Family Law & Wills

Adoptions

One of the most rewarding things about being an attorney is assisting clients with a stepparent adoption case. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, we have successfully assisted several of our clients with stepparent adoption cases. As a general rule, written consent from the parent whose rights are to be terminated is required under the Florida Statutes. However, in some cases, the biological parent cannot be located after a diligent search by a private investigator. In that situation, the courts have enacted procedures where adoption may still be possible. There are many reasons to petition for a stepparent adoption, including the ability to list children on insurance policies, apply for a U.S. passport and to allow inheritance to be received if the stepparent passes away without a valid will. Under Florida law, the proceedings regarding the adoption of minors are sealed because they are considered confidential. A name change can also be ordered during a stepparent adoption proceeding and a new birth certificate can be issued by the Florida Department of Health.   

Dissolution of Marriage

Dissolution of Marriage is usually the result of poor communication and is unfortunately something that more and more people are experiencing. There are many factors that cause spouses to grow apart and seek separation and eventually a divorce, but at the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, your reason will be understood and your rights will be preserved in the subsequent legal proceedings. We believe that everyone deserves a fresh start and that the legal process should not be scary or embarrassing or either spouse. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the court will apply an equitable distribution scheme for the disbursement of marital assets. This means that both parties have a general right to see the marital assets divided equally, which is often the topic of discussion in a mediation. Collateral issues sometimes include alimony, time-sharing and child support. Although not as common as a divorce, an annulment is court's decision to retroactively invalidate a marriage that is either void or voidable. Marriages that are result of bigamy or incest are void under Florida law.   

Injunctions Against Violence

Dating violence and violence in a family setting is a very a serious matter and the legal proceedings and paperwork should be handled with care. An injunction is a court order stating that someone must do (or cannot do) a particular act. The particular act is generally staying away from an individual who has provided credible evidence of a threat or risk of harm or danger. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, we have assisted our clients defend their rights against injunction actions filed against them as well as helped our client's successfully obtain injunctions. It is important to be aware that once an injunction is ordered, only the court may modify or cancel the injunction. Injunctions are issued in civil court and can be obtained while criminal charges are pending. If the injunction is violated, the court will find the individual in contempt and issue a fine and/or order imprisonment. If you are the victim of threatening behavior or a physical attack, you should contact the police before seeking an injunction.

Wills & Advance Directives

A will is a legal document that describes how the will-maker (testator) wishes to distribute their property upon their death. Florida courts do not recognize holographic wills, which are wills written and signed only by the testator. To create a valid will under Florida law, it must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the will. In addition to distributing property, a will can name a person to care for the testator's children. Intestate succession occurs when someone passes away without a valid will and is the distribution of the decedent's property among their closest relatives. An advance directive is a legal document that communicates an individual's desires if they should become incapacitated by illness or injury. An advance directive can also name a surrogate to give expressed or informed consent regarding the withholding, withdraw or continuation of life-prolonging procedures. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, we understand that decisions regarding our clients' wills and advance directives are sacrosanct. We assist our clients create valid legal documents to help ensure that their wishes are properly communicated. 

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows a principal to designate an attorney-in-fact to act in their place and on their behalf. There are many reasons to create for a power of attorney, including: banking powers and business interests, filing taxes and transferring real or personal property. As a general rule, the principal is entitled to an accounting of the business activity performed by the attorney-in-fact and the power of attorney is revoked upon the death of the principal. A durable power of attorney means that the attorney-in-fact can continue to act on behalf of the principal even if the principal becomes incapacitated. In Florida, the power of attorney must be signed and notarized in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the power of attorney. The witnesses may be contacted in the event that there is a dispute regarding the power of attorney. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, we are standing by to assist our clients prepare a valid and binding power of attorney.