Divorce/Family Law

Jacksonville, FL Divorce / Family Law

Simons & Simons, P.A.

Simons & Simons, P.A. offers divorce and family law services to people in the Jacksonville, FL area. We know that divorce is difficult; let us help make the process easier by listening to what you have to say and becoming an advocate for you.  We also accept domestic violence cases and cases involving education law.

Personalized service and comprehensive areas of legal practice are available.

Our Divorce / Family Law Services Include:

  • Divorce agreements / divorce settlements, including Military divorces
  • Child custody cases
  • Child support cases / spousal support cases, including Alimony cases
  • Child visitation and visitation rights
  • Domestic violence cases
  • Education law services

We offer personalized legal service in Duval, Nassau, Clay, and St. Johns counties.

Contact Simons & Simons, P.A. today at 904-417-7986 to schedule your free consultation regarding divorce and family law, or browse the website for more information about estate / probate law or bankruptcy law.

Learn more about Family Law specifics, Paternity matters and child support and alimony Modifications and how we can represent you and your needs.

FAMILY LAW:
When divorce, dissolution of marriage, or separation issues arise, emotions are intense and the need for immediate skillful, knowledgeable, and experiences action arises, we at Simons & Simons, P.A., are fully experienced at successfully and aggressively handling a wide range of divorce and family law matters with attentive, personal service, including complex divorce cases as well as calmly resolving uncontested divorce cases.

If you are considering filing for a divorce, this is unquestionably an emotional time for anyone. It is important that you have an attorney on your side who understands the law regarding divorce in Florida. The basic process of a Florida divorce is as follows:

Opening a Case
To open your case, we file a Petition for Dissolution, asking the Court to grant the divorce and address the issues of Equitable Distribution of Assets and Liabilities, Child Support, Alimony, Child Custody, and Attorney’s Fees.  Some or all of these issues may apply in your case.  Feel free to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your personal matters with a experienced divorce lawyer.

In addition to the Petition for Dissolution, Florida Statute requires you to file the following:

  • Financial Affidavit
  • Notice of Related Cases
  • Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure
  • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

Timelines
Our firm handles the filing and serving of your Petition for Dissolution and related pleadings.  Once the other party is served, they will have 20 days to respond to the Petition for Dissolution and 45 days to provide their own Financial Affidavit and Mandatory Disclosure.

Mediation
All family law cases must go to mediation, a process during which you, your attorney, your spouse, your spouse’s attorney and a third party mediator will attempt to resolve your case.  If and only if your case does not resolve at mediation, your case will then proceed to trial. In more complex cases, additional discovery will be necessary before the case is ready for mediation or trial.
You and your spouse are always free to agree to a resolution of any or all of these issues at any time during your case. Thus, it is imperative that you have an attorney on your side who can advocate for the most favorable resolution to your case.

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce
1. I was served with papers saying my spouse wants a divorce, what do I do?

When you are served by the Sheriff or private process server, it is important to comply with the deadlines that family law requires.  You have 20 days from the date of being served to file an Answer or Counterpetition to the Petition for Dissolution.  An Answer simply admits or denies the allegations of the Petition for Dissolution.  A Counterpetition sets forth your claims for affirmative relief.  You are also required to file a Financial Affidavit within 45 days of being served as well as a Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure in that same time frame.

It is important to note that if you do not respond within 20 days, your spouse can move for a default against you which will severely hurt your case.

2. What is a Counterpetition and why do I need to file one?

A Counterpetition will set forth your claims for affirmative relief.  The easiest example of why you need to file a Counterpetition would be a situation where you are requesting alimony and/or attorney's fees from your spouse.  The Counterpetition puts those issues before the Court so that the Court can aware you that particular relief.

3. I have children, am I obligated to pay child support even though there is no Court order?

Absolutely.  Many clients believe that until there is an order requiring them to pay child support, they are under no obligation to do so.  This is completely incorrect and in fact will hurt your case in many ways.  Once parties are separated and the children are splitting time between two homes, an obligation for one party to pay child support arises.  The best way to figure out your potential child support would be to schedule a free consultation with our office so we can tell you what to begin paying or what you should be receiving.  Keep in mind that every day that goes by that you are not paying or you are not paying enough, you will accumulate arrears which must be repaid at some point regardless.  It is imperative that you begin paying as soon as possible to avoid arrears and to preserve your good standing in front of the Judge.

4. My spouse is not letting me see our children, can we go to Court right away?

This is the most difficult question to answer because in many ways the procedure is very unfair to the parent who is not seeing the children.  Unless there is a legal emergency which would warrant an emergency hearing, the withholding of time with your children cannot be corrected quickly.  The spouse withholding the visitation will have an extreme negative impact on that spouse's legal position once a Court hearing is obtained.  The very first consideration the Court will look at in determining timesharing and custody is the ability of each spouse to foster a relationship between the children and the other parent.  Obviously, a spouse withholding contact will cause the Court to likely resolve that factor in favor of the parent who has suffered.  Your spouse may "get away" with his/her behavior in the short term, but the long term consequences will hurt his/her case.

5. My spouse is not paying child support, do I have to let him/her see our children?

Yes.  The law forbids the withholding of timesharing based upon the non-payment of child support.

