Law Offices Of Andrew Merlo, P.A.


(561) 893-9993

Law Offices Of Andrew Merlo, P.A.

My law firm handles all types of family law cases: original divorce and paternity matters, enforcement actions, modifications, dependency, adoption, etc. Almost all issues in the typical family law case fall into one of six categories in which I can help. Three categories deal with child-related issues and the other three categories concern adult issues.

The three child-related categories are time-sharing, parental responsibility and child support. In Florida, the term “timesharing” is used instead of “custody” and “visitation” to establish which parent the children will spend time with. There is also the decision-making aspect of raising kids, which is called “parental responsibility”. Child support is the third item and is the legal obligation of both parents.

The three adult-related categories are equitable distribution of marital property, alimony and legal fees. Equitable distribution involves dividing marital assets and liabilities with the exclusion of non-marital property. Unless there is a very good reason for it not to be equal, the division of assets and liabilities should be fifty-fifty. It’s just a matter of finding hidden assets or fighting over the true value of assets or liabilities. The goal is to ensure a fair outcome where the client receives everything they are entitled to receive.

Family court cases can be contested or uncontested. No one wants to fight, but it starts out that way in a lot of cases. I am very good at being diplomatic and negotiating when it’s appropriate, but I am also very good at taking the gloves off and having a knock-down, drag-off fight if I need to. I am more than capable of doing that. In fact, that’s how litigation lawyers make the most money.

With that said, my overall philosophy with these cases is to always try to save the marriage and do everything possible before throwing in the towel. It’s important to be mature, civilized and respectful toward the other side. If the other side is not willing to do that or just wants to fight, then I’ll go down that dark alley and fight until the end. However, that is my last choice, because no one wins when that happens. In addition, both sides wind up paying the lawyers more than is necessary, and there is certainly more stress involved.

Sometimes people just refuse to settle. If that’s the case, then we will go to trial. A lot of divorce and family law attorneys are excellent at negotiating and talking the talk, but when it comes down to actually going to trial, they fold like a house of cards; they’ll either talk their clients into settling on unfavorable terms, or they will be weak at trial. Every case is different. I happen to have done very well for my clients at trial, and I’ve gotten very good results.

Should A Couple Each Hire Separate Attorneys Or Try To Handle Their Divorce On Their Own?

Each party should hire their own lawyer. A single lawyer would have a conflict of interest representing both parties. You are not entitled to have the court appoint a lawyer for you like in criminal court. Also, you are not required to have an attorney represent you in a family court case. So, you must decide: should I hire a lawyer? Or should I represent myself?

You can represent yourself, and you can fix your own car, and you can diagnose your own medical condition, and you can do a lot of things yourself. Due to a lack of funds, some people have no choice but to represent themselves. But, common sense dictates that if there is any way possible for you to hire a professional, experienced attorney, then that is exactly what you should do.

Anything is possible. You might wind up with the same outcome representing yourself. But, in my opinion, it would certainly be advantageous to hire your own lawyer. There are rules of court, rules of evidence, rules of procedure, hearsay, and other things of that nature, and even a pro se person is going to be held to the same standards as someone who is represented by an attorney. It would be unfortunate to receive a negative result based on a technicality of not following the rules or not properly complying with the procedure. If you can afford an attorney, you should definitely obtain one.

For more information on Handling Family Law Cases In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (561) 893-9993 today.

Andrew Merlo, Esq.

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(561) 893-9993