400 N. Ashley Dr., Suite 2600
Tampa, Florida 33602


(813) 841-2933
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info@soukkalalaw.com

Family Law

Family Law

Family law can become complex due to the nature of dissolving marriages or relationships. These delicate issues can require special care and empathy for clients and their children. Our office understands your issues that can arise from these circumstances and are here to help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.

Our philosophy in handling any type of family law is case to provide our clients with superior customer service and attention to detail. We understand that changes may happen in an instant when two people separate that could affect your residence, employment and children. We are here to support clients through this transition. Our firm is dedicated to providing quality legal advice and representation in your case. No matter if your case is uncontested or contested, we can help you assess your case to minimize stressful issues and most importantly costs. Contact us today for a case evaluation.

Family Law FAQs

family_lawQ. What is Family Law?

A. Family law is an area of law that deals with family related issues such as:  Divorce, Paternity, Annulment, Time Sharing, Alimony, Child Support, Marital Settlement Agreements, Modifications, Relocations, Injunctions, Domestic Violence, Dependency, Name Changes, Termination of Parental Rights, and Adoption.

Q. Do I need an attorney?

A. Unlike Criminal Law where your liberty is at stake and you are considered financially indigent the court will appoint an attorney to represent you, civil actions in Family Court allow either self-representation or privately retained representation. The Florida Supreme Court has provided assistance in the form of packets for those to wish to represent themselves, however we strongly advise that you at the minimum to speak with and/or hire an attorney who will protect your rights.  Many cases involve children, and are highly contested, which can be burdensome and complicated.  Learning to navigate through Family Court as such an emotional time can be overwhelming to most. A experienced Family Law attorney will know the jurisdiction, have the proper familiarity, and negotiating skills to help you through this process smoothly.

Q. My spouse has mentioned Divorce but hasn’t filed.  What should I do?

A. Don’t wait till the last minute to start organizing important documents.  You should at the very least have a copy of all financial, tax, wills, life insurance, real estate deeds, automotive, retirement accounts, and personal documentation.  Keep these somewhere that you alone can access them easily in case you exit your home suddenly.

Q. What is the fee for family law attorney?

A. Fees are based on the complexity of the case and the issues that need to be resolved.  When the parties are agreeable, the cost is reasonable.  If the parties become contentious and make unreasonable demands from the other party the legal fees in turn rise based on the time it takes to resolve the outstanding issues.  Out office requires an initial deposit for fees and costs, and we will notify you of any additional fees that are necessary to conclude your case.  The court can order temporary support and payment of your attorney’s fees on a case by case basis.  Contact our office today for a free consultation.

Q. I need to get divorced yesterday.  How long will it take?

A. If your case is uncontested and you both agree on all issues, your case can be completed in less than a month.  If you have any unresolved issues your case will need to be mediated.  Most cases can resolve after successful mediation.  If not, the court will make a final decision on all outstanding matters.  This process can take at the minimum six months but it could be longer than a year.

Q. How does someone get alimony?

A. In a long term marriage, a judge could order spousal support.  The amount of support is determined on the length of the marriage, type of support needed, length of support, standard of

Q. What is a parenting class?

A. This is a required 4 hour course that both parents must attend to help separating and divorcing couples focus on what is in the best interest of their children.  The course instructs families how to work more cooperatively with each other. You can attend together or alone but this course must be completed.  The Judge may choose not to grant the divorce or Paternity action or may hold a parent in contempt of court.

Q. Is mediation helpful?

A. mediator is an impartial third party that listens to both sides and make suggestions to help parties reach an amicable resolution.  Mediation is mandatory in most family law cases and can be done privately or through the court.  Most requests for temporary hearings require mediation to be completed.  Families that can mediate successfully can save an immense amount of funds instead of having the court decide the final outcome of their case.    Mediation can be done together or separately and still be able to achieve a unified decision.

