Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00

Declaration of Paternity

Establishing Paternity

When the parents of a child are not married at the beginning of the pregnancy or at the birth of the child, the father is legally without the rights and responsibilities of a parent. The father, mother must seek a declaration of paternity is necessary to legally establish a parent-child relationship with the father.  Until paternity has been established, a father has no legally enforceable rights and the mother is the decision maker for the child.  The formality of DNA testing is usually not necessary in these cases, but is an option if there is a dispute or uncertainty about the identity of the biological father. 

Child support is directly affected by time sharing with a child, and may not be factored into calculations if the case that is limited to support issues.  If you spend significant time with your child, it should be considered in the support calculation.      

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

By establishing paternity, you will give your child the rights and benefits enjoyed by children born to married parents:

  • Legal proof of each parent’s identity.
  • Information regarding family medical history (in case of inherited health problems).
  • Medical or life insurance from either parent (if available).
  • Financial support from both parents, including child support, Social Security, veterans benefits and military allowances (if applicable), and inheritance.
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Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00

Child Support

If children are involved in your case,child support will be an issue. Whether it is actually paid or received, it needs to be addressed. 

Typically, child support is calculated in a very formulaic manner. The calculations are based upon these main factors: the parents’ incomes, the percentage of time each party has the child(ren), the number of children involved, the cost of child care, and the cost of health insurance for the child(ren). The courts have constructed formulas in an attempt to eliminate subjectivity.  Whether you need it or will be paying it, it is important that it is calculated properly.  Although there is a formula, child support calculations cannot be valid if valid numbers are not put into the calculation.  One number that is vitally important, is the parties’ true incomes.  An attorney who is knowledgeable in discovery matters, knows what questions to ask and what documents to request, can make the difference between a fair amount of support and an exaggerated or deflated calculation.   

Dispelling “Deadbeat Dad” Label

The oft-used term “deadbeat dad” conjures up an image of a father who neglects to support his children emotionally or financially. Not every dad who does not fulfill his child support obligation can be construed as a “deadbeat.”

The law recognizes this distinction. Inability to pay is a valid defense to a contempt action. Simply showing that you are unemployed, though, is not sufficient to establish an inability to pay.

What If You Can’t Pay Child Support

There may be a host of causes for financial hardship, but many of them will not entitle you to reduce your child support obligations. Simply losing a portion of your income may not be enough to reduce your child support obligation.  There are defenses to non-payment, and a modification may be possible if there has been a substantial change in circumstances.  The negative consequences of non-payment can be severe, and your attorney can assist you in attempts to minimize or avoid them, and with getting back in compliance.  

Modifying Child Support

When the judge in your case determines a child support obligation, the considerations may be dictated by statute, determined by the circumstances of your case or a combination of factors. These initial considerations may affect how future evaluations of your child support obligation are reviewed.

Child support is always subject to modification, if the necessary elements of change can be shown.  .Whether you are entitled to a modification and recalculation of support may be able to be determined during an initial consultation. 

Published in Practice Areas
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00

Child Custody

Child custody refers to the rights and obligations between parents, regarding their children, after a divorce or paternity decree.

In cases involving children, a parenting plan will be ordered, whether by agreement or after a hearing.  The Florida courts have done away with “custody” designations.  A parenting plan designates who will be responsible for making decisions for the children, and describe the schedule of time that each parent is entitled to spend with the children.  Generally, it is a child’s best interest to spend substantial and meaningful time with both parents, and for the parents to share decision making for their children.  Unfortunately, this is not always possible. 

There are times when equal time sharing, or effective co-parenting is not possible.  There are a number of factors that the Court will consider in making difficult decisions on time sharing and parental responsibility.  The primary focus and intention of the Court is doing what is in the child’s best interests.      

If your case involves children, you and the other parent will be required to attend a parenting class.  This may seem like a chore, but it is an opportunity to learn what it means, and how, to effectively co-parent without being a couple.      

Factors Determining Outcome

If you have ever been involved in a child custody case or you are about to begin one you most likely have heard the phrase “best interests of the child.” Florida determines time sharing and parental decision making based on the best interests of the child standard.

Florida statute 61.13 provides the factors that the Court considers when making decisions about the parenting plan and time sharing:

(a) 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.

(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.

(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.

(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

(e) 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.

(f) The moral fitness of the parents.

(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.

(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.

(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.

(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.

(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.

(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.

(m) 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 considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.

(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.

(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.

(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.

(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.

(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.

(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.


