It is good for divorcing couples to be informed as to what the Family Court judges are looking for, and what the judges are looking for is P.E.A.C.E.
Hello everyone, as I discussed in my first blog series, there are multiple ways to move through marital and family law matters. This is a deeply personal decision for an individual to make, and many individuals choose the litigation route. Choosing litigation is completely acceptable. There is no shame in taking these very important matters before the Court and having them upheld by all available legal protections. What concerns me though is that many of these individuals choose to do it as Pro Selitigants, which is a person who represents themselves without the assistance of an attorney.
Frankly, I understand that most of the time it’s not that people want to represent themselves. The issue is that many individual either cannot afford an attorney, or they cannot find a good attorney that meets their budget. With the way the economy is now it’s extremely common. However, I always advise friends and family members that if they can afford to retain an attorney it is worth doing so, even if they need to “tighten their belts” to do so. I honestly believe that, most of the time, any legal representation is better than no legal representation because a Pro Se litigant without a firm understanding of the applicable laws, rules, and procedures, is going to be lost from the start. Plus, there is a good chance that their case will not progress or, in a worst case scenario, their case will get lost in the shuffle.
At this point, you are probably wondering, what does this little speech have to do with Florida Marital and Family Law? Well, the truth is that I know that many individuals will not be able to retain the services of our firm, and they too will be forced to represent themselves in Family Court. Therefore, I wanted to provide a blog posting about how to present a Marital and Family Law case. In hopes that a Pro Se litigant reader might be able to more effectively present their case in Court. Also, I believe that it is good information for potential clients because it helps them to be informed as to what the Family Court judges are looking for, and what the judges are looking for is P.E.A.C.E.
Now, what a lot of readers might know is that Judges, in many judicial circuits, are rotated to divisions depending on the needs of the circuit. Therefore, many times judges are rotated to the Family Law Bench, even though they have no experience practicing or presiding over Marital and Family law. Judges who are inexperienced and/or new to the Family Law Bench must attend what our firm affectionately calls “Judge School”.
At “Judge School” these new judges learn how to properly preside over Marital and Family Law cases. What the judges learn is that in Marital and Family Law cases they must address pending issues in a particular order. That order follows the acronym P.E.A.C.E., which stands for the following:
P – Parenting Plan
E – Equitable Distribution
A – Alimony
C – Child Support
E – Everything Else
When a party is presenting their case, first, the Judge wants to hear all of the parenting related facts of the case. Next, the Judge wants to hear how the parties should divide all of the marital assets and liabilities. The presiding judge will then have a better grasp of whether or not alimony is appropriate. Once these determinations are made, the Court has an understanding of each parties’ incomes and financial resources, so now the Court can address each party’s child support obligation. Finally, the Court will address any other remaining issues, “Everything Else”, which is usually determining whether or not a party is going to be awarded reimbursement of attorney’s fees and costs.
Understanding how to effectively organize and present arguments before the Court is crucial in handling a Marital and Family Law case. For the Pro Se litigants, organizing issues and facts in this order can provide a real edge, should you have to present your case before the Court. For people looking for legal representation, it is important to retain an attorney who understands the process and can effectively communicate to you how they plan to present your case to the Court. As a warning, if they are not addressing issues in this order, they probably are not experienced in Martial and Family Law.
I want to thank everyone for reading. I hope that this has been an insightful look into the practice of Florida Marital and Family Law. Each week, I hope to provide a blog post on each one of the P.E.A.C.E. topics. I will be providing some information on the applicable statutes and legal standards. Also, I hope to provide some important and funny court decisions related to each of the topics. Thank you again for reading, and remember at The Eaton Family Law Firm we are A FAMILY FIRM BECAUSE FAMILY MATTERS.
Cash A. Eaton, Esquire.