Should I Stay or Should I Go: Florida’s Relocation Laws

In the aftermath of a divorce or separation, there may often be a variety of emotions —  perhaps sadness, grief, happiness, even relief.   With all these whirlwinds of emotions, a common reaction is wanting to hit the “reset” button and just start over.  This prospect of starting over sometimes involves getting as far away as possible from the other person and your old life by moving away.  However, divorced or separated parents in Florida contemplating a move need to understand the legal aspects of relocation.  These parents might find themselves caught in a dilemma perfectly stated in the the song by the punk band, The Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

What Is Considered Relocation?

Most parents do not realize or, if they had an attorney representing them in their family law matter, remember that they are required to get permission from anyone to move.  Yet, if a parent intends to move 50 more miles or more from their current residence, they must get permission from the court.  That is a somewhat simplified definition. Relocation is controlled by Florida Statutes, §61.1300

Relocation means a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying timesharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify timesharing.  The change in location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for the purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.

What Does That Really Mean?

Here are some key definitions from the relocation statute:

A parent is someone named as a parent pursuant to a court order or written agreement which can be enforced by the court or a person that is named as a parent on the child’s birth certificate and is allowed to have contact or timesharing with the child.

Other person is someone with whom the child lives with pursuant to a court order but is not a parent of the child and who is allowed contact, visitation, or timesharing with the child.

Thus, Florida law requires that if one parent wants to move 50 miles or more from their current address where they are living at the time they filed a pending family law case that involves timesharing or from the address they lived at during the time when the final judgment of marriage, paternity, etc. or any other order that established or changed timesharing they must provide notice to the other parent or other person as defined above, get their consent, and/or the court’s permission.  The move must be for more than 60 days in a row.  The relocation statute then does not apply if, for instance, the parent is spending two weeks at their vacation home.

Key Points From the Relocation Statute?

Should I Stay or Will You Let Me Go: Relocation by AgreementIn an ideal, but unlikely world, everyone would be happily co-parenting and simply agree to one parent’s proposed relocation.  However, even in this case, the parents must sign and a written agreement approved by the court that shows the consent of the nonrelocating parent to the relocation; provides a timesharing schedule for the nonrelocating parent; and defines any necessary transportation arrangements for the nonrelocating parent’s timesharing.

Should I Stay or Will the Court Let Me Go: Petition for RelocationWithout an agreement to the relocation, the parent that wants to relocate must provide notice to the other parent and the court by filing a Petition for Relocation and serving it upon the other parent. The contents required to be in the petition are specified within the statute.  Be aware that courts are very strict that a petition for relocation must comply with the requirements of the statute.  One of the main requirements is that the petition contain a proposed timesharing schedule for the nonrelocating parent.  If the petition does not contain this proposed timesharing schedule, the petition is “legally insufficient.”

You Should Stay and I Won’t Let You Go:  Objection to RelocationEven more important for the nonrelocating parent, if they object to the proposed relocation, they must file a written objection that complies with the requirements of the statute with the court and serve it on the parent wanting to relocate within 20 days of being served the petition for relocation.  If the parent does not file a written objection within this time, unless it is not in the child’s best interests, the petition will be granted and the relocation allowed without any further notice or hearing. If a parent does not want the relocation to occur, this is definitely not a deadline to miss (or have an attorney representing you miss).

It Depends Whether You Should Stay or You Can Go:  The Court’s Considerations in Relocation CasesThere is no presumption for or against relocation.  As always when children are involved, the court’s paramount consideration is the best interests of the children.  The court must also evaluate other factors including, the reasons for the relocation, the reasons the nonrelocating parent is objecting the relocation, the extent of the nonrelocating parent’s relationship with the child and the how likely the proposed timesharing schedule will preserve the relationship between the nonrelocating parent and the child.

Relocation cases are some of the most difficult cases, and at the same time, the easiest.  They are difficult and easy at the same time because unless one of the parents comes off of their position (the parent that wanted to go, decides to stay or the parent that wanted them to stay, decides to let them go), and settles through mediation, the only real resolution is to have the court decide.  It is a dilemma as The Clash sings, “If I go, there will be trouble. And if I stay, it will be double.” If you would like to discuss a possible relocation or defending against a relocation, please schedule a consultation today.


Which Home for the Holidays? : How Divorced Parents Should Handle the Holidays

Oh, holidays!  A time for joy and togetherness with the family.  A time for making great memories and continuing traditions, like listening to your favorite holiday songs while drinking hot coca before the fire[1]… Yet, in Florida, for divorcing or divorced parents and their children, the holidays may seem very different from the tranquil scene described.  Navigating the complexities of co-parenting, scheduling, and keeping everyone in “good cheer” can make the holidays an extremely stressful time.  Below are some insights and tips on how parents should manage the holidays[2] that, overall, will benefit both parents, and more importantly, will be in the children’s best interests.

Establish an Effective Parenting Plan at the Outset with the “Big Picture” in Mind

Frequently, when parents are first establishing a Parenting Plan, they can be so enmeshed in the emotions of the divorce, that they hyperfocus on the exact amount of time each parent will have, or “should” have, with the children.  This hyperfocus results in parents losing sight of the big picture with regard to future holidays, and by doing this, parents end up negatively affecting themselves and their children.  What are the different options and what should parents consider when designating holidays in a Parenting Plan?

Major Holidays (i.e., Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, and Spring Break).  The typical methods that major holidays can be split are the following:

Follow the same schedule as the regular timesharing schedule. This option is generally a suggestion when the regular timesharing schedule is an equal (50/50) timesharing schedule.  The parent who normally has the children on that day would have them for the holiday.

