We interviewed Robert Sparks from Robert Sparks Attorneys in Tampa Florida. Read the conversation with Robert:
What motivated you to become a divorce lawyer and what is the most rewarding part of your job?
So many people are frightened of the divorce process and feel there can only be one winner in a divorce, or that it’s a contest. I wanted to show Tampa area residents facing the dissolution of a marriage that there are fair and collaborative ways to reach a divorce settlement. Families and finances don’t have to be ripped apart. That’s especially important when issues of spousal support and child custody arise. There are usually solutions that benefit all parties involved. I love to see both parties come out of a divorce with the support they need to move on to build happy lives for themselves and their children.
When you are dealing with the personal and sensitive issues facing divorce clients, how do you develop trust and demonstrate compassion?
People often feel extremely vulnerable during divorce proceedings. It’s not just a financial negotiation. It’s impossible to keep all emotion out of it. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, our clients will know they never have to face these times of uncertainty alone. We make sure our clients’ concerns are heard. We want to hear about what’s important to our clients and then work with them to achieve their goals. We offer our help and guidance, but it’s ultimately the client who should determine what they’ll accept and what is most important and that’s what we help them fight for.
Going through a divorce can be a stressful and emotional time, what are some of your client’s biggest concerns at this time?
For our clients with children, the custody and visitation plan will be the biggest priority. Robert Sparks Attorneys makes sure our clients remain fully involved in their children’s lives, whether they get custody or not. Visitation plans must factor in the parent’s contribution and shouldn’t punish spouses who work hard to provide for their families. For couples without children, the division of assets and debt will be the number one concern. The ownership of a family home could also factor in. I personally see that our clients keep what’s theirs and that they don’t get stuck with a partner’s debt that they had nothing to do with.
How do you assure that each of your clients gets the attention and communication that they need to guide them through the divorce process?
We partner with our clients across the Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas. That means we remain good communicators. We listen to the concerns of our clients. We also stay in close contact to make sure our clients are up-to-date on the latest proposals and decisions affecting their lives. We sit beside our clients during negotiations to make sure each and every decision is equitable. We stand up and fight for their rights anytime their interests aren’t being taken seriously. We set up our clients for success during a divorce proceeding and afterward as they embark on their new lives.
What are some of the considerations when a divorcing couple has young children? And how do you guide your clients through those situations?
Children have to be the focal point of any divorce agreement. One parent will likely need to be awarded primary physical custody of young children. They’ll need the support of the other parent to pay for the basic needs of the children throughout their young lives. The other parent must still be part of the child’s life and receive adequate time to keep an emotional bond with the children. Robert Sparks Divorce Attorneys strives to find solutions that provide the best outcome for children and that keep both partners happy. We explain to our clients that letting a judge decide these important questions of child custody may not leave either party happy. We work hard to help parents agree on the best arrangements for child custody and visitation themselves.
What is collaborative divorce and how can clients benefit from it?
A collaborative divorce is one in which couples decide the terms of their divorce themselves without getting Florida courts involved. A judge will divide assets according to Florida’s legal concept of “equitable distribution.” That means the court divides up marital property, but it’s not always 50/50. The judge decides what’s fair for each partner’s circumstances. A judge is only human and can make some misguided decisions with your assets. In many cases, partners can negotiate divorce settlements without the interference of a judge and come out happier while avoiding a lot of stress and court costs. Your Robert Sparks Attorney will still be at your side throughout a collaborative negotiation to make sure your interests and needs are treated fairly. We have a page dedicated to collaborative divorce.
With divorce rates rising among seniors, what are some of the unique challenges and considerations for older adults who are going through a divorce?
Florida is a popular place to retire, and many couples in the Tampa area could face a divorce in their senior years. These so-called “gray divorces” bring up additional challenges in divorce negotiations. A couple that’s been married a long time will usually have more assets and property to divide. They’ll have retirement funds to fairly split up. Wills and trusts will have to be redrawn so that partners will have their assets left in the hands of the people they love. I work to help our senior clients through each stage of this process to make sure they emerge from a divorce with the support to rebuild their lives and truly enjoy their retirement years.
What are some considerations in the dividing of assets during a divorce?
Couples going through divorce will have to decide what is “marital property” (property and assets acquired during marriage) and what is “separate property” (property acquired before marriage). If couples can’t agree on what goes in each category, they may be left at the mercy of a judge’s decision. One thing divorcing couples may forget to consider is their debt. This will also have to be divided. Robert Sparks Attorneys makes sure debt is distributed fairly. Tax concerns are also an important concern that our attorneys examine and then work to get the best outcome for our clients.
What are the different types of alimony in Florida and what factors determine what alimony is awarded?
Alimony, or spousal support, can be requested by one partner in a divorce from another. Usually, a dependent spouse asks a supportive spouse for alimony. A judge will decide how much alimony a spouse receives and for how long based on several factors. The court will consider the earning potential of the requesting spouse, the career sacrifices a spouse has made for the marriage and the raising of children, the health of each spouse, and several other factors. The length of the marriage will help determine how long alimony will be awarded. In some cases, only short-term alimony is granted. It’s provided only long enough to help a supportive spouse adjust to single life and start a career. Changes in the spousal support recipient’s earnings or marital status can bring about changes in an alimony agreement.
After a divorce, are there commonly changes made to custody agreements, alimony, etc.? What types of situations would lead to these changes?
Yes, changes to a custody agreement happen all the time. A move out of the area by one parent or another often creates the need to find a new custody or visitation agreement. A change in marriage status can also make a new custody plan necessary. With each change, it’s important to have a skilled divorce attorney going over every term of the new agreement. The needs of the child must come first, but it’s also best for the child to keep a close relationship with both parents. Mothers and fathers must be allowed to continue to bond and be a part of their children’s lives. Any new custody agreement should support this.
For more information please feel free to visit our Tampa Divorce page or contact us at https://www.getserious.com/.
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