Family Law Attorney

The Sutton Law Firm, with locations in Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow, FL, offers a range of family law services to meet your needs.

Family law attorney Debra J. Sutton, along with attorney Matthew J. Kovschak, can provide the legal counsel you and your family need.

Comprehensive Family Law Services What the Term "Family Law" Encompasses

Family law is a broad term that applies to different facets of a marriage, particularly divorce, annulments, custody and visitation rights with children, and support payments. Family law also applies to growing an existing household through adoptions and guardianship.

These laws can vary between states, and may even apply to parties outside of a marriage, such as grandparents and other relatives. It's crucial to consult a lawyer about how to proceed with any family law matters that arise so you can avoid costly and time-consuming setbacks.

Sutton Law Firm office

​Sutton Law Firm

Your Family Law Advocates

The need to consult a family law attorney can arise from a range of occurrences in Florida, which is why we handle a range of practice areas.

An adoption can be an exciting time for a growing family, but knowing how to complete all of the paperwork and go through proper channels can be a challenge.

A child custody battle can be a stressful process, but it is ultimately worthwhile to protect your child's best interests and be a loving and supportive parent.

Regardless of your family law needs, the Sutton Law Firm can provide the legal counsel you need. Debra Sutton is Board Certified in marital and family law and has been advocating for clients throughout Polk County and St. Petersburg for over 30 years. Our boutique law firm can provide you with the individualized attention you deserve to resolve your family law matters and protect your best interests.

Request a Consultation Today

When disagreements within your family become heated legal disputes, you need an attorney who has proven that they are capable of protecting what matters most to you. For more than 30 years, Debra J. Sutton has helped clients triumph through some of the most difficult experiences of their lives. Request your consultation with Ms. Sutton today:

Sound Family Law Representation 5-Star Client Reviews from Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow, FL

1

Heather Eckert

Bartow, FL

2024

Google logo

I highly recommend Sutton Law Firm. Attorney Sutton and all the staff truly care about working towards the best outcome for their client. They kept me well informed during my litigation and they were always responsive to any forms of communication. If you’re looking for an attorney AND a firm that will support you through the marathon of litigation, Sutton Law will help you every step of the way.

View on Google
1

Neil Goff

Lakeland, FL

2023

Google logo

I highly recommend Sutton Law Firm. They are truly caring attorneys that take the time to listen and help explain the complexities of the law. The staff is truly exceptional. Their professionalism, attention to detail, and genuine concern for clients is evident. Andrea Taylor has been a stand out and I appreciate all of their expertise and commitment to delivering top-notch legal services.

View on Google

Divorce & Marital Dissolution

Whether you are seeking a divorce, legal separation, or annulment of your marriage in Bartow, Lakeland, or St. Petersburg, FL, our team of family law attorneys can help you navigate the legal system and ensure your rights are fully protected.

Legal Separation

Florida family law does not allow a formal legal separation, but there are legal agreements that can achieve a similar result for those who prefer this status over a divorce. A lawyer who understands the intricacies of Florida family law can assist with this.

Annulment

A civil annulment, which declares a marriage never existed in the eyes of the law, is difficult to obtain. That being said, an annulment can be granted on very specific grounds. A skilled attorney can determine if you are eligible for an annulment under Florida family law statutes.

Complex Divorce

Some divorce cases involve substantial assets and the need to divide marital property that may include a family-owned business, multiple investment accounts, art collections, and multi-million dollar homes. Because these cases can have incredible levels of complexity, our team can collaborate with forensic accountants and other professionals in order to protect the rights of our clients.

​Additional Legal Services Related to Family Separation

After a marital dissolution in Bartow, Lakeland, or St. Petersburg, FL, property division and conflicts pertaining to child custody are key issues that need to be addressed. We are well-versed in these practice areas including:

Car keys hanging on a car door

Division of Property

When a marriage is ending, property division is one of the primary issues decided by the spouses or a judge. Florida law uses an equitable distribution process to determine the division of assets and debts. It is important to keep in mind that equitable does not necessarily mean equal.

Characterizing property as separate, marital, or co-mingled is the key to determining the division of real estate, investment accounts, jewelry, automobiles, and other assets.

Divorcing couple reviewing paperwork

High Asset Divorce

When couples have accumulated substantial net worth together, the division of property can become more complicated and more contentious. This is especially true if there are overseas assets, business entities, trusts, and retirement accounts.

