Family Law and Divorce Attorney serving Tavares, Leesburg, Eustis, Mt. Dora, The Villages® community and surrounding areas

(352) 343-0091 500 W. Caroline St., Tavares, FL 32778

August 2

I want a divorce, but I have no idea where my ex is.

missing spouse divorce floridaOne of the many freedoms we enjoy in America is the freedom to decide when to end a marriage. Divorce is already an emotional and complicated procedure, however, so when one spouse chooses to hide from the process, a few additional steps must be taken to complete the divorce, but divorce is possible, nonetheless.

In the state of Florida, a few actions must be taken to prove to the court that all possibilities for locating an absentee spouse were taken before filing for divorce.

Those actions include:

  • Service by Publication (or Constructive Notice)
  • Proving Diligent Search (Due Diligence)
  • Obtaining Default Judgment (Final Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage)

While Service by Publication may sound as simple as posting a notice in the newspaper and waiting the required amount of time, to fulfill Florida’s legal requirement, and in turn find favor with the Court, many more aspects are involved.

First, the Court requires you to prove that you took every possible, reasonable measure for locating our missing spouse. This proof is called Due Diligence.

Due Diligence requires that you contact your missing spouse’s employer, known associates, and family members, then follow up on any information received. Also, you may be required to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain your missing spouse’s last known address information; checking for a possible death certificate; monitoring credit or banking information that may provide information about their whereabouts; searching tax information or even hiring a private investigator.

Proving to the Court that you took all of the above steps and were still unable to locate your spouse requires that you provide the court with proof and an outline of the steps you took and their results. An affidavit is required in addition to your evidence to show every measure was made with no consequence.

At this point, you’ll contact a reputable newspaper and run a legally written ad for four consecutive weeks, order to give your spouse time to see the ad and respond. If you receive no response within 28 days, you’ll then ask the court for a Default Judgment for Final Dissolution of Marriage and a hearing to finalize your divorce process.

While the methods above are one avenue for obtaining a simple divorce, it should be used as a last resort, as it leaves no room to address issues like Child Time Sharing or Division of Marital Assets or Debts.

If you are entirely unable to locate your spouse and believe that Divorce by Publication is the best course of action to take in your situation, it is always best to contact an experienced, professional attorney to assist you in your case.

June 26

Are the $199 divorces really legit?

divorce floridaWe’ve all seen them - billboards advertising cheap, quick divorces for just a couple hundred bucks. You may think “cheap and quick! What could be easier?” Well, unfortunately, like most things in life, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

And here’s why...

First off, divorces, by nature, often bring out the worst in two people, no matter how low conflict, amicable or friendly both parties are when the divorce starts. A cheap, uncontested divorce might start out seemingly simple. Then, the respondent is served with their copy of the petitioner’s motion, suddenly decides to get rattled and now you (the petitioner) have a very much contested divorce on your hands. So, you’ve started the ball rolling with a paralegal that you’ve likely spent very little time with, who charged you to fill out paperwork you could have downloaded on your own, and who won’t be representing you in court. Your spouse hires an actual divorce attorney, and now things have gotten messy.

The most significant mistake people make in an uncontested divorce is failing to properly outline child custody issues including future time sharing, expense sharing, medical insurance, and relocation. Using a “cheap, quick divorce” agency to deal with these issues in an uncontested divorce is never recommended and is almost guaranteed to leave you with regrets and countless more arguments in court.

Even if you and your spouse don’t have children, there are issues of money, property, and income that these “cheap, quick” agencies commonly gloss over or improperly transfer. An actual divorce attorney will go over everything with a fine-toothed comb along with providing advice, counsel, and representation in court so you’re not left “holding the bag.”

It’s also vital to remember that while these agencies may advertise “excellent customer service and support,” there is no guarantee that you’ll ever speak to an actual attorney when you contact them. Quite the contrary. It’s highly unlikely they’re a lawyer at all, and even less likely a licensed Florida attorney. 

The bottom line is that the fine print in these so-called “cheap and easy” divorces will ultimately cost you much more money and stress in the long run.

May 22

Grandparents Rights

grandparents rights divorceAs grandparents, one of the biggest joys in life is getting to be around their grandchildren. Some grandparents get to see quite a bit of their grandkids, but sometimes issues between the mother and father can cause concern. What exactly are the rights of grandparents when it comes to seeing or being with their grandchildren after a divorce? What if one of the parents doesn’t get visiting rights, will the grandparents on that side of the family be allowed to see the children? Although it may vary from state to state, here you will find a basic answer to these inquiries.

Grandparents DO have rights, but only in special circumstances. Generally, during a typical divorce, custody of the child/children is split amongst the parents. So long as there is one parent of sound mind and body, who can care for the child, will care for the child. This means the grandparents hold no legal reason to have visitation with the child/children in question. The special circumstances mentioned before are as follows; If both parents are deceased, missing, or in a medically vegetative state, then the grandparents will gain full custody of the child/children in question if the home is fit. Another circumstance is similar but where only one of the parents is deceased, missing, or in a medically vegetative state and the other parent is incarcerated or produces some threat of harm to the child/children in question. It that case, the grandparents would again have the rights if deemed fit.