Simons & Simons, P.A. is a full-service family law firm dedicated to providing compassionate and aggressive representation for our clients.  As Jacksonville Divorce lawyers we are focused on representing you and getting your legal matters resolved as quickly and proactively as possible.  Our firm typically handles family law cases throughout Northeast Florida in Duval County, Clay County, Nassau County, and St. Johns County.  We have trial experience in handling divorce, paternity, and modification cases.  We believe that communication with our clients is of utmost importance so that our clients know exactly what is going on in their case and to help take the mystery out of the legal process.  Going through a divorce or other family law proceeding is a trying time for our clients and we provide the peace of mind to help our clients resolve and move past their family legal issues. Simons & Simons, P.A. can help with your divorce – Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation.

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PATERNITY:
We frequently meet with clients who have never been married but have children in common with a former partner.  If this is the situation in your case, and you want to establish your own rights and those of your child, a Petition for Determination of Paternity and Related Relief is in order.

Petition for Determination of Paternity and Related Relief requests that the Court:

  • Legally establish paternity
  • Establish child support
  • Establish a time-sharing schedule and parental responsibility


Court Order
It is imperative that you take this legal action if you want to ensure that your rights are protected in the event that the relationship between you and your former partner becomes difficult.  You must have a court order to enforce child support.  Without a court order, the enforcement mechanisms such as wage garnishment, driver's license suspension, IRS tax return interception and incarceration are all unavailable until you use the Court to establish child support.

Frequently Asked Questions About Paternity Cases:

1. I am the father of a child who was born out of wedlock, do I have rights to visitation and timesharing?

If there is no Court order establishing paternity and a timesharing schedule, the child’s mother is allowed to decide on the timesharing schedule until a schedule can be established through the Court.  Until you file your paternity case, you will essentially be without recourse to enforce visitation with your child.

2.  The father of my child has not paid any child support, what are my rights?

A child support obligation begins automatically when unmarried parties separate.  This does not mean it becomes Court-ordered, it means that retroactive child support begins to accrue until the father begins paying.  Any payments made by the father will be assigned to him as a credit towards his arrears.  We recommend to all of our clients that they begin paying child support right away, so as to ensure the needs of their child are met and to ensure that no arrears begin to accrue.  In order to establish Court-ordered child support, you must file a Paternity case.  It is important to note that you can only receive retroactive child support for 2 years prior to the date of filing your Paternity case.

Simons & Simons, P.A. is a full-service family law firm dedicated to providing compassionate and aggressive representation for our clients.  As Jacksonville Divorce lawyers we are focused on representing you and getting your legal matters resolved as quickly and proactively as possible.  Our firm typically handles family law cases throughout Northeast Florida in Duval County, Clay County, Nassau County, and St. Johns County.  We have trial experience in handling paternity cases.  We believe that communication with our clients is of utmost importance so that our clients know exactly what is going on in their case and to help take the mystery out of the legal process.  Going through a paternity action or other family law proceeding is a trying time for our clients and we provide the peace of mind to help our clients resolve and move past their family legal issues. Simons & Simons, P.A. can help with your divorce – Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation.

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MODIFICATION:
There are three main types of modification actions:
1. Modification of Child Support

The first type of modification case is a child support modification.  Child support modifications should be sought when there is a "substantial change in circumstances" which would either increase or decrease the amount of child support to be paid or received by a party.  Some events that may constitute a substantial change in circumstances are: (1) the loss of a job; (2) a substantial decrease in income; (3) a substantial increase in income; (4) a substantial change in daycare/aftercare expenses for the child at issue; (5) a substantial change in the health insurance expenses for the child at issue; (6) a child graduating from high school or turning 18 years old.
It is extremely important to note that you can only receive credit for over/under payments retroactive to the date of filing.  If you have experienced any of the substantial changes above, you need to file immediately so that proper credit can be obtained from the Court for any surplus payments.  We recommend that you contact us the very day that the change occurs and oftentimes we can have your case filed within 24 hours to maximize your potential credit.

2. Modification of Alimony

Modification of alimony is very similar to child support in that the changes that often lead to a change in child support payments often lead to a substantial change which would constitute grounds to modify an amount of alimony.  A few differences exist between the two, however.  First, some alimony is non-modifiable.  If you signed a settlement agreement agreeing to non-modifiable alimony, you will not be able to change your payments even if a substantial change occurs.  Second, sometimes the duration of the alimony may not be modified either.  We urge you to contact use to have a free initial consultation to determine if your alimony obligation can be modified.

3. Modification of Timesharing

Modifying timesharing (sometimes referred to as custody and/or visitation) is always an option when children are involved.  Two parties cannot agree to never modify time sharing.  In order to modify time sharing, you need to allege and ultimately prove a substantial change in circumstances.  Once you meet your burden of showing a substantial change in circumstances, you also have to demonstrate to the Court that the requested change is in the best interest of the child according to Florida Statute 61.13. 

Simons & Simons, P.A. is a full-service family law firm dedicated to providing compassionate and aggressive representation for our clients.  As Jacksonville Divorce lawyers we are focused on representing you and getting your legal matters resolved as quickly and proactively as possible.  Our firm typically handles family law cases throughout Northeast Florida in Duval County, Clay County, Nassau County, and St. Johns County.  We have trial experience in handling modification cases.  We believe that communication with our clients is of utmost importance so that our clients know exactly what is going on in their case and to help take the mystery out of the legal process.  Going through a modification action or other family law proceeding is a trying time for our clients and we provide the peace of mind to help our clients resolve and move past their family legal issues. Simons & Simons, P.A. can help with your divorce – Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation.

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Divorce Law Firm  - Jacksonville, FL  - Simons & Simons, P.A.  - Flexible Appointment Times

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