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Boca Raton Child Custody Lawyer

Posted on: June 24, 2015 by in Family Law
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Boca Raton Child Custody Lawyer

When couples have decided to part ways through a divorce, separation or break-up and there are children involved, emotions tend to be overpowering and uncontrollable. The state of Florida does not use the term custody but instead it is referred to as time sharing, although the two terms are similar in meaning. Many of these cases are contested and end up not being settled until done so by a judge because both parents want custody of the youngster. The judge will rule by what they feel is in the best interest of the child. The parent that has the children the majority of the time and is called the majority parent.

Florida courts tend to favor the parent that is willing to cooperate when it comes to building a relationship with the non residential parent and the children as opposed to one that tries to sabotage that bond. Many people believe that the parent that is better capable of providing will be favored but this is not true. However, both parents must be able to provide to some extent.

The courts do look at the child and how they are thriving. They attempt to establish a pattern to see what works best for the child. They also look at how the child does in school and the community and how interested and involved each parent has been in that role. When it comes to what the child wants, the courts will turn a deaf ear unless the child has a full understanding of what having a preference means in its entirety.

The courts take so many things into consideration before they grant custody to a parent. This is really a huge deal, especially when one spouse is prepared because they got acquainted with Florida child custody laws and hired legal representation. You be the parent who walks into that courtroom armed with everything humanly possible to fight for your children. Leave no stone unturned, hire the best Boca Raton lawyer for the job.

What is Shared Custody?

Florida law recommends that both of the parents have a role to play in the bringing of the child, and that the child has frequent contact with both parents. Parents are encouraged to share physical as well as other responsibilities of bringing up the youngster, and must take equal responsibility for the care of the child.

Such a parenting arrangement is called a shared custody arrangement. This is also sometimes referred to as a joint custody arrangement. It is an arrangement in which both of the parents will have an equal responsibility in the upbringing of the child, and will have equal legal rights to make decisions about the child. Legal responsibility refers to the parents’ rights to take decisions related to the child’s medical care, education, special needs, or other requirements of the youngster. The parents must mutually decide about the religion that the child will follow, the school that he will attend, the kind of extracurricular activities that he will participate in, his medical and healthcare needs and other important aspects of his life. If there are disagreements, parents have the option of getting the courts involved, however this is usually only used in extreme circumstances. The court prefers that the parents work these issues out without the court’s interference.

Shared custody is recommended by all courts in Florida, except in those cases where it is clearly proven, that a sole custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child. If you want sole custody of your child, you must conclusively prove that a shared custody arrangement, in which the youngster has frequent contact with your ex-spouse, is actually detrimental to his interests. Talk to Boca Raton divorce lawyer to learn how you can establish this.

Remember, this is not easily proven. You must provide evidence in the form of medical experts, psychological experts, and testimony from friends, family members and other witnesses, to clearly establish that unsupervised contact between your youngster and your ex-spouse is detrimental to the child’s best interests. Discuss your case with a Boca Raton divorce lawyer.

What is Sole Custody?

It is quite common, in a divorce, for one parent to want sole custody. Some do it because they feel the need to claim the victory as the better parent, but sometimes there are legitimate reasons for trying to get sole custody. Judges hear stories on a daily basis as to why one parent thinks they deserve sole custody of the children so, unless you have a really good reason and proof to back it up, it might be pretty difficult to succeed.

Solid reasons that the courts will grant sole custody to one parent would be if the other parent:

  • Committed physical or sexual abuse against your child or any other child
  • Neglected the child
  • Has an incapacitating mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Criminal activity that affects the safety and well-being of the child
  • Abandonment
  • The threat of parental abduction
  • Domestic violence charges/history

These allegations are not always easy to prove so you need two things, evidence and a good Boca Raton child custody lawyer. Your word against the other parent’s is not enough to gain sole custody of your child. You will need to provide solid evidence to the court that the other parent has harmed the child or is a danger to the child in order to get sole custody.

If substance abuse is the issue, ask the courts to drug test the other parent. Back up all claims with medical reports, police reports, photographs, threatening texts, emails, and voicemails. An experienced Boca Raton child custody lawyer can go through the details. If the other parent poses a risk to the child, your lawyer may ask the courts for supervised visitation, but rarely will the courts deny all visitations for one parent, even when sole custody has been established.

Call Lewert Law Firm for a consultation today to speak with experienced and successful child custody attorneys in the Boca Raton, Florida area. Call 561-220-0123.

What’s In A Name?

