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Bruce Childers family law


Every legal case is different and there are so many things to consider prior to hiring a lawyer that is right for you. Below you can find frequently asked questions that we have often encountered over the years.

If you have questions, or need help with a legal matter, call us at (850) 434-8000 or email to setup a consultation to discuss your case. We are here to help you with your legal needs.

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  • How does a court split up property in a divorce?

    Dividing property is often one of the greatest challenges in Florida divorces. It tends to trigger concerns about finances and is especially difficult because emotions are running high. Florida is an “Equitable Distribution” state, which means that marital property, assets, and liabilities acquired during the marriage with marital funds or labor are divided equally upon divorce. Non-marital property, assets, and liabilities acquired before the marriage remain the sole and separate property of the spouse upon divorce.
  • How do courts determine who gets custody of children in a divorce in Florida?

    In Florida, like most states, courts primarily consider the best interest of the child when making custody decisions. They also seek to preserve existing relationships with both parents as much as possible. The factors that will most likely be taken into consideration include:

    • Child’s age
    • Wishes of each parent
    • Living accommodations
    • Quality of the relationship between the child and each parent
    • Mental and physical health of parents and the child
    • Ability of each parent to provide a stable, loving environment
    • Other factors

  • If one parent moves out and leaves the kids with the other parent, does it hurt the moving parent's chances of getting custody at a later date?

    Yes, it can. It’s important to speak to an attorney and create a parenting plan prior to leaving the family home. If you leave prior to establishing a parenting plan the court can determine your child’s other parent is a suitable choice for physical custody. Even if you leave in an effort to avoid a dangerous or highly unpleasant situation, physical custody can be put in jeopardy, so you’re always better off speaking to an attorney.
  • Who determines how much visitation is reasonable and fair?

    Florida courts prefer parents make decisions about custody and what is considered reasonable and fair based on the family’s specific circumstances. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible and parents won’t be able to agree on what’s reasonable and fair visitation. In these cases, the judge makes the decision after both parents present evidence as to why their position is in the child’s best interest.  Ultimately, the decision is made either by the parents or the judge.
  • Can a parent get child support if the child doesn't live with them?

    Possibly. Child support is determined based on a formula that awards payment to the custodial parent. However, in some families, children spend more overnights with their non-custodial parent. The goal of child support is to ensure that a child’s life remains as consistent as possible after a divorce, which usually means the custodial parent will receive financial support. In a case like this, the custody arrangement will likely be modified and then the court will recalculate child support.
  • What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?

    While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:

    1. You must meet the residency requirements of the state.
    2. You must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
    3. You must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
    4. If your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then they will have the opportunity to file papers telling their side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” If they contests it, then you will have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, then they should sign the papers and send them back to you. If your spouse agrees with everything and signs the papers, this is called a “simplified divorce” BUT it is only available if you do not have children with your spouse. If your spouse does not sign the papers for a simplified divorce, you would have to file a regular petition for dissolution of marriage. If your spouse doesn’t respond to those papers after being properly served, you can get a divorce “by default.”
    5. If there is property that you need divided or if you need financial support from your spouse, then you will have to work that out either in an out-of-court settlement or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.

  • How much does a divorce cost?

    This is one of the major questions every client has and one that deserves to be answered up front. Typical attorney’s fees, in the greater Pensacola area, range from $250 to $400 per hour or more. A retainer fee of usually around $5,000 is typically required as upfront payment to begin working on your behalf. This means that at a rate of $250 per hour, the client will have expended his initial retainer after 20 hours of work by the attorney. This $5,000 figure, however, is not an arbitrary sum – it is the amount of time and work necessary to get most cases to what is called “mediation”, a process whereby the parties and their attorneys, with the help of a trained mediator, attempt to settle their case through negotiation.
  • What happens if the mediation process breaks down?

