Sarasota Divorce

Sarasota Family Law | Bradenton Family Law | Venice, Florida Family Law

    The Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. are committed to providing high quality professional legal representation to individuals dealing with difficult family law problems. When families fight and have problems, the severe emotional impact on family members can make it difficult to make sound decisions. Our law firm understands that many of these legal issues are very sensitive and emotional. We have the experience to guide our clients through the legal issues and court proceedings required to resolve these family problems. We strive to connect with our clients on a personal level and to understand their legal goals, needs, concerns and backgrounds. Each case is analyzed under Florida law and the client is then presented with all available options. We work with the client to determine their respective legal rights and responsibilities. We then recommend the best course of legal action to pursue. We seek fair, efficient, and favorable outcomes for our clients.

    As a trusted and experienced family law firm, the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. understand the emotional and financial stresses that divorce and other family law matters can have on families. Our law firm can offer assistance with a large variety of family law issues including:

For more information, please see our Family Law Frequently Asked Questions and our Family Law Common Terms and Definitions.

Sarasota Divorce | Bradenton Divorce | Venice, Florida Divorce

     Divorce cases are often very emotional and more complex than they first appear. The issues that face each family are unique. In short, a divorce is much more that simply a lawsuit.  Apart from ending your marriage, a divorce changes existing relationships with family and mutual friends.  Divorce can wreak havoc on your finances and adversely affect both your mental and physical health.  At the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A., we focus on our client’s goals and needs to ensure that they receive comprehensive legal representation during their divorce proceedings. Divorces normally involve issues such as parental responsibility (child custody); time-sharing (child visitation); child support; equitable distribution of marital assets and debts; use, possession and disposition of the marital residence; attorney’s fees and costs; and sometimes relocation of one of the parents to another state. The Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. handle all aspects of divorce proceedings. Dissolution of marriage proceedings typically involves identification, valuation, and equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities acquired from the date of marriage until the date of separation. It can also includes litigating and resolving issues such as temporary and/or permanent alimony; temporary and/or permanent attorney’s fees; exclusive use and possession of the marital residence; sale or refinance of the marital residence; disposition of marital businesses, and other spousal support such as payment of health and care insurance, utilities, etc. If the spouses have minor children, then the divorce also must address determination of parental responsibility (child custody), time-sharing (child visitation and contact), and child support. Our firm has extensive experience in financial analysis in order to fairly resolve child support, alimony, and property settlement disputes.

     Our law firm analyzes each case carefully and works towards solutions that are best suited to the needs of our clients. Our goal is to effectively and efficiently resolve all of our clients’ financial and parenting issues. While our ultimate goal is an amicable and fair resolution, our law firm is always prepared to represent our client in court through trial, if necessary, to achieve their legal goals. However, normally we work with you during your divorce to draft a comprehensive Marital Settlement Agreement that can be entered into during mediation. This Marital Settlement Agreement includes decisions about marital property and debts, children’s issues, spousal support, attorney’s fees, and other issues.

     We’ve found that most of our clients strongly prefer mediation and out-of-court settlement in divorces of as opposed to a trial. We strongly encourage such settlements as they tend to be less costly, stressful and contentious. They also allow the client to retain much greater control over the resolution of their very important family matters. Our firm recognizes that divorce is the end of a relationship and the beginning of a new chapter in life. This recognition allows us to pursue comprehensive Marital Settlement Agreements that provide our clients with practical and workable options after their Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage has been entered. Our firm understands that divorce does not have to result in a complete financial disaster and we are dedicated to preventing unnecessary financial upheaval due to contentious, malicious, and protracted litigation. We also understand that divorce effect other areas of law in your life such as estate planning, business and corporate interests, real estate, and taxes. Therefore, we can help you to address these legal areas affected by the changes to your family after your divorce has been finalized.  Finally, we suggest and promote that our clients utilize counseling, support groups, and financial advisors (when necessary) to work through this very difficult time in their life in a positive and productive manner.

Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida Parental Responsibility (Child Custody) and Time-Sharing (Visitation)

     The Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A are regularly involved in parental responsibility (child custody) disputes—whether it is in connection with the initial divorce proceedings; in a paternity lawsuit; or years after your divorce or paternity case has been finalized. If there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the time that original parental responsibility determination was made, then you are entitled to seek a modification or enforcement of your child custody order. Parental responsibility (child custody) includes a judicial determination as to where the minor child will primarily reside. It also includes sharing of parental responsibilities for raising your child. In Florida, most courts favor “shared parental responsibility” as the child custody arrangement. Both parents are highly encouraged to make decisions together regarding the care of their children. This often includes sharing responsibility for making decisions about your child’s school, health care, religious beliefs, and extracurricular activities. However, at times other custody arrangements are sought or needed like rotating custody or sole custody depending on the circumstances of the case. Parents should be aware that it is very rare for Florida courts to allow minor children to testify in family law cases.  Also, there is no “magic age” when children get to choose which parent they will live with for the majority of their time.  Our firm strives to obtain the best possible result for our clients regarding parental responsibility (child custody) by providing high quality legal representation in order to obtain favorable outcomes for both the parents and their children. We always attempt to keep the best interests of your minor children in mind at all times.

Sarasota Divorce Mediations, Bradenton Divorce Mediations, and Venice, Florida Divorce Mediations

     In Sarasota and Manatee counties, in all divorce and family law cases, mediation is required before almost any hearing will be heard by the Court or a trial is allowed to proceed forward. Thus, it is extremely important to have an attorney who is highly experienced and proficient in mediating and settling family law cases. Mediation allows you to remain in control of decisions regarding your family, your children, your home, your property, etc. The majority of our clients are able to successfully resolve their family law issues in dispute during the mediation process. During mediation, our firm pursues favorable and fair results for our clients. The Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. strive to obtain an effective settlement through use of a comprehensive Marital Settlement Agreement. We draft it prior to your mediation; send it to opposing counsel and the mediation a few days before your mediation; bring it on a laptop to your mediation; and then use it extensively for negotiation purposes during your mediation. Keeping your divorce, paternity case, parental responsibility (child custody) case, and/or time-sharing (child visitation) case out of court ultimately keeps down your overall legal fees and ensures that you have more control over your own future.

       Also, at the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A., you get more than just an attorney.  You will be represented by a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator. How does this benefit you?  You will be represented by an attorney and a mediator at the same time whose training, legal certifications, and experience surpass that of many other lawyers in the profession.  You get an attorney who is very experienced in every aspect of the mediation process and know how to use this mediation experience to the benefits of our clients.  Attorney Matthew Z Martell routinely drafts a comprehensive Marital Settlement Agreements beforehand which most other local attorneys and  mediators simply do not take the time to do. If you want a serious hard-working divorce and family law mediator who will provide you with a comfortable professional setting for mediation; take care of you personal needs during mediation, and work hard get your divorce settled, then contact Divorce Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator Matthew Z. Martell for you next divorce or family law mediation.

Sarasota Marital Settlement Agreements, Bradenton Marital Settlement Agreements, and Venice, Florida Marital Settlement Agreements

    The Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. make every effort to create Marital Settlement Agreements that are comprehensive, thorough, practical, and workable for our clients. We listen closely to our clients’ legal goals and concerns and attempt to handle each clients divorce on a case-by-case basis. Essentially, what may work for one client may not work for another and our firm acknowledges and recognizing this fact when it comes to drafting Marital Settlement Agreements. It’s essential to have an attorney involved with your Marital Settlement Agreement to ensure your legal rights are protected. We will ensure that the proper legal language is utilized, as well as emphasize important terms of the agreement that are advantageous to our clients needs.

    A typical Marital Settlement Agreement addresses and resolves all issues relating to the divorce including the parental responsibility (child custody), time-sharing (child visitation), child support, use and disposition of the marital residence; distribution of marital assets; responsibility for marital debts; alimony; attorney’s fees and costs, taxes, retirement plans, mediation of future disputes, etc.  Marital assets may not be what you think they are. Under Florida law, it is presumed that all marital assets and marital debts should be divided 50/50.  Oftentimes, people assume that sole title to an asset or a sole name on a credit card determines whether an asset is “marital” or non-marital which is a mistake.  For example, a car might be titled to one spouse only but still considered a marital asset.  The same is true for the portions of retirement accounts that were earned during the marriage.

    As your trusted legal advisor, we attempt to negotiate and mediate an appropriate marital settlement agreement suited to your individual needs in order to avoid the expense and stress of a trial. It allows for clients to divorce in an amicable and mutually beneficial manner. However, if we are not able to reach a settlement by negotiating a fair and comprehensive Marital Settlement Agreement with your spouse, and if representation in court becomes necessary, you are assured legal representation by a highly skilled and experienced litigation attorney.

Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice Post-Judgment Modification Actions and Post-Judgment Enforcements Actions

     After the entry of a Final Judgment, it sometimes becomes necessary to modify or the terms and conditions of the final judgment. Basically, a client’s circumstances in life often change after a divorce or other important family law case. Oftentimes, changing circumstances involving the parties minor children will require a change to your Final Judgment. We regularly handle filing post-divorce modification actions. Our firm routinely provide legal representation with post-judgment issues such as child support, time-sharing (child visitation), parental responsibility (child custody), alimony, relocation of parents, and alimony. Our firm also regularly files actions to enforce previous agreements and orders of the court regarding alimony, distribution of property or debts, child support, time-sharing (child visitation), and parental responsibility (child custody). This also includes Motions for Contempt when necessary and warranted for willful and deliberate violations of prior court orders, judgments or marital settlement agreements.  When disputes arise post-divorce it is best to obtain legal representation before the problem gets too far out of hand.  There is not necessarily a legal advantage to being the first ex-spouse to file for a post-divorce modification or enforcement action.  However, the first party to file such a case usually gains a tactical advantage because he or she will have already hired an attorney, prepared for their case, and will have started getting the legal process rolling forward to deal with the current dispute.  The non-filing ex-spouse is then normally left in a position of scrambling to hire an attorney, drafting and filing the required responsive legal paperwork, and then later trying to play “catch up” in order to attempt to legally bring any potential legal claims they may have to the Court’s attention.

Sarasota Paternity | Bradenton Paternity | Venice, Florida Paternity Lawsuits

    Paternity lawsuits involve establishing the legal identity of the natural father of a child in cases where the mother and father are not married. In such cases, all aspects of the relationship are legally determined by a court such as paternity, child support, child custody, parental responsibility and child visitation. Oftentimes, if you are in need of child support, the Florida Department of Revenue- Office of Child Support will initiate a paternity and child support action on behalf of your child at the same time in the same lawsuit. However, the Department of Revenue is legally prohibited from representing a mother regarding any parental responsibility (child custody) or time-sharing (child visitation) matter in such cases. So if the State has started a paternity case to collect child support, it will be up to you to request the entry of a Parenting Plan during that lawsuit. On the other hand, if the Department of Revenue is demanding that you pay child support, it may seem as if the State is representing the other parent. In theory the State represents the legal interests of your minor child. But it may not seem that way to you at the time. To ensure that your voice is heard, you should strongly consider consulting with a Sarasota paternity lawyer. We represent parents in efforts to establish paternity as well as non-parents in efforts to challenge paternity. The Court can order payment of back child support in your paternity case. The Court can also order you to reimburse the Mother for her child birth costs, genetic testing, attorney’s fees and expert witness fees. If you are not residing with your child, but are providing him or her some financial support, it is probably to your benefit to judicially establish paternity, child support, and a Parenting Plan sooner rather than later. The main reasons why are that you can limit your future exposure for back child support and you can also ensure that you have access to visitation with your child if your relationship with the other parent deteriorates in the future. Don’t wait until there is a huge fight with the other parent over your child to address these issues. You owe it to your child to have paternity, child custody, child visitation, and child support established by a court of law as soon as possible after your baby is born.

Sarasota Child Support | Bradenton Child Support | Venice, Florida Child Support

    Child support covers the basic living expenses for the minor child. An action to determine child support typically is included in a divorce or paternity lawsuit. However, an action for child support unconnected with dissolution of marriage can also be filed in Florida in cases of separation. The Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. assist clients who are seeking to establish child support, modify child support orders, or enforce prior child support orders. Child support is normally paid on a monthly basis and by an Income Deduction Order. Florida has certain statutory guidelines for determining the amount of child support which the non-custodial parent must pay. Specifically, the amount of child support is based primarily upon the income of both parents; the health and dental insurance costs for the child; child daycare costs; and non-reimbursed child health and dental care expenses. The monthly child support obligation continues until the child is 18 or graduates high school at age 19 with certain limited exceptions. Child support enforcement is highly regulated in Florida and often the Florida Department of Revenue-Office of Child Support Enforcement becomes involved in these cases. If you need legal representation in obtaining child support that is owed to you, then please contact our firm for help. We help parents obtain the child support that is needed to provide financially for their children. Alternatively, if you need legal representation in defending against unfair attempts by an ex-spouse or child’s parent who is trying to get more child support than they are legally entitled to receive, then please also contact our firm for help.

