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Debunking the Five Most Common Myths About Florida Family Law Proceedings

Whether marriage dissolution, child custody, or any family-oriented issue, anyone seeking resolution in the Florida Family Court system often begins the process at a disadvantage. In addition to the likely unfamiliarity with family law and legal procedures, you must usually contend with the emotional stress arising from the issue(s).

Meanwhile, in preparing for your case, you will probably seek out as much information about the process and potential outcomes as possible. This can lead to well-meaning family members, friends, and acquaintances offering plenty of solicited and unsolicited advice and information. While some of this advice and info may be spot-on, any misinformation could prove detrimental to your case. Any misconceptions you have about the family law process and potential outcomes can waste your time, promote poor decision-making, and pile on more stress to what is already a challenging time.

If you are preparing for impending Florida family court proceedings, you should be wary of any advice or information you receive from non-lawyers. To secure the most favorable outcome from your day(s) in family court, you should seek the services of a skilled family law attorney, like those at Tallahassee’s Cowhey + Ward Attorneys at Law.

Along with helping ensure that you understand the law, legal procedures, and potential outcomes, they can help guide you to a successful resolution. They are also familiar with the most held myths people have about Florida family law. Read on to see if you’ve heard any of them.

Myth #1: Mothers Always Get Custody

This family court myth is commonly held nationwide because it used to be true in all 50 states. Throughout most of the 20th century, family courts tended to grant custody to mothers far more than fathers because maternal support was generally deemed more critical for childhood development than support offered by fathers. As late 20th century and early 21st century research exposed the importance of the fatherly influence on positive childhood development, state legislators and family courts adapted custody decisions to take greater account of the father’s role in parenting.

In Florida, Statute 61 was revised to mandate that courts cannot consider the parent’s gender in custody decisions. Florida family law today is geared toward treating child custody as a time-sharing arrangement and seeking solutions that favor equal distribution of parental time and responsibilities. Courts generally strive to avoid handing down sole custody decisions and usually only do so if one parent has proven legally unfit to raise a child.

Myth #2: Child Support Covers Everything

Child support in Florida is not intended to cover every possible expense related to raising a child; it’s designed to cover costs associated with basic needs. While food, shelter, and clothing are considered the primary needs, child support payments can also be used to cover healthcare, transportation, education, and other childcare expenses.

Florida family courts determine child support payment amounts by assessing numerous factors—including both parents’ incomes—listed in Florida Statute 61.30. Childcare support amounts depend on how these factors sway the court’s decision, and support granted may or may not cover all primary and subsidiary needs.

Myth #3: Divorce Always Means an Equal Split of Assets

Rather than an “equal split” of marital assets and liabilities, Florida law seeks an “equitable distribution” of them. While the court begins the process with the premise of a 50/50 division, it weighs numerous factors to determine whether there “is justification for an unequal distribution.” Among the factors considered by the court are:

  • Economic circumstances of each party.
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage.
  • Marriage duration.
  • Contributions by one spouse to the other’s career or education.
  • Desirability by one spouse to retain any asset free of claims from the other spouse.
  • The desirability of one spouse to maintain the marital home in support of dependent children.

Myth #4: Mediation is a Sign of Weakness

Given that the Florida family court system strongly encourages mediation in all divorce proceedings and requires it in contested cases, engaging in mediation can hardly be considered a sign of weakness.

Myth #5: DIY Divorce is Easier and Cheaper

While a do-it-yourself divorce may be an inexpensive option for the short term, it could prove costly in the long run. With the emotional stress and legal complexities that come with a divorce, spouses may be prone to making mistakes before and during the process. A skilled divorce lawyer can help clients avoid such mistakes and help steer them toward a fair and favorable resolution.

Turn to Cowhey + Ward for Your Family Law Matters

For family law guidance in the Leon County, Florida area, turn to Cowey + Ward Attorneys at Law. Adam Cowhey and Zach Ward take a detailed, compassionate approach in addressing every family law case. As a member of the Florida Family Law Rules Committee, Mr. Cowhey possesses in-depth insight into the state’s family laws and up-to-date information on their latest changes. To secure the best legal representation before the Florida Family Court system, contact us today at (850) 222-1000.

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