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LEGAL QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Answers to Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs)

Whether you have decided to file for divorce or you have been injured in an auto accident, in order to make smart decisions you need to have as much information as possible. For some important information about your situation, we encourage you to read these answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs):

Florida Family Law FAQs

In Florida, the courts no longer address “custody”, but determine parental responsibility and timesharing. The court will consider what is in the “best interests” of the child involved. With shared parental responsibility, the parents confer with each other to make all major decisions affecting the child, like education, healthcare or medical needs and religion. It is very difficult to obtain sole parental responsibility because you have to prove that having shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.

Timesharing is a contemporary alternative to a traditional custody and visitation schedule. With timesharing, the parents split time with their children based upon an analysis of the “best interests” factors.

All child support determinations are subject to Florida’s Child Support Guidelines. In order to determine what you or your spouse or partner will owe, you will need to apply the guidelines to your personal family and financial circumstances.


Florida Divorce FAQs

Yes, Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that you can file for divorce for any reason. When you file for a no-fault divorce, you have the option to resolve the terms of your divorce (i.e. property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody) through negotiations, mediation, collaborative law, or courtroom litigation.

Not necessarily. In many cases, even spouses who are completely at odds are able to overcome their differences amicably. Mediation is required by the court and offers a structured venue for working out differences with the help of a neutral third-party, while the collaborative process also engages the assistance of qualified experts who can help you arrive at a mutually-agreeable resolution.

In Florida, the waiting period for obtaining a divorce is just 20 days. However, even when spouses are completely on the same page, it will usually take quite a bit longer to work out all of the terms of a divorce settlement.

Much depends on the circumstances of your divorce. If you and your ex-partner are in agreement about all the major issues and do not plan on contesting the divorce, your divorce may take about three months. If there are serious issues you are unable to agree on or the divorce is highly contentious, the divorce process could take one year or even longer.

Again, divorce costs depend largely on how cooperative the divorcing couple is and how much discovery is conducted by the parties’ attorneys. Discovery may consist of producing documents, subpoenaing records, or taking depositions.  If each side hires their own attorney, agrees on important matters without extensive negotiation, or enters into a settlement agreement before or after mediation, the cost will be much lower. If the divorce is contested and a constant battle, both parties’ attorneys will spend many more hours drafting motions, conducting discovery, and preparing for court. This adds many billable hours to each side’s attorney fees and may cost both parties significantly more.

This question often comes up when helping women who gave up their careers to raise children and take care of the home. If this is your situation, you may be entitled to spousal support or alimony. Sacrifices made for the benefit of the family unit are considered in alimony decisions. Additionally, if one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse throughout the marriage, the spouse who has earned the lesser amount may be entitled to alimony. Florida recognizes various forms of alimony or spousal support including permanent, durational, bridge the gap, and rehabilitative. It is important to have an experienced divorce attorney by your side that can advise you of your rights or obligations.

The only constant in life is change, so you should expect some change in your relationship with your children. But this isn’t something to be afraid of. A divorce is a major event in a child’s life, and it takes them time to work through it. If you support their relationship with the other parent, provide emotional support when they are struggling, and maintain their sense of security throughout the divorce, your relationship will likely become even stronger.

First, do not attempt to hide any assets. Some people, in a misguided effort to protect assets from being distributed during a divorce, give them to other family members or sell them at extremely low prices with the intent of getting them back later.

Remember, court officials have seen everything, and they know exactly what to look for if they suspect that an individual is hiding assets. The best thing you can do is connect with a top divorce lawyer in Lakeland. They can fairly evaluate your situation, assess your assets, and come up with a plan to help you keep as many of your assets as possible.

If you try to hide assets from either your attorney or the court, you risk being penalized by the court and losing far more than you would if you were honest and upfront.

If a marriage produces minor children, the parents will need to create a parenting plan that covers important topics like how time will be split between parents, who will be responsible for different expenses, where holidays are spent, and who provides healthcare coverage.

Both parties can come together in mediation with their divorce attorneys to draft a plan. Mediation is required in all divorce cases and many cases that start off as contested often settle at mediation.  If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the court can create a parenting plan that it considers to be in the best interests of the child. This is a risky move, since the court’s plan may include aspects that neither party likes but must still abide by.

A comprehensive parenting plan requires communication, compromise, and the prioritization of the child’s best interests. An experienced divorce attorney can help you achieve a parenting plan that will work for your family’s specific needs.