Posted on: June 17, 2015 by in Divorce
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Boca Raton family law attorney

Traditionally, and almost everywhere until the 20th century, a bride took her husband’s last name. Today, however, there’s a lot more freedom. Many marrying women have chosen to keep the name they were born with or use some other variation. Sometimes, women hyphenate their maiden names with their new spouse’s last name, or make their maiden names their new middle names. Some couples even create a brand new, unique last name that they both will adopt after the marriage. The options are endless when it comes to a title change before marriage or after divorce. If you desire or need to change your name after a marriage or after a divorce, or if you merely need sound advice to help you make the right decision, contact an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney right away. Whatever choice you make, it’s your decision alone, and it’s important. You’ll want to consider:

  • any professional brand, identity, and reputation that you may have already established
  • how your name will impact the naming of your children
  • any cultural importance or other meaning or value associated with your maiden name
  • social implications, and even the sound and spelling of the name
  • whether you want to go through the time consuming legal process of changing your name

It is important to keep in mind that changing your legal title is not as easy as it may seem. If you change your name at the time of your marriage – or after a divorce – you probably already understand that you will have to do a considerable amount of work. When you marry and take your spouse’s last title, everyone you do business with, from the IRS to Social Security, your bank, the DMV, and the post office will have to be notified. You will need the credit card companies that you do business with to issue you new cards with your new title so they match your identification card. Should you subsequently divorce, you may decide to go through the entire process again.  It’s important to know that the Social Security Administration will accept only an original marriage certificate or a certified copy and an original divorce decree or a certified copy.

Although it is common to change your title after a divorce, many women keep their married title, especially if they have children with their ex-spouse. This allows them to feel more connected with their children since they share the same name. Remember, the decision to change your title before and after a divorce is entirely yours. But, you can still seek help from a knowledgeable Boca Raton family law attorney.

Anyone in south Florida with questions or concerns regarding title changes, pre-nuptial agreements, or other marriage-related legal issues – and anyone changing a name after a divorce – should know that help and advice is available right now. Don’t go through this without the assistance of an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney. Contact an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney right away to obtain the legal services and advice you need.

Divorcing? Don’t Post Anything Online

Posted on: June 15, 2015 by in Divorce
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Boca Raton divorce lawyerIf you are thinking about filing for divorce in Florida, you might want to make some adjustments to your Facebook page before you take any kind of legal action. If you are on either side of a Florida divorce, posting something online that you think is harmless may very likely come back to hurt you. If you are divorcing or expecting to divorce in south Florida, obtain sound legal advice and representation immediately by contacting an experienced Boca Raton dissolution lawyer.

One huge – and recent – problem for divorcing spouses is the false sense of security that Facebook provides with its privacy settings. If you enter into a divorce proceeding, you need to know that what you post is not private, and your spouse’s attorney can legally obtain that information and use it against you. Facebook privacy settings protect your posted material only from others who are using Facebook – not from courts and opposing counsel.

Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year that one woman’s Facebook photos did not constitute protected or privileged information. Although this ruling was made regarding a personal injury case rather than a dissolution, it’s a ruling that establishes a principle and a precedent for all Florida law.

Divorce attorneys routinely advise clients that once the dissolution is initiated, clients need to refrain from using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest. However, you may want to get off Facebook if you’re still married, too. According to a new study, one in seven people admitted that they had seriously considered divorcing their spouse, because of the spouse’s activity on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Snapchat.

The study was based on a survey of 2000 persons, and approximately 25% of the respondents admitted that they had a fight related to social media use, at least once every week. 17% actually admitted that they fought over social media use every day. Approximately 50% of the respondents also admitted that they were aware of their spouses’ passwords.

The study may have been conducted in Great Britain, but those statistics could easily apply to the US too. Boca Raton divorce lawyers have noted that social media has been playing an increasingly prominent role in divorces.

The majority of divorce lawyers who were surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers admitted a spike in the number of dissolution cases involving social media evidence. These lawyers stated that spouses were filing for divorce based on evidence of cheating found on Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. In fact, Facebook was a major treasure trove of information for spouses in a dissolution, and the majority of spouses admitted that they found evidence for their dissolution on Facebook.

Florida law – including family and divorce law – is constantly changing, so you must have the help and advice of a good Florida divorce attorney who stays abreast of the changes and sees to it that your best interests are safeguarded. If you are divorcing or expecting to divorce in Palm Beach County or elsewhere in south Florida, get the sound advice and high-quality legal services you need by contacting an experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer as quickly as possible.