At the outset, this option would not be appealing to many parents.  Depending on how the equal timesharing schedule is being exercised, by luck of the draw as to where the holidays fall, there may be a large imbalance of one parent having substantially more holidays than the other[3].  Further, if the ongoing, equal timesharing schedule is a 2/2/5 split, this option may be absolutely chaotic for the children.  Think about one parent having the first two days of the Winter Break; then the other parent having the next two days; then the other parent having the weekend; and so on for the entirety of the Winter Break.  This definitely does not seem like low stress!

Split the holiday equally. This option involves either splitting the actual holiday or splitting the entire break equally and also splitting the actual holiday.  Thus, in the first instance, one parent would have the children from the previous overnight through halfway the day of the holiday.  The other parent would then have the children from that halfway point through an overnight. The parents would then resume the regular timesharing schedule.  The second instance involves counting the number of actual days of the entire holiday, with one parent having the child from the time school is out through the day which is the halfway point. The other parent then has the child from that halfway point through the day school resumes for the child. Within this split of the entire holiday break, the parents would also split the actual holiday. Many parents will choose this option believing that it the most “fair” one.

This option may work for Spring Break, during which there is not an actual Spring Break Day that is celebrated; however, if parents really thought this option through, in reality, this option is usually the worst!  Let’s think this through using the 2023 Thanksgiving Break: As typical  in the past years, the children have been given the entire week of Thanksgiving off as a break.  One parent would have the child from Monday through Thursday afternoon, essentially, Thanksgiving lunch.  The other parent would then have the child from that point on Thursday, have Thanksgiving dinner, through Monday morning when the child returns to school.  The seemingly impossible feat of being able to eat two  Thanksgiving meals hours apart aside, this “fair” option also means that parents would never be able to travel during the holidays with their children.  If parents were thinking of the big picture, they would recognize that, for example, traveling to New York to spend Christmas with their family would not be possible[4].  Further, the children would be easing into the holiday and then, “Time’s up.  Gather your things to celebrate elsewhere.”

 Rotate the entire (or half, with regard to Winter Break) holiday.  This option involves one parent having the entire holiday one year, and the other parent having the entire holiday the next year.  For instance, in odd years, one parent has the child from the time school lets out for Thanksgiving through the time school resumes.  In even years, the other parent would then have the same time.  Winter Break in Florida is typically two weeks.  With this option, in odd years, the parent who did not have Thanksgiving would have the child from the time school lets out through Christmas Day.  The other parent would then have from December 26th through return to school.  The parents then would alternate this schedule the following year.

At first glance, this option would not appeal to many parents. “But I won’t have _______ holiday with the children” or “the other parent is getting more time with the children.”  Again, looking at the big picture, this option can actually be the best option.  First, with the yearly alternating of Thanksgiving/first half or second half of Winter Break, everything evens out in the end.  Second, you can travel with the children during your time and/or also spend time for yourself when you do not have the children.

Co-Parent and Be Flexible

After working hard and getting the parenting plan finalized, family law attorneys often tell their clients that their hope is the parents will shove that parenting plan in a drawer and never have to look at it again.  The parenting plan is there to refer to as the default, but hopefully, the parents will be able to cooperate with each other, co-parent, and do what is best for the children.  This means having open communication and being flexible with each other.  If for instance, one parent really wants to attend their family reunion with the children during the Winter Break, but it is technically the other parent’s time, both parents should be willing to compromise.

With a carefully considered parenting plan, open communication, flexibility, and most importantly, true co-parenting, divorced parents and their children can still have wonderful times during the holidays, creating new traditions and memories.  If you would like to discuss creating an effective parenting plan or any other family law issue, please schedule a consultation today.

[1] Please imagine the sound of  a record needle being pulled violently across a vinyl record and the music that has been playing in your head coming to a screeching halt.

[2] Holidays refers to all the major holidays.

[3] I know that I just indicated that parents should not hyperfocus on the actual amount of “time” each parent has with their children, but I am sure that if one parent always has Christmas or Hanukkah and the other gets Columbus Day, there will be some issues.

[4] All right, this technically could be possible, but it would be exceedingly stressful, expensive, and/or chaotic. Do you really want to be traveling on Christmas Day with children in order to make it to the other parent’s home at the “halfway” mark? Imagine all the possible issues, including delayed and cancelled flights. . .

Navigating Divorce with P.E.A.C.E.: A Comprehensive Guide to Methodical Resolution


Embarking on the journey of divorce necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the many issues involved.  Family law attorneys often use a structured approach encapsulated in the PEACE acronym, wherein each letter represents a critical aspect of a divorce in a specific order: Parenting Issues, Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Child Support, and Everything Else. In this thorough exploration, we will delve into each component of the PEACE acronym, explaining why addressing these issues in a specific order is not only mathematically sound but also immensely beneficial for organizing your thoughts during the overwhelming divorce process.


Parenting Issues:

At the epicenter of any divorce lies the pivotal matter of parenting, a facet that extends far beyond legal agreements. Addressing parenting issues early in the process is not merely advisable; it is integral. This phase involves determining time-sharing arrangements (formerly known as “custody”), constructing a comprehensive time-sharing schedule, and making decisions that profoundly impact the child’s education and healthcare. By dedicating time to resolve parenting matters first, a foundational structure is laid for other aspects of the divorce. Decisions made in this phase have a cascading effect, influencing child support calculations and impacting equitable distribution. Furthermore, an early focus on parenting fosters cooperative co-parenting, contributing significantly to a healthier environment for the children involved.  Finally, children should come first in any divorce, so deciding issues related to parenting first just makes good sense.  It also ensures that the time-sharing schedule, which should be based on what it in the best interests of the children, is not being impacted by financial decisions in Equitable Distribution or Alimony.