Q. What is an Injunction?

A. An injunction is a Civil Court Order (also known as a restraining order) that places restrictions on an person who has committed an act or made threats of violence against another person.   By filing the petition a person is requesting the Court order someone to from further acts of violence; order them to leave a shared home or apartment; and/or prevent them from coming to your home, school or place of employment. There are four different types of injunctions available:

  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Violence or stalking that has occurred, or that the Petitioner has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of, between individuals who are spouses, former spouses, or persons related by blood or marriage who are residing or have resided together as a family, or individuals who are residing together or have resided together as if family, or individuals who have a child in common.
  • REPEAT VIOLENCE: There needs to be two acts of violence or stalking on two separate occasions, one of which must have been within the past 6 months committed by a person against another person. These Injunctions are more appropriate for (ie: coworker-against-coworker or neighbor-against-neighbor,) or any other non-domestic or non-dating relationships.
  • SEXUAL VIOLENCE: This injunction requires at least ONE of the first two criteria along with ONE of the four lower criteria to be met: (1) You must have reported the incident to law enforcement and be cooperating in any criminal proceedings or (2) The person must have been sentenced to prison and the term expired or is due to expire within 90 days, and any incident of the following: (1) sexual battery (2) a lewd or lascivious act, committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 (3) luring or enticing a child (4) sexual performance by a child or (5) any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted.
  • DATING VIOLENCE: If violence or stalking that has already occurred, or that the Petitioner reasonably believes they are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of violence or stalking. IT must occur between individuals who (1) have been in a dating relationship within the past 6 months (2) have had an expectation of affection or sexual involvement and (3) have been involved over time and on a continuous basis, excluding individuals who have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.

Q. I purchased a house before my marriage and it is titled in my name only. Is this a marital asset?

A. A home brought before the marriage could be considered marital if both the spouse pay the mortgage and other expenses during the marriage.  A home has many expenses and depending on how it is paid the Court can consider it a marital asset if you lived there together, or at the minimum the Court could award any increase in value of the asset that occurred during the marriage.

Q. What is the difference between prenuptial and postnuptial agreements?

A. A prenuptial agreement is a contract made between the parties before marriage.  A postnuptial agreement is a contract between the parties after the marriage has already taken place. These contracts work to pre-determine the allocation of assets in case of divorce.

Q. Who can get custody of my child?

A. Both parents are equally entitled to custody (also known as shared parental responsibility) in Florida. Florida encourages that children should access to both parents unless it would be somehow detrimental to the child, The court use the best interest of the child standard in determining shared parental responsibility.

Q. I got a job out of state.  Can I just move with my child?

A. IF there is a final order already in place, whoever is seeking to modify the order by moving away must file a supplemental petition for modification of final judgment.  The Court will determine if the move would be in the best interest of the child.

Q. My name is on my child’s birth certificate.  Do I need a DNA test?

A. The signing of a birth certificate does not establish the rights of a father. A Petition to Establish Paternity must be filed to create or establish the parental rights of the father. In a petition, you must request that biological father be determined by the Court.  If the parties dispute the child’s paternity, a DNA will be order to ensure the paternity of the

Q. How is child support calculated?

A. Each of the parents’ income, before expenses, are added together to get a combined income.  Each parent’s proportion of the combined income is calculated.  Each parent is assessed a child support obligation proportionate to his or her percentage of the combined income. The support obligation is then divided between the parents in direct proportion to their income or earning capacity. The parent with whom the child resides most of the time is almost always the recipient of the established support.

Q. How do I receive my child support payments?

A. You can receive it in a couple of ways. Payments can be made directly to you from the other parent which would involve self-regulation. Or an Income Deduction Order can be entered that would require the employer of that parent paying child support to deduct the support from the paying parent’s paycheck.  That payment is then sent to the state disbursement unit which will in turn send you the payment monthly.  Be aware the state charges monthly fees for this service.

Q. What if child support isn’t paid?

A. If a  person fails to pay child support after it has been ordered can be enforced via motion for contempt.  Failure to pay can cause a host of negative effects such as license suspensor, lien against their property, or even jail time.  

Q. Can I end timesharing if child support stops?

A. You must not refuse timesharing because you have not received child support.  Be aware that if you refuse allow court ordered timesharing with the other parent , that parent can request the court to order extra timesharing to make up for the lost visitation time, and you could be liable for attorney’s fees that the other spouse incurred trying to enforce timesharing.

Q. I lost my job, can child support be lowered?

A. If the change in circumstance is substantial from the time your support order was entered, you may file a modification of the previous order of the court.