Not The Vacation You Dreamed Of

Posted on: June 12, 2015 by in Divorce
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Boca Raton dissolution attorneyIf you are divorcing or expecting to dissolution in south Florida, it’s far too complicated to go it alone. As soon as you know that you are divorcing, contact an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney. Dissolution is difficult for most people, and sometimes it could even be called tragic. However, a new trend is slowly emerging in the dissolution industry. For some people, divorce is a cause for joy, and that is making the celebration of dissolution one of America’s fastest-growing commercial industries.

Late last year, the news website Huffington Post declared that wedding cakes need to “move over” because “There’s a new cake in town – it’s the divorce cake.” According to the website, these sugary treats are flourishing in popularity along with “divorce parties.” One bakery here in Florida offers these “divorce cakes” and claims to bake about one a week for divorcing clients. Divorce party planners offer packages ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Divorce rings, dissolution cards, and divorce photographers are growing in both numbers and profits. One resort in upstate New York is even offering dissolution vacations, and couples are buying.

The Saratoga Springs’ Gideon Putnam Resort has hosted scores of extravagant weddings. Now the upscale New York resort is exploiting the other side of matrimony by offering “divorce weekend” packages to divorcing couples. According to the New York Post, you can check in as a married couple on Friday and check out divorced by Sunday. The resort, says the Post, “promises couples a painless split in an idyllic setting.” The entire package costs $5,000. It includes separate accommodations for two nights, a designated lawyer for each divorcing spouse, and a mediator to draw up the dissolution papers. There’s also a welcome basket containing Saratoga sparkling water, red wine, dark chocolate, and other goodies, as well as an informational brochure.

Dissolution cakes may be judged inappropriate by some, and the very concept of a “divorce party” is probably still disturbing to many of us, but the experts say that recognizing a personal loss through participating in a ritual event is an ancient and basic human coping mechanism. If you’re up for it, a dissolution party can provide a real sense of closure when you need to move forward positively with your life.

Divorce is still sad and painful for many, and counseling sessions may be more called for than parties for most people who are divorcing. Nevertheless, a genuinely new industry is emerging with dissolution cakes, divorce rings, dissolution photography, and dissolution cards. Of course, before you order a cake, hire a photographer, or plan a dissolution party in south Florida, don’t forget the most important step. Contact an attorney who’s a specialist with substantial dissolution experience. You need to contact an attorney with considerable experience in divorce cases, someone who will ensure that your legal rights and long-term best interests are protected. If you’re divorcing or expecting to dissolution in Palm Beach County or anywhere else in south Florida, arrange at once to speak with an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney.

A Very Complicated Palm Beach Divorce

Posted on: June 5, 2015 by in Divorce
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Boca Raton divorce attorneyWhen they married fifteen years ago, it made the New York Times. In 2015, Martin Zelman, now 87, wants a divorce. Or does he? That’s the key issue in Zelman vs. Zelman, a uniquely complicated divorce now moving through the Palm Beach County Circuit Court. $10 million is at stake. While you may not be dealing with that kind of wealth yourself, if you’re thinking about ending your marriage in south Florida, discuss your case first with an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney.

Zelman owns Martin Zelman Enterprises, a real estate and investment firm in Great Neck, New York. Mrs. Zelman is the former Lois Mae Mazer, a retired Wall Street stockbroker. On one side are Zelman’s three adult children, who would have access to about $10 million of their father’s estate if they can prevail in court. On the other side is a prenuptial agreement that promises the $10 million to Mrs. Zelman. The path to divorce court began last year when Zelman’s son, Robert, filed petitions in probate court claiming that his father was mentally incompetent and that Mrs. Zelman was ignoring his needs. Robert asked the court to declare his father totally incompetent and to appoint a guardian to oversee his father’s finances. However, Robert Zelman later amended the petition so that his father could retain the right to divorce, because under Florida law, anyone declared incompetent can’t be divorced for three years.

The issues are the right of adult children to challenge prenuptial agreements and the right of persons declared incompetent to choose divorce, but most observers are persuaded that the real issue in the Zelman divorce is money.

But, perhaps this marriage was doomed from the very beginning. New research finds that couples who spend less on their weddings tend to have longer-lasting marriages than those who splurge. The study found a similar correlation between less-expensive engagement rings and lower divorce rates. Because the Zelmans’ wedding was featured in the New York Times, it’s safe to say that this was no small affair.

The research, conducted by Emory University economics professors Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon, was based on a survey of 3,151 U.S. adults who are either married or divorced. The authors believe that theirs is the first research study to closely examine the relationship between wedding expenses and the length of a marriage. Researchers found that women whose wedding cost more than $20,000 divorced at a rate roughly 1.6 times higher than women whose wedding cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Couples who spent $1,000 or less had an even lower-than-average rate of divorce. Obviously, this research won’t be welcomed by the flourishing wedding industry, which encourages couples to spend lavishly on everything from invitations, dresses and music to videographers and photographers.