The family lawyers at Sutton Law Firm can help you navigate these complicated issues in order to protect your best interests and your financial future.

Separated parents and children

Time Sharing

During a separation, Florida family courts seek to encourage a child’s frequent and continuing contact with both parents.

The Sutton Law Firm, with offices in Bartow, Lakeland, and St. Petersburg, FL, can help protect your time sharing rights with a strong time sharing case. We can help you work out a fair time sharing plan through custody and visitation so that your children can enjoy a healthy relationship with both parents.

Contact Debra J. Sutton Board Certified in Marital and Family Law

If you are facing a change in your family, our team understands the difficulties you are going through. The Sutton Law Firm serving Bartow, Lakeland, and St. Petersburg, FL, is here to help clients at each step of the legal process so that you can move forward with your life.

Clients who have hired Debra J. Sutton for their family law needs recommend her because:

  • Debra Sutton has been Florida Board Certified as a specialist in marital and family law matters since 2001.
  • She has used her skills as a family law attorney, and those of her undergraduate studies in psychology, to assist more than 2,000 families.
  • She is compassionate, prepared, and a substantial source of knowledge.
  • She will include you at each step in the process, building your confidence and helping you plan with a purpose both during and following the litigation.

To schedule a consultation at one of our three law offices serving Bartow, Lakeland, and St. Petersburg, FL, contact us online or call:

(863) 533-8912

Attorney Debra J. Sutton

A Lawyer Well-Versed in Family Law Cases More Reviews from the Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow Area

1

Amber Levidiotis

Bartow, FL

2024

Google logo

Excellent in both professionalism and experience Andrea was truly amazing she made us feel so at ease her customer service was excellent. Thank you Sutton Law firm for handling our case!

View on Google
1

Mary Ann Snellings

Bartow, FL

2023

Google logo

The Sutton Law Firm guided me in my divorce. I followed her counsel, just like a guidance planned system (GPS) from the beginning to the conclusion of my divorce. Thank you to the whole Sutton Law Firm including the office and legal staff!

View on Google

Collaborative Law Settle Your Matters Out of Court

Married couples in Polk County and St. Petersburg facing an amicable separation can benefit from the collaborative law process. By discussing and settling your matters out of court, you can reduce anxiety while saving time and expenses. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that during the collaborative law process, our attorneys can only represent one spouse. Our collaborative law services include:

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation allows you to resolve issues of contention with the help of a mediator rather than a judge. Each party retains an attorney for legal advice, and the parties work together to come to an agreement on as many issues as possible. The mediator then helps the parties negotiate any remaining disputes until a mediation agreement is reached. Debra Sutton has served as a Supreme Court certified family law mediator and can help you through the mediation process.

Uncontested Divorce

If both parties can work together to reach an agreement pertaining to property, custody, alimony, and other issues, divorce can be relatively simple. In an uncontested divorce, pleadings and supporting papers need to be prepared and filed with the court, including a detailed settlement agreement and, if children are involved, a parenting plan. It is always a good idea to have a family law attorney to assist you with this paperwork and review your settlement agreement.

Collaborative Divorce

In this innovative process, a divorcing couple and their individual attorneys enter a binding agreement to resolve all issues without court intervention. The lawyers provide guidance as you and your spouse collaborate to work through disputes and come to terms. Neutral experts are retained to provide any needed supportive information during the process. The attorneys at our firm can help you reach a satisfactory resolution during a collaborative divorce.

"[Collaborative law] is a perfect process for people who do not want individuals to know their business, they don't want a public record of it. The only place that those documents exist are in the files of the collaborative attorneys." Debra J. Sutton

Are You Considering a Divorce? Speak with a Family Law Attorney About What You Need to Do

Divorce is incredibly personal. Even if you are confident in your decision, it can be scary. We understand there are many unknowns and that significant changes are about to occur in your life.

First and foremost, creating a solid plan with a trusted confidant is critical. Debra will act as more than your lawyer. She will include you at each step in the process, helping you plan with a purpose both during and following the litigation. At the conclusion of each case, our firm provides exit appointments at no charge to ensure that clients can move forward with confidence.