Choosing a divorce lawyer may seem overwhelming, but if you know what to look for, you can find the right one by attending initial consultations. Here are some factors to consider while comparing options:

  • Ask how many divorce cases they have handled and how much of their time is spent on family law cases. Ideally, you’ll work with an attorney who specializes in one or two areas of law. Choosing a lawyer who works in family law in addition to a dozen other practice areas means that you may not get the most individualized attention.
  • Relevant experience. Not only should your attorney have lots of experience in family law, make sure that they are familiar with cases similar to yours. Whether you have an uncontested divorce where you both agree to what you want or a contentious divorce, you do not want your case to be the first time that your attorney has encountered your type of case.
  • Consideration of your best interests, not theirs. A skilled divorce attorney will listen to you and consider your best interests in every recommendation that is. Some attorneys approach every divorce as a battle that needs to be won, but that isn’t the best approach for most cases. While some divorces do require that level of aggression, others may be best served by an attorney who is willing to make some compromises to preserve a strong co-parenting relationship. If your attorney repeatedly suggests plans or actions that contradict your goals, they may not be a good fit.
  • When you have questions or concerns, will your attorney be available to help you? How often can you contact them? How much guidance will they give you leading up to court dates? An attorney who remains available to their clients is crucial when you’re talking about a personal area of law like family law.
  • This relies more on your gut feeling than anything else. Do you feel comfortable talking to your attorney, or do you feel like you cannot be open and honest about your divorce? If you do not naturally trust your lawyer, you will have a hard time allowing them to guide you through a divorce.
  • Willingness to explain. Most people have minimal knowledge of their state’s divorce requirements, so any top divorce lawyer in Lakeland should be willing to explain each step of the process to you, answer your questions, and tell you what to expect after each major decision. If you feel rushed or your attorney seems annoyed by your questions, they may not be a good choice.

Reach out to Darla K. Snead, P.L. Today

If you want to navigate divorce smoothly and with minimal complications, choosing the right divorce attorney is crucial. The team at Darla K. Snead, P.L. in Lakeland is ready to help and support you through this challenging time. To schedule a consultation to talk more about your divorce case, call Darla K. Snead, P.L. or contact us online.


Florida Personal Injury FAQs

If you have been injured in an accident, the most important thing you can do is to seek medical attention promptly. You should also speak with an attorney about filing a personal injury claim as soon as possible.

Maybe. Under Florida’s law of premises liability, business owners have a legal obligation to protect their clients and customers from hazardous conditions. If you slipped and fell due to a dangerous property condition, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Maybe. In Florida, the general rule is that dog owners are strictly liable for bite-related injuries. But, there are some exceptions, and to protect your rights you should speak with an attorney.


Florida Auto Accident FAQs

Under Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law, many auto accident victims are limited to securing compensation under their own personal injury protection (PIP) policies. However, it is possible to recover additional compensation for severe and permanent injuries; and, to maximize your recovery, you will need to work with an experienced auto accident lawyer.

If your medical bills exceed your PIP coverage (which, in most cases, is $10,000), then it will be particularly important for you to speak with an attorney about filing a fault-based claim against the other driver’s insurance company.

Potentially, yes. Personal injury protection provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages; and, if you have claim outside of PIP, you can seek to recover all of your accident-related losses.

You absolutely should call the police after a car accident. The other party may try to pressure you into not calling emergency services, especially if it is blatantly obvious that they are at fault. They don’t want a citation, nor do they want their insurance rates to go up. If you do not call the police, though, it is just more difficult to get compensation after an accident. It basically comes down to your word against theirs, and you can expect any insurance investigation to take much longer without the help of a police report. Furthermore, if anyone was injured in the accident, they may want to get checked out by emergency services.

Under no circumstances should you admit fault for a car accident. Perhaps you genuinely believe it was your fault, or maybe you want to placate an angry and aggressive driver. Either way, do not do anything that assumes fault.

In many situations, there are underlying factors that can significantly change the outcome of an accident investigation and injury claim. For example, perhaps you get rear-ended and you know that you turned out when you should have waited. In your mind, the accident is your fault. However, an investigation shows that the other party was texting and driving, so they did not even attempt to stop and avoid hitting you. In this situation, the blame may be split between you. You are not an accident investigator; let them investigate the accident and decide where liability lies.

In Florida, the statute of limitations for a car accident claim is four years from the date of injury. That does not mean that you should wait, check out different options, and decide to file a claim at the last possible second. Evidence gets lost over time, witnesses forget important details, and witness contact information can change. Insurance companies also use any delay in medical treatment as a basis not to pay a claim.  Even if you have a valid claim, it may be very difficult to prove it if you wait too long to make a claim. You should connect with a Lakeland personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you would like to seek compensation from the other party.