Whether your own divorce is going to be complicated or simple – and whether you’re worth $10 million or just ten dollars – you should have the advice and services that an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney can provide. If you’re divorcing in south Florida, or thinking about it, make the call as quickly as possible.

Credit, Debt, And Divorce

Posted on: June 1, 2015 by in Divorce
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If you are initiating a dissolution in south Florida – or if you’ve just learned that your spouse is initiating a divorce – it’s vital to consider and discuss your credit and debt situation with your divorce lawyer. You’ll need to consider your mortgage, joint credit cards, and any additional outstanding credit. If you’re in south Florida, of course you’ll first need to retain the advice and services of an experienced Boca Raton dissolution lawyer.

When you initiate a divorce, cancel all joint accounts so that your spouse cannot run up debts. Close any credit card accounts that your spouse uses or accesses, and open new, individual accounts in your name only. Get copies of your income tax returns, business financial statements as well as evidence of income information, including pay stubs. Make copies of loan applications, your brokerage statements, pension plans, insurance policies as well as any will that you have made.

Make sure that you discuss debts with your attorney and that you know what debts are marital debts and what debts are individual debts. If your debts are extensive or your finances are complex, your attorney may suggest retaining a financial expert to work on your behalf until the credit and debt issues in the dissolution are resolved.

What happens if one spouse files for bankruptcy during or immediately prior to a divorce? If a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is approved, the bankrupt spouse will be free from the debts, and creditors will probably start looking at you. If both partners are deeply in debt, they can help themselves by agreeing to file a joint bankruptcy prior to filing for divorce.

After your divorce, you’ll want and need a good credit rating. Check your credit rating now to make sure there are no mistakes, that there are no unexpected charges made by your spouse, and that you haven’t become an identity theft victim. A divorce does not have to impact your credit score negatively, but it can if you aren’t careful. If you need legal representation for a divorce proceeding in south Florida, or if you simply need divorce-related advice so that you can better plan your future, contact an experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer as quickly as possible.

Financial Steps that Women Must Take Before a Divorce

If you are a woman considering divorce, read on. The chances of financial insecurity, bankruptcy, and insolvency are dramatically higher for divorced women. You may believe that you have your affairs covered, but may not have accounted for the fact that alimony payments, child support payments and other benefits settled on during the marriage, will hardly be enough to cover your basic needs.

It’s therefore important for you to get your interests protected, and get legal advice from a Boca Raton divorce lawyer as quickly as possible before you file for dissolution. There are also steps that you can take to protect your financial future.

As soon as you have made the decision to divorce, begin collecting financial documentation. Make a file of your bank statements, credit card statements, and other financial records. Once you have made the decision to divorce, open a bank account in your name, and create an emergency cash fund. Remember, when your spouse finds out that you’re considering divorce, you are going to have a battle on your hands. That battle will be not just traumatic, but it could also be lengthy. You will require access to cash resources during the dissolution, as well as after the divorce settlement is complete. Remember, you may not start receiving your child support payments or alimony payments immediately after the divorce. You will need cash reserves to fall back on until you do start to receive these court ordered payments.

Get sound legal advice when you are considering filing for divorce. Speak to a Boca Raton divorce lawyer about getting your financial situation in order before the dissolution.

Financial Documents After A Divorce

During the dissolution process, many people spend considerable time obtaining, copying, organizing, and understanding their financial documents. As soon as the dissolution settlement is finalized, most newly-divorced people are ready to forget about their financial paperwork for a while. Don’t. Immediately after a divorce, you need to address several important financial matters. Of course, the more assets, debts, and accounts you have, the more work you’ll have to do. If you are divorcing in south Florida, let an experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer handle your dissolution and help you address your divorce-related financial concerns and questions. A number of items must be updated immediately after a divorce, such as:

  • Your will: Revoke your old will and make a new one so you can prevent your ex-spouse from receiving any of your assets. If you don’t have a will, create one now.
  • Beneficiary designations: Remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary from life insurance policies, retirement plans, annuities, bank and brokerage accounts, and anywhere else your spouse is a beneficiary. Beneficiary designations carry more legal weight than wills, so you must not neglect or forget to update your beneficiary designations after a dissolution.
  • Everything else: Remove your ex-spouse’s name everywhere you do business and on every policy or account you own. That includes automobile titles and registrations, all insurance policies, credit cards, bank, brokerage, and investment accounts, passports, utility bill accounts, and “in case of emergency” contact information forms that you may have filled out in the past.