Take the first step towards putting your needs first today. Contact our lawyer by requesting a consultation online or call:

(863) 533-8912

Assisting Florida's Divorced Parents A Father Explains the Value of Hiring Debra Sutton

"​Mrs Sutton was very knowledgeable and honest; after her reviewing my case , my old attorney fail to complete and follow the correct step to have a better chance to win my case. Mrs Sutton counsel me and my girlfriend to avoid future mistake and will be glad to hired her for future family case. Highly recommend Mrs Sutton if you want attorney that know the law and will do whatever it take to protect her client interest and win the case following law and being honest!!!!" Eduardo Vargas, 5-Star Google Review












 

A Welcoming Environment

Our offices are comfortable and non-intimidating, making them an ideal location for meetings related to collaborative divorces.

More Than a Beautiful Office Space

Sutton Law Firm is based out of Mann Manor, a historical home that provides a welcome respite for clients. From the moment you walk in the door, you will be treated with courtesy and professionalism.

Written Agreements Before and After Marriage What You Should Know About Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Our lawyers can assist couples in the creation of legally binding contracts, such as...
 

Prenuptial Agreements

Some couples seek to resolve financial issues pertaining to divorce before entering into a marriage. A prenuptial agreement can be a wise decision if you are coming into a marriage with substantial assets, or have heirs for whom you would like to provide.

Postnuptial Agreements

A postnuptial agreement accomplishes the same goal but is entered into after marriage, perhaps to ease a spouse’s anxiety. A postnuptial agreement can also serve as a legal document for a couple who wishes to live apart yet remain married.

​A Team of Family Law Attorneys Dedicated to Providing World-Class Counsel

Sutton Law Firm serves the legal needs of Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow, FL, and we strive to provide our clients with the respect and legal counsel they need when their family is facing tough times. If you are in need of a family law attorney, we encourage you to request a consultation with our team today.

During an initial consultation, we educate clients about the legal process they face so that they can be prepared for the road ahead. We will continue to keep you informed every step of the way so that you always have a good idea about the status and direction of your case. It is our goal to ensure our clients can make every decision with confidence, even when the case is resolved.

We welcome all kinds of clients, including those with limited finances, those with disabilities or special needs, and those with a high net worth.

Debra J. Sutton and Matthew J. Kovschak
Debra J. Sutton and Matthew J. Kovschak

To learn more about how we can help or to schedule a consultation at one of our three law offices, contact us online or call:

(863) 533-8912

Fighting for Polk County and Surrounding Communities Clients Trust Us on Divorce Cases and Family-Related Legal Matters

1

Anita Rodriguez

Bartow, FL

2023

Google logo

I highly recommend Ms.Sutton to everyone. She has incredible knowledge and very professional. Her and her staff, the ladies at the office went above and beyond, listened to me and helped me and my children through a very difficult case. They are kind and caring human being. I am forever grateful to the Sutton Law firm.

View on Google
1

Uzuel Arteaga

Bartow, FL

2022

Google logo

If your looking for a Lawfirm that will take your case personally and get you results, look no further. Having Debra’s extensive legal knowledge, intimidating presence and shear confidence on your side of the courtroom is truly a comforting feeling. I definitely recommend them to anyone who wants results.

View on Google

Other Family Law Services

The Sutton Law Firm helps clients throughout Polk County with their family law needs. Below are some additional services we provide at our offices in Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow, FL.

Post-Judgment Enforcement

Divorce papers signed by a family court judge are legally binding and fully enforceable. Still, it is not uncommon for a spouse to try to ignore a court order for child or spousal support or to deny a parent visitation rights. Whether it means garnishing wages or seizing assets, the team at Sutton Law Firm, with offices in Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow, FL, are here to help protect your legal rights.

Contact Us About Family Law Enforcement

Post-Judgment Modifications

Modifications are requests to change court orders because of significantly changed circumstances that affect someone's ability to maintain their legal obligations. If you have experienced a job loss, relocation, or an issue regarding your children, you may have a legal basis to obtain a post-judgment modification for custody or other matters.

Contact Us About Agreement Modifications

Jurisdictional & Venue Disputes

Family law jurisdictional disputes can be complex. Questions arise when a parent interferes with custody arrangements by moving with a child to another state, or moves and then files for divorce. Which state should decide the case?  In a venue dispute, the parties argue over the location of the court that may adjudicate a family law issue. This question is decided based upon convenience and other factors, with the needs of the child always given priority.

Contact Us About Jurisdiction Disputes

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence should never be tolerated, and the attorneys at Sutton Law are committed to taking all necessary action to protect our clients. Conversely, a spouse can be falsely accused of domestic violence, sometimes in an effort to gain an advantage in child custody negotiations. In this case, we will work to establish our client's innocence and protect his or her rights.

