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FAMILY LAW
st. petersburg, florida

Family law, also known as matrimonial law or domestic relations, is the body of law that regulates family relationships such as marriage, divorce, the treatment of children, and related financial matters.  Family law covers a wide range of practice areas, which require experienced attorneys who can help you resolve your needs with compassion and experience.

our areas of
family law practice

 
 

ALIMONY (SPOUSAL SUPPORT)

Alimony is financial support paid to a former spouse to help support the standard of living maintained during the marriage. Florida has several types of alimony including •Permanent •Durational •Rehabilitative and •Bridge the Gap. The duration and amount of alimony a court may order depends on several factors such as your need for alimony, your spouse’s ability to pay alimony, and the length of the marriage. The court can also consider several other factors when determining alimony including, the standard of living established during the marriage, the age and physical condition of each party, the financial resources of each party, and the earning capacities, educational levels, skills, and employability of the parties. To read more, review our blog article on Alimony. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., we are skilled, experienced litigators, having extensive courtroom experience both as prosecutors and as private practice defense attorneys. We take care of all legal details, so each divorce client can move on, building a new life on a solid foundation. Contact us for a consultation.

CHILD CUSTODY

The Court must order that parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents, unless it would be detrimental to the child. Timesharing is the legal definition of each parent’s right to visit or spend time living with their child. Timesharing and other typical child related issues are included in a parenting plan, which is ultimately the court order controlling your time and responsibilities related to your children. It is common for the other parent to be granted legal timesharing rights unless the Court finds that timesharing is not in the best interests of the child. We work with clients to develop the best possible timesharing schedule, and we further assist in having timesharing agreements modified by court order as time and circumstances change. You need a St. Petersburg, Florida child custody attorney with the knowledge and experience to handle any legal challenge and who will aggressively pursue a positive outcome. At Barnett Woolums, P.A. we handle cases across the full spectrum of family law for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and surrounding areas. Contact us for a consultation.

CHILD SUPPORT

A child support payment is a court-ordered amount that one parent must pay to the other to cover a proportionate amount of the child’s expenses, including, but not limited to: •Housing •Utilities •Food •Clothing •Educational expenses •Other costs The issue of child support is an emotionally charged and often contentious area within the scope of family law. All parents are obligated to provide monetary support for their children. Therefore, when parents’ divorce or split up, child support needs to be defined and ordered for the benefit of the children. To ensure that your rights are protected choose a St. Petersburg attorney with years of experience in child support law. The amount of these payments is often a subject of great dispute in divorce or paternity proceedings. If you are dealing with a child support issue, contact us today. At Barnett Woolums, P.A. we are experienced family law attorneys, dedicated to preserving our clients’ rights.

 

CONTEMPT/ENFORCEMENT

We can help you file a motion for contempt or enforcement against the other party if the terms of your Final Judgment or Order are not being followed. Conversely, we defend clients against motions for contempt or enforcement. As your family court lawyer in St. Petersburg, FL we assist clients with the full range of family law needs, including visitation rights as well as post-divorce and paternity arrangements, such as: •Supplemental Petitions to Modify Final Judgments (changes in circumstances) •Contempt or Enforcement of Final Judgments and Court Orders, both filing and defending against We can help you file a motion for contempt or enforcement against the other party in family court if the terms of your Final Judgment or Order are not being followed. Conversely, we defend clients against motions for contempt or enforcement. Several specific situations that can result in a contempt charge are: •Failure to pay spousal support/alimony •Failure to pay child support •Denial of timesharing rights •Improper relocation of the children At Barnett Woolums, P.A., we are skilled, experienced litigators, having extensive courtroom experience both as prosecutors and as private practice defense attorneys. We take care of all legal details, so each divorce client can move on, building a new life on a solid foundation.

