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Representing Clients in Florida, Massachusetts, & Connecticut

Family Law

When you’re up against a legal battle in family court, Gitlen Law Firm in Stuart, FL, will stand by you every step of the way. Whether you’re in the middle of a divorce, adoption, or child custody case, Attorney Richard Gitlen will fight for your family’s best interests.

Gitlen Law Firm represents families throughout Florida, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. If you’re facing an interstate legal battle in family court, our family law attorney can help.

Facing family court is tough. We take a gentle but firm approach with our families to fight for the outcome they deserve.

Call 772-631-3988 or complete the form below to schedule a consultation!

Law Firm in Stuart, FL

Financial Planning for a Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage

Divorce does not have to be complicated, but if there is a significant asset base, it can be complex. High is a relative term; what is a lot to one person is peanuts to another. The Gitlen Law Firm, regardless of the wealth, each case is individually examined for the best possible results.

As a lawyer for over 25 years, I have successful experience as a trial attorney. I encourage you to read my testimonials and client reviews on my website.

There is planning for your divorce that is beneficial both financially and if children are involved in the best interest of the children. The court determines custody and parental timesharing, child support, and determining jurisdictional issues as well.

WARNING: If you require legal services, do not go it alone. Have my office be involved from the beginning, not when you realized you should have had an attorney all along, and the case is now in a real mess. This applies in family cases as well as personal injury cases and, of course, criminal cases.

If improper planning can be shown to the court, your credibility will be lost. Credibility is essential to receive fair treatment by the trial court.

Briefly, for example, some things you should or should not do in planning for a divorce.

Gather all financial documents, including checking and savings account statements, income tax returns for the past three years, credit card statements, investment accounts, pension benefits, 401K documents, statements for a loan or mortgage by your spouse.

An example of improper planning would be to try to hide income in a business or professional practice. Another example of improper planning is transferring property to a relative or close friend or placing new assets in someone else’s name.

Dissolution of Marriage can become complex if a large amount of cash is involved, the valuation of assets, stocks, bonds, investments, businesses, pensions, delayed compensation, life insurance policies, debts and liabilities, real estate valuation. The Gitlen Law Firm is here to help.

Areas We Serve

Martin County
Palm City
Jensen Beach
Hobe Sound
Sewall’s Point
Port Salerno
Hutchinson Island

St. Lucie County
Port St. Lucie
St. Lucie West
Fort Pierce
Lakewood Park

Indian River County
Vero Beach

When families keep a home in Florida as well as another state, the question of whether Florida has jurisdiction over the divorce case may be the subject of dispute. It may have substantial financial or child-related issues for the parties.
Law Firm in Stuart, FL


Florida has new rules on alimony that can be difficult to navigate. Alimony is the support of one spouse to the other, and yes, sometimes the Wife is ordered to pay alimony to the Husband. There are many types of alimony, including rehabilitation alimony, durational alimony, permanent alimony, lump-sum alimony. In addition, there is child support and equitable distribution of assets and liabilities. The division of assets, including retirement benefits accrued by one spouse and the sharing of these assets to the other spouse that did not earn these benefits through their employment.

Warning: If you require legal services, do not go it alone. Do not try to outsmart the system; do not agree to anything without my counsel, once retained.
How does child support work in Florida?

Income shall be determined on a monthly basis for each parent as follows:

Gross income shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Salary or wages
  2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
  3. Bonuses income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
  4. Disability benefits.
  5. All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements
  6. Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation.
  7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
  8. Social Security benefits.
  9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
  10. Interest and dividends.
  11. Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
  12. Income from royalties, trusts, estates.
  13. Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
  14. Gaines derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.

Net income is obtained by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income. Allowable deductions shall include:

  1. Federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities.
  2. Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax.
  3. Mandatory union dues.
  4. Mandatory retirement payments.
  5. Health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child.
  6. Court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid.
  7. Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.
  8. Net income for each parent shall be computed by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income.
  9. Net income for each parent shall be added together for a combined net income

A guideline schedule shall be applied to the combined net income to determine the minimum child support needed.


When does child support start?

In an initial determination of child support, whether in a paternity action, dissolution of marriage action, or petition for support during the marriage, the court has the discretion to award child support retroactive to the date when the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child, not to exceed a period of 24 months preceding the filing of the petition, regardless of whether that date precedes the filing of the petition. In determining the retroactive award in such cases, the court shall consider the following:


  1. The court shall apply the guidelines schedule in effect at the time of the hearing subject to the obligor’s demonstration of his or her actual income, during the retroactive period. Failure of the obligor to so demonstrate shall result in the court using the obligor;s income at the time of the hearing in computing child support for the retroactive period.
  2. All actual payments made by a parent to the other parent or the child or third parties for the benefit of the child throughout the proposed retroactive period. 
  3. The court should consider an installment payment plan for the payment of retroactive child support.
What expenses are included in child support?
  1. Child care costs incurred due to employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income of current employment of either parent shall be added to the basic obligation. After the child care costs are added, any money prepaid by a parent for child care costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children. Child care costs may not exceed the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source.
  2. Health insurance costs resulting from coverage and any non-covered  medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses of the child, shall be added to the basic obligation unless these expenses have been ordered to be separately paid on a percentage basis. After the health insurance costs are added to the basic obligation, any money prepaid by a parent for health-related costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children.
  3. Each parent’s percentage share of the child support need shall be determined by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by the combined net monthly income.
  4. Each parent’s actual dollar share of the total minimum child support need shall be determined by multiplying the minimum child support need by each parent’s percentage share of the combined monthly net income. 

