Services Details

Family & Marital Law

Complex family law situations, whether separating or divorcing, or embarking on a new relationship, are varied but most often involve high stakes: business ownership or professional practice, large property and personal asset holdings, intricate inheritance and trust structures, even third-party creditors. Other complications arise from interstate relocation, international family issues, and individuals whose high profiles require private resolution out of the public/media spotlight.

While each family law matter is unique, it is likely that our multi-disciplinary Family & Marital Law Group has experienced representing clients with nearly all of these complex circumstances. Attorneys from our business, intellectual property, private wealth, real estate, and tax groups regularly combine resources to represent clients in a holistic manner – even when determining the most effective pre- and post-nuptial agreements. If relationships become contentious, our experienced civil trial lawyers advocate passionately and professionally for our clients’ interests. Perhaps most important is that our clients not only count on our knowledge and skills to navigate the complexities surrounding the stress of family issues; they know they can count on our compassion and empathy as well.

Divorce

A divorce is typically a highly emotional and traumatic experience for the spouses and their children, often complicated further by business ownership, real estate and other asset holdings, intricate trust structures, and high net worth. We are here to counsel our clients with these challenges that make navigating the marriage dissolution process even more complex.

When talking about multi-million-dollar net worth, financial discussions often become contentious through separation and divorce. Our attorneys have experience working with financial experts in valuing a wide variety of assets, including real property and business interests, and have experience arguing for, and defending against, claims for alimony.

Similarly, spouses are often combative when discussing children’s issues such as financial support and time-sharing (historically known as “custody” and “visitation”) – and many spouses are not aware of the evolving laws. We counsel our clients with regard to child support and the court-required “Parenting Plan” that lays out the time-sharing schedule each parent will have with the minor children, along with the rights and responsibilities of each parent. Because of our experience drafting and negotiating these documents, we can help clients develop a detailed Parenting Plan that allows for flexibility and active co-parenting while at the same time minimizes any confusion that may subsequently arise between the parties regarding responsibility for the children. In addition, if circumstances change or subsequent conflict arises regarding its terms, we can assist a parent in seeking a modification of the Parenting Plan.

We also deal extensively with conflicts arising out one parent’s proposed relocation with a minor child, whether petitioning for approved relocation or opposing such a petition – whether local, out of state, or out of the country.

While we strive to provide our clients with cost-effective and fair resolutions during their divorce – and we believe in alternative dispute resolution whenever appropriate, our civil trial litigators are experienced and skillful advocates for clients in court when trial is unavoidable. Most importantly, whether in arbitration, mediation, negotiating a private settlement, or trial, our attorneys have the utmost regard for confidentiality, privacy and the client’s ultimate objectives.

Paternity

Our attorneys are experienced in representing a parent (either mother or father) in a paternity action. If paternity has not yet been determined by a court of law, we can assist a client in either establishing or defending against a claim of paternity. As always, we handle each case with discretion and respect, and work diligently to assist our clients in resolving all disputes involving paternity, including issues related to paternity tests, time-sharing, and child support.

Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a “pre-nup,” is a legal agreement entered into by both spouses before they are married. Prenuptial agreements serve to protect each spouse financially in the event of a divorce or legal separation, and are particularly important if one or both spouses are entering the marriage with a large amount of assets. Prenuptial agreements also outline the rules and procedures to be used should the marriage end in divorce, which results in the reduction of conflict during any subsequent divorce proceedings. Postnuptial agreements serve the same purposes as prenuptial agreements, though they are entered into by both spouses after they are already married.

Indeed, the lack of a pre or postnuptial agreement can lead to a bitter and costly trial where a judge, and not the parties, will determine important issues such as the division of the parties’ assets and liabilities, alimony payments, child support, and timesharing. Further, each state has specific laws regarding what can and cannot be included in a pre or postnuptial agreement. In fact, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be thrown out by a judge if it is prepared improperly. Additionally, the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that, in the absence of an agreement stating otherwise, the value of any passive, market-driven appreciation of the parties’ home is subject to equitable distribution between the parties at a later divorce, even if the marital home was originally purchased by one party long before the couple was married. Having a strong prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place can help ensure that your pre-marital assets are protected in the event of divorce.

Our attorneys can assist in preparing, reviewing, and enforcing your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and can help you defend against an action that your spouse may bring to enforce the terms of an agreement if it was entered into improperly – such as the unfortunately common situation where a spouse is forced to sign under duress on the eve of the wedding.

Same-Sex Marital Considerations & Domestic Partnerships

Although same-sex marriages are now recognized in Florida and nationwide, there are several steps you can – and should – take to protect your relationship whether or not you are married.

If you entered into agreements meant to protect your same-sex relationship arrangement in a pre-marriage environment, we can help you understand how those arrangements have been affected by the changes to marriage laws and what steps you might want to take in a world where same and opposite sex marriages are treated equally.

Our attorneys have worked with numerous same-sex and opposite-sex couples, creating domestic partnership agreements, joint property agreements, business agreements, powers of attorney, medical directives, wills and other documents designed to provide the legal security you deserve. As with any relationship, it is equally important to create a roadmap for dissolution, in the unfortunate event of a break-up – through which we guide our clients with strength and compassion.

Meritas Law Firms Worldwide logo Media Kit