Ask yourself if there are other items that should be on your list. You may want to create new accounts with new account numbers. Of course, it’s imperative to change all of your computer passwords. As soon as you have your divorce decree, make several copies, because you’ll need them to make some of these changes. Sure, taking care of so much paperwork can be quite a chore, but keep focused and be sure you have the help and advice of an experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer. If you are divorcing or considering a dissolution in south Florida, make the call today.

The Law Remains The Same

Posted on: May 25, 2015 by in Family Law
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Many lawmakers have attempted to make major reforms to Florida’s alimony laws over the years. But the changes have always been derailed in the Florida Senate, and alimony law remains unchanged in the Sunshine State. If you are divorcing in south Florida and you expect an alimony dispute, or if you are seeking to modify a current alimony order, get the legal help you need and contact an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney immediately.

Florida law currently allows an ex-spouse to receive permanent financial support after a marriage that endures for 17 or more years. The effect is that someone who marries at 20 and divorces at 37 could conceivably be ordered to pay alimony – or be eligible to receive it – for the rest of his or her life. A reform proposal died in April when the Senate refused to take up the Florida House’s version of the bill. The House version did not include a separate provision dealing with child custody, and the House had adjourned for the year prior to the Senate’s refusal to consider the proposal.

What is Temporary Alimony?

It may take a while before a divorce is finalized. It may be a few weeks or even months, until the final divorce decree is issued, and until the maintenance and other issues are ironed out. During this period of time, the lower-earning spouse in the marriage will need to meet daily living expenses. He she will have to pay for rent, groceries, household utilities, transportation expenses, and so on.

A court may order one spouse to pay the other spouse temporary financial support during this period of time. Temporary alimony is also referred to as alimony “pendente lite,” and is meant to cover the spouse’s expenses while the divorce is pending. A court may decide to award such alimony when one spouse is in need of financial help, while the divorce proceedings are still on. Temporary alimony, as the name indicates, is not permanent in duration. The alimony payments will end automatically as soon as the divorce decree is finalized.

To learn how you can meet your expenses while the divorce proceedings are pending, speak to a Boca Raton family lawyer. It’s important to get sound legal advice during this phase of the proceedings. Your temporary alimony doesn’t necessarily dictate how your final financial support agreement will turn out, but it could influence the final financial support maintenance amount that you end up with. Therefore, be very cautious about asking for the appropriate temporary alimony support to avoid financial catastrophe when the final financial support is determined. Speak to a Boca Raton family lawyer for advice. 

Florida law also allows for temporary alimony payments subsequent to marriages lasting fewer than seventeen years. After a seven-to-seventeen-year marriage, payments may be required for the same length of time as the marriage endured. Short-term alimony may also be required after marriages lasting fewer than seven years. In some cases, “rehabilitative” financial support may be ordered for education or training to help an ex-spouse return to the work force.

What is Bridge the Gap Alimony?

Bridge the Gap financial support is awarded in order to allow a transition from being married to being single but does not last for an extended period of time. It is a lump sum payment.

What is Permanent Periodic Alimony?

Permanent Periodic financial support can be awarded for longer marriages to offer financial assistance for necessities. This type of alimony is paid out until death of one spouse or remarriage by the spouse receiving the alimony.

What is Lump Sum Alimony?

Lump sum alimony payments consist of a pre-agreed upon amount that is non modifiable and can be paid in installments or a lump sum. This is often awarded when one spouse agrees to not take any of the property or other assets in the divorce and instead agrees to a lump sum payment.

What is Rehabilitative Alimony?

Rehabilitative Alimony can be used by the Court to provide the capacity for one party to become self-supporting through the development of skills and credentials or education and work experience. This type of alimony requires the party to have a plan on how they will gain self sufficiency. This is similar to Lump Sum Alimony where a pre-agreed upon amount is paid at once or in installments but cannot be modified at any point

What is Durational Alimony?

Durational alimony can be awarded when permanent periodic financial support is unsuitable. There is a significant limit on this type of financial support as the spouse can only receive it for a period of time that is not longer than they were married for. It offers monetary help for a set period of time and is mostly awarded in short duration marriages.

So for now, Florida financial support law remains unchanged. The courts can determine to award one or all six of these types of alimony in the state of Florida.

The court will make a decision based on a number of factors. It will consider the paying capacity of the person who has to pay the financial support , as well as the need or financial necessity of the spouse who’s making the request. It will consider the financial situation of the spouse who is seeking payments, including the total assets as well as sources of income, including investment.

