The practice of family law is most often devoted to dissolution of marriage (divorce) proceedings or the modification of prior court orders that previously dissolved a marriage. I have dealt with these matters almost exclusively for more than twenty-five years.

In a dissolution of marriage action, once the court determines it has jurisdiction (the ability to make determinations of the rights of the parties before it), apart from dissolving the bonds of marriage, there are other issues likely to need determination if the parties have not settled matters between them at mediation or by some other means.

Children's issues are comprised of determinations of shared parenting responsibilities and matters that were formerly referred to as "custody," as well as child support.  In our mobile society, one parent or the other may wish to relocate, a matter that may require court invention.

If parents are not married, courts still may have to intervene to determine children's issues in a paternityaction.

Unless othewise agreed upon, the court, in a dissolution of marriage action must make a division of marital  assets and liabilities.  That process is referred to as equitable distribution.

Following that matter, the court next must address questions of spousal support, also known as alimony.  Alimony can take a number of forms and be for specified or indefinite durations of time.

I have been counseling clients and litigating all of these issues for many years, settling cases where possible, but when necessary vigorously trying these matters before the court.

Almost all jurisdictions now require persons who have filed family actions in the courts to submit to mediation at some point in the proceedings prior to appearing before a judge to make decisions in the case.

I am also trained in collaborative law so that, in concert with your spouse, his/her attorney and other professionals commited to resolving your case, we can work in a less emotionally charged setting to reach an agreement that maximizes benefit to your family.


Courts have the difficult task of deciding the fate of children if parties are not able to agree beween them. 

Except in extreme circumstances, courts order parents to share parental responsibility for their children, such that all major decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of children be made made jointly.  Courts have the option of giving one parent or the other ultimate decision making authority over specific areas of children's lives under certain circumstances.  In very unusual situations, courts can order sole parental responsibility for children to vest in one parent or the other.

When parents are not able to agree as to time sharing with children, the courts have to determine this issue as well.

It may become necessary in cases where children's issues are contested to involve guardians ad litem, parenting coordinators and mental health professionals to aid the parties, their children and the court.

The word "custody" is almost never used in the context of determining parenting issues and has been replaced by the concepts of  parental responsibility and time sharing.


The fact that parents may not be married creates a different set of issues  than in situations where children are born of married parents.

Establishing a man as the father of a child, or excluding him as the father, may require genetic testing.

Once a man is deemed to be the father of a child his rights and obligations then need to be determined by the court.


Child support is calculated based upon the incomes of the parties.  Calculating the income of persons who are self employed or who receive commissions and bonuses can be a difficult task for the parties and for the courts.

Once income is determined, there are child support formulas that have been established by the Florida legislature to calculate child support.  The amount of child support may also  be dependent upon the particular time sharing arrangement.


Division of assets and liabilities, equitable distribution, may be the most complicated of all tasks for the court.

The court canonly divide assets and liabilities that are deemed to be marital in nature.  Generally, assets and liabilities that come into existence during the marriage are characterized as marital.  If assets can be shown to have predated the marriage or if they were the subject of gifts from someone other than the spouse, the court can find them to be non-marital and the separate property of one of the parties.  Inheritances are a common example of non-marital assets as are premarital accumulations of retirement benefits.  Non-marital assets though, if they appreciate in value as a result of the contribution of marital efforts or monies can have a marital component.

Debt incurred during the marriage is presumed to be marital unless it served no marital purpose whatsoever.  A wife buying clothing for herself at the department store or a husband charging his gofing costs have both incurred marital debt.  

The valuation of marital assets can itself be a disputed matter between the parties.  Real estate professionals may be called upon to appraise residential and commercial real property.  Business valuation experts, usually Certified Public Accountants may be needed to determine the value of a closely held or family business.  Experts may also be necessary to determine the present value of retirement benefits.


After there has been an equitable division of marital assets and liabilities, courts have the authority to order one spouse to contribute to the support of the other, both during the pendency of a dissolution of marriage action and thereafter.  Whether a court does so is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to the duration of the marriage, the lifestyle of the parties during the marriage, the age of the parties and their respective needs and abilitiy to pay.

Alimony may be ordered for a number of years or may be tied to a plan for self support by the party seeking alimony.  Alimony can also be of a permanent nature, generally terminating on death of one of the parties or the remarriage of the recipient spouse.

The payment and receipt of alimony may have tax consequences as well.  Consulting with your accountant may be necessary before you agree on the payment or receipt of alimony.


Though generally agreements and couort orders addressing property rights are not subject to modification, changes in circumstances may permit a party to seek a modification of provisions directed to parenting issues, child support and alimony.  In our current economic climate, job loss frequently occasions the request for modification of support orders.


Mediation is the confidential process wherein the parties and their attorneys are brought together in the presence of a third party (usually an experienced family lawyer) who has additional training in alternative dispute resolution.  The mediator elicits settlement proposals and responses from each side, often discussing with each the strengths and weaknesses of each side's position, in an effort to resolve some or all controverted issues by compromise.  Mediation in family law has a history of being successful more often than not and can save litigants untolled costs, fees and time.

William A. Greenberg, Esquire
1101 N. Kentucky Avenue, Suite 200
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 339-5944

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