 

DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES LAW

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) or the local Sheriff’s Office Child Protection Investigators (CPI) investigate all allegations of child abuse or child neglect. Based upon their investigations, the State of Florida can bring two types of legal actions against parents: •Dependency •Termination of Parental Rights As soon as DCF or local law enforcement contacts you, you should contact Saint Petersburg family law attorneys who can assist you during the investigation stage. A dependency action is a legal process brought by the State of Florida and in some cases private citizens. If a parent is reported for suspected child neglect or child abuse, the child protection investigator must investigate the claim. The investigation could lead to removal of the children from the family home and temporary placement in foster care. If you are accused of child abuse or neglect in a dependency action, you need to immediately contact skilled, caring legal counsel to help you get your children back or to defend you against the allegations. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., in Pinellas County, Florida, we are skilled in representing parents in these actions and are ready to aggressively defend you.

 
 

DEPENDENCY

A dependency action is a legal process brought by the State of Florida and in some cases private citizens. If a parent is reported for suspected child neglect or child abuse, the child protection investigator must investigate the claim. If a parent is reported for suspected child neglect or child abuse, the child protection investigator must investigate the claim. The investigation could lead to removal of the children from the family home and temporary placement in foster care. As soon as the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or local law enforcement contacts you, you should contact our Saint Petersburg, FL dependency lawyers who can assist you during the investigation stage. If you are accused of child abuse or neglect in a dependency action, you need to immediately contact skilled, caring legal counsel to help you get your children back or to defend you against the allegations. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., we are skilled in representing parents in these actions and are ready to aggressively defend you.

 
 

DIVORCE (DISSOLUTION)

Dissolution of marriage law or divorce is an area of law that handles the legal issues that arise when a married couple legally terminates their marriage. These issues can include, but are not limited to duties and obligations relating to property, children, alimony, child support, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, relocations, and marital settlement agreements. The dissolution of a marriage through divorce proceedings is stressful, complicated and, in unfortunate cases, ill-natured. At this difficult time, you need an attorney to fight for your best interests while showing sensitivity to your situation. As your attorneys, we recognize the wide range of emotions and the complexity of issues involved in family law matters and we try to provide as much information as possible at your divorce consultation. We take the time to listen to clients to understand their individual expectations and goals. We focus on achieving those goals as efficiently and effectively as possible. This focus is coupled with a keen understanding of the strategy involved in resolving emotional and contentious family law matters. Having a professional lawyer by your side can decrease your stress level and provide a guiding hand throughout the divorce process. Divorce attorneys know the local court system and the laws and procedures that are crucial to successful representation. When you need experienced divorce attorneys call or contact our law firm today for professional representation. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., we represent clients in St. Petersburg, FL and throughout the Tampa Bay area in all areas of family law and divorce. Contact us today for a consultation.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INJUNCTIONS/RESTRAINING ORDERS

To obtain an injunction/restraining order, you must file a Petition that contains a sworn statement of the facts which would justify the Court granting the injunction. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., our criminal defense and family law attorneys have extensive experience dealing with the legal fall-out of domestic violence. When in this situation you need a domestic violence attorney in St. Petersburg that knows your rights and the best way to proceed through the legal process. If you have a domestic violence issue in Clearwater, FL, St. Petersburg, or the Tampa Bay area know that we provide swift protection for Petitioners and a strong defense for Respondents. When representing our clients on civil injunctions (restraining orders), we are approachable, compassionate, and highly responsive to their individual needs. Whether you are the injunction Petitioner or Respondent, we are eager to help you with drafting your paperwork, representing you in hearings, and providing any other legal support you may need. Addressing Petitioners’ Safety Needs If you have been, or fear that you will soon be, the victim of domestic violence, we know exactly what is needed to invoke and enforce Florida law to protect you. As your attorneys, we can represent you in obtaining a temporary and/or permanent injunction to protect you, your children, and your assets in the following situations: •Repeat violence •Domestic violence •Dating violence •Sexual violence Temporary Injunctions/Restraining Orders To obtain an injunction/restraining order, you must file a Petition that contains a sworn statement of the facts which would justify the Court granting the injunction. At that time, the Court can grant the temporary injunction, after which a hearing will be held to determine whether to make the injunction permanent. If the person named as the offender violates the injunction, he or she may be held in criminal contempt or arrested. An emergency temporary injunction can be sought as soon as possible following your initial contact with us. We can then pursue a temporary injunction to assure your protection for the short term. A temporary injunction may be made permanent after a hearing. We do everything possible to safeguard you, your possessions, and your assets with these orders of protection. Permanent Injunctions A permanent injunction can be granted after a hearing where both sides have an opportunity to present their cases to the Court. If you are—or fear you may become—the victim of domestic violence, contact us at Barnett Woolums, P.A. to discuss your options. You do not have to wait to be physically harmed to protect yourself. Defending Respondents against Accusations We provide a strong defense for clients who are Respondents to an injunction. There are times when there is no basis for an injunction or restraining order. The repercussions of a temporary or permanent injunction can be severe and need to be defended against. They can lead to loss of reputation, job, liberty, and assets. Clients placed in this situation need our effective and concerned counsel to help them through this difficult time.