Equitable Distribution:

Equitable Distribution, the next step in the PEACE acronym, involves the fair division of marital assets and liabilities. This stage necessitates a meticulous examination of financial contributions to the marriage, essentially everything that a couple owes and owns.  Addressing equitable distribution after parenting issues enables a more accurate assessment of the financial needs of both parties, especially when considering the financial responsibilities associated with raising children. The process may involve appraising property, evaluating complicated financial documents, and negotiating a fair division of assets. This systematic approach ensures that financial considerations align with the responsibilities outlined in the parenting plan, fostering transparency and fairness.



Alimony, or spousal support, emerges as a critical aspect after addressing parenting and equitable distribution. This phase seeks to ensure a more accurate assessment of each party’s financial situation, acknowledging the complexities that arise after the dissolution of a marriage. The decisions made regarding alimony can significantly impact child support calculations, emphasizing the need to tackle this issue in a systematic order. Factors such as the duration of the marriage, the financial needs of each party, and the standard of living during the marriage are considered when analyzing alimony. This careful consideration plays a pivotal role in crafting a fair and sustainable financial arrangement for both spouses post-divorce.


Child Support:

Child support, a cornerstone in divorce proceedings, ensures that the financial needs of the children are met post-divorce. Addressing parenting, equitable distribution, and alimony before delving into child support calculations enhances accuracy and avoids potential complications. Child support calculations involve considering each parent’s income, the number of children, and specific expenses related to the children’s well-being, as well as the specific time-sharing schedule that the parents have agreed to use. A thoughtful approach to child support ensures that the financial responsibilities align with the parenting arrangements established earlier in the process. This systematic progression, guided by the PEACE acronym, not only streamlines the divorce process but also safeguards the best interests of the children involved.


Everything Else:

The final stage in the PEACE acronym encompasses addressing any remaining issues that were not covered in the preceding steps. This includes the division of personal property, considerations regarding adult children, and the finalization of the legal details of the divorce. By saving these miscellaneous issues for the final phase, individuals can focus on the core aspects of the divorce first, making the entire process feel more manageable. This deliberate approach allows for a comprehensive resolution, ensuring that no important details are overlooked in the rush to conclude the divorce process. Addressing everything else after resolving the core issues also provides a smoother transition into post-divorce life for both parties, fostering a sense of closure and allowing individuals to embark on their new chapter with clarity.



In conclusion, the PEACE acronym stands as a guiding beacon, providing a structured and logical approach to navigating the complicated landscape of divorce. By systematically addressing Parenting Issues, Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Child Support, and Everything Else in a specific order, individuals not only follow a mathematically sound progression but also gain a profound sense of organization and control over the myriad decisions involved in divorce. This methodical approach reflects a commitment to guiding clients through the divorce process with empathy and efficiency, ultimately paving the way for a more peaceful and sustainable post-divorce life. As individuals traverse this challenging terrain, the PEACE acronym serves as a roadmap, facilitating a comprehensive and thoughtful resolution for all parties involved.  When you are ready to discuss the divorce process, please schedule a consultation today.

Go Your Own Way: When a Family Law Attorney-Client Relationship Ends

The relationship between a client and their family law attorney is a very different one when compared to other attorney-client relationships. In comparison to other areas of law such as civil law, real estate law, criminal law, etc., family law cases involve much more heightened emotions and the sharing of inherent vulnerabilities.  Divorce, child timesharing issues, and money issues are loaded with emotional difficulties that make the family law attorney-client relationship more intricate.  Because of these additional considerations,  the specific dynamics between a client and their family law attorney is crucial to the overall success and satisfaction regarding a family law case.  Sometimes, however, circumstances arise where the best thing for both the client and the attorney is to listen to Fleetwood Mac’s sage advice and “go [their] own way.”

Most, if not all, family law cases are teeming with emotionally charged situations.  From a client’s perspective, their case is a huge transition in their lives or their children’s lives. It is about their life. As the case unfolds and progresses, clients may recognize that their needs, expectations, or personal circumstances have changed.  Or it may be that the client now perceives a big difference between the communication styles of their attorney and themselves or that they no longer agree with the legal strategy being pursued. Many clients may feel that their attorney does not fully appreciate their specific situation as being unique or is not delivering the results they want. When there is a mismatch in communication styles, legal approaches, or other reasons causing extreme frustration, it may be time for the client to reassess their attorney-client relationship, and go their own way, seeking new representation.

From the family law attorney’s perspective, there are many valid reasons to consider parting ways with a client. Just like from a client’s perspective, there may be a large dichotomy in the communication styles or the overall personalities of the attorney and client. One very common challenge arises when a client’s expectations are hugely unrealistic. These unrealistic expectations can revolve around many things including the speed of the case, the results that can be obtained, the costs of legal fees, or the strategies that the attorney should take.  Frequently, the client’s unrealistic expectations concern the amount of time and focus they believe their attorney should spend specifically and only on their case.  There are also instances where a client will insist upon their attorney arguing a position or taking an approach that the attorney knows will either not be persuasive, will affect the client’s case negatively, will sabotage the client’s case, or is even unethical. If a client constantly questions the attorney’s judgment, fails to provide information when repeatedly requested, fails to follow legal advice, if there is a breakdown in trust, becomes increasingly uncooperative, along with the other circumstances described previously, it may be in the attorney’s best interests to suggest parting ways.

