Panama City
221 McKenzie Avenue
Panama City, FL 32401
850-769-1414
Panama City Beach
16215 Panama City Beach Parkway
Panama City Beach, FL 32413
850-236-4444

Our Family Law Practice

At Burke Blue, we understand the importance of reaching positive resolutions to the challenges divorce and family law can present. We achieve this through our attention to detail regarding the individual facts and circumstances of each case.

When it comes to extensive litigation, we are comfortable handling high-asset, highly-contested divorces and related issues, and will advocate for you in the courtroom. Our Firm is also equipped to resolve many situations by the use of a simple demand-letter or phone call. By tailoring our approach to suit your individual needs and budget, we can obtain favorable results in the most efficient manner possible.

Burke Blue is also trained in the emerging trend of Collaborative Law. Collaborative Law is an alternative dispute resolution process whereby a couple resolves their differences through a voluntary pre-suit settlement process, rather than litigating in court. Our Firm's own Clark Rogers, the current President of the Northwest Florida Collaborative Law Group, encourages his clients to utilize the collaborative process whenever possible.

Our Family Law Practice Includes:

  • Uncontested and Contested Dissolutions of Marriage (Divorce)
  • Property Division
  • Spousal Support and Alimony
  • Child Custody (Timesharing and Parental Responsibility)
  • Relocation
  • Post-Judgment Modifications of Support or Timesharing
  • Adoptions
  • Step-Parent Adoptions
  • Enforcement / Contempt Proceedings
  • Collaborative Law
  • Collection of Past-Due Support
  • Prenuptial Agreements and Postnuptial Agreements

Often times, family law matters implicate other legal considerations. As a full service law firm, Burke Blue is able to assist you with all issues related to your family law matter. For example, clients filing for divorce should also consider updating their will and estate planning documents. Burke Blue’s estate planning attorneys are available to address those needs. We listen carefully and work with you to make sure an efficient and positive resolution to your family law matter is achieved.

If you have any questions or are seeking assistance with your divorce, custody, adoption, or other family law matters, please give us a call or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

 

 

*The information in the Frequently Asked Questions is being provided as general information and should not be considered to be legal advice, nor does providing this information form any attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney hired by you regarding your specific facts and circumstances.

 

Frequestly Asked Questions:

-Can I file for divorce on my own?
-What is the typical divorce process?
-What is Collaborative Law?
-What is an uncontested divorce?
-How much will my divorce cost?
-How long will my divorce take?
-How is child support calculated?
-Can I obtain alimony from my spouse?
-Who gets custody of the children in a divorce?
-Can I modify my child support obligations after the divorce?
-Can I modify alimony after the divorce?
-Can I modify my custody or timesharing arrangement after the divorce?
-What if my ex-spouse is not paying their alimony or child support?
-I have primary custody. Can I move with my children?


Can I file for divorce on my own?

 Many individuals wonder whether they can simply coordinate with their spouse and fill out paperwork themselves in order to get a divorce. While this may be possible in some situations, it is almost never a good idea. Important details can be overlooked, legal mistakes can be made, and additional disputes often arise down the line, having significant financial or personal ramifications. Involving a qualified family law attorney to consult and guide you through the divorce process is the best way to ensure a positive outcome in what can be a difficult situation.

What is the typical divorce process?

 Many individuals wonder whether they can simply coordinate with their spouse and fill out paperwork themselves in order to get a divorce. While this may be possible in some situations, it is almost never a good idea. Important details can be overlooked, legal mistakes can be made, and additional disputes often arise down the line, having significant financial or personal ramifications. Involving a qualified family law attorney to consult and guide you through the divorce process is the best way to ensure a positive outcome in what can be a difficult situation.

How does a typical divorce proceed?

The divorce process can vary, but many of them follow these steps:

1. The spouses retain family law attorneys.

2. One spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of marriage, setting forth the reasons for the divorce, and what relief they are requesting from the Judge.

3. The other spouse files a response to the Petition, and sometimes a Counter-Petition, setting forth their answers to the initial Petition and what relief they are requesting.

4. The parties exchange required financial documents.

5. A temporary hearing is held to decide certain issues which need to be resolved while the divorce is ongoing. For example, who gets to stay in the marital residence, a temporary custody arrangement, etc.

6. The parties engage in any other discovery which may be relevant to issues involving the division of property, or issues pertaining to their children.

7. Almost all family law cases must be mediated prior to proceeding to a final hearing. A mediation is a process in which the parties get together with their attorneys and a neutral third-party (mediator) to attempt to negotiate a resolution to the case among themselves. The parties may also negotiate a settlement before or after mediation. Many cases settle at mediation.

8. If a settlement is not reached, the parties proceed to a final hearing and the Judge will decide the terms of the divorce.