Unfortunately, as far as the state of Florida goes, that is the extent of the rights of grandparents and grandchildren. This, however, is not that case for every state, such as in Connecticut and Delaware, where a grandparent can be deemed rights to see their grandchild/children if it’s deemed in the child’s best interest.

Basically, during a typical divorce in Florida, it is up to the parents of the child to make sure their grandparents are involved in their lives or not. Rights for the grandparents are sparse, but it is possible to make sure both grandparents and their grandchildren are in each other’s lives. 



April 17

Can I get child support modification?

child support lawyer floridaLife changes day by day, and circumstances change. Even though you have already established a set child support amount through the court's system, if there has been a change in either parents' income, you can ask for child support modification. A modification can be short or long term depending on the individual situation. 

The courts want to make sure children under 18 are getting the same level of financial support as when both parents lived under the same roof. The evidence is needed before modification can be made regarding child support compensation. The person asking for the modification needs proof that the income of the other parent has increased or that their income has decreased. The most common and easy to obtain evidence is recent tax return statements and the most recent pay stubs. 

There are many variables in child support modification including:

  • Income decrease: It happens more often than not that one parent may lose his or her job or have a decrease in pay for any reason. One parent may not be able to meet the current child support obligation or the main caregiver has had a decrease in income and is unable to properly care for the child with the current set amount.
  • Responsibilities for minor children change: As children grow older their needs change, whether it be medical like braces or if they want to participate in extracurricular activities. The custodial parent may file for more child support to help with the extra needs of the children. 
  • New responsibilities: On the other hand a non-custodial parent may re-marry and have stepchildren to support. In that case, the parent can seek to lower his or her child support compensation to be able to support their new family. 
  • Substantial increase of income or large inheritance: If the non-custodial parent gets a significant raise at work or inherits a large sum of money, the custodial parent may ask the courts to modify the payments based on the income increase. 

Depending of the circumstances the court may grant temporary or permanent child support modification. The needs of the children are always the main concern. Custody issues can be an emotional roller coaster for both the parents and the children. For more information on child support modification contact Benjamin J. Cox. 

March 13

How do I get away from my abuser and make sure they never hurt me again?

domestic violenceSadly, the leading cause of injury to women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 is domestic violence. Domestic violence injures more women than car wrecks, muggings, and sexual assault or rapes combined.

If you are in an abusive relationship that has turned violent, you have one priority: Get out. Your safety and the safety of your children come first, period. Domestic violence shelters are places where your identity is kept secret, and your abuser cannot locate you. 

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence also recommends that you:

  • Keep a contact list of “safe” people.
  • Memorize the telephone numbers of people you may need to call for help.
  • Keep quarters for a pay phone, as you may be without a cell phone.
  • Keep cash for living expenses as well.
  • Establish a code word with family and friends so that you can tell them to call for help without alerting the abuser.

If you have to leave quickly, immediately go to the court for a protective order (otherwise known as a restraining order) to legally keep your abuser away from you. If you can, it’s best to hire an attorney. If you have children, be absolutely sure that the restraining order specifies that you have custody. Otherwise, your abuser could accuse you of kidnapping.

A protective order is a court document that prohibits your abusive spouse or partner from specific behavior (including touching you, attempting to contact you directly or through a third party, or coming anywhere near you). It also orders your abusive spouse or partner to perform specific actions (including leaving your home and paying temporary child support). You are not required to testify, and your abusive spouse or partner does not have to be present. If your abuser violates the restraining order, the police may arrest and charge them with the violation.


When a judge issues a restraining order in Florida, a court hearing is set within fifteen days. At the hearing, the judge decides whether to give you a “final” order. The final order is usually good for a year, after which it may be modified or dissolved. If your circumstances do not qualify for the injunction for protection against domestic violence, discuss other options with your attorney.

Take the first step.

You don’t have to do this alone.

If you need help getting through the divorce, custody or support process, then contact the offices of Benjamin J. Cox and we will be glad to help.

Or, you can call our office at (352) 343-0091.

Or, you can stop by our office in downtown Tavares, just steps from the Lake County Courthouse.

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Latest Blog Posts

I want a divorce, but I have no idea where my ex is.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

One of the many freedoms we enjoy in America is the freedom to decide when to end a marriage. Divorce is already an emotional and complicated procedure, however, so when one spouse chooses to hide from the process, a few additional steps must be taken to complete the divorce, but divorce is possible, nonetheless.


Are the $199 divorces really legit?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

We’ve all seen them - billboards advertising cheap, quick divorces for just a couple hundred bucks. You may think “cheap and quick! What could be easier?” Well, unfortunately, like most things in life, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”


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Benjamin J. Cox, Attorney at Law
500 W. Caroline St.
Tavares, FL 32778

(352) 343-0091 (phone)
Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm
Saturday 9am to 12pm
Special appointment times by request

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