Family law attorneys must maintain a professional attorney-client relationship and carefully consider that relationship to make sure that it stays productive and meets ethical and professional standards.  This decision to part ways should be handled with open communication and respect. By openly discussing their concerns and expectations, both the client and attorney can appreciate the reasons for ending the attorney-client relationship, and what they should both look for in their future representations.

Like all break-ups, ending the attorney-client relationship might be difficult at first, but it really can be the best thing. The decision to part ways, whether the idea of the client or the attorney, should not be taken personally.  Going your own way can create a chance for both the attorney and the client to find more fitting legal representations that can result in better outcomes.  If you would like to discuss a family law matter, please schedule a consultation today.

The Exception, Not the Rule: Emergencies in Family Law and the Consequences of “Crying Wolf”

Family law encompasses many issues – usually issues that are not only complex, but also emotional.  Family law clients often deem certain circumstances as an absolute emergency, and understandably, in that person’s life, the circumstances may qualify as an emergency. However, clients should recognize that what they consider to be an emergency often is significantly different from how a court views the situation.  Moreover, clients should also understand that their attorney is not being unsympathetic when explaining why they cannot, or will not, file an emergency motion for their client. Family law attorneys must determine whether  what their client has presented to them constitutes an actual emergency within the legal framework of family law, and also consider the possible consequences if the court determines that an emergency did not exist.

In almost 18 years of practicing family law, I have never filed an emergency motion. This does not mean that (1) clients have never asked me to file an emergency motion;  (2) I have never empathized with a client and felt that the circumstances they find themselves in would certainly feel like an emergency; or (3) I have never heatedly debated with a client regarding why their current situation would not qualify as an emergency in the court’s eyes.  The fact that I have never filed an emergency motion in almost 18 years does mean that true emergencies in family law are relatively rare.  Here are some reasons why true emergencies in family law are the exception, not the rule:

Balance of interests when children are involved.  As a parent, if the critical situation involves your child, the situation will likely always qualify as an emergency to you. However, when presented with a request to immediately suspend one parent’s time-sharing ex parte or without notice to that parent, the court must balance the best interests of the child with the rights of the other parent.  The situations that would warrant such an extreme action would be when a child is likely to suffer serious and imminent harm (i.e., a child is a victim of domestic violence and abuse, been neglected or abandoned, or endangered because of a parent’s substance use disorder or mental health issue) or there is a reasonable belief that a child will be removed from the state.

Legal process, preventative measures, and misunderstandingsIt may not provide much comfort at the time that clients are embroiled in their difficult situation, but the family law system is designed to handle most issues through an orderly legal process. Usually, parties must attend mediation prior to having a hearing before the court. The rationale behind this requirement is that parties are expected to attempt resolution of their issues between themselves before the court must step in and resolve the issues for them.  Further, family law involves legal tools that act as preventative measures in avoiding emergencies.  These tools may include standing administrative court orders, prior court orders specific to the family, parenting plans, and domestic violence injunctions. Lastly, many situations that appear to be an emergency are often a result of misunderstandings or miscommunications between parties. These situations can often be resolved through communication rather than the court taking immediate action.

Court’s limited resourcesA consistent statistic regarding family law courts in Orange County is that each family law judge has a minimum of 2,000 cases. Thus, imagine if 10% of these cases involved an emergency.  With the court’s limited resources, true emergencies must be prioritized.

Consequences of  misusing the term or “crying wolf”.  Misusing the term “emergency” will have consequences. Once the court receives a motion labeled as an “emergency,” the court will essentially drop everything they are doing in order to review and contend with the issues laid out in the motion. Thus, if the court subsequently determines the issues do not qualify as an emergency, the other cases that judge was handling have been affected by this interruption, leading to a domino effect of delay and continued congestion in the court system. Importantly, misuse of the term has also hindered the court in resolving other more urgent cases.  Lastly, and a large reason behind most attorneys’ hesitancy to file an emergency motion, one consequence of “crying wolf” is that not only does the client lose credibility, but so does that attorney. Family law judges commonly indicate in their written practice and procedures that an attorney who has titled, filed, and requested an emergency hearing on an “emergency” motion that later is deemed not to constitute an emergency, will never receive an emergency hearing again. Understandably, a client and an attorney that want to keep their credibility and reputation will use the term “emergency” carefully.

As an example of the high bar set for emergencies, the following is an excerpt from the practice and procedures of the Honorable Diana Tennis:

Emergency Hearings:  Parties are reminded that difficulties with time-sharing or other problems that are not objectively extremely serious and imminent are NOT emergencies.  Very rarely will the Court take ex parte action, as it does not afford due process to all parties.  Non-emergency issues should not be the subject of an emergency motion.  If a true emergency situation arises, counsel may request that a hearing be set on short notice.  The body of the motion must contain a detailed explanation of the circumstances constituting the emergency as well as the substance of the motion8. The Court will not take ex parte action on a motion that is not verified. The (Court’s footnote 8: Generally, this is where things go awry.  Emergency does not mean any dispute between parents no matter how dramatic. The request is by-it-nature a due process violation and that means should include allegation that include an airport or severe and immediate endangerment.  If not, and this is typically the case, try an ”expedited” motion instead.)