What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is an alternative dispute resolution program that has been recognized by the Florida Legislature. It is designed to allow parties to resolve family matters themselves in an amicable manner, without the need for court intervention. The collaborative law team generally consists of two parties, one attorney for each party, plus an accountant and a mental health professional. The collaborative law team works together to negotiate a settlement over the course of several sessions, which is then presented to the Court for approval. We highly recommend using the collaborative legal process when applicable.

To learn more, visit: Collaboratedontlitigate.com



What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is when both parties agree on each aspect of the dissolution of the marriage, including child custody, support, and the equitable distribution of their property.


How much will my divorce cost?

Divorce costs are determined by the circumstances of your case - i.e., the scope and complexity of the issues involved, and how much cooperation exists between you and your spouse. It’s difficult to accurately predict a total fee amount from the outset. At Burke Blue we strive to achieve favorable resolutions for all of our cases while keeping in mind your financial well-being. Please contact our office for more information, or for an assessment of your case.

How long will my divorce take?

The duration of the divorce process is dependent on the facts, circumstances, and parties involved in your case. Some can be settled quickly, reaching a completed agreement in just a few months, while others can require more time due to extensive litigation.

How is child support calculated?

The Florida legislature has instituted guidelines to determine parents' child support obligations. The factors involved include the income of both spouses, the parties' timesharing (custody) arrangement, daycare expenses and healthcare expenses. Judges may sometimes deviate from these guidelines in certain circumstances.

Can I obtain alimony from my spouse?

When determining whether to award one spouse alimony from the other, the Court considers both parties’ ability to maintain a standard of living similar to the standards established during the marriage. In other words, does one spouse have a need for alimony, and does the other spouse have the ability to provide it? The court will consider several factors in determining if alimony should be awarded, including whether one spouse put their career on hold to act as a homemaker, the respective incomes of both parties, and each spouses' earning potential.

Who gets custody of the children?

Instead of using the term “custody”, Florida law now grants “parental responsibility” and “timesharing” in matters of family law.

Parental responsibility is the authority to make decisions involving children. Judges sometimes order sole parental responsibility to one parent, but shared parental responsibility is much more common. When it comes to critical decisions such as a child’s medical care or education, a Judge may order shared parental responsibility to both parents, but final decision-making authority to one parent.

Timesharing determines to who gets to spend time with the children, and when. While the emerging trend is towards more of a 50/50 arrangement between parents, the parameters of time sharing depend heavily on the individual circumstances. Florida law does not set forth any presumption in favor of one parent or the other for timesharing.


Can I modify my child support after the divorce?

Yes, child support can be modified any time there is a substantial change in circumstances. Common changes range from income to the amount of time a parent is able to spend with the child. Please contact us to learn more about the process for asking the Court to modify your child support from the original agreement.

Can I modify alimony after the divorce?

Under Florida law, alimony can be modified any time there is an unexpected, involuntary, and substantial change in circumstances affecting one spouse's need for alimony or the other spouse's ability to pay. This could include an unexpected change in employment, or remarriage by the party receiving alimony.

However, if the original divorce involved a ruling of 'no alimony,' alimony cannot be awarded later. Additionally, if the parties agreed to make the alimony 'non-modifiable' in the original divorce, it cannot be modified. Can I modify my custody or timesharing arrangement after the divorce?

Can I modify my custody or timesharing arrangement after the divorce?

You may be able to modify the timesharing arrangement if there has been a substantial, material, or unanticipated change in circumstances subsequent to the entry of the initial custody order. If a Judge believes such a modification would be in the child's best interest, the court will consider it on a case-by-case basis.

What if my ex-spouse is not paying their alimony or child support?

Depending on the circumstances of your case and the reasons why your ex-spouse is not paying, you may be able to force your spouse to comply with his or her obligations by a variety of means. Asking the Court to hold them in contempt, having funds deducted directly from their paycheck, or garnishing a bank account are just a few examples. Please contact our office if you wish to discuss your options.

I have primary custody. Can I move with my children?

Florida law sets forth a very specific procedure for dealing with this situation. If either parent wishes to relocate more than 50 miles from their place of residence at the time of the most recent Court Order establishing or modifying timesharing, that parent must either come to an agreement with the other parent, or seek permission from the Court to relocate. The Court will determine whether such a relocation would be in the best interest of the children.


40 years of providing comprehensive legal services to businesses and individuals throughout northwest Florida

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience or contact us online or by phone at 850-769-1414 for Panama City; 850-236-4444 for Panama City Beach.

Burke Blue Hutchinson Walters & Smith, P.A. is located in Panama City and Panama City Beach, Florida and serves clients in and around Panama City, Panama City Beach, Bay Point, Lynn Haven, Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Destin, Sandestin, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bay County, Okaloosa County, Walton County, Santa Rosa County, Escambia County, Gulf County, Franklin County, Washington County.

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Burke Blue Hutchinson Walters & Smith, P.A.
221 McKenzie Avenue
Panama City, FL, 32401 USA
850-769-1414