Orlando Lawyer, providing experienced Divorce and Family Law, Estate Law, Contract Dispute, Debt Collection Harassment, and Civil Law Dispute Mediation Attorney legal services in Orlando, Orange County, and throughout the Central Florida Area.
Call 407.843.5885 to contact Orlando and Central Florida Attorney, Ronald L. Sims.
The following definitions may assist you in better understanding of the legal services that the firm provides.
- Petition For Dissolution: Document used by a husband or wife to ask the court to grant a divorce. It tells the basic reasons why a divorce should be granted and usually asks the court to divide the marital assets and liabilities in a fair way. If any minor children are involved, it usually states how the party wants the court to decide on a custody plan. The petition is filed by one party with the Clerk of Court, and then served (generally hand delivered by a person approved by the court) upon the other party. Each of these steps has a fee connected with it from the service provider. The Clerk of Court charges a fee to the party who files the petition in order to start the dissolution process, and a process server has a separate fee for serving the papers on a party.
- Discovery: Discovery is a process by which parties to a lawsuit (including a dissolution proceeding) may require others to supply information that will help to provide evidence for the court to consider. There are many forms of discovery available to litigants. A few of the most common include: Interrogatories, Depositions, Requests For Production, Mandatory Disclosure, Requests For Admission, Psychiatric Evaluations, and Vocational Evaluations. When any of these methods of discovery are initiated by one party or the other, the responding party has only a certain number of days to respond before the court can require a response. If a party objects to the discovery, a hearing may be held before the judge in the case to determine whether the objecting party must provide the information.
Additionally the court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem who can often provide information for the Court on a more informal basis after interviewing the various individuals who may know information about the adults or minor children. Most often these interviews are with the children's teachers and with close family members or friends. In cases of alleged abuse this may also include interviews with doctors and/or social workers.
- Interrogatories: Interrogatories are essentially a list of written questions asked by one party of another party. The answering party must answer and swear to the truth of the answers in writing before a notary public. A party ordinarily has a specific number of days to respond to Interrogatories.
- Depositions: A party may compel anyone with helpful information to appear before a court reporter and answer verbal questions that may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and may have the question & answer session recorded via audiotape and/or videotape.
- Requests For Production: A party may compel another party to provide documents and other items of tangible evidence for inspection. This may also be done to non-parties as is often the case when a party asks another party's employer for payroll information, or asks a party's bank for account records.
- Requests For Admission: A party may send questions to another party asking them to admit or deny the truth of certain statements. For example: "Admit that during your Chicago business trip you bought more than $10,000 of gold coins." The answers to these Requests For Admission must be made in writing and sworn to under oath in the presence of a notary public.
- Mandatory Disclosure: When a petition for dissolution is filed with the Clerk of Court, procedural law requires both parties to provide one another with a fairly extensive list of documents. The governing rule is Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285,and a paraphrased version can be found by following our website's link to the Mandatory Disclosure page.
- Psychiatric Evaluations: The Court may order a psychiatric evaluation of a party if the mental condition of the party is an in issue in order to assist the court in making any decisions (especially with respect to time sharing determinations) regarding minor children.
- Vocational Evaluations: When the ability of a party to support one self or their spouse or children is in issue, the Court will sometimes order a vocational evaluation be performed by an expert in such matters. Our practice has had particularly good experience in this area.
- Guardian Ad Litem: When one or both of the parties are concerned that the judge may not be able to understand all of the complexities of the situation affecting any children, they may ask the court to appoint a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem is usually asked to interview all of the people who have a significant relationship with the children and form an opinion as to what would be in the best interest of the children. They will then write a report for the judge making their recommendations. Judges usually think of a guardian ad litem as a sort of investigator who can spend more time with all of the relevant people than a judge ever could. A GAL will typically interview both parents, any significant others, the children's teachers, and others, and ultimately render a report to the court on what arrangement for the children appears to be in their best interest.
- Mediation: A meeting between the two parties to a marriage before a neutral person whose role is to facilitate a settlement of all or part of the issues without having to have a judge determine those particular issues. By settling some of all of the issues in mediation, the parties are able to reduce the risk of an adverse ruling by a judge before whom those issues would otherwise have been heard.
- Domestic Violence Injunction: Commonly called a "restraining order," this type of court order typically makes it illegal for the person being enjoined to have any contact with the person who asked the court for the order (petitioner) and it may set other conditions for the parties to obey.
- Restraining Order: See Domestic Violence Injunction - above.
- Final Hearing on Dissolution of Marriage: A trial where each party presents evidence and positions to the judge and the judge makes factual findings and decides the outcome of the disputed issues.
- Standard of Living Established During the Marriage: The standard of living established during the marriage is a key component of any alimony consideration. For example, if the married couple had lived a lifestyle that was filled with upper class luxuries and the income of the parties had not changed, then an alimony award (if granted) would generally be an amount sufficient to maintain a similar lifestyle.
If any of these definitions and explanations have raised questions about your specific situation, please contact our firm for further information.
Contact Orlando and Central Florida Attorney, Ronald L. Sims at 407.843.5885 to schedule a confidential legal consultation.
Orlando Lawyer, Ronald L Sims serving the Orlando, Orange County, Seminole County, Osceola County, and the surrounding Central Florida Areas.