    In the event that the parties are not able to come to an amicable resolution through the mediation process the case will proceed to trial and can last anywhere from a half day for simple issues (usually meaning those without children) to three days or more for complex cases. The cost of trial can run, for a relatively simple divorce (all divorce trials are before a judge and not a jury), another $10,000. Why so much? The simple answer is that you don’t show up for court unprepared. Trial notebooks, exhibits, expert witnesses, preparation of the client, cross examination questions, research of relevant case law, all have to be prepared well in advance of trial. It is not by chance that attorneys win or lose at trial and preparation for trial takes time which in turn translates to hourly fees.
  • What are some additional fees that could be incurred during a divorce?

    In addition to attorney’s fees are the costs associated with a divorce. Filing fees, including service of process, is nearly $500. Deposition costs, expert witnesses, discovery of hidden assets, all have their attendant costs. These costs are borne by the client as the Florida Bar rules generally prohibits attorneys in cases such as these from funding associated costs.
  • Should I consult with an attorney?

    ABSOLUTELY! While many divorcing couples would like to save themselves the cost of attorney’s fees, family law cases are some of the most complex issues attorneys handle and if you do not handle the issues that arise it can do more than cost you financially in the long run. Divorce cases require a knowledge of not only family law but also call into account how to equitably distribute assets, parental responsibility, taxation, dependency statutes, child support, alimony, guardianship, and accounting principles. For these reasons it is best to consult with a Florida Bar Board Certified Family Law attorney before deciding to file for divorce. Even if you decide to file the case yourself we provide very affordable hourly consultancy fees that will help guide you along the way. The information you gain from a mere one hour consultation can  save you from making bad decisions and help to avoid situations attorneys are trained to foresee (e.g., entering into a written agreement to be responsible for a child’s college expenses). Call us at (850) 434-8000 or email us to schedule a consultation.

Domestic Violence

  • What is Domestic Violence?

    Domestic violence is about one person getting and keeping power and control over another person in an intimate relationship. You may be surprised to learn that domestic violence not only includes physical abuse. In the eyes of the law domestic violence can manifest in many ways and can be in the form of sexual abuse, economic abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, cultural/identity abuse, as well as physical abuse. Domestic violence happens to people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and religions.  It occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships.  A person’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation does not determine whether s/he can be a victim of domestic violence or an abuser.
  • Who does domestic violence happen to?

    About 95% of victims of domestic violence are women. Over 50% of all women will experience physical violence in an intimate relationship, and for 24% – 30% of those women, the battering will be regular and on-going. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States and on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • Can the legal system help me?

    The law is a useful and important tool for increasing safety and independence, but it is not the only tool.  In addition to help from a lawyer, you might benefit from safety planning, medical care, counseling, economic assistance and planning, job placement, childcare, eldercare or pet care assistance, or many other types of practical help and advice. You can seek assistance from advocates, shelters, support groups, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE (7233)) and perhaps even your religious leader or doctor.
  • What is my next step?

    It is important to speak with someone that will help you spiritually, emotionally, and legally during this time. Domestic Violence comes in many forms and as your lawyer I will review your case with you to develop a strategy that will put you and your childrens safety and wellbeing at the top of the list. Please call (850) 434-8000 or contact us for a consultation to discuss your situation.


  • About DUI and BUI

    Driving and Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a very serious matter that endangers you and the people around you. You may be surprised to know that the same charges for a DUI can be brought against anyone boating under the influence. Driving and Boating are not rights; but privileges that you earn. The laws are written to help make the roads and waterways a safer place for everyone. Facing an arrest for DUI/BUI can have life altering consequences. It is our mission to assist our clients by fighting the charges to limit or eliminate the negative consequences of an arrest or conviction.
  • Why you need a lawyer's help!

    Florida treats DUI and BUI very severely. Even if it is your first conviction you could actually face jail time and by law, consecutive convictions require mandatory jail time. You will also face increased insurance premiums, fines, loss of your license, and possibly a felony conviction for multiple offenses or if you injure someone. All of these factors if not taken care of immediately can severely affect your ability to go to and from work, pick up the kids from school, or even go to the shopping market. Hiring an experienced lawyer to fight for you is extremely important in the case of DUI’s and BUI’s. Give us a call at (850) 434-8000 or email us for a consultation to discuss your case and options.