Find the info to make smart legal decisions

Use the information and the local legal resources listed below to inform yourself about all your legal rights and the benefits you can experience when you take the right legal actions, with assistance from the Law Offices of Barabara J Ingram, Esq.

Child Support Enforcement: Establishing Legal Paternity for Your Child

Establishing paternity means legally determining the father of a child. If a child’s parents were not married to each other when the child was born, the law does not recognize the father unless paternity is legally established. Establishing paternity will give your child the same rights and benefits as children born to married parents. These rights and benefits include:

— Legal proof of each parent’s identity

— Information on family medical history in case of inherited health problems

— The child knowing the identity of both parents

— The father’s name on the birth certificate

— Medical or life insurance from either parent (if available)

— Financial support from both parents, including child support, Social Security, veteran benefits and military allowances (if applicable), and inheritance.

Establishing paternity gives the father and mother legal rights to:

— Seek a court order for child support

— Seek a court order for custody or visitation

— Have a say in certain legal decisions about the child

How To Establish Paternity:

The easiest way to establish paternity is administratively (without going to court). The mother and father sign an affidavit saying the child is theirs. This can be done at the hospital before the baby is discharged or at a local public health unit, the Department of Children and Families office or Child Support Enforcement office. Paternity can also be established by order of the court.

(More information from

Child Support Enforcement Process: Establishing Orders for Child and Medical Support

The Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Program obtains court orders for child support and provision of health insurance. They try to get both parents to agree to the amount of child support based on the Florida Child Support Guidelines. If no agreement is reached, the court decides how much child support will be paid based on the state guidelines.

Medical Support Orders:

The Department of Revenue will also pursue medical support for the child. This may involve a parent providing health insurance coverage, if reasonably available through an employer, or paying a specific dollar amount toward health insurance for the child. The Child Support Guidelines may include these costs.

Court Orders for Child Support and Health Insurance:

When the court orders child support and health insurance, the Department of Revenue will use all available remedies to enforce the order. If the noncustodial parent is ordered to provide timely proof of insurance and does not comply with the order, they may contact the employer to enroll the child.

(More information from

Joint Tax Returns: Innocent Spouse Relief

Filing your taxes jointly can provide many benefits – and, in some cases, cause many problems. When you are married and file taxes jointly it means that both individuals are jointly and individually responsible for any taxes owed, even if one spouse is responsible for all or most of the taxable income. If, years later, the IRS determines that there was a tax deficiency, the IRS is authorized to go after each spouse individually. The normal process is that the IRS will send a notice of adjustment or another formal notice to both spouses jointly at the last known address. When the IRS does this, it does not know that the spouses may be former spouses and are now living apart and preparing separate returns. Sometimes the spouse receiving this notice feels they are innocent of the erroneous items the IRS is pointing out and somehow the IRS knows this. Typically, the spouse who caused the erroneous items makes themselves inaccessible for the collection process, therefore, the IRS goes after the “innocent spouse.” This is where innocent spouse relief comes into play.

The IRS created innocent spouse relief because situations do arise where holding a spouse liable for the tax liability that was created would be unfair. Innocent Spouse relief can relieve you from taxes, penalties and interest that were acquired from a joint tax return that you filed with your spouse or ex-spouse. Innocent spouse relief is a good option for people who are burdened with tax debt through the fault of their spouse. In order to qualify you must meet a set of requirements determined by the IRS.

There are three types of relief available under the innocent spouse rule that can be granted to spouses who filed a joint tax return together. If the qualifications for one are not met, it is possible to qualify for the others. These mechanisms can relieve you from being responsible for unpaid back taxes, penalties and interest incurred as a result of the joint tax return that was filed. Three innocent spouse relief mechanisms are listed below. Each mechanism has different requirements to meet in order to qualify for the type of relief.

1. “Classic” Innocent Spouse Relief Requirements: Classic type of relief available for an understatement of tax while filing a joint return.

2. Relief by Separation of Liability Requirements: Under this form of relief the understatement of tax is allocated between you and your spouse or former spouse.

3. Equitable Relief Requirements: Relief is available for an understatement of tax as well as an underpayment of tax. This type of relief is used if someone does not qualify for the first two types of relief but it would be unfair to hold them liable for the tax amount owed.

For more information call our office or visit the IRS website.

Restraining Orders


The Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) can provide victims of rape and domestic violence shelter for you and your family. Their 24-hour hotline is (941) 365-1976.

SPARCC is located at:

2139 Main Street

Sarasota, FL 34237

(More information from

Filing a Restraining Order

Petitions for a Restraining Order are made through the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court at either the Sarasota or Venice office locations. In Manatee County, petitions are filed at the new Judicial Center.

Sarasota Office

Historic Courthouse

Customer Service Department

2000 Main Street

Room 103

Sarasota, FL

Venice Office

R. L. Anderson

Administration Center

4000 Tamiami Trail

2nd Floor

Venice, FL

Manatee Office

Manatee County Judicial Center

1115 Manatee Avenue West

Bradenton, FL

Because of the complexities of the forms that are required to be filed in order to seek a Restraining Order, it could take up to 45 minutes to complete the forms. As all paperwork must be submitted to the Court for review by 4:30 P.M., it is necessary for petitioners to have completed paperwork to the Clerk’s office no later than 4:10 P.M. to ensure same day review by the Court. Otherwise, the Court will review said documents the following business day. Therefore those needing assistance from the Clerk in completing forms should visit the Clerk’s office no later than 3:30 P.M.

For your convenience, the forms are available online through the links below. These forms must be signed in front of a notary or a deputy clerk at the Clerk of the Court’s office. If you need a deputy clerk to attest to your signature, do not sign said documents until you are in the presence of a deputy of the clerk at the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Please carefully review the instructions that precede each form as selection of an incorrect form may result in additional processing time.

Restraining Order For Domestic Violence

If a person is the victim of any acts of domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, person related by blood or marriage, person who is presently residing together as if a family member or who has resided in the past as if a family member, or a person who has a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have resided together at any time, he or she meets the requirements for filing a restraining order for domestic violence. There is no filing fee.

This information is from The Sarasota County Clerk of Court and Manatee County Clerk of Court websites. Please visit them for more information.

Call today to schedule a consultation


Visit Us

Barbara J. Ingram, Esq.

2127 Ringling Blvd., Suite 103

Sarasota, FL 34237

Contact us


Fax: 941-351-6738

Open Hours

Monday - Friday:
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Weekends and evenings
by appointment

We're Here To Help.