Family Law

Many elements of family law can be emotional, intense and complicated. Let Ms. Sarju advocate for you.

Private Adoptions

We understand that the adoption process can be emotional and stressful. There are mountains of paperwork required and there may be quite a few starts and stops along the journey.

We work diligently to partner with your adoption agency and provide you with all of the proper legal advice and direction to make your dreams come true.

We provide either the adoptive parents or the birth parents with sound legal counsel to ensure that we honor the best interest of all parties. We guide you through all of the required paperwork, and we work with your agency to make sure that all state and federal laws are followed for the adoption.

Include Gayle Sarju in your adoption process and let her work for you.


Some couples are capable of getting started on working through their issues before going to divorce court. Gayle Sarju is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and is ready and willing to help you work through your break-up with less expense, and usually in a shorter timeframe than starting with the courts.

Mediation can be a great way to negotiate elements of the divorce or the paternity process where there may still be disagreement, such as property division, child custody, and more.

The mediator role is quite different than that of an attorney, as a mediator is a neutral third party whose role is to facilitate a forum allowing the parties to resolve their disputes, rather than to provide legal advice.

If any of the issues in your case is not resolved in mediation, those unresolved issues will be decided by a judge.


Florida is a no-fault state, which means the only criteria needed to get a divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Even though you do not have to provide a specific reason for wanting a divorce, the court will take into consideration transgressions such as adultery, substance abuse, etc. as they determine division of material property, child support and custody rights.

Either spouse can file for divorce, and the process starts with the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage. The petition is filed in the circuit court in the county of residence of the filing spouse. It must spell out what the spouse is asking of the court, and it must be served to the other spouse. The other spouse then needs to complete a response in the required format and the required timeline.

If a divorce is uncontested, it takes a shorter period of time to complete.  If a divorce is contested, it could take six months to over one year to finalize.

This can be a long and emotional process, with many specific requirements for documentation and timelines. Let the Law Offices of Gayle Sarju help you through the process and fight for your rights and equitable resolution.

Child Custody

Child custody laws in Florida help determine which parent will have legal and physical custody of the children. Legal custody allows for a parent to control decisions related to the minor in matters such as medical care and issues and  educational choices. Physical custody determines where the children will live.

Florida allows for two types of custody arrangements. Sole custody is when one parent has custody, and joint custody means both parents share custody. In Florida, this is also called shared parental responsibility.

There are many factors that work into determining child custody that are in the best interest of the child(ren). You will be best served with an experienced attorney who understands all of these nuances. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical, mental & moral fitness of each parent
  • Level of personal involvement of each parent in the child’s daily life
  • Ability of each parent to put the child’s needs first
  • Ability of each parent to communicate effectively with each other and maintain the court set rules and boundaries
  • The ability of each parent to provide a good routine for the child

Child Support

Any divorce case dealing with children must include child support. The State of Florida prefers that all children are financially supported by both parents whenever possible.

Child support is also an issue in paternity cases. In these cases, the process works the same way, except that the parents in the paternity matters were never married.

The determination of child support payments is based on several items including net income of each parent, number of children involved, cost of the children’s health insurance and day care, and the total number of overnight visits for each parent, and the income of the parents.

There is paperwork involved, and you will need an experienced Florida family law attorney to help you work through the child support guidelines worksheet, financial affidavits and income withholding orders.

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility in a divorce case or paternity matters refers to how the major decisions affecting the children will be made and which parent will make them. These decisions are generally related to health, education, and welfare of the children. Florida courts prefer shared parental responsibility in the best interest of the children because it keeps both parents actively involved in the children’s lives.

In Florida, any divorce involving children will require a parenting plan. This plan is designed to establish the parameters for the responsibilities of each parent, the custody schedule of each parent, and the methods of communication between parents.

In rare cases, the courts may designate sole parental responsibility to one parent. This decision will be based on testimony and documentation that shows shared parental responsibility will be a detriment to the children.


Alimony is the court-ordered payment from one spouse to another to help maintain the lifestyle of the spouse left with no or low income after the divorce. It is based on the need of one party and the ability of the other party to pay.

Florida allows for five types of alimony:

  • Temporary – for a spouse to maintain support during the divorce proceedings, before the final determination.
  • Bridge-the-gap – helps the receiving spouse maintain legitimate short-term needs while in transition (waiting for a marital home to sell, applying for employment); maxes out at 2 years, or terminates if the paying spouse dies or the receiving spouse remarries.
  • Rehabilitative – is the most common in Florida and requires a plan; supports a spouse and provides financial support for that spouse to learn new skills and enter the workforce to become self-sustaining.
  • Durational – for a set period of time and for a spouse who needs longer term support but does not qualify for permanent alimony; the term is for no longer than the marriage term.
  • Permanent – is quite rare and suitable for circumstances such as a spouse is disabled or elderly or supporting a minor with special needs; it terminates if the paying spouse dies or the receiving spouse remarries.

No matter whether you are paying or receiving alimony payments, there is a long-term impact on your finances, your standard of living and even your taxes. Work with an experienced attorney who has your best interest in mind. We are here to make your life workable and successful.


In Florida, the law assumes that when a child is born to a married woman, her husband is the father. If the mother is unmarried at the time of birth, paternity must be established.

Paternity may be established voluntarily. If both parties agree on who is the child’s father, then they sign a ‘Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity’ form. After this form is signed by both parties, it takes 60 days for it to become official. Once official, after the 60 days, neither party can revoke it, without an intense court session.

If there is no voluntary recognition of paternity, the next step is the courts. In Florida, any of the following entities may initiate the paternity suit:

  • The mother
  • The alleged father
  • The child, via legal representative
  • The Florida Department of Child Support Services

The establishment of paternity is important for several reasons including access to resources (ie: insurance, education, veterans’ benefits, etc.) , child support, and parental responsibility. Beyond the financial impact, there are great benefits for children to have two participating parents for everyday love and support.

We represent any of the parties who may want to file a paternity suit – the mother, the alleged father, or the child. We want to see all families set up for long-term success.

Post Divorce Conflict Resolution

After divorce or paternity suits, there is potential that one of the parties will not stick to their obligation outlined in the order, especially in regard to issues such as alimony, child support payments, time sharing, or the parental responsibility agreement. Circumstances change, so it is not uncommon for final judgments to be modified, when the change in circumstances are substantial.

Please consider using mediation to resolve your post-divorce conflicts. Mediation is private and confidential and we coordinate our mediations based on your schedule, not the court’s. Also, it can be less expensive than going back to court.

As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator Gayle Sarju will work as a neutral party to help you and your ex resolve these conflicts confidentially and in a timely manner, so that you can both get on with your lives.