GUARDIAN AD LITEM

Under Florida law (Florida Statutes §61.403), a guardian ad litem is a court-appointed representative who is tasked with acting as the “next friend of the child.” Our firm is privately retained to investigate and report to the Court in family matters on the best interest of children involved in family law cases. Our experience in both family and criminal law has prepared us to complete these investigations thoroughly. You need a St. Petersburg, Florida family law attorney with the knowledge and experience to handle any legal challenge and who will aggressively pursue a positive outcome. At Barnett Woolums, P.A. we handle cases across the full spectrum of family law for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and surrounding areas.

 
 

MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

A Marital Settlement Agreement is a contract that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the spouses in a dissolution of marriage (divorce). The agreement describes any alimony, child support, parental obligations, division of assets and liabilities, and other items the parties may choose to memorialize. During a divorce proceeding, the parties may ask the Court to incorporate the Marital Settlement Agreement into the final Divorce Judgment. When this happens, the Martial Settlement Agreement becomes enforceable by court order if either party violates the terms of the agreement. When you need experienced divorce attorneys call or contact our law firm today for professional representation. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., we represent clients in St. Petersburg, FL and throughout the Tampa Bay area in all areas of family law and divorce.

MODIFICATION/RELOCATION

Many people feel that when the Final Judgment is entered, the matter is set in stone. However, relief is available through the modification of these orders of the court or divorce modifications. In this situation you need a local divorce lawyer that can help you navigate the court system. Changing circumstances may warrant a modification of judgments in any of the following cases: •Paternity •Child custody •Child support •Child visitation We assist clients in obtaining modifications, including relocation, to judgments in the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, and Pinellas Park. In order to modify child custody, child support, or visitation, you must first establish that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances since the entry of the Final Judgment. The Court then conducts hearings on the evidence and modifies what it deems necessary: In child support modifications, the Court looks to whether there has been a change in the incomes of the parties that necessitates a recalculation of child support. In child custody and timesharing modifications, the Court considers whether there have been changes in the circumstances such that the best interests of the child would be served by a modification. In child custody and timesharing modifications, the Court considers such things as child abuse, child neglect, mistreatment of children, living conditions of children, and geographical relocation of parents that affect the best interest of the children and/or practical ability of the parties to meet the timesharing schedule. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., we are skilled, experienced litigators, having extensive courtroom experience both as prosecutors and as private practice defense attorneys. We take care of all legal details, so each divorce client can move on, building a new life on a solid foundation. Contact us for a consultation. 727-525-0200.

 

NAME CHANGE

In Florida, the process for initiating an adult name change begins with filing a Petition with the court in the Jurisdiction where the person seeking a name change lives. After the Petition is filed, the court may request a hearing, or may simply enter a Final Judgment on the name change. For name changes of minors, the parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem acting on behalf of the minor must file the Petition. For minors, courts will generally require written consent from every adult who has legal rights over the minor. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., we are skilled, experienced litigators, having extensive courtroom experience both as prosecutors and as private practice defense attorneys. If you are seeking a name change, contact us for a consultation at 727-525-0200.