It will consider the earning capacity of the spouse, as well as the education levels and employability levels or both of the spouses, especially spouse who is seeking alimony. In some cases, the court may determine that the spouse requires some amount of time in order to get vocational training that will help with finding a job. Apart from these factors, the court will also take into consideration the age of the spouses, the standard of living that was established during the marriage as well as the duration of the marriage.

If there was some kind of marital misconduct during the marriage, like adultery which caused financial harm to one spouse, then the court may even consider that when it makes a decision.

In south Florida, if you have questions or concerns regarding financial support or divorce, or if you need legal representation for a divorce or for a modification of your ongoing alimony arrangement, make the call at once and arrange to speak with an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney.

When The Grandparents Can’t Visit

Posted on: May 20, 2015 by in Family Law
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Boca Raton family law attorneyDivorces are typically thought of as a private matter that only affects the couple that have chosen to separate. However, the truth is that the families of both spouses can be greatly impacted by a divorce, too. This includes grandparents, who can become even more involved in a divorce when children are involved and the issue of child custody is brought up. Grandparents become attached to children and form special bonds just like parents do. When a couple divorces, the grandparents don’t want to have to fight to be able to see their precious grandchildren. But, do grandparents have any rights in the eyes of the law? Every state has its own set of laws regarding grandparent visitation rights. In the state of Florida, grandparents can seek legal help for visitation rights, but only in certain situations.

Some Florida grandparents who are denied visitations with their grandchildren may get legal help – but only in some very precise circumstances – thanks to a bill (HB 149) that is heading to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature. In cases where a grandchild’s parents are both deceased, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state – or where one parent is and the other parent has a felony conviction – grandparents would be enabled to seek visitation rights. The legislation, co-sponsored by State Senator Joseph Abruzzi (D-Wellington) and Representative Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), is primarily a response to a central Florida case in which a woman disappeared and her parents were prevented from seeing their grandchildren by the children’s father. In south Florida, if you are involved in any custody or visitation dispute as a parent or as a grandparent, or if you simply have questions or concerns about a child custody or visitation matter, don’t hesitate to speak with an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney who will defend your rights and fight for the best possible outcome for your case.

When Michelle Parker disappeared in 2011, the prime suspect was her ex-fiancé Dale Wayne Smith, the father of her two children. Dale Wayne Smith prevented Ms. Parker’s mother, Yvonne Stewart of Orlando, from visiting her grandchildren. Criminal charges against Smith have not been filed as of yet, but Ms. Parker’s family is suing him for wrongful death in a civil action.

HB 149 was popular in Tallahassee; both houses of the Florida Legislature approved it unanimously. When parents or grandparents seek visitation rights, Florida family law courts make the best interests of the child or children the highest priority. In determining visitation rights, a court would first consider the grandparents’ history with the child and the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of everyone involved. The court may also consider a parent’s motive for preventing grandparental visitations to determine whether or not the grandparents have any right to visitations. If you are a grandparent – or a parent – and you are being denied visitations, or if you are on either side of a custody or visitation dispute in south Florida, speak at once with an experienced Boca Raton child custody attorney.

The Best Interests of the Children

Posted on: May 8, 2015 by in Divorce
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In any Florida divorce that involves one or more children, Florida courts will make the best interests of those children the top priority. The law in this state begins with the presumption that children benefit from having both parents actively and frequently participate in and contribute to their lives. At the beginning of the divorce process, the “playing field is even” and neither parent begins with a greater right to custody. As judges work toward a final custody order, they consider a number of pertinent factors. If you are a parent and you are seeking or anticipating divorce in Palm Beach County or elsewhere in south Florida, put your case – and your concerns – in the hands of an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney who is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law.

The best interests of the children means that a parent may lose custody rights for reasons that include domestic or sexual violence, child abuse, abandonment, neglect, or substance abuse. A judge will also consider each parent’s demonstrated will and ability to meet a child’s genuine needs and to be involved in the child’s life. Judges want parents to establish stability in a child’s life and reduce disruption after a divorce. A judge will consider the impact of frequent travel, especially when the distance is great and the children are young. If a judge believes that a child is mature enough, a statement by the child may be allowed and considered.

Florida courts very much want each parent to facilitate a constructive relationship between the child and the other parent. Parents are expected to refrain from critical comments about the other parent in the child’s presence. Florida law also presumes that the moral character of a parent is an important consideration. Moral fitness might refer to substance abuse, verbal abuse, or criminal behavior. If you expect any dispute over the custody of your children, don’t wait another day or minute to make the call. You must have the quality legal representation that only a Boca Raton divorce attorney who is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law can offer you.

