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Frequently Asked Questions

Below, attorney Davina Tala addresses some of the questions she has been asked most frequently in her 13 years as an expert in family law, immigration law, and criminal law.

Family Law

What happens if the visitation schedule with my child has changed (my child is now spending more or less overnights with me)? Do we need a court order to ratify it?

Answer: If the visitation schedule for your child has changed since the court order was entered you should contact an attorney to discuss whether or not you should move for a modification whereby the court would enter a new order formally adopting the new schedule.  If the child is spending more time with you, then your ex-spouse or ex-girlfriend or boyfriend could end up having to pay you additional money for child support, so it’s important that you contact an attorney to determine if you should pursue a modification of the order that was entered when you first got divorced or paternity was established and child support was ordered.

What happens when the Florida Department of Revenue is involved in the child support of my child?

Answer: The Department of Revenue has the right to pursue and collect child support from a parent who does not reside with a child full time.  The Department of Revenue can take all types of actions to ensure the parent who is not residing with the child full time pays child support, such as suspending his or her driver’s license, sending an order to their employer to automatically take money out of their paycheck every pay period for child support, and suspend a parent’s hunting or fishing license until child support is paid.  If you are provided with any type of letter or notice from the Florida Department of Revenue it is extremely important that you contact an attorney immediately, as there are time limits that can affect your case that only an attorney would know about, and if you don’t comply with them you lose your rights to pursue actions.

What happens if I wasn't married to the mother/father of my child?

Answer: The mother of your child can file paperwork with the Florida Department of Revenue (or the court system) to order you to pay child support for the child.  If you are the father of the child and the child lives with you full time you will need to file a paternity case to have the court officially order that you are the father if you were not married to the child’s mother when the child was born.  Even if the child’s mother agrees that you are the father of the child, you need to have the court enter an order stating that you are in fact the father so that you can have all the legal rights to the child that a father would have.  If the child is living with their mother full time and you have been ordered to pay child support to the Department of Revenue and the mother of the child is not permitting you to see him or her, you should contact an attorney to discuss the possible filing of a court case to force the mother to allow you to see the child.  You can also file a court case to force the mother of the child to allow you to see the child even if you are not paying child support.

Immigration Law

What happens if I came to the United States on a visa but did not renew it and have remained here in the United States after it has expired? Will I be unable to petition the government for legal status and not allowed to stay here legally?

Answer: It depends on how long you have been here, what type of visa you came here on and whether or not you have broken the law while living in the United States. People can adjust their status or ask the government to allow them to legally be here despite the fact that they stayed in the United States after their visa expired, however that does not mean each person has been able to do that, again it depends on how long you have been here, the reason why you are seeking to adjust their status and whether or not you broke any laws while living here.

What happens if I do not have a family member or relative that is willing to sponsor me to apply for a green card? Can a close friend sponsor me or must it be a blood relative?

Answer: Relatives and Fiancées are currently the only ones who are permitted to sponsor someone for purposes of bringing them to the United States on a visa or help them to get a green card after they are here in the United States (other than an employment visa or student visa), however the United States has a fairly wide definition of relative and half and step-siblings and adopted children are generally included as relatives for purposes of sponsorship.  Additionally, a person can apply for a visa if they are a student and wish to attend a college or university in the United States if they are accepted into the school and have sufficient funds to pay the costs to attend the school.  Additionally, an employer can sponsor a person as well and that person can be issued a visa based on the fact that the employer has agreed to sponsor them.

Traffic/Criminal Law

If the police officer does not show up to my hearing will my traffic ticket automatically get dismissed?

Answer: It may depend on the reason why he or she did not show up.  If they have asked the judge in advance to be excused from the trial, and have a good reason for doing so, the judge will probably reset the trial.  If the officer did not ask to be excused, some judges will reset the trial anyway, especially if the officer usually appears for these trials.  Every county is different. Some counties will dismiss a case if the police officer does not show up for the trial on a traffic ticket, and others will usually reset the case to allow the police officer a second chance to appear.  However, it is important to contact an attorney to discuss your ticket, as an attorney is in a much better position to pursue legal arguments to get your ticket dismissed, the fine lowered, or ensure that no points are assessed on your license.

If the victim of a crime does not wish to prosecute will the case automatically get dismissed?

Answer: No, the State Attorney can decide to move forward with charges against the person who was arrested or charged with a crime, regardless of the victim’s feelings.  However, the State Attorney may take the victim’s wishes into consideration when deciding whether to offer the person a plea bargain or plea deal.  In rare cases, the State Attorney may decide not to pursue charges because the victim does not want to prosecute, however, in the majority of cases the State Attorney will continue to move forward with charges anyway, regardless of how the victim feels about the charge.

The answers to these questions are not designed to give legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship with anyone who is reading them.  These questions do not apply to any particular case, and instead are for informational purposes only and do not give any legal advice or establish any type of legal representation.