at the time of the final judgment of dissolution; and (iii) the change is sufficient, material, permanent, and involuntary.  Of particular importance to the appeal, was element (ii): whether the change (lower income due to retirement) being contemplated/not contemplated at the time of the final judgment of dissolution of marriage.

In the lower Court’s ruling, the retired firefighter had not been allowed to reduce his alimony payment. The change to the law obtained by Mackey Law Group, per a written opinion by the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, is that now that “the change in circumstances” cannot be contemplated at the time the marital settlement agreement is fully executed, as opposed to the “change” being contemplated at the time the final judgment is entered.

This opinion by our Florida Appellate Court is important because based on our crowded Court dockets, more and more cases have a lag period between the date of the settlement agreement and the date of the final judgment.  It was during this lag period that the firefighter’s change occurred, leading to his retirement (he failed the physical firefighter test due to a heart condition). The lower Court had ruled that because the change occurred before the Judgment was entered, the firefighter could not reduce his alimony payment.

The Second District stated in it’s opinion: “In cases involving an MSA (Marital Settlement Agreement), the effective date of the agreement establishes the date to which a trial Court should look in determining whether a substantial change in circumstances was contemplated by the parties.  This is especially so in cases like this one where there is an extended delay between execution of the MSA and the entry of the final judgment.  Were we to adopt (the other side’s) position, we would be effectively, and needlessly, foisting language upon the MSA that the contracting parties did not include, and which would change the terms of the parties’ agreement. We are loathe to do so.

The hiring of an experienced family law attorney is imperative. Only an experienced lawyer knows how to set up the necessary language and terms in a marital settlement agreement.  The terms of a divorce settlement agreement can make all the difference for years to come in a divorce.

-B. Kyle Stalnaker

14. Cash, Gift, or Secret Loan?

Buying a home is for many, one of the most expensive purchases a family will ever make. Thankfully, many have friends and family who are willing to help finance this first purchase, usually for the down payment on the home. These types of funds are called “gift funds” and are not intended to be repaid. Gift funds allow young families the opportunity to purchase a home with the help of their family or in-laws.

Unfortunately, relationships can sour. What happens if those you once considered your friends and family demand their money back months or years down the line? What do you do now that your former friends or in-laws are suing you, claiming the money they gave was not a gift, but a loan meant to be paid back? You hire an attorney; don’t allow yourself to be threatened and bullied into paying back money you don’t owe.

Situations like this are all too familiar to us here at Mackey Law Group. They usually come up in divorce proceedings when one spouse’s in-laws want their “money back” from the son/daughter in-law. If you are being threatened by those you once trusted, hire a lawyer who will protect you and defend your rights.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq

13. I’m the spouse who doesn’t work; how can I pay to get divorced?

Many clients (usually women who are raising/have raised the kids) do not have their own money and their spouse has excluded them from access to any marital funds/assets. So, the non-breadwinner spouse finds herself in a bad spot: How does she have the funds to get the divorce which she must have? How does she make sure that she has an equal chance?

Unless the non-breadwinner spouse has few thousand dollars, she will unfortunately not be able to start the divorce proceeding. But, if she has a credit card, some cash squirreled away, or she can borrow from a family member,   she can make the initial payment and get the divorce proceeding started. A good divorce lawyer will then not only get the case moving forward; but he/she will immediately make motions for temporary attorney’s fees and temporary spousal support. A good divorce lawyer will also get your motions immediately set for hearing so that you have access to the marital funds/assets and can afford represent herself. A side note: if the breadwinner spouse is transferring-out/hiding money and other marital assets, there are laws prohibiting such and good divorce lawyer can force the reversal of those transactions. In other words, there are many ways to stop the spouse with all the money from financially strangling the non-breadwinner spouse.

You do not have to feel trapped in a marriage. The court has the power to award temporary funds to the non-breadwinner spouse so that she is able to both support herself and pay for a good lawyer; she must be litigating on a level playing field.  The key is to hire a lawyer who not only knows the law; but, knows how to navigate your case quickly through the court’s docket and procure results. And don’t forget to ask: Do you actually try cases?

At Mackey Law Group, we have accomplished all of the above many times and we are experienced trial lawyers. Most importantly, once we get our clients on a level playing field with the opponent, we excel.  So, if you find yourself in such a “spot”, callus. We know how to level the playing field and how to handle bullies.

By: Drew Chesanek, Esq.

 

9. Who will get Custody of my Kids?

When facing divorce, many parents assume the mother will automatically be awarded custody of the children with the father getting limited visitation. Florida courts have done away with this presumption and will now divide time between parents in the child’s best interest. The courts no longer have a presumption as to which parent will automatically get the most time, but look at the facts of each case individually.

Without an attorney, it can be easy for a mother to incorrectly assume she will automatically get sole custody simply for being the mother. On the other side, a father may think it is useless to ask for more time since it is already a done deal that the mother will win custody of their children, not realizing that he could have fought for more.

Child time sharing is but one of the issues a divorce brings, and hiring an attorney to represent you through this process is the best thing you can do for you and your children. Mackey Law Group has represented many parents in divorce proceedings and we can help you through yours.

Jorge Martinez, Esq.