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Panama City Legal Blog

What are my options when it comes to adoption?

One of the most satisfying and generous decisions a couple in Florida could make is the decision to adopt a child. Some spouses may choose to legally adopt a stepchild, some spouses are unable to have children together for health or other reasons and other couples may wish to help a child in need to welcome into their family.

There are several options for spouses who are looking to adopt a child from outside their family. One of the most common ways is to work with an adoption agency. These are regulated by the state and help match up couples looking to adopt with children in need of adoption, often for children who were abused, orphaned or abandoned.

Hollywood stars Chris Pratt and Anna Faris to separate

The Hollywood world was taken by surprise by the duel announcement last week of the separation of television and film stars Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. Pratt is well known as the star in the most recent "Jurassic Park" film and hit "Guardians of the Galaxy" film series; Faris is currently starring in the television sitcom "Mom." The announcement comes as a surprise to many as the couple have been very outgoing in the support of each other during their eight-year marriage.

Pratt and Faris have a four-year-old son together and spoke about their willingness to work together to make certain the son is not affected by the breakup. The two acknowledge that they still love each other and have the deepest respect for each other.

Balancing emotions during a divorce: 3 tips

A divorce is difficult for everyone involved, even if it is the result of a mutual agreement. It's emotional, and even though you know what has to happen, you may be sad or angry.

While it is normal to feel this way, it's also important not to let your emotions get in the way of your divorce. Those who are angry or vindictive may try to drag out the divorce as a kind of revenge, but that just hurts everyone in the long run.

Helping you through military divorce and family law issues

Military families are subject to the same family law issues as civilian families. However, the way to go about resolving these issues is often different. When a service member seeks to end a marriage, he or she needs to consider the military laws that might apply. These laws were put in place to protect a military member throughout the process, even delaying it if necessary because of deployment or training. Thus, if you are going through a military divorce or are seeking to resolve child custody or support issues during or after dissolution, it is important to understand the rights afforded to everyone involved.

At Zachary A. Vandyke, P.A., our attorneys understand the complexities and dynamics a military divorce can entail. With over 10 years of experience, our law firm is devoted to guiding our Panama City clients to the best resolution possible. Because divorce is already emotional and difficult, we seek to help our clients reach the best solution for them as quickly as possible.

Determining marital property

When addressing property division during a divorce, the courts must first determine what is considered marital property. In most cases, property that was obtained before a marriage is considered non-marital property and will not be part of the property division.

Property that is obtained during the course of a marriage is generally considered to be marital property, though there are a few exceptions. This could include gifts, property acquired following a Judgement of Legal Separation and property excluded by valid agreement of both parties. It is not always a black and white area, however. Non-marital property that is used to benefit both spouses during the course of a marriage then becomes marital property. This could include an inheritance that is then used for upgrades on a home.

How can a prenup help me during a marriage?

All is well in the world. You recently proposed to your significant other and a "Yes!" was said, and now the two of you are planning a wedding and a lifetime of happiness together as a new family. The last thing in the world you want to think about at this time is the possibility of divorce. Yet, statistics show that divorce is still common in the United States. There is no good time to bring up the possibility of divorce to your fiancée, but there are many reasons why you may want bring up the topic, and suggest that maybe you two talk about a prenuptial agreement, also called a prenup.

A prenup can help a couple not only with property division if a divorce were to occur, but during a marriage as well. If the unthinkable happens and one spouse is killed during a marriage, a prenuptial agreement could have their wishes documented on how to handle the division of property between the surviving spouse and perhaps children from another marriage.

3 ways adultery could affect your divorce in Florida

In today's world, it isn't terribly surprising to hear that someone -- particularly a celebrity -- has had an extramarital relationship. Sometimes adultery doesn't even lead to the end of a marriage, as relationship counseling is perhaps more available now than ever before.

Make no mistake, though: adultery can affect your divorce case. While you can choose to file a no-fault divorce, if your spouse decides on a divorce with adultery as grounds, it could affect your chances of getting what you want financially or for your child. Here are a few reasons why.

How guardianship is granted in courts

Although the parents of a child are the default guardians of a child until the child reaches adulthood, there are certain circumstances that may require that a new guardian be chosen. Guardians are important to minor children, as they serve several purposes not only for a child's nurturing and upbringing, but for several legal responsibilities too.

The guardianship is typically terminated when the child reaches the age of maturity, but there are a few exceptions to that rule. These are: If a court determines that the young person is still in need of supervision; if the minor becomes married; or if the young person dies. The relationship may also be terminated if it can be determined that the guardian is unfit to fill the role. However, in this last case, if the person is still a minor, he or she will need a new guardian.

Why courts focus on the best interests of the child

It is not uncommon while going through divorce proceedings involving children to hear the courts talk about the best interests of the children. While the philosophy of course sounds noble, it is inherently vague. What exactly is meant by the "best interests of the child" and how can this philosophy in court affect decisions such as child custody, child support and even property division?

The courts look at each case individually. The current relationship between each child and each parent and how the different roles of each parent is represented in that relationship is of vital importance to the courts when they look at each situation before making their decision. The courts will also look to see if any history of domestic violence or a criminal record exists on either side, or even if one parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

What property division factors may a Florida court consider?

While some couples in Florida going through a divorce find that they are able to reach a consensus about how to divide their marital property, others may find that some items have such financial or sentimental value that both parties are reluctant to give them up. When this happens, the parties may need to turn to the court to issue an order regarding property division.

When dividing property in a divorce, Florida courts will aim to issue an equal distribution of property between the spouses, unless there is a good reason based on the following factors to award one party a greater percentage of the property than the other party.


Zachary A. Vandyke, P.A.
502 Harmon Ave
Panama City, FL 32401

Phone: 850-851-0864
Fax: 850-215-6459
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