Family Affairs

Thompson Law is able to handle all family matters, from adoption to divorce and everything in between. We have defended domestic violence injunctions, assisted in securing child support, helped Father’s receive visitation of their children, sought attorney fees for a parent battling another parent, and initiated divorce proceedings. Regardless of your current position, you can get help and solve your domestic issues. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your rights and responsibilities in your domestic problem.

In general, family law matters in the Florida courts are considered to be proceedings in equity.  That simply means it is the job of the Court to determine the “fairest” resolution of the dispute utilizing appropriate legal guidelines to find what is fair for all parties involved. Where children are involved, the Court is tasked with always protecting the “BIC” or best interests of the child. Divorce is strictly dealt with by statute and the legislature is responsible for determining the terms upon which a dissolution of marriage will be allowed (Goldberg v Goldberg, 642 So.2d 656 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994)).

The guiding principles for family affairs are found primarily in State law. The main sources of family law in Florida are as follows:

  • Marriage: the primary source of law is chapter 741 of the Florida Statutes.
  • Marital breakdown (dissolution of marriage) and the welfare of children in Florida: the primary source of law is chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes.
  • Juvenile proceedings related to children: the primary source of law is chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes.
  • Adoption: the primary source of law is chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes.
  • Domestic violence: the primary source of law is chapter 741 of the Florida Statutes.
  • Paternity actions: the primary source of law is chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes.
  • The reported decisions of the from our Supreme Court of Florida and of Florida’s five District Courts of Appeal (mid-level) also provide a source of law law.
  • Federal law on family law issues are binding in the Florida State Courts, including the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 22 U.S.C. 9001 and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, 1980 (PKPA), 28 U.S.C. 1738A; and of course decisions of the Supreme Court of the US and the US Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit (when involving family law issues) are relevant in determining what is fair and equitable.
 The Circuit Court has jurisdiction for proceedings of dissolution of marriage because the proceedings are in equity (Fla. Const. art. V, §20(c) (3)). Family law proceedings are heard by Circuit Court judges that have been appointed to the Family Division by the Chief Judge of that particular circuit (with a few exceptions in very small counties). Proceedings are generally in public, except for paternity proceedings, which are private.

Copyright credit for much of the above to:

          © 2016 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. 3 Family law in US: Florida: overview , Practical Law Country Q&A 7-615-5426 (2015)