Family Law FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

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Child Support Questions

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There is a fairly complex formula for calculating child support in Florida law, which is known as the Child Support Guidelines, or the "Guidelines". The total support need for the children is calculated from a formula based on the combined net income of both parents and the number of children. Each parent bears a pro-rata responsibility for providing the support amount for the children.
Courts have the discretion to deviate upward or downward 5%. A greater deviation is possible but not typical.
When the the children stay with the paying parent more than 20% of the time the Guidelines provide for a reduction in the support amount.
If a parent paying child support paying court ordered support for a child from a previous relationship, the Guidelines call for a reduction in current support calculation. Note, the support must be court ordered to qualify as a deduction from current support.
If a parent paying child support has another child by another mother, the amount necessary to support the subsequent child may be justification for the Court to reduce child support.
The Guidelines factor in which parent is paying for these expenses in computing the final support amount.
There are many online programs that claim to correctly calculate child support. The better idea is to set a free consultation with an attorney at Byrd & Barnhill so that a trained professional can analyze your case.
Courts can "impute" income to a parent who is hiding his or her income or who is not earning up to his or her full earning capacity. Of course, it is always a challenge to prove 'under the table' income or the fact that a parent is able to earn more.
The attorneys at Byrd & Barnhill are ready to answer your questions with a free in person consultation. Just contact us for an appointment.

Divorce and Modification Questions

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First, you must have been a resident of Florida for more than six months immediately prior to filing for a divorce in Florida. Second, since Florida is a no-fault state the only question is whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. So, basically if one party wants out of the relationship the other party cannot prevent it.
No, but as with all important legal decisions, it is always better to have a trained and experienced divorce professional at your side during the stressful time of a marital separation and dissolution.
In a divorce the Court has to resolve multiple legal issues, such as division of property and debts, parenting plan and time sharing for minor children, and entitlement to alimony. If the parties can reach a complete agreement as to how each of these issues is handled, then the case is considered to be "uncontested" and the parties agreement is reduced to writing in a marital settlement agreement.
If you cannot agree on how to resolve all of the issues, then the case is 'contested' and must be resolved by the judge. This means that one of the parties will have to take the step to file a petition for dissolution and have the other party served with a summons to court where the issues will be resolved by the judge. This does not mean that the case cannot be amicably settled during the contested divorce proceedings as the attorneys for the parties will continue to negotiate for an amicable settlement and the Court will require the parties to attend mediation in order to attempt a settlement.
Every contested case is different. If the case is uncontested the case can usually be finalized within 60 days after the marital settlement agreement is signed by both parties, if not sooner.
Court costs in Hillsborough County are about $425 for the filing fee. If the other spouse has to be served with process the fee for having a process server or deputy sheriff serve the papers is usually another $50. So, the costs are about $500 for filing for a divorce.
Lawyers are professionals who charge for the time they spend helping their clients. Obviously, an uncontested case takes less time than a contested case. Thus, lawyers are usually able to quote a 'flat fee' for an uncontested case because the amount of time to complete an uncontested case can be predicted by the attorney. Contested cases are a different story altogether because there is no real way to predict how much time an attorney will have to spend on the case. Therefore, most attorneys required a retainer fee up front to become engaged in a contested divorce and bill by the hour against the retainer fee. When and if the retainer fee is exhausted a replenishing retainer fee is required to continue the litigation.
The Court can require that a spouse with substantially more income than the other spouse pay for the attorney for the needy spouse. This is done to make sure that both parties have equal access to competent legal advise during the divorce case.
In a contested divorce case the Court will allow either party to set a temporary hearing wherein the Court will make a temporary order regarding payment of bills during the litigation, a temporary parenting plan and time sharing, temporary alimony, temporary exclusive use of the marital residence, and any other orders that are necessary to preserve the status quo during the case. The temporary order are just that - temporary. At the conclusion of the case the judge will enter a final judgment which may or may not resemble the temporary order.
If there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances from those that existed at the time the last final order was entered, the Court can modify an existing court order or judgment.
Yes, typically. Child support and alimony are based upon the need of the receiving party and the financial ability of the paying party. So, a substantial increase or decrease in income will generally be enough for a modification of support.
If there has been a substantial change in the circumstances and it is in the best interest of the children, the Court will adjust the time sharing schedule.

Alimony Questions

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Alimony is support for adults. There are different forms of alimony, such as permanent periodic alimony, rehabilitative alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, durational alimony, and lump sum alimony.
Permanent alimony is paid monthly or some other interval until terminated by certain conditions, such as death, remarriage of either party. It is based upon the need of the receiving spouse and financial ability of the paying spouse. It is presumed to be available in long-term marriages of over seventeen (17) years duration.
Rehabilitative alimony is of a set duration that is intended to allow the receiving spouse to increase his or her earning capacity to become more self-supporting, and thereby becoming less dependent on the paying spouse. It is usually awarded to enable the receiving spouse to attend school or accomplish some type of vocational training in order to acquire or refresh skills for employment.
As the name implies, lump sum alimony is a fixed amount that may be paid in one or more installments.
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First, contact an attorney at Byrd & Barnhill for a free consultation and case evaluation. Alimony is a complex area of the law and you should not try to negotiate an alimony issue without the aid of a seasoned alimony attorney.

Paternity Questions

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The parent of a child born to parties who are not married can be established by the Court through an action known as a petition to establish paternity. Either the mother or the man who believes that he is the father of the child can file the petition. The case is treated very similarly to a petition for dissolution of marriage, except that only issues regarding the children are addressed by the Court.
Yes. Florida law provides that placing the father's name on the birth certificate through the proper execution of a Florida birth certificate establishes paternity. There are other ways to establish paternity provided by Florida law.
Yes. Either parent can ask for a genetic test to establish paternity if paternity has not been otherwise established by another legal method.

Domestic Violence Questions

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Florida law provides that a victim of domestic, dating, sexual or repeat violence (including stalking in person or cyberstalking) can apple for an injunction against a person who commits or threatens to commit the violence. Acts of domestic violence include stalking, assault, battery, false imprisonment, sexual assault, sexual battery and similar acts of violence.
First, call law enforcement immediately. Law enforcement officers are trained to deal with domestic violence situations. They will advise you of your rights as a victim. There are also shelters available in the Tampa Bay area where victims can go for temporary protection.
Contact the Clerk of the Court to file a petition for injunction for protection from domestic violence.

Plant City Lawyers

Johnnie Byrd and David Barnhill

Johnnie and David have experience in family law, criminal defense, probate and guardianship, auto accident law and business and construction litigation. Read more about Johnnie Byrd and David Barnhill.

Personal Attention

You will work directly with the attorney handling your case and your calls and emails will be returned promptly so that you are always informed about the status of your case.

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Reasonable Fees

Our commitment is to charge you a fair and reasonable legal fee; however, we cannot quote an exact legal fee until we have evaluated your case. After a consultation by phone or in person, you will know where you stand legally and what it will cost to hire us.


Johnnie Byrd and David Barnhill have 50 years combined experience representing clients in Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, and Pasco Counties. We help clients resolve matters involving auto accidents, family law, probate, guardianship, DUI, criminal and business law.


As your lawyer, we will be dedicated to helping you find a solution to your legal problems - and above all, to having the peace of mind that your legal issue is being handled by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney at law.

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206 North Collins Street
Plant City, Florida 33563
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