Family Law Information — At Your Fingertips!
What Is Legal Separation?

In order to file for divorce you must first have been a resident of the State for at least six months and of the county in which you intend to file for at least three months. In cases where people have significant ties to other states, or who have been physically located outside California for extended periods, if the other party challenges California’s jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage, residency can become an important issue to be decided. Usually it is not.

Even if you do not yet qualify as a resident of California you may file a Petition for Legal Separation at any time, no matter how long you have been living here. Legal Separations are nearly identical in effect to dissolutions of marriage, but there are also very important differences (for instance affecting tax matters).

Reasons for pursuing legal separation other than not meeting residency requirements include religious considerations and the desire to maintain health insurance qualifications for the other spouse. (Please see additional information on Legal Separation under separate topic in our Practice Areas)

In a legal separation the parties’ marital status is not terminated or dissolved. The court has the power to divide any and all property of the parties, to award spousal and child support, to make custody decrees and to do anything else it can do in dissolution proceedings. A Final Judgment for Legal Separation is binding upon the parties just as much as a Dissolution Judgment. If one or both later decide to complete the divorce process and have the marriage dissolved, the terms of the Judgment of Legal Separation will be incorporated into the new decree.


Sources: – Long Island Divorce Lawyer Jay Raxenberg…

August 11, 2016, Divorce Law
Child Custody Explained

Child Custody
Having custody of a child means having the responsibility for taking care of the needs of a person under the age of 18 years of age. Custody may be further defined as “physical custody” and “legal custody.”

Physical custody means the physical care and supervision of a child.
Legal custody is a legal position created by a court order which gives the custodian the right to have physical custody of the child and the right and duty to protect, train, and discipline the child and to provide the child with food, shelter, education, and ordinary medical care.

Both parents are entitled to custody . It is the public policy  to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of child rearing. Unless the court determines that it would be detrimental to the child, the court will order that parental responsibility be shared. In making a determination about custody, the court must decide what are the best interests of the child.

Note:  a member of a child’s extended family may be granted temporary custody of a child.

Note: When there are reasonable grounds to believe (“probable cause”) that a child has been abused, neglected, or abandoned or is in imminent of danger of illness or injury because of abuse, neglect or abandonment, a child may be “taken into custody” by a law enforcement officer or other authorized person and placed with a non-relative who is a responsible adult approved by the Department of Children and Family Services. When a child is “taken into custody” in this manner, a temporary status of “custody” is created involving complicated legal procedures. Please contact a lawyer if you need help regarding a child who has been taken into custody. If you need assistance in finding a lawyer, you may call the bar association in your county.…

Child Support in Florida

Federal law requires that all child support payments for certain cases be sent to a single location for processing and mailing, known as the Florida State Disbursement Unit (SDU). Since the majority of child support cases in Florida are eligible for SDU services, this change simplifies and expedites processing of child support payments.
If your case qualifies for this service, the payer should have received a payment redirection notice and payment coupons in the mail. The cases affected by this change are (1) Cases enforced by the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Program (Title IV-D cases), and (2) Cases in which a support order was entered after January 1, 1994 and in which support payments are to be made through income deduction.

Check for Payments on Your Case
To check for payments online, please go to To check for payments that cannot be delivered to your address, go to Undistributed Child Support Collections.
To check for payments by phone, you may call the Department’s Automated Payment Line (APL) at 1-800-226-6777. The Automated Payment Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also call the State Disbursement Unit Voice Response Unit (SDU VRU) toll free at 1-877-769-0251. The SDU VRU is available 24 hours a day. SDU Customer Service is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. (ET).

Note: Your social security and case number must be provided to access the SDU VRU system. Your Social Security Number must also be on file at your local Clerk of Court’s office or the Broward County Support Enforcement Division if you live in Broward County.…

Alimony Overview

Whether or not a spouse is liable to provide support for a spouse during and after marriage is embodied in the law of maintenance and alimony. These concepts are embodied in three statutes. Section 61.08, F.S., as explained by case law, provides the general rules for such a determination.
The major criteria is the need of one spouse and the ability to pay of the other spouse, but all statutory criteria must be considered. These criteria include but are 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, the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) 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) All sources of income available to either party.
(h) Adultery or misconduct economically impacting the marriage.
The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

It is not permissible to determine a case on a single factor analysis. All factors must be considered.
There are four different types of alimony available:

Permanent Periodic Alimony
Rehabilitative Alimony
Bridge The Gap Alimony (not recognized in 5th DCA
Lump Sum Alimony
The purpose of permanent periodic alimony “is to provide for the needs and necessities of life for a former spouse as they were established during the marriage of the parties.”
Permanent periodic alimony is used to provide the needs and the necessities of life to a former spouse as they have been established by the marriage of the parties. The two primary elements to be considered when determining permanent periodic alimony are the needs of one spouse for the funds and the ability of the other spouse to provide the necessary funds. The criteria to be used in establishing this need include the parties’ earning ability, age, health, education, the duration of the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed during its course, and the value of the parties’ estates.

Permanent alimony is usually used in long term marriages with significant earnings differences, but is not excluded from shorter marriages, particularly where there are children or other significant impacts on the dependent spouse from the marriage. It is generally a periodic payment for an indefinitie period of time terminating on the death of either party or the remarriage of the dependent spouse. It can be modified if there is a significant change of circumstances effecting the need or ability to pay of the parties which is involuntary and unexpected.

Rehabilitative alimony is used to restore a spouse to the ability of self support. It generally involves periodic payments for a period of time to assist the dependent spouse in achieving independence. To obtain rehabilitative alimony there must be a plan which shows how independence will be achieved and the amount of support needed. Rehab alimony plans often include some educational or job training component. It can also be modified if there is a significant change of circumstances effecting the need or ability to pay of the parties which is involuntary and unexpected.

If the dependent spouse makes a good faith effort at rehabilitation but fails, the rehab alimony can be extended for a longer period of time or converted to permanent alimony.

The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th DCA’s have recognized a special short term alimony called “Bridge the Gap” Alimony. This award usually provides a lesser able spouse in a short term marriage payments for a short period of time to allow them to bridge their return to self support.

This concept has not been recognized and the Supreme Court has never addressed the issue.
Some authorities have said that Bridge the Gap Alimony is just a name for a form of lump sum alimony.

Lump sum alimony is the payment of a definite sum, either in a lump payment or in a series of periodic payments. This form of alimony differs from all others because it continues for the entire term regardless of changes in circumstances. It is non modifiable. Payments continue, even after the death of the parties until the full lump sum has been paid.…