Our Family Law Services
Family Law Overview
Family law disputes can shake you to your very core and leave you feeling overwhelmed and fearful of the future. When deciding on hiring a family lawyer, it is absolutely necessary to find an attorney who will be a strong advocate for your interests, while also maintaining focus and compassion. As you proceed through the legal process the law firm of Julia G. Duke in Panama City, Florida will help you to handle the emotional nature of your family law issue.
Our experience combined with our responsiveness to our clients makes the law firm of Julia G. Duke a trusted legal friend when you need one the most. With our practice's focus being centered on family law, we go beyond just having legal knowledge and also work with our clients to educate them on the legal proceedings they will come across and inform them about the relevant laws involved with their case. Our success in family law is founded on facilitating clear and consistent communication with you and committing to be an advocate for your needs.
Contact Our Experienced Family Law Firm
To make an appointment for a consultation with one of our lawyers, please call 850 913 8866 or send us an e-mail.
Offering Legal Services that Make a Difference
We are keenly aware that you did not enter your relationship with the intent of dissolving it. However, the reality is that irreconcilable differences may make divorce a necessary resolution for your relationship. In support of your interests, we will work with you to formulate legal strategies that give you the best possible outcome as well as allowing you to live the rest of your life in the very best manner possible under the circumstances. Call us today to find out how the law firm of Julia G. Duke can help you to resolve your divorce or family law issue. We will be here to support you and your family's very best interests.
Uncontested Dissolution of Marriage - An uncontested dissolution of marriage is a divorce action in which both parties have basically resolved all issues including, but not limited to, developing a parenting/time sharing plan, child support, distribution of assets and debts, spousal support (alimony) and attorneys fees.
Contested Dissolution of Marriage - Unlike an uncontested dissolution of marriage, a contested dissolution of marriage is a divorce in which the parties have not been able to resolve all issues of the case despite both parties agreeing that they should be divorced. If the parties cannot resolve all issues, it is considered a contested matter. The process then moves to attending required mediation in an attempt to settle their unresolved issues prior to a final court hearing (trial) being scheduled.
Issues related to children:
Shared Parental Responsibility - This is a concept adopted by Florida Courts wherein both parents have the legal right and are encouraged to share in all aspects related to parenting. It basically includes discussion of issues related to decision making and the rights and responsibilities of each parent towards the other parent and towards the child. This is generally the parenting concept utilized unless there is a reason for the Court to consider requesting an award of sole parental responsibility to a parent.
Timesharing (formerly referred to as Child Custody) - The State of Florida no longer refers to matters relating to where and with whom a child resides and spends time with using the terms "custody" and "visitation." Instead, matters relating to how much time a child will spend with each parent is referred to as timesharing. Parties must also develop a parenting plan which includes resolving issues related to decision making, day care, medical/dental treatment, choice of schools, extracurricular activities, various forms of communication between parent and child when the child is not with that particular parent and can be used to address a myriad of the many potential concerns related to the raising of a child in two separate households. If the parties cannot come to an agreement as to these types of issues, it may be necessary to ask the Court to appoint a parenting evaluator to make a recommendation to the Court as to a timesharing and parenting plan that will be in the best interest of the minor child or children.
Child Support - Child support is determined by factors including the net income of the parents, financial provision for medical and dental insurance for the child, day care costs, if necessary, and the amount of time the child/children spend with each parent. The amount of child support to be paid is basically regulated by the Florida Child Support Guidelines taking the above factors into account. Note: An important misconception regarding child support and time sharing issues is that a parent receiving child support may withhold time sharing from a parent who is not paying their child support. That is NOT the case. Child support and time sharing are two separate issues and likewise, if a parent is not allowing you to exercise your court ordered timesharing, your child support obligation remains in tact.
Modification - A modification is usually sought to change the terms of a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or a Final Judgment not involving a prior divorce action. These issues may involve seeking to change timesharing, parental responsibility, child support or alimony. The basic legal standard that must be alleged, based on facts that can be supported by evidence, is that a material, substantial and unanticipated change in the circumstances has occurred following the date of entry of the Final Judgment or last Court order.
Mediation - Mediation is a confidential process in which a neutral facilitator helps people involved in litigation explore various settlement options working towards the goal of aiding the parties in fashioning a formal agreement that will settle the issues between the parties and allow the parties to maintain the power to make their own decisions, subject to court approval. Mediation is required in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida in the majority of cases, before parties may schedule a final hearing or trial before a judge.
Contempt and Enforcement - Contempt and Enforcement are two common proceedings that maybe needed to be filed after the entry of a Final Judgment and usually involve issues related to failure to abide by the terms of a Court order including failure to timely pay alimony, child support, failure to allow the other parent court-ordered timesharing or other actions contrary to the terms of Final Judgment or last Order entered by the family law court.
If you are the parent of a child or children and you are considering filing a family law action, whether it be a divorce, an action seeking to establish paternity and timesharing or a modification of a previous court order relating to your children, please keep in mind the following:
• Your children need both parents to stay involved in their lives, and it is important to maintain frequent and continuing contact by writing letters, making phone calls, texting, and "skyping." If you don't stay involved with your child, he or she may feel that they are not important to you.
• Don't fight in front of your children. Make it your number one priority to get along with each other and make your best efforts to agree on matters related to your children. When parents fight about a child, the child may believe that he or she did something wrong and feel guilty.
• Your children need both of you and wish to love you both and enjoy the time that they spend with each of you. As parents you must support and encourage your children to make the most of the time with the other parent. Negative behavior on your part towards the other parent, especially in front of your children, may cause a child to feel as if they need to take sides. A child should never be put in this position.
• Never make your child the messenger! Always communicate directly and only with the other parent. If you have nothing nice to say about the other parent to your child, say nothing at all.
• Remember that your children are looking to each of you to help them learn healthy and productive coping skills when dealing with change in their lives.
Divorce is a complicated process that can have a major impact on the emotional and financial lives of every member of a family that goes through it. When a couple divorces, it is a process that should be handled with care and attention to details. The implications can be lifelong. There are numerous factors to be addressed, including the division of marital property, developing a parenting plan (child custody arrangement), arranging primary parental responsibilities, and arranging a visitation schedule as necessary, claiming alimony or child support, defending a claim for alimony or child support, and relocating out of the area with a minor child. At the Law Office of Julia G. Duke, we guide our clients through the process in an effort to ease some of the difficulties that come with divorce. We will protect your rights and work hard to achieve your goals in negotiation or in the courtroom.