Learn More About Victims Rights Advocacy

Paternity

Our firm represents clients in paternity actions. A paternity suit may be brought by a mother seeking child support, or the state may file for support against a non-custodial parent. A father may sue to establish his paternity and establish a role in his child’s life, or he may seek to disprove paternity to avoid paying child support.

Contact Us About Paternity Disputes

Guardianship & Adoption

Our lawyers can help a step-parent, grandparents, or other family members gain guardianship of a child in order to provide a stable environment. The Sutton Law Firm can also help potential parents with the adoption process. Adoption can be complex, but our lawyers in Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow, FL, can provide much-needed legal support.

Learn More About Guardianship

Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law in Florida

Am I eligible to file for divorce in Florida?

If you or your spouse have lived in Florida for at least six months, you can file for divorce here. You can prove residency with a driver's license, voter registration, or third-party testimony. We can help with virtually any aspect of a divorce.

I need to relocate. How will this affect child custody?

If you need to move 50 miles or farther away from your current address, you and your child's other parent must reach an agreement regarding visitation and submit it to the court. If an agreement can't be reached, you must file a petition to relocate. The non-relocating parent will have 20 days to respond; if they miss the deadline, the courts may grant the relocation. If the non-relocating parent objects, court hearings will determine whether to allow the relocation. An attorney can be invaluable in representing your best interests if a petition is disputed.

My child's other parent violated our visitation agreement. What should I do?

If you want your child's other parent to be held in contempt of court for violating the visitation schedule in your custody agreement, you must file a motion with the courts. The court will consider the motion based on the circumstances and the number of violations that have occurred. Your attorney can help to substantiate your claim.

How long must one spouse pay alimony to the other after a divorce?

In Florida, alimony can be either temporary or permanent. "Bridge the gap" alimony can last up to two years, and is intended to help one party transition into life without their spouse. Rehabilitative alimony is paid for the duration of a plan for an ex-spouse to gain education, skills, or credentials needed to support themselves. Durational alimony is paid for a set amount of time after the divorce, while permanent alimony is indefinite. Both durational and permanent alimony stops when either ex-spouse dies, or when the receiving ex-spouse remarries.

Have Additional Questions About Family Law? Contact Our Offices Today to Get the Answers You Need

You likely have additional questions about family law matters that were not addressed in the above FAQ or on our site. Our attorneys and legal staff are here to provide all the information you need to make informed decisions about your divorce or disputes with your former spouse over child custody and support payments.

The Sutton Law Firm has helped clients all over Pinellas and Polk Counties with divorce and family law disputes. We have offices in Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow, and can meet with you wherever is convenient. To set up a consultation, contact our law firm today.

(863) 533-8912

Trust Our Family Lawyers with Your Legal Issues 30+ Years of Advocacy for Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Bartow

1

Reyna Mejia

Bartow, FL

2022

Google logo

My Kids and I were going through a very difficult time of our lives, on top of that I have to face the reality of divorce,at that time I was lost and confused and hired the first attorney that offered me a free consultation,that was my biggest mistake I had to endure for a long time until finally I said enough is enough,Debra Sutton took my case and from then on until now I'm very happy with the results. I definitely recommend Debra Sutton and her firm for any family matters from the simplest to the most difficult case.

View on Google
1

David Smith

Bartow, FL

2020

Google logo

Recently necessity required yet again I reach out to Ms. Sutton for legal matters. Debra has handled my legal representation for family matters for over 13 years. Never has she waivered from anything but professional and effective legal representation. She will remain your advocate throughout any process from start to finish and continue to provide prompt service after the case is completed. If you need an attorney who will be YOUR advocate during stressful times, this is the one. You won’t be disappointed.

View on Google
Debra J. Sutton

Sutton Law Firm

Debra J. Sutton is an attorney who is board-certified in both appellate practice and marital and family law by the Florida Bar. At the Sutton Law Firm, with offices in Bartow, Lakeland, and St. Petersburg, Ms. Sutton, Mr. Kovschak, and their team provide individualized, compassionate, and private legal services. Our popular practice areas include:

You can request a consultation with our board-certified attorney right now by filling out our online form or calling (863) 533-8912.

Contact Us Today

Rate, Review & Explore

Social Accounts Sprite