Custody Rights of Fathers

Florida did an overhaul on their custody and visitation laws in 2008. Now, fathers have much more equal leverage than ever before, in fact, fathers now have the same rights as the mother when it comes to child custody.

Florida courts revised the child custody laws to provide for the best interest of the children and encourage healthy relationships for the children with both parents. Parenting plans and timesharing plans have replaced traditional custody and visitations terms. In most cases, time spent with the children is divided equally between both parents unless there is a reason not to.

Fathers do have equal rights in Florida but that doesn’t mean that a father’s custody rights are protected. Most people just assume that the mother has the upper hand when it comes to child custody, including most fathers. As long as the children’s best interests are met, the courts will accept most parenting plans.

Adultery & Child Custody

Remember, that courts are required to consider the parents’ moral fitness when it makes a child custody decision. The spouse who has been cheated on, may therefore, ask the court to limit the other parent’s access to the child in the custody agreement because the adultery could possibly have a detrimental effect on the child’s development.

Proving however that your spouse’s adultery could have a detrimental effect on the child’s development, or make the parent morally unfit, is challenging. Cheating by itself is not taken as proof that the parent is incapable of being morally fit, or incapable of providing a nurturing, healthy environment for the child. Even the loss of reputation or scandal resulting from the adultery cannot be taken as evidence that the adultery would have a detrimental impact on the best interests of the child.

The Issue of Parental Mental Health

Thousands of people deal with some kind of personality or mental health disorder. For most people, it’s something relatively minor like a mild neurosis or anxiety, but some people have more serious issues and a tougher time coping. In some circumstances, a parent’s mental health is a legitimate consideration in the determination of child custody. The introduction of possibly damaging information about a parent’s mental health, in other cases, may be unfair and wrongly motivated.

A Florida parent usually has the right to prevent disclosure of records regarding the diagnosis or treatment of a mental condition including substance addiction. This privilege applies to communications between a patient and doctors, psychologists, therapists, social workers, drug abuse counselors, and nurse practitioners diagnosing or treating a mental condition.

However, the privilege is not absolute. In custody procedures, the state of Florida makes the best interests of the child its top priority, and the mental health of both parents must be considered by the judge. While a parent does not waive the confidentiality privilege simply by seeking custody, certain factors or events may warrant an exception to the statutory privilege. Absent a “calamitous event,” for example, a recent and documented suicide attempt, substantial evidence of risk to the child is required to make an exception to the confidentiality privilege.

What is Supervised Visitation?

In some instances, unrestricted access to or visitation with the non-custodial parent may be deemed detrimental to the best interests of the child. For instance, when a marriage has involved domestic violence, abuse or other factors, a court may decide that supervised visitation is in the best interests of the child.

Visitation can be supervised according to the guidelines set out by Florida law. Visitation like this is carried out under supervision, and a third-party supervisor will be in charge of supervising the visitation.

To implement a supervised visitation, the two of you must be in agreement with the supervisor, and must hash out all the details of the visitation, including timing, location, duration and other aspects.

You must both agree on the place of the supervision and the supervision must be conducted by a trained supervisor. Florida makes arrangements for training of supervisors, and these are typically psychologists, or social workers. However, a supervisor doesn’t necessarily have to be a psychologist. Even a relative or family member or close friend who is willing to undergo the training required to supervise visitation, can step in to play the role. Talk to a Boca Raton family lawyer for more information about supervised visitation.

Adhering to Court Orders

If you have a parental time-sharing agreement with your ex-spouse, you must adhere to the established schedule, and if your children are old enough to be a bit willful, they must adhere to it too. Any failure to follow your time-sharing agreement can severely damage your custody rights. Adhering to a time-sharing agreement can often be difficult, especially if an older child does not want to return to the home of the other parent. Even if your child is strong-willed, the law puts the burden on the adults to ensure that visitation schedules and other agreements are kept.

Considerations Before The Wedding

Posted on: May 1, 2015 by in Family Law
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Boca Raton family law attorney

When a marriage proposal is accepted, the prospective spouses typically start asking themselves some questions. Who will be invited to the wedding? Where will the ceremony be conducted? What about the flowers, the music, the wedding dress, and the reception? Prospective spouses also need to ask themselves some tougher questions too. Are you financially secure? Do you both want children? Where do you see yourself and your new family in five years? In ten?

If you’re bringing children into a marriage, the questions you should ask may be even tougher. Will the children live with you full time? Will they get along with your new spouse? Do you see eye-to-eye with your new spouse regarding discipline and rules? If you are divorced with children, before you get married you should review the custody order and the visitation arrangement. In south Florida, if you need to have a custody order modified, do it with the help of an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney.

