My practice is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and focuses on family law cases, including collaborative divorce, divorce, uncontested divorce, mediation, co-mediation, pre and post-nuptial agreements, paternity cases, child custody/time-sharing, child support, and modifications, serving Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties.
Choosing an attorney is an important decision. I hope the information here is helpful for you.
My practice concentrates on resolving your case without the need for fighting in court through litigation. “Litigation” is the process you’ve probably seen on television or associate with a typical divorce case, in which opposing parties battle as adversaries in Court. It can be an unpleasant and expensive process, with a decision at the end by a Judge which may or may not make you happy.
As a Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorney, during our first meeting I’ll discuss with you the circumstances of your case, what you are seeking, and your alternatives for resolving your case – which include mediation, co-mediation, collaborative divorce/collaborative family law, or litigation. You may already have a sense if you are reading this that an adversarial court battle is not the route you want to take.Divorce
Some of the important issues in a divorce are alimony, property and debt division, time-sharing and parental responsibility (i.e. child custody when there are minor children), temporary financial and children's issues while the case is pending; and completing the divorce with as little extra turmoil, and expense, as possible. Sometimes divorce is something the two of you arrive at with a sense that this is something we both want and without conflict, but probably more often there is conflict and hurt feelings, and it is not a good outcome if the legal process makes that worse, and consumes much of your marital assets.Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative Divorce is a structured process for settling your case outside of Court. In this approach you each retain an attorney who is collaboratively trained – which means that their focus and what you hire them to achieve is a fair result, rather than defeating or destroying the other side. So your attorney will be seeking to be sure you receive a fair result, and the other spouse’s attorney will be seeking the same for them. You can visit the Collaborative Divorce page on this website to learn more about the process.
As a divorce lawyer serving Fort Lauderdale, my practice focuses on collaborative divorce, but I can represent you in a case that is filed in court (that was the focus of my practice for many years) and try to get the case settled without court battles, hearings and trials, but if that is not successful I’ll work with you and one of the litigation attorneys with whom I work so that you are represented at trial and at hearings.Co-Mediation
In my opinion, in virtually all cases it is preferable to settle the case by negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, or a process called co-mediation. Co-Mediation is a process like Collaborative Law in which we bring in additional resources like a neutral financial professional and also a mental health professional to serve as a facilitator, but without each party having an attorney – some spouses or parents prefer to talk more for themselves in their case, or just have a preference for not having attorneys involved, or involved as little as possible. One of the co-mediators will be an attorney, but that person (me) will be serving as a neutral mediator versus representing one party.Mediation
As a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney, another a significant area of my practice is serving as a family law mediator. Mediation is one of the most efficient and least expensive ways to resolve a family law case. When I’m serving as the mediator, I sit with both you and the other spouse or parent, and we try to settle the case, and then I write up a settlement agreement for the two of you to sign. When I’m serving as a mediator I can help prepare the forms you need to file for divorce or other family law case, but then the two of you need to take the forms and file them with the Court, and request/schedule your final hearing.Uncontested Divorce
The cheapest and quickest way to complete a divorce is if it is uncontested. That means you and your spouse have already worked out a settlement, and then either you or an attorney writes up the settlement agreement and prepares the rest of the forms you need to file with the Court. If you retain an attorney to represent you in the divorce, he or she can prepare and file the forms with the Court, and schedule and attend your final hearing with you (the final hearing is when you go in front of the Judge for him or her to grant the divorce and sign the divorce judgment); or you can prepare the forms and schedule and go to the hearing yourself. Clients who want to represent themselves come to me sometimes for consultation -- for assistance or advice in preparing the forms and the process for completing the divorce.Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements
Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements are documents for which it is often important to have the assistance of a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is an agreement you and your fiancé sign before getting married, which provides for what happens in the event of a divorce or a spouse’s death, rather than having those issues resolved under existing Florida law – e.g. the rules re: alimony or equitable distribution (equitable distribution is the division of marital property and debt in a divorce). A Post-Nuptial Agreement is a similar agreement entered after you’ve married.
Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements can be complicated, both in terms of your options for provisions to include, and the factors which make them enforceable. I believe here, as with other family law issues, if there are difficult issues between you and your fiancé or spouse to address in arriving at the agreement, it’s good to have that done through a Collaborative Law process – where everyone sits with a mental health professional/facilitator to come up with something with which everyone is happy, versus it becoming a more legal negotiation process between attorneys. Either approach can work depending on the circumstances, but often the focus at the time of developing a pre or post-nuptial agreement is the happiness of the two of you and a happy marriage, and a collaborative law process can be good for keeping that focus.Paternity Cases
As a Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer, another type of family law matter I handle are paternity cases. A paternity case is a family law case to establish who is the father of child, to arrive at a time-sharing (visitation) schedule and child support, and resolve other issues regarding the child, e.g. education and health insurance coverage. In my opinion, these cases like a divorce are better handled outside of adversarial litigation, via Collaborative Law, Co-Mediation or Mediation.Time-Sharing and Child Support
Time-Sharing and Child Support are children’s issues that arise in both divorce and paternity cases. Time-Sharing is the schedule for when each parent spends time with the child(ren) – during the week, weekends and holidays; and we also address issues like how childcare is handled, when can parents travel out of the state or out of the country with the child, etc.
Child Support as the name suggests is money one parent pays to the other to help with support of the child(ren), and is based on each parent’s net income, the number of overnights each parent has with the child(ren) and the number of children. As part of child support, we also determine who provides health insurance, how non-covered expenses are handled, etc.Modifications
Modifications are post-judgment actions to change one of the results in the original divorce, paternity or other family law case – for example to modify the timesharing schedule or modify child support. To obtain a modification, there needs to have been a substantial change in circumstances since the original order, which is relevant to the part of the order you want to change -- for example, if one or both parents’ income has changed substantially since the original child support order.
A family law case, depending on the circumstances, can often in one case involve issues about the welfare of a child, as well as complex financial, tax and real estate issues. My background working in the past as a therapist and clinical supervisor in children and family counseling programs, and also litigating cases involving abuse and neglect in dependency court is helpful I believe in addressing children’s issues in divorce and other family law cases. The depth of a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney's knowledge is important in speaking to children's issues.
On the business side, as part of my legal experience earlier in my career I acquired an LL.M. (Master of Laws in Taxation), worked in a high-end "boutique" taxation and business law firm as well as the Real Estate department of a prominent national law firm, have advised and represented clients regarding the valuation and division of pensions, stock options, businesses, and other significant assets, and worked with forensic accountants in cases where a close analysis of financial records and reported income and assets was essential. This background is invaluable in analyzing business and other financial issues in a divorce. A lot of it comes down to an ability to focus on and analyze the details of financial records and financial issues.
One of my goals as a divorce lawyer serving Fort Lauderdale is to get you through your case with as little extra distress as possible. Believe it or not, if a case is handled well, the parties can sometimes reach a settlement and actually walk away feeling a little better about each other, although there are cases where the latter is not possible or appropriate.
Call me at (954) 636-7498 or use the contact form on the website, and we can discuss how I can help you.
Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer | Hollywood, Florida Family Law Attorney | Steven E. Blumenthal