The court may adjust the total minimum child support award, or either or both parent’s share of the total minimum child support award, based on the following deviation factors:


  1. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.
  2. Independent income of the child, not to include money received by a child from a supplemental security income.
  3. The payment of support for a parent which has been regularly pid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
Will the Florida Department of Revenue establish child support and a parenting plan?

Effective January 1, 2018, the Child Support Program will incorporate parenting time plans, which have been agreed to and signed by both parents, into administrative orders that establish paternity or establish or modify support. Parenting time plans are taken into consideration when the amount of child support is calculated under Florida’s child support guidelines.


Once a parenting time plan is established and included in a child support order, changes to or enforcement of the plan may only be made by the court. The Child Support Program cannot modify or enforce a parenting time plan.


If parents do not have an agreed upon parenting plan and do not agree to a parenting time plan at the time the administrative order is established or modified, a parenting time plan will not be included in the support order.


A Parenting Time Form sent to both parents by mail when the Child Support Program is establishing paternity or establishing or modifying a support order through the administrative process and the following are true:


  • Florida is the child’s home state;
  • Both parents live in Florida
  • The parent who owes support is not incarcerated;
  • The Child Support Program is not aware of an existing court-ordered parenting time plan;and
  • Neither parent has requested nondisclosure of location information due to fear of harm from the other parent.


The Child Support Program does not review, evaluate, negotiate or prepare parenting time forms.


If the parents have not provided an agreed upon, signed parenting time plan before the final administrative order is entered, the Child Support Program will enter the child support order and provide the parents a form, Petition to Establish a Parenting Time Plan, which may be filed in court by the parents.

What is a parenting plan?

The best interests of the child(ren) is the primary consideration in the Parenting Plan. In creating the Parenting Plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration. Determination of the best interest of the particular minor child(ren) shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interest of the particular minor child(ren) and the circumstances of that family, including, but not limited to:


  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required;
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties;
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child(ren) has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child(ren);
  • The moral fitness of the parents;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents;
  • The home, school, and community record of the child(ren);
  • The reasonable preference of the child(ren), if the court deems the child(ren) to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference;
  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child(ren), including, but not limited to, the child(ren)’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things;
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child(ren), and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child(ren);
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was consodered when evaluating the best interests of the children;
  • Evidence that either parent has knowlingy provided false information to the court regarding and prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
How does a parenting plan affect the amount of child support?

Whenever a particular parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties provides that each child spend a substantial amount of time with each parent, the court shall adjust any award of child support, as follows:


  1. Calculate the amount of support obligation apportioned to each parent without including day care and health insurance costs in the calculation and multiply the amount by 1.5.
  2. Calculate the percentage of overnight stays the child has with each parent.
  3. Multiply each parent’s support obligation as calculated in subparagraph 1. By the percentage of the other parent’s overnight stays with the child as calculated in subparagraph 2.
  4. The difference between the amounts calculated in subparagraph 3. Shall be the monetary transfer necessary between the parents for the care of the child, subject to an adjustment for day care and health insurance expenses.
  5. Calculate the net amounts owed by each parent for the expenses incurred for day care and health insurance coverage for the child.
  6. Adjust the support obligation owed by each parent pursuant to subparagraph 4. By crediting or debiting the amount calculated in subparagraph 5. The amount represents the child support which must be exchanged between the parents.
  7. The court may deviate from the child support amount calculated pursuant to subparagraph 6. Based upon the likelihood that either parent will actually exercise the time-sharing schedule set forth in the parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties, and whether all of the children are exercising the same time-sharing schedule.
  8. For purposes of adjusting an award of child support, “substantial amount of time” means that a parent exercises time-sharing at least 20 percent of the overnights of the year.


A parent’s failure to regularly exercise the time-sharing schedule set forth in the parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the pastries not caused by the other parent which resulted in the adjustment of the amount of child support shall be deemed a substantial change of circumstances for purposes of modifying the child support award. A modification pursuant to this paragraph is retroactive to the date the noncustodial parent first failed to regularly exercise the court-ordered or agreed time-sharing schedule.

Family Courts

Modifications of Existing Orders by

  • Magistrate’s Court
  • Appeals to the Appellate Court
  • Department of Revenue Hearing Court
  • Department of Children and Families
  • Dependency Court
  • Domestic Violence Court
Law Firm in Stuart, FL
How does relocation work?

Relocation” means a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. THe change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.




If the parents and every other person entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child agree to the relocation of the child, they may satisfy the requirements of this section by signing a written agreement that:

  1. Reflects consent to the relocation;
  2. Defines an access or time-sharing schedule for the non relocating parent and any other persons who are entitled to access or time-sharing; and
  3. Describes, if necessary, any transportation arrangements related to access time-sharing.