There are several types of compensation you may be entitled to after a car accident. Your car accident attorney will look at all of the evidence available and come up with estimates for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages you may have suffered in the car accident.

Those who suffer serious or permanent injuries are often able to recover additional damages for rehabilitation, disability or disfigurement, and loss of quality of life. Victims whose lives are forever changed by the accident may receive compensation for long-term care, which is often necessary for those left with paralysis or other serious injuries.

Several factors affect the amount of compensation you may recover after a car accident. One important factor is the severity of your injuries. A viable claim must have measurable losses, and more severe injuries are associated with more substantial losses. The medical treatment you receive, or your lack of medical treatment can greatly impact your claim.

Your role in the accident may also influence your claim’s value. Florida does allow you to recover compensation even if you are partially responsible, but the amount of your award is decreased in proportion to your share of liability. Your car accident attorney’s ability to prove your damages may impact how much you recover.

Injuries hurt, but for many, the loss of a beloved vehicle is just as painful. Florida law outlines how a car’s value is determined after a crash. Florida law states that someone whose car is a total loss after a car accident is entitled to the actual cash value of the car.

This means that you should get enough compensation to replace your totaled car with a vehicle of the same make, model, condition, mileage, and features. Insurance companies use a variety of companies to determine the actual cash value (ACV) of a totaled car.

Since Florida is a no-fault state, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage through your own car insurance should pay up to $10,000 of your medical treatment or loss wages after a crash. This ensures that you still receive some compensation if you collide with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

If the person who caused the accident is uninsured or underinsured, you still may be able to receive additional compensation through your own insurance coverage if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Your car accident attorney in Lakeland can represent you throughout this process.

This is a serious issue for many car accident victims. Their car may not be a total loss, but they do need to keep driving their car to get to work. It simply isn’t reasonable for most people to wait until a claim is settled before getting their car repaired and going back to everyday life.

If you need to drive your car after an accident, make sure you get it checked out immediately. There are many ways in which a car can be dangerous to drive but still look fine from the outside. Getting a car assessed by a reputable mechanic provides proof of your damages and lets you know whether or not your car is safe to drive.

What do you do if your car is totaled or unsafe to drive after an accident? You may need a new vehicle, but that likely isn’t a viable option until your car accident claim has been paid out. In Florida, the at-fault party’s insurance company should pay for your rental car, as long as the at-fault party has sufficient coverage. They must pay for a rental car that is similar in age and quality to the car damaged in the crash.

When you’re pursuing a personal injury claim, you need an attorney you can trust to fight aggressively on your behalf. As you consider your options, weigh these factors to choose a strong Lakeland injury lawyer:

  • Does an attorney personally handle your claim in the very beginning, which sets the tone for the insurance company? If you will be rerouted to a case manager, paralegal, or legal aide most of the time, you deserve to know that ahead of time so you can decide whether or not that works for you. Many large law firms rely solely on non-attorney case managers to handle all claims in the beginning.  Know exactly who you will be in contact with and how often you can contact them.
  • Clear communication. Legal terminology can be unclear and difficult to follow for those who aren’t in the legal profession. If you’re talking to an attorney who is unwilling or unable to explain concepts in terms you understand, you may be kept in the dark for much of the claim process.
  • Realistic numbers. Some people go for a car accident attorney who promises the biggest payout. This is not the way to go; those who boast big numbers aren’t necessarily able to get that type of payout. You want an attorney who learns about your case and gets the details of your accident before giving you an estimate. They should be able to back up their numbers with clear explanations.
  • Comprehensive explanations. It’s important that you feel informed throughout the entire claim process. Ensure that the attorney you choose explains the process in detail and is willing to keep you updated at each step.
  • Your attorney should have substantial experience in personal injury law. Beyond that, though, they should have experience handling claims resulting from accidents like yours. You never want your case to be the one where an attorney learns a brand new skill or concept.
  • Fee agreement. The vast majority of personal injury attorneys in Lakeland use a contingency structure, which means that you do not pay a fee unless they recover money for you. This is based on a structure set forth by the Florida Bar, so there is typically not much difference in the fee charged, however, the experience of attorneys vary greatly. Your personal injury attorney should be able to explain what portion of your final compensation will go to attorney’s fees and other expenses you may be expected to pay.

Call Darla K. Snead, P.L. After Your Accident

The sooner you find an attorney after a car accident, the sooner they can begin working on your case and fighting for the compensation you deserve. Darla K. Snead and Michael H. Dulin are passionate about helping victims get the money they need to bounce back from an accident. To set up a consultation, call our team or contact us online.

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