     The necessity for modification of a prior child support order normally arises from a change in financial circumstances. Such changes can include increased or decreased school tuition, health care costs, parental income (for either parent); substantial increase in overnight child visitation with the non-custodial parent; or a change in the primary residence of the child to the non-custodial parent’s home. Please be advised that even if both parents agree to a change in child support, it still must be approved by the court. If you need to modify your child support payments, please contact our firm to arrange a consultation. We routinely help parents with child support modification actions.

Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice Petitions for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence or Repeat Violence (Restraining Orders)

    If you are the victim of domestic or repeat violence, you should do everything in your power to immediately protect yourself. When physical violence occurs; if a immediate threat of physical violence is made; and/or if stalking occurs between a married couple, a formerly married couple, a dating couple, family members, people who have a child in common, or even friend, neighbors and co-workers, then immediate legal action must be taken to prevent domestic violence, repeat violence, or dating violence. There are civil proceedings available to obtain a restraining order (i.e– an injunction for protection against domestic violence or repeat violence as is it called under Florida law) to prevent future violence and protect you. These domestic violence injunctions can also grant custody of children, award child support and spousal support, and give exclusive use and possession of a home to you. Normally, a domestic violence injunction is granted when there is an immediate and present danger of imminent harm which exists. There must have been two (2) incidents of assault, battery, or stalking which has occurred within the last 2 years. One of these domestic violence incidents must have occurred within the last six (6) months. Restraining orders have both civil and criminal ramifications. The Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. have experience in assisting existing clients seeking to obtain, defend, or modify such restraining orders. Our firm provides effective, compassionate, and prompt legal assistance and counseling to victims of domestic violence. Alternatively, we also realize that false accusations of domestic violence are sometimes presented for gain an unfair advantage in legal disputes. In such cases, we are available to help you to defend against such accusations which could substantially affect your child custody and visitation rights, as well as your right to access and live in your own home. Do not wait to call if you are affected by domestic violence or try to handle it on your own. We are highly experienced in dealing with restraining orders and domestic violence and we are here to help.

Sarasota Pre-Nuptial Agreements, Bradenton Pre-Nuptial Agreements, and Venice, Florida Pre-Nuptial Agreements

     The Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. work with engaged clients to negotiate and draft pre-nuptial agreements. A pre-nuptial agreement is used by parties to plan to marry and wish to resolve any financial and estate planning issues that may arise through death or divorce. Typically, couples who are each entering into a second marriage consider pre-nuptial agreements for the purpose of making sure that their respective children from each of their first marriages are protecting financially. It should be noted that a prenuptial agreement needs to be completed and executed at least 60 days before a marriage occurs.  We also litigate to enforce pre-nuptial  agreements.  It is important that you have an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to keep your pre-nuptial agreement in full force and effect at the time of your divorce.  Oftentimes, during the marriage, spouses will disregard the terms and conditions of a pre-nuptial agreement over time and they grow more trusting and comfortable with each other and the state of their marriage.  One of the most frequent examples of this is commingling of separate pre-marital assets and property into marital accounts, marital investments investments and marital real property.  Another common situation is the failure to disclose financial affidavit and financial records at the time of execution of the pre-nuptial agreement.  Both of these scenarios are grounds for setting aside part or all of the pre-nuptial agreement.  So, if you find yourself in such a position, then don’t leave enforcement of your pre-nuptial agreement to chance.  Hire a lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced in enforcing pre-nuptial agreement at the time of the divorce even under difficult circumstances.  Conversely, our law firm also has experience in challenging, breaking, and setting aside pre-nuptial agreements.  Often, this is difficult to do because although legal grounds exists, the spouse challenging the pre-nuptial agreement has little to no assets in his or her name at the time of the divorce.  If you plan of challenging a pre-nuptial agreement, make sure that you have access to funds andor credit to do so.  You cannot rely on a judge ordering that your attorney’s fees be paid by your spouse some time in the distant future.  Often, if that does occur, it does not happen until the end of the case.  Either way, call us because we can help you will draft, enforce, or break a pre-nuptial agreement.

For more information, please see our Family Law Frequently Asked Questions
and our Family Law Common Terms and Definitions.

Selected as One of the Top Ten Family Law Attorneys in Florida in 2014- 2017 for the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA)

Selected as Member of the “Nation’s Top One Percent” in 2015-2016 for the National Association of Distinguished Counsel (NADC)

Selected as One of the Top 100 Lawyers in Divorce and Family Law in 2015- 2017 by The National Advocates

Selected as Member of “Best Attorneys if America” in Divorce and Family Law in 2016 Rue Ratings