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Frequently Asked Questions

Family Law

We have many calls about family law every day.  So, we have given you some answers to the questions we get most often. Call us if you need to talk to a lawyer.

Dissolution of Marriage – Divorce

Grounds for Divorce?

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.

How to get an uncontested divorce?

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. 

What makes a divorce contested?

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.

How long does a divorce take?

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. 

What are the issues in a divorce case?

There are three main areas that the judge must address in a divorce case. The first is children’s issues such as timesharing, support, healthcare, etc. Second issue division of property and debts – who get what property and who pays what debts. Finally, the issue of spousal support – alimony. All of these issues have to be agreed to or decided by the Judge.

What is a temporary divorce hearing?

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.

What is alimony?

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. The length of the marriage has a lot to do with the type of alimony a judge can order. Also, the judge must consider the need of a spouse for alimony and the ability of the other spouse to pay. The standard of living of the parties also has a great impact on the alimony issues.

How do I know if I am entitled to alimony?

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.

Our Services

Free Consultation

We give free telephone case evaluation on all family cases.

Hire Byrd & Barnhill

After evaluating your case, we will quote a retainer fee to hire our lawyers to represent you in your family law matter.


We prefer communicating with our client by email so that we can stay in constant contact with you.


All family law cases must go to mediation at which time a professional mediator will use his or her best efforts to help the parties settle the case.


If the case cannot be settled, then the judge will set a trial date to hear the evidence and make a ruling on the issues before the court. A final judgment will be entered and the parties are ordered to comply with the terms and conditions contained in the final judgment.

FAQ Paternity – Unmarried Parents

What is a paternity case?

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.

How is paternity established?

Paternity can be established in child support enforcement cases in court or through the Department of Revenue. Florida law also 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, such as filing an affidavit of paternity. A paternity lawsuit is the main way to establish paternity, timesharing and support all in one case.

What about paternity testing?

Yes. Either parent can ask for a genetic test to establish paternity if paternity has not been otherwise established by another legal method.

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Domestic Violence Injunction

What is a Domestic Violence Injunction (DVI)?

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. 

What if I am a victim of domestic 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.

How to get a domestic violence injunction?

Go to the office of the Clerk of the Court and they will help you complete the paperwork to request an injnction, We strongly recommend that you hire a lawyer to help you present your case.

What to do if I've been served with a DVI?

You should immediately retain legal counsel to defend you against the injunction. There are serious consquences if the injunction is granted.

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