If there’s an existing cause of action, judgment, or decree of records pertaining to the child’s residence or a time-sharing schedule, the parties shall seek ratification of the agreement by court order without the necessity of an evidentiary hearing unless a hearing is requested, in writing, by one or more of the parties to the agreement within 10 days after the the date the agreement is filed with the court. If a hearing is not timely requested, it shall be presumed that the relocation is in the best interest of the child and the court may ratify the agreement without an evidentiary hearing.




Unless an agreement has been entered, a parent or other person seeking relocation must file a petition to relocate and serve it upon the other parent, and every other person entitled to access or time-sharing with the child. The petition to relocate must be signed under oath or affirmation under penalty of perjury and include:


  1. A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city, and specific physical address, if known.
  2. The mailing address of the intended new residence, ff not the same as the physical address, if known.
  3. The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known.
  4. The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.
  5. A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation. If one of the reasons is based upon a job offer that has been reduced to writing, the written job offer must be attached to the petition.
  6. A proposal for the revised post relocation schedule for access and time-sharing together with a proposal for the post relocation transportation arrangements necessary to effectuate time-sharing with the child. Absent the existence of a current, valid order abating, terminating, or restricting access or time-sharing or other good cause predating the petition, failure to comply with this provision renders the petition to relocate legally insufficient.
Do I have to get a court order to permit me to relocate with the minor children?

Yes and the following statement, in all capital letters and in the same size type, or larger, as the type in the remainder of the petition:




  1. The petition to relocate must be served on the other parent and on every other person entitled to access to and time-sharing with the child.
  2. A parent or other person seeking to relocate has a continuing duty to provide current and updated information required by this section when that information becomes known.
  3. If the other parent and any other person entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child fails to timely file a response objecting to the petition to relocate, it is presumed that the relocation is in the best interest of the child and the the relocation should be allowed, and the court shall, absent good cause, enter and order specifying that the order is entered as a result of the failure to respond to the petition and adopting the access and time-sharing schedule and transportation arrangement contained in the petition. The order may be issued in an expedited manner without the necessity of an evidentiary hearing. If a response is timely filed, the parent or other person may not relocate, and must proceed to a temporary hearing or trial and obtain court permission to relocate.
  4. Relocating the child without complying with the requirements subjects the party in violation to contempt and other proceedings to compel the return of the child and may be taken into account by the court in any initial or post judgment action seeking a determination or modification of the parenting plan or the access or time-sharing schedule as:
  1. A factor in making a determination regarding the relocation of the child.
  2. A factor in determining whether the parenting plan or the access or time-sharing schedule should be modified.
  3. A basis for ordering the temporary or permanent return of the child.
  4. Sufficient cause to order the parent or other person seeking to relocate the child to pay reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees incurred by the party objecting to the relocation.
  5. Sufficient cause for the award or reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including interim travel expenses incident to access or time-sharing or securing the return of the child.
Can I terminate my rights as a parent to avoid paying Child Support?

No. Only if the court terminates you as a parent by finding by paternity test you are not the father, or if the mother marries another person that adopts the children through the court.

What is the purpose of establishing paternity?

Establishing paternity can establish child support and time sharing arrangements between the mother and the father when the child is born without being married. Also once established the now legal father can obtain visitation enforceable by the court. The child benefits since the father may have life insurance, social security disability, VA benefits. The father can also have joint decision making with the same authority as the mother including health care, education, religious matters, and the child would have inheritance rights.

What rights does a legal stepparent have?

The stepparent husband has no rights concerning the child of the wife from a different relationship. By becoming a legal stepparent, the husband becomes the legal father of the child. The husband will then have equal rights with the wife concerning the child. The birth certificate will be changed to show the husband is the legal feather of the child. The wife must consent to the stepparent adoption.

How do I become a legal stepparent?

A stepparent adoption through the court is required. The stepparent must have the consent of the biological father unless the biological father can not be located or the biological father has abandoned the child. Abandonment is determined by the court. Abandonment may include no child support being provided and little or no contact with the child and reflects no real interest in the child.

Law Firm in Stuart, FL

We Have Handled Cases Involving:

  • Adoption
  • Alimony
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Department of Revenue
  • Department of Children & Families
  • Divorce Equitable Distribution of Assets & Liabilities
  • Parenting Plan & Parenting
  • Responsibilities
  • Trials
  • Mediations
  • Paternity
  • Relocations
  • Florida Department of Revenue Defense of allegations of child support arrearages and current child support charges by the State of Florida.
  • Domestic Violence Defense ranging from stalking to physical abuse.
  • Foreclosure Defense to avoid losing your primary residence.
I understand the stress you are going through and your emotions, questions, and concerns. I work directly with you in reaching for a resolution to help bring an end to these issues with your family.

Read more about Gitlen Law Firm’s success in family court.

*The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Gitlen Law Firm
1896 NE Acapulco Drive
Jensen Beach, Florida 34957

Phone: 772-631-3988 
Business Hours: 24/7