The above is in no way meant to minimize either true emergencies or the feelings of family law clients involved in what may be an incredibly difficult situation, but not rising to the level of an actual emergency. Family law cases are filled with emotionally charged and contentious situations. By understanding the distinction between a situation that feels like an emergency and what the court qualifies as an emergency, clients can navigate the family law legal system more effectively and efficiently.  If you would like to discuss a family law matter, please schedule a consultation with an attorney at Artemis Family Law Group today.


Understanding Your Advocate: The Challenges of a Family Law Attorney

I realize that the title of this article may seem overly dramatic and maybe even come off as whiny. However, the reality is that family law attorneys face distinctive challenges that can affect them personally and professionally.  After close to 18 years of practicing family law, I have come to believe that if our clients understood some of the challenges that a family law attorney faces in this job, this understanding could lead to not only improved attorney-client relationships, but also better overall expectations on how their family law case proceeds.

  1. Emotional Toll. There is a reason that when I inform other attorneys that I practice family law, they usually look at me with relief and say something along the lines as “Thank god someone does” or “Better you than me.”  Most family law attorneys chose this area of law because they wanted to help people.  Yet, new family law attorneys quickly learn that in each family law case, you are dealing with many more people, and consequently, each of their personalities, other than your own client.   Family law cases frequently (if not always) involve heightened emotions. Typically, there is ongoing high-conflict in divorces, “custody battles,” domestic violence injunctions, etc. Your  family law attorney is investing time and empathy in helping you through your difficult time.  What your lawyer wishes you understood is that each of their clients is going through their own difficult time and experiencing the ever-shifting emotions common in family law cases such as fear, anger, hostility, and sadness.  Thus, although it may appear to you that your family law attorney is not being as empathetic as you believe they should be to your situation, please understand that this compartmentalizing is actually beneficial to both your attorney and you.  Imagine the lack of progress and the increased costs and level of conflict in your case if your attorney, instead of engaging in problem solving, became completely enmeshed in your emotions and the emotions of each of their clients.  It is  important to recognize that your family law attorney is human and here to help you as much as possible through the legal process. Their help would not go very far if the expectation is that they should feel exactly the same way as you do with regard to your family law case.
  2. Balancing Advocacy with Objectivity. Compartmentalizing the emotions and turmoil of their clients also leads to another thing your family law attorney wishes you understood regarding their job: Your family law attorney is advocating for your best interests but they can only really accomplish productive advocacy if they remain objective.  Thus, your family law attorney wishes you explicitly understood their role.  Their primary responsibility is to provide you with thorough, sound legal advice.  This advice is intended to benefit you and your life.  The attorney may push back and may not agree with your decisions or actions.  However, understand, ultimately you are making the decisions because it is your life and your future.
  3. Legal Battles can be expensive. Family law cases can be expensive. Family law attorneys (at least the good and reputable ones) wish their clients understood that they are trying their best to keep their clients’ expenses low.  Nevertheless, the amount of your family law attorney’s fees depends on many different factors —most of them, out of the attorney’s control. Clients need to consider how the other party, the opposing counsel, and their own actions can affect the amount of legal fees.
  4. Reputation is Important. Much of your family law case will be impacted by your family law attorney’s reputation.  As indicated in other blogs, the reputation of family law attorneys is paramount.  A family law attorney that problem-solves rather than causing more problems, treats their cases objectively rather than subjectively, advises their client intelligently rather than emotionally, advocates for their client rationally rather than advocating for whatever their client wants, is most likely a family law attorney with a good reputation.  A family law attorney with a good reputation because of the above characteristics will result in an overall more efficient and acceptable resolution of the issues in your case.
  5. Value of Collaborative Law, Mediation, and Settlement. Lastly, family law attorneys wish clients knew about their job is that they really want to resolve your case in the most beneficial manner.  Your best resolutions are going to be through the collaborative process, mediation, our other methods of settlement.  Thinking that “a judge has to decide this,” is, in reality, your worst option for getting a resolution that will be acceptable to you.

The practice of family law can take a significant toll on attorneys, both emotionally and professionally. Understanding the challenges your attorney faces can produce a more productive and empathetic attorney-client relationship.  By recognizing these things, you will be able to work with your attorney to navigate the family law system effectively and reach the best possible resolution for your case.  If you would like to discuss how Artemis Family Law Group can assist you in your family law matter, please schedule a consultation today.


Tips to Prepare Financially For Your Divorce

If you find yourself at a crossroads, contemplating divorce, you’re likely aware of the emotional and personal toll it can take. But have you considered the financial aspects? Preparing for a divorce is not just about untangling your emotions; it’s also about safeguarding your financial well-being and future. Here, we’ll guide you through the essential steps to prepare for divorce financially, and also highlight some critical pitfalls to avoid.


  1. Understand Your Current Financial Situation

The first step in preparing for divorce is to have a clear picture of your current financial situation. Gather all your financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, and information about assets and debts. This is the foundation upon which you’ll build your financial strategy.  Depending on how organized you are, this can take a while, so make sure you allow yourself an adequate amount of time and try not to get too frustrated at how arduous it can feel.  The only way to figure out what you are entitled to is to determine what you have (and what you owe) in the first place.  The sooner you begin this organizational process, the better it will be for your divorce process (it will cost less in legal fees for your attorney to sort through your finances, you will be able to start filling out your financial affidavit sooner and will have a head start completing your mandatory disclosure requirements).