The factors seem straight forward, but applying your circumstances and preparing a case that shows the judge why what you are asking for is in your children’s best interests requires experience and knowledge of the law and procedure.  You do not want to risk your involvement in your children’s lives by proceeding without legal representation. 

Your attorney will advise you on what you can do to benefit your children and promote your case.  There may be simple, but effective actions to take to demonstrate your commitment to your children, document events that can promote your case, or make your life and co-parenting easier.   

Published in Practice Areas
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 00:00


Divorce Information – Petitions, Discovery, Settlement and Trial

Quattrone Family Law ensures every client has the divorce information and family law resources they need to understand the divorce process and know what to expect. A divorce does not need to be be a long process, and preparation is key in minimizing the length of your case.

Temporary Motions

Early in the process, parties may file motions for temporary orders to address any pressing issue that cannot wait until the end of the divorce.

But most parties make serious efforts to arrive at an acceptable temporary arrangement without going to court. Avoiding temporary orders will help keep down attorneys’ fees.  Your attorney will assist in making the decision that is right for you.


Discovery is the process of gathering information that will build and strengthen your case at trial. During discovery, you will gather information about yourself for your attorney to present to the court.

But equally important is anticipating your opponent’s case. Winning a favorable judgment may meanthat you are prepared to deal with your spouse’s allegations.


You will very likely be required to attend mediation in your family law case.  This is an opportunity for you and your spouse or other party to resolve your disputes and craft an agreement that meets your needs, instead of putting decisions about your life into the hands of a judge, who does not know you or your family well and may make decisions that are not favorable to you or your family.  Your attorney will attend mediation with you and guide you through the process. 


It is common for cases to settle, and most do.  This may happen at mediation, on the day of the trial, or at any point in your case.  . The settlement agreement has important advantages. A reasonable settlement agreement allows  you and your spouse more control over your judgment. Many clients prefer to avoid the anxiety of wagering their lives on a judge’s decision.

Additionally, time and money considerations may lead to a settlement.   Litigation can be expensive, and sometimes it is necessary; however, it is generally the last option for clients.  If a fair and favorable settlement is possible, your attorney will work hard with you to reach it. 

Finally, as tempting as it is, it is almost always a mistake to negotiate directly with your spouse without legal advice and guidance.  Even in circumstances that the parties are on good terms and can have meaningful conversations, it is necessary to be informed of the law and your rights before making any agreement. 

Pre-Trial Conferences

A pretrial conference is typically required and occurs in advance of trial.  These conferences force the attorneys for both parties to discuss the merits and issues of the case, with the benefit of input from the judge.

Often, it is during pretrial conferences that both sides fully realize the emotional and financial expenses of a trial.  Afterward, they may engage in negotiations more rationally.

The demeanor of the judge during these hearings is very important.  He or she will likely encourage the parties to resolve their differences, if it all possible.


Although only a small percentage of all divorces go to trial, the odds vary depending on certain factors including salary level, length of marriage, substance abuse or mental health issues and comparable incomes of the parties. The length of your trial will depend on the time the court allocates and the number and complexity of issues to be decided. Your trial may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

The Petitioner presents evidence first by calling witnesses and presenting exhibits. Once the Petitioner “rests,” it is the Respondent’s turn to make his or her case. After both sides have rested, the Court may permit the Petitioner to present “rebuttal” testimony by responding to the Respondent’s evidence.

Although trial is a last resort, the attorney at Quattrone Family Law is an experienced trial attorney.  You will be well prepared before entering the courthouse, and your attorney will strongly advocate for you and your best interests. 


Divorce proceedings can unleash a torrent of emotions ranging from anger to anxiety to depression. But as difficult as this experience is, you cannot simply call in sick, because your (and your children’s) interests hinge on your ability to push through and make rational decisions. So you must work to separate grievances that are meaningfully related to your children’s welfare from those that are offensive to you personally, however grave.

Remember that you are not walking this path alone. Your attorney will be your key advisor, but many of the pivotal considerations are not within his or her province. Therefore, it is usually helpful to seek advice from others whose knowledge and judgment you respect, including a counselor.

Always talk to your attorney first. Friends and family may help, but they also might pour gasoline on the fire or provide well meaning, but poor, advice. Knowing when to tune in also means knowing when to tune out.

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If you need to hire a lawyer in order to protect your rights, you may want to pay a visit to Quattrone Family Law. Your attorney will provide the personal attention that your case requires. We’re available to assist citizens of Tampa and nearby communities while they try to deal with a range of family law matters.

Contact Info

  Quattrone Family Law
16114 N. Florida Ave.
Lutz, FL 33549


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 9.00 am to 5.00 pm