Types of Cases

NEW CHANGES TO FLORIDA LAW
Effective October 1, 2008, the laws regarding parental responsibility and visitation changed dramatically. There is no longer a designation of primary residential parent and secondary residential parent, and the term ‘custody’ is no longer used in litigation involving minor children. The new law requires that a ‘parenting plan’ be prepared for every dissolution case involving minor children and every paternity case filed. A ‘parenting plan’ is a document created to govern the relationship between the parents regarding the decisions involving the minor child(ren) and shall contain a time-sharing schedule for each parent. A time-sharing schedule is the amount of time each parent will spend with the child(ren), including overnight and holiday time. The intent of the new statute is to take away the stigma of designating one parent over the other with regard to the upbringing of the parties’ child(ren), as well as to keep both parents actively involved in their child’s life. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the parenting plan or time-sharing schedule, then the case will be brought before the court for the judge to resolve these issues based on the circumstances of each individual family.

The following is an overview of the different types of cases I handle:

Dissolution of Marriage: I handle all types of dissolution of marriage actions - with or without children, contested, uncontested, cases involving the equitable distribution of assets and liabilities, military divorces and divorces involving clients who are out of state or overseas. It is important to know your legal rights regarding the above issues as well as alimony, child support, parental rights and division of your spouse's retirement benefits. If your case involves minor children, you and your spouse will be required to attend the "Parent Education and Stabilization" course which is offered in a classroom setting as well as online. The courses address different parenting issues and ways to communicate with your spouse and child(ren) in an appropriate manner.

Annulments: I handle annulment actions if the client can show that he/she entered into the marriage by fraud, duress or coercion or if the marriage was never consummated.

Enforcement of Existing Court Orders:If the opposing party is not abiding by the terms of an existing court order, you can go back to court to request the judge or magistrate to enforce the terms of the order. If the judge or magistrate determines that the other party was at fault, that party may be ordered to reimburse you for your attorney's fees and costs for bringing the action back to court. In order for me to assist you, the order must have been entered in Escambia County or Santa Rosa County, Florida.

Modification of Existing Court Orders: In order to modify an existing order, there must be a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the order sought to be modified. For upward modification of child support cases, the new child support amount must be 15% or $50.00 (whichever is greater) higher than the existing amount. For downward modification of child support cases, the new child support amount must be 15% or $50.00 (whichever is greater) lower than the existing amount. However, for cases that are handled by the Department of Revenue, the threshold is a 10% change either upwards or downwards.

Domestication and Enforcement/Modification of Out-of-State Orders: This means that the out-of-state order becomes a Florida order and the client can enforce the provisions of the order in Florida or modify parental responsibility, time-sharing or a support obligation contained in the order. However, there are certain circumstances in which this state cannot enforce or modify a support obligation from another state.

Paternity and Parental Rights: These cases involve unmarried parents. Once paternity is established, then parental rights and child support can be established for the parties.

Relocation: These are cases in which a parent desires to relocate with or without a minor child more than 50 miles from his/her primary residence at the time the order was entered.

Disestablishment of Paternity: In certain circumstances, a male can petition the court to disestablish paternity of a child under the age of 18 years.

Child support cases, including representation of non-residential parents in Department of Revenue actions: If you are served with a summon in a Department of Revenue action, the process can be confusing and frustrating for the pro se litigant. I represent clients who are the responding parties in these actions.

Adoptions: I handle all types of relative adoptions, either contested or uncontested. I also handle non-relative uncontested adoptions in which the child has been born and when the birth mother agrees to place the child with the prospective adoptive parents. Since June 2010, I have partnered with Bethany Christian Services to handle their domestic adoptions, which involves filing a petition for termination of parental rights and then finalizing the adoptions for the adoptive families. For more information on Bethany Christian Services, go to their website at www.Bethany.org. Since April 2017, I have partnered with Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida to handle their domestic adoptions, which involves filing a petition for termination of parental rights and then finalizing the adoptions for the adoptive families. For more information on Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, go to their website at www.ccnwfl.org. I also handle adoptions that occur within a dependency case when the legal parents consent to the adoption. In these instances, the court may allow the adoptive parents to intervene in the dependency case in order for a private adoption of the child(ren) to take place.

Separate Maintenance: This type of action involves the establishment of a support obligation unconnected with a dissolution of marriage. The judge or magistrate can only enter an order of support. Any other issues such as exclusive use and possession of the marital home or a determination of parental rights cannot be addressed in separate maintenance cases.

Injunction Proceedings: There are five types of injunctions against violence that the court can enter:

 

  • Domestic Violence Injunctions - These are injunctions involving persons who are family or household members, such as spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage and any person who is or was residing within a single dwelling with the petitioner as if a family, or a person with whom the petitioner has a child in common, whether or not they were married or cohabited with each other. The petitioner must plead and prove that he or she has been the victim of any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family household member by another, or the other party has threatened to commit domestic violence.
  • Injunctions Against Repeat Violence- These are injunctions involving persons who are not involved in a domestic relationship. The petitioner must plead and prove that he or she has been the victim of two incidents of violence, or stalking. Violence is defined as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death. Once of the incidents of violence or stalking must have occurred within six months of the filing of the petition and be directed against the petitioner or the petitioner's immediate family member.
  • Injunctions Against Dating Violence - These are injunctions involving individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The petitioner must be a victim of dating violence or has a reasonable belief that violence is imminent, but there does not need to be any actual acts of violence that occurred prior to filing. The petitioner must also show that the relationship existed within the past six months, the relationship was characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties, and the frequency and type of interaction was that the persons were involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.
  • Injunctions Against Sexual Violence - These are injunctions involving an individual who is the victim of an act of sexual violence, or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child living at home who is the victim of an act of sexual violence.
  • Injunctions Against Stalking - these types of injunctions include cyberstalking.
    • Name Change: I handle name change cases involving minor children and adults. In order to change a minor child's name, both parents must consent or the court must waive the consent of a parent for good cause
    • Emancipation of Minors: I handle these cases involving minors who are 16 years of age or older who meet the statutory criteria for emancipation.

Collaborative family law cases: most family law cases can be handled using collaborative methods. If you elect to engage in a collaborative case, the chances of resolving all of the issues in your case with minimal stress is greatly improved. Additionally, the fees and costs of engaging in a collaborative process are generally much less than litigating your case in court, depending on the issues involved. Also, the length of time to complete a case is generally much less than a litigated case. A collaborative case involves the use of a mental health professional and/or a financial advisor to address parenting, equitable distribution and/or financial issues. Both of these professionals are neutral, which means that he/she will work with both parties and the attorneys as a team with the goal of resolving the case rather than testifying for either party in court and taking sides. This is a non-adversarial process which involves a great deal of cooperation on both sides, but the rewards are immeasurable compared to the stress and cost of litigation. Multiple meetings may be scheduled in advance of the meeting in which an Agreement and/or Parenting Plan are signed. The focus is on the best interests of the children, as well as considering the objectives of each party.

For more information on collaborative law, please refer to westfloridacollaborativelaw.com

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Contact Information

Gayle J. Ryba, P.A.
Attorney At Law

224 E. Intendencia St.
Pensacola, Florida 32502

We are located 1/2 block east of the
new YMCA in the Historic District.

Office: (850) 434-9299
Fax: (850) 434-9297
Email: grybalaw@aol.com

Office Hours:
Monday through Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
(We are closed between 12:00 p.m. - 1 p.m. for lunch)
Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

We are also closed on all major holidays and court holidays.

I accept cash, money orders, personal checks, Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express cards.

I am a member of the Gulf Coast Trade Exchange.