  1. Budget for the Divorce

Divorces can be costly, and it’s essential to budget for legal fees, court costs, and other divorce-related expenses.  Consult with multiple family law attorneys to get a better understanding of what kinds of costs your case may involve. Having a budget can help you avoid financial surprises.  If you and your spouse are in a place where you can discuss these kinds of things, have a conversation about how to budget for the divorce; try to get on the same page in terms of how much you believe it will cost.  Sometimes the very act of trying to budget for a divorce together can help a separating couple stay focused on keeping the peace in the interest of staying on budget.


  1. Save for Post-Divorce Life

As you plan for divorce, start setting aside money for your post-divorce life. Create an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, and consider opening a separate bank account if you don’t already have one.  It is important to remember, however, that everything a couple earns while married is presumed to be marital, including emergency funds and separate savings accounts.  These will likely be subject to equitable distribution, but starting with some cash on hand to use for post-divorce life, even if it’s been split in some manner, will provide you a soft landing in the post-divorce landscape.


  1. Inventory Your Assets and Debts

Make a comprehensive list of your marital assets and debts. Include everything from real estate and vehicles to investments and credit card balances. Knowing what you own and owe is crucial for equitable asset division.  There are plenty of assets that are commonly forgotten in this process, so check here for a list of items to make sure you remember when creating your inventory of assets and liabilities.  Again, this will help you in your divorce process overall as well.


  1. Consider Your Post-Divorce Budget

Think about what your financial situation will look like after the divorce. This includes housing costs, child support or spousal support (if applicable), and your daily expenses. Creating a post-divorce budget will help you make informed financial decisions.  It will also help you understand what your needs may be in terms of spousal support, and it will also help clarify what your housing options could be.  Post-divorce financial uncertainty seems to be the thing that causes the most anxiety during a divorce, so the sooner you can start to get a realistic idea of what your financial future could look like, the more relaxed you will feel during and after the process.


  1. Avoid Financial Mistakes

When preparing for divorce, avoid certain financial mistakes that can have long-lasting consequences. These include:

Hiding Assets: Concealing assets is unlawful and can lead to severe consequences in court. Be transparent about your financial situation.  Also, from a practical standpoint, it is not particularly difficult to figure out that someone is hiding assets, so don’t waste everyone’s time trying.

Gifting or Transferring Assets: Trying to give away assets or income to friends or family to protect them from division can backfire during the divorce process.  And again, this is easy to figure out and there will be unfortunate consequences for the one trying to do this.

Becoming Unemployed or Underemployed: Intentionally quitting your job or reducing your income can affect spousal and child support calculations negatively. Maintain your employment to ensure a fair outcome.  There are ways to figure out that someone has intentionally become unemployed or underemployed and the court will remedy this by imputing income to the person who is trying to artificially reduce their income.


  1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Consider seeking advice from a financial advisor who specializes in divorce planning.  They can help you understand the financial implications and assist in making informed decisions.  It is important to make sure that they are qualified in their role and that they will not improperly influence you during the divorce proceedings.  A good financial advisor can be invaluable both during and after the divorce process.  They can also assist you with budgeting for your future as well.


  1. Protect Your Credit

It’s crucial to safeguard your credit during a divorce.  Monitor your credit report to ensure that your ex-spouse’s financial actions don’t negatively impact your credit score.  Talk to a lawyer or financial advisor if you are concerned that certain actions taken by you or your spouse could negatively impact your credit score.


  1. Update Your Estate Plan

Review and update your estate plan, including your will, beneficiary designations, and power of attorney. Ensure your wishes reflect your post-divorce situation.


  1. Consider Collaborative Divorce Options

If possible, consider the collaborative divorce process, which focuses on cooperation and amicable settlement. This can often be a more cost-effective and less adversarial option.


In conclusion, preparing for divorce, especially from a financial perspective, is a critical step in ensuring your future stability. Understanding your financial situation, budgeting, and avoiding common financial pitfalls are essential components of this process. Remember, it’s essential to seek professional guidance, whether from a family law attorney or a financial advisor, to navigate the complexities of divorce and make informed decisions. By taking these steps, you can secure your financial future as you move forward in your post-divorce life.  When you are ready to speak to an attorney about your options, please click here to schedule a consultation with our office.

How a Parent’s Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD) Affects Their Children, and In Turn, Their Time-Sharing

Substance use disorders (SUDs)have been on the rise in every state in America. Yet, the prevalence of SUDs in Florida is higher than in the majority of other states.  Clearly, parents with a SUD, weighed down by the disorder and the stigma associated with it, can be deeply affected.  However, SUDs not only affect the parent struggling with the disorder but they also can significantly impact their families, especially their children.  Prioritizing the best interests of children is the paramount consideration by courts.  Therefore, a parent’s SUD will influence that parent’s time-sharing with their children.

How a Parent’s SUD Affects Their Children

Emotional StrainOne of the most intense effects of a parent’s SUD on children is the heavy emotional strain they experience.  Children that grow up in and are exposed to an environment where SUDs are prevalent struggle with a large range of conflicting emotions such as fear, sadness, anger, and confusion. The children may also experience guilt by somehow blaming themselves for their parent’s SUD.  Lastly, the children may feel they have to protect the parent with a SUD.  Constantly moving through these emotions can be exhausting for a child and lead to emotional trauma.

Neglect and Unstable, Unpredictable Surroundings.  Parents with SUDs can be so preoccupied with their SUD that they can neglect their children or become inconsistent in their parenting.  There may be missed dinners, times when the children are not picked up from school, erratic routines, or no supervision.  Erratic and unpredictable parenting can leave children in constant states of anxiety and confusion.