PATERNITY

Whether you are a mother seeking support for your child or a father needing to establish your parental rights, the paternity lawyers at Barnett Woolums, P.A. are here to help you. Paternity, as defined by law, is the legal recognition of a man’s relationship as a parent, between himself and the child. When a child is born out of wedlock that child does not automatically have a legal father without a paternity action to ascertain the identity of the father. Under Florida Law, an unwed mother has a superior right to her minor child until a court decides otherwise. A paternity action can be brought by either the mother or the father, and at Barnett Woolums, P.A. we are happy to advocate for either parent. Dealing with paternity, a highly emotional and often contentious issue, requires the help of a family law attorney who has knowledge of the complex paternity laws, and the patience and commitment to protecting your rights. Our firm is dedicated to providing the kind of representation needed to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients. If you have a paternity matter that you believe requires legal advice or representation call the paternity lawyers at Barnett Woolums, P.A. today at 727-525-0200 to setup a consultation where we can discuss your situation in detail.

 

PRE/POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

When people enter into a marriage, they anticipate it will last forever. However, divorces happen and therefore a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can often be a valuable tool for a marriage. A prenuptial (prenup) agreement is a contract entered into before marriage that contemplates how assets, liabilities, and alimony will be allocated in the event of a divorce. Similarly, a postnuptial agreement accomplishes the same goals, but is entered into after the marriage. Both contracts, if entered into thoughtfully and with experienced guidance, can help a couple avoid court in the event of a divorce. When you need experienced family law attorneys for your pre or postnuptial agreement, call or contact our law firm today for professional representation. Don’t delay starting the process of a prenup as you should have it completed and signed well before you get married. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., we represent clients in St. Petersburg, FL and throughout the Tampa Bay area in all areas of family law and divorce.

TEMPORARY CUSTODY BY A RELATIVE

If you are a relative who has, or seeks to have, temporary custody of a relative child, securing a court order permitting the same will provide you several legal protections and rights. The law also allows for temporary custody by non-relatives in certain circumstances. Temporary custody is often appropriate when a child’s parents are unable to care for them and as an alternative to the foster care system. The rights of someone who has temporary custody include the ability to: •Seek medical treatment •Consult with doctors or obtain medical records •Enroll children in school and make educational decisions on the child’s behalf •Obtain school records •Give consent for sports or other school activities •Obtain official records, such as a birth certificate The experienced attorneys at Barnett Woolums, P.A. can advise you on the process help you navigate the court system with compassion. Call us at 727-525-0200 for a consultation.

 

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS  (TPR)

The State of Florida can bring legal action to permanently sever parental rights so that a child becomes eligible for adoption. Grounds for termination of parental rights may be: •Abandonment or extreme parental disinterest •Abuse or neglect •Felony conviction/incarceration •Failure of reasonable efforts •Abuse or neglect or loss of rights of another child •Sexual abuse •Child’s best interest •Child in care 15 of 22 months (or less) •Felony assault of child or sibling •Murder/manslaughter of sibling child The following are conditions where an action might be brought, but are not grounds for relinquishing parental rights: •Alcohol or drug-induced incapacity •Failure to maintain contact •Failure to provide support •Failure to establish paternity •If your parental rights are being threatened, contact our family law attorneys today. We will fight to protect your parental rights. Most of the time, termination of parental rights is sought by the State of Florida, but in some cases, a parent may seek to terminate parental rights of the other parent. If your parental rights are at risk or you are in a dependency action, you need to immediately contact skilled, caring legal counsel to help you get your children back or to defend you against the allegations. At Barnett Woolums, P.A., in Pinellas County, Florida, we are skilled in representing parents in these actions and are ready to aggressively defend you.