Prospective spouses may also want to consider the benefits of premarital counseling. If you belong to a faith community, counseling may already be available to you from a spiritual advisor. A number of counselors and counseling resources are available in the Boca Raton area. Counselors can offer prospective spouses insight and resources for developing a stronger and more sustainable marriage. Counseling also works very well if both partners are involved in the process. These sessions must have both of the spouses participating fully, answering questions and sharing their feelings without any inhibitions. If one partner is not convinced about the benefits of couples counseling, then the initiative is likely to be a failure. Counseling also requires you to practice whatever you learn during these sessions. If your partner is not willing to practice these, then the counseling is probably not likely to be effective in your case.

Counseling should also be considered during the course of the marriage. Many couples consider counseling with the help of a marriage or family counselor before they make any decision about their relationship. However, counseling does not benefit every type of marriage. There are some marriages that cannot be salvaged, and counseling only puts off the inevitable.

Remember, that for couples counseling to be a success, it is important that both of the partners agree fully to the counseling. If one of the partners remains unconvinced about the benefits of the counseling or arrives at counseling sessions with a completely negative viewpoint, counseling is not likely to be a success. If you find yourself in a position, in which you are forcing your spouse to make any kind of effort to save the marriage, then you are probably fighting a losing battle.

Couples counseling also may not work well if one of the spouses is completely closed off and unwilling to share his feelings. If your partner is not honest about his feelings, and is unwilling to come out of his shell and share with you, then your relationship probably cannot be saved through counseling.

Finally, partners about to marry should also consider obtaining a prenuptial agreement. While it may be an awkward subject for some, a fair agreement that has the consent of both partners is never a bad idea because it can offer protection to both partners. If you think a premarital agreement may be appropriate for you and your partner prior to an upcoming marriage, or if you need to modify a child custody order prior to your marriage, arrange right away to obtain the advice and services of an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney.

Before You Marry A Second Time

The decision to marry a second time is almost never as easy as the decision to marry the first time. While the young tend to fall in love and marry in passion, a second marriage is something most of us will consider far more carefully. Most people entering a second marriage will think long and hard about – you guessed it – money. Don’t hesitate to bring up and discuss these topics with your prospective spouse prior to the wedding ceremony:

Should we keep our assets separate? If you don’t have much in the savings account and don’t own property, it may not matter much. If you both own homes and have retirement savings, it may make sense to keep your finances separate, and you should probably consider a prenuptial agreement.

Are we financially compatible? When we marry, we generally look for people we share interests with, someone who likes the same music, the same kinds of recreation, maybe even a specific hobby or pursuit. But we seldom think about financial compatibility. Some people are impulsive spenders, others are meticulous savers, and most of us fall somewhere between the extremes. If you and your first spouse had different “money personalities,” you already understand why financial compatibility is important.

Should we just live together? After a divorce, you might decide that marriage is too complicated and risky. Your divorce may have been long and painful, and you may feel like you don’t want to risk going through that again. But if you’re merely cohabiting, you could miss out on insurance, tax, and other financial benefits enjoyed exclusively by married couples. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll also have no ability to make medical decisions for your partner. Don’t hurt yourself and arbitrarily rule out marriage because of one bad experience.

Also, don’t hesitate to consult with an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney about your finances and the advantages and disadvantages of marriage vs. cohabitation. Every marriage is risky. No one knows what tomorrow has in store. Be wise about entering a second marriage, but don’t cheat yourself out of the happiness you deserve because of your fears of getting married again. To learn about obtaining a prenuptial agreement prior to a second marriage, or if you have concerns or questions regarding any matter of family law or divorce, speak at once with an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney.

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Kelley Ms. Lewert never lost sight of the practical realities of my divorce. Although she listened compassionately so that she understood what she needed to, she did not let me lose sight of my goals and what was acheivable within the system even when things got emotional. She protected my financial interests and my personal interests. Thanks to Ms. Lewert, I no longer have to deal with a difficult ex-. She didn't always tell me what I wanted to hear, but because of that, my case did not drag out longer than it should have. I never felt that she put her own interests ahead of mine. Her judgment was reasonable and her advice sound. She and her staff were good at dealing with difficult and unreasonable people in a professional and ethical way. Thanks to Ms. Lewert, I never got drawn into senseless battles, recovered as quickly as possible from my divorce and was able to move on and enjoy a better life. I have recommended her repeatedly to others who need an excellent family lawyer.

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