Risk of AbuseSometimes, a parent’s SUD can cause them to escalate from neglectful to abusive conduct. Due to impaired judgment and erratic behavior surrounding SUDs, children can become targets of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse.

Stigma and Isolation.  People can be harsh in their judgment of individuals with SUDs. Children may feel this stigma of having a parent with a SUD.  Dealing with their parent’s SUD as well as dealing with the weight of society’s judgment can lead to isolation.

Disrupted Relationships with Other Family MembersA parent’s SUD can cause disruption and strain in children’s relationships with other family members.  For instance, older children may have to take on the role of parenting younger children in the family, leading to intense stress and resentment.  Or children may feel anger at the parent without the SUD for “allowing” the parent with the SUD to continue in their use of drugs or alcohol.

How a Parent’s SUD Impacts Their Time-Sharing

Balancing ActThe most important considerations for a court in making determinations about time-sharing are the children’s best interests. However, simply because a parent is struggling with a SUD does not mean that they automatically have no time-sharing with their children. When establishing or modifying a parenting plan, one of the 20-plus factors in Florida Statute 61.30 a court must consider is “the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.” Thus, in determining time-sharing, a court must balance the best interests of the child with the parent’s possible rehabilitation and recovery.  Courts recognize that they should be ensuring the safety and well-being of children while also attempting  to keep families intact.

Safety-Focused, Graduated, Time-SharingResearch* shows that if a parent has a SUD, if the parent is lucid, the children will benefit from continued contact with that parent.  If, however, a parent has an active SUD, all contact with the children should be supervised.  Further, the following would prevent contact: Active intoxication or recent abuse, neglect, or abandonment of the child by the parent with a SUD.  The most beneficial time-sharing plan is one that involves a safety-focused, step-up, level system where the parent with the SUD is given more time-sharing with each successful level of staying clean.  Thus, this plan motivates the parent with the SUD to remain clean in order to increase the amount of contact with their children.  Moreover, this motivation to remain clean is strengthened by the consequences of the  parent relapsing.  If the parent relapses, they automatically return to the very first level of contact, supervised time-sharing.

SUDs affect parents and children involved in family law cases, particularly regarding the issue of time-sharing.  The detrimental effects of a parent’s SUD on children and trying to prevent these negative effects puts the courts in a complex situation. Courts need to balance the children’s well-being with the hope of reuniting a parent with those children. Parents with SUDs who are willing to work toward recovery for the sake of their children can be successful with a safety-focused, graduated, time-sharing that involves incentivizing continued abstinence.  If you would like to discuss time-sharing or any other family law matter, please schedule a consultation today.


*Information from presentation by Wendy E. Coughlin, PHD, LMHC, MCAP, MCAC, “A Primer on Substance Use Disorders” at the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 2023 Education Program

Keeping Your Divorce Costs in Check: Practical Tips for a Cost-Effective Divorce

Divorce can be emotionally challenging, and it can also take a toll on your finances. To help you navigate this difficult time while keeping costs down, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of practical suggestions that can make a significant difference in the overall expense of your divorce.

Effective Communication with Your Attorney

Effective communication with your attorney is the cornerstone of a cost-effective divorce. Here’s a more detailed look at this essential aspect:

Set a Regular Update Schedule: Instead of reaching out to your attorney every time a thought pops into your head, establish a regular communication schedule. Weekly updates, combined with your questions, encourage you to consolidate your thoughts, which can streamline your attorney’s responses and minimize billable hours.

Use Clear and Concise Language: When communicating with your attorney, use clear and concise language to convey your thoughts and concerns. This clarity can prevent misunderstandings, reducing the need for additional discussions and expenses.

Timely Information Gathering

The efficient gathering of information can significantly impact your divorce costs. Here’s how you can be more proactive in this regard:

Respond Promptly to Requests: Whenever your attorney requests specific information, responding promptly is vital. Providing all necessary documents and details in one comprehensive response reduces the need for multiple follow-ups, saving both time and money.

Organize Your Documents: Maintain a well-organized file of all relevant documents. Categorize them by type, date, and relevance, making it easier for both you and your attorney to access crucial information quickly.

Consult Your Attorney While Negotiating with Your Spouse

Frankly, it is a lot better for your finances if you and your spouse can resolve some of your issues without attorney involvement.  Think about it:  If every issue, no matter how minute, had to be run through attorneys in order to be resolved, the amount of billable time in your matter will skyrocket.  Before engaging in negotiations with your spouse, however, it’s wise to consult your attorney.  Here’s why this step is crucial:

Legal Guidance: Your attorney offers invaluable guidance, ensuring that your negotiations align with your best interests. They can also help you navigate complex legal matters, potentially saving you from costly mistakes that can arise from uninformed decisions.

Ask Questions When in Doubt: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the negotiations or the legal process, don’t hesitate to ask your attorney. Clarifications can prevent costly misunderstandings or errors.  Your attorney should be glad to explain anything to you and should make legal concepts as accessible and understandable as possible for you.

Review Attorney Communications Carefully

Attorneys often send important communications, and it’s crucial to pay close attention to them:

Proactive Approach: Many questions you may have can be addressed within the communications sent by your attorney’s office. Reading them carefully and seeking clarification only when necessary can save you from incurring additional billable hours. It’s a proactive approach to staying informed.

Keep an Organized Record: Maintain a record of all communications with your attorney. This record ensures that you can easily reference past discussions, minimizing the need to revisit the same topics.

Avoid Aggressive Attorneys

Selecting the right attorney is pivotal in keeping costs down. Here’s why you should avoid overly aggressive attorneys:

Billable Hour Model: Some attorneys have a business model that relies on fostering aggression and prolonging the divorce process to bill more hours. Opt for an attorney who prioritizes resolution and cooperation, as this can lead to a more cost-effective and efficient divorce.  If both you and your spouse retain attorneys who are resolution minded and not out to fan the flames, you have a much better chance of keeping your legal costs down compared to a lengthy legal battle.

Additional Tips for a Cost-Effective Divorce

Open and Honest Communication: Fostering open and honest communication with your spouse can facilitate smoother negotiations. A willingness to discuss matters openly can lead to more amicable and cost-effective solutions.

Create a Detailed Budget: Planning your finances carefully during the divorce process is essential. Consider all expenses, including legal fees and post-divorce costs, to avoid financial surprises that can inflate the overall cost.

Seek Expert Advice: Consult financial experts when necessary. Their expertise can help you make well-informed decisions about property division, alimony, and other financial matters.

Stay Organized: Keeping all your divorce-related documents and correspondence organized is a practical way to save time and money in legal fees. A well-organized approach ensures that nothing is overlooked and helps maintain clarity throughout the process.

Stay Informed: Familiarize yourself with your state’s divorce laws and regulations. Understanding the legal framework can help you make informed decisions and minimize costly legal disputes.

Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution: Explore alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative law, which can lead to cost savings by avoiding contentious court battles.

In conclusion, navigating a divorce is never easy, but these practical tips and additional suggestions can help you keep costs in check while ensuring a smoother process. By following these recommendations and choosing an attorney who aligns with your goals, you can make the journey to resolution less financially burdensome.  At Artemis Family Law Group, we are ready to help you navigate your divorce in a cost-effective manner, so please schedule a consultation today.

From High-Conflict to Effective Co-Parenting: Restoring Respect & Trust

During and after a highly contentious case involving children, achieving a healthy co-parenting relationship can seem like a hopeless undertaking.  Overwhelmed by anger, hurt, and sadness perceived to be caused by the other parent, the thought of respecting and trusting that person ever again seems laughable.  However, respect and trust are the foundations of a successful co-parenting relationship.  In order to move from high conflict to positive co-parenting, parents need to re-establish (or establish) these essential components.


Any healthy, positive co-parenting relationship begins with respect.  Respect is the first prerequisite of successful co-parenting.  Without respect, nothing else can be built.  Respect is a mutual acknowledgement by both parents of the other’s rights, opinions, and boundaries.  Respect is essential in co-parenting for the following reasons:

  1. Increases the Emotional Well-Being of Children. Showing respect for each other creates a safe and stable environment for children. Children obviously benefit from watching their parents interact consistently in a kind and civil way.
  2. Provides Positive Role Modeling. Parents are the leading role models for their children. Showing respect for each other sets a positive example for children and teaches them to engage respectfully with other people. This then leads to healthier personal relationships for them in the future.
  3. Creates Cooperation. Cooperation is crucial in co-parenting. When parents respect each other, they further the feelings of cooperation, making it easier to work together in mutual decision-making regarding their children.
  4. Leads to Productive Conflict Resolution. Respect, and being respectful, during disagreements with the other parent leads to more productive resolutions. Conflict is going to occur, but devolving to disrespect and making cutting comments never leads to a good outcome.


Trust is the connector that allows parents to work together effectively in co-parenting. Trust flows from respect. Without trust, parents will not be able to share information, make joint decisions, or align their parenting.   Trust is essential in co-parenting for the following reasons:

  1. Acceptance of Other Parent’s Reliability. Trusting the other parent means that you feel you can rely on the other parent to satisfy their responsibilities and commitments.  Trust leads to believing that the other parent will do what they should and said they would.
  2. Decreases Stress. This is a natural progression once a parent believes that the other parent is reliable. With trust, co-parents will spend less time worrying about the other’s intentions and ability to fulfill their obligations.  This would obviously then lead to a more positive co-parenting relationship.
  3. Leads to Effective Joint Decision Making. Trust is critical for parents making decisions together. Parents can work together more efficiently for their children’s best interests when they mutually trust each other’s judgment.


In order to re-establish (or, establish) respect and trust, parents can take the following actions:

  1. Support the other parent’s relationship with the children with regular contact (in-person and virtually).
  2. Have the children ready and on-time for the exchange to the other parent.
  3. Not argue or create conflict during the exchanges of the children.
  4. Allow the children to take their favorite things to and from each parent’s homes.
  5. Follow comparable routines at each parent’s home.
  6. Support relationships with other important people in the children’s lives (i.e., grandparents; stepparents; siblings; etc.)
  7. Remain flexible with schedules when the children have special events with the other parent or other parent’s family members.
  8. Give advance notice to the other parent regarding necessary changes in the time-sharing schedule or when special events occur.
  9. Provide recognition to the other parent when they do things better or differently in a positive way in their co-parenting,


Respect and trust are the essential components of positive co-parenting. They create a healthy environment for children to thrive emotionally and make it easier for parents to work together for the benefit of their children.  If, through a high conflict case involving the children, trust and respect have been damaged, these can be repaired.  Ultimately, shifting from a high-conflict relationship to a positive co-parenting one helps everyone involved, especially those that matter the most to both parents—the children.  If you would like to discuss co-parenting issues or any other family law issue, please schedule a consultation today.


*From Martha Kline Pruett, PhD, MSL, ABPP’s presentation “Too Much Conflict, Not Enough Trust and Respect