Archive for the ‘ Family Law ’ Category

Fact or Myth: Courts Favor The Mother in a Child Custody Case

Posted on: March 29, 2019 by in Family Law
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Courts Favor The Mother in a Child Custody Case

When parents get divorced, the terms of child custody can weigh on the entire family. Not knowing who gets custody can be stressful and frustrating. Not only is the process stressful, but parents can become confused and misled by all the myths circling around child custody cases. Gossip from other families’ divorce cases can spark a lot of fear. For instance, many people believe that the courts favor the mother in a child custody case. This myth has been proven wrong time and time again, but the idea still haunts a lot of fathers out there going through a divorce. The truth is, the courts do not favor one parent or the other without hearing from the family first. There are a lot of factors that are taken into consideration before a final custody decision is made. In this article, we discuss why people may believe the courts favor the mother in a child custody case, how one parent gets full custody, and what you have to prove to make that happen.

 

Courts Favor The Mother in a Child Custody Case: Myth

Today, family courts all over the country will approach a child custody case with an open mind and a balanced perspective. They encourage both parents to be a part of the child’s life whenever possible. Leaning towards one parent or the other before hearing the case is not common practice. However, there’s a good reason why people might still believe this myth that the courts favor the mother in a child custody case. This is because it used to be common practice for the courts to lean towards putting custody of the child with the mother. This was especially true if the children were young (toddlers or early elementary school age children). This was also at a time when mothers served more traditional roles in the home. Now, it’s more common to see both parents working full time and sharing responsibilities. That’s precisely why this practice has been phased out. The judge will rule on whatever path is in the best interest of the child.

 

What Factors Determine the ‘Best Interest of the Child’?

Since we’ve established that you can’t trust that the courts favor the mother in a child custody case, we can cover the factors that do matter. When deciding a child custody case, family courts will want to determine what is in the best interest of the child. The courts will want to know:

  • Both parents’ medical histories, mental and physical. Is one parent or the other physically or mentally incapable of caring for the child?
  • The financial stability of both parents. Do they hold steady employment? Does one parent make a significantly higher salary than the other? Are they able to provide basics like shelter, food, clothes, and medical care?
  • The child’s age and gender.
  • The child’s medical history, both mental and physical.
  • If the child is over the age of 12, what is their desired outcome? The courts will ask what they prefer in these cases.
  • Is the child more emotionally connected to one parent or the other? The emotional bond is an important factor in all custody cases.
  • What do the parents want? Is the arrangement amicable? Do they agree on joint custody? Is there a chance the ruling will be challenged?
  • Does each parent support and encourage the child to have a connection with the other parent?
  • The quality of life each parent can provide.
  • Each parents’ lifestyle and habits. Is one parent struggling with alcohol, drug, or gambling addictions?
  • Is there a history of domestic abuse in the home?
  • How long will it take for the child to adapt to their new home or lifestyle? Does living with one parent over the other disrupt the child’s routine? Will the child have to change schools? Will it involve moving to a new city or state?

 

Is Full Custody a Possibility?

As mentioned above, when it comes to child custody, the family courts want both parents to be involved in the child’s life whenever possible. However, of course, full custody is possible in certain circumstances.

  • If one parent moves away and shows little to no interest in caring for the child
  • If there’s a long history of physical or sexual abuse with one parent
  • If one parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • If one parent has no home or shelter to provide for the child

These sort of situations might lead to full custody of one parent. However, you’ll have to provide evidence of these circumstances in order to get full custody.

 

For More Information on Child Custody Cases

If you’d like more information, contact a trusted child custody attorney. They can provide you with all of the resources you need in order to move forward with your case. Connect with an experienced attorney today to learn more about your child custody options!

What Is A Supportive Relationship?

Posted on: March 16, 2019 by in Family Law
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What Is A Supportive Relationship

After a divorce, there’s always a chance that one spouse will have to pay alimony to the other. Alimony payments serve an important purpose. Alimony is seen as necessary financial assistance to the spouse that earns significantly less than the other. But what happens if these circumstances change in the future? What if your ex-spouse meets someone new and moves in with this person? Does this change the amount you pay? Can this new supportive relationship terminate alimony payments altogether? These and other questions are answered in this summary of supportive relationships and their effect on alimony payments after a divorce.

 

Can Alimony be Modified or Terminated?

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that alimony can be modified due to a number of factors besides remarriage or death. For instance, a significant change in income or cost of living could modify alimony payments. Even tax laws, a sudden disability, or financial emergencies could all spark an adjustment in alimony payments. In addition, if the person receiving alimony payments becomes involved in a supportive relationship that provides financial assistance, this could also be a reason why alimony payments are modified.

 

What is a Supportive Relationship?

Florida legislature passed the Supportive Relationship Statute in 2005. This opened the door to legally adjusting alimony payments if the alimony recipient is receiving financial assistance from a new supportive relationship. The entire point of the legislation was to prevent an alimony recipient from receiving regular alimony payments as well as substantial financial support from a new relationship. However, this legislation never specifically defined what a supportive relationship is, making it difficult to prove that this relationship exists. Divorce attorneys and alimony payers are responsible for providing evidence that an ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship that offers considerable financial assistance.

 

How Do You Prove a Supportive Relationship Exists?

It’s important to note that if you strongly believe that your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship, you can’t simply stop your alimony payments based on these beliefs. As stated above, this needs to be proven in a court of law. A judge will only terminate the payments if the supportive relationship is proven “by a preponderance of the evidence”. The alimony recipient is not responsible for disproving any of the evidence that is brought forward by the spouse paying alimony. The judge will review various economic and lifestyle factors before he or she can determine if alimony payments should be modified. For instance:

 

  • How long have the two individuals been living together? Would this location be considered a permanent residence for both of them? Florida courts will want to know the extent of time of their cohabitation. The longer they’ve lived together, the more likely the chances are of proving a supportive relationship exists.
  • What does the relationship look like? Are they in a romantic relationship? Is it a business relationship? Are they open about this relationship in public? A judge might ask about how the two individuals met and how they spend their time together.
  • Are they sharing assets? Do they have joint bank accounts? Do they split bills down the middle or is one person paying utilities and rent? If they’re sharing assets and bills or if the new partner is providing all of this, it’s more likely to be labeled as a supportive relationship.
  • Have they purchased properties together? Have they made any sizable purchases together? For instance, if they both purchased a car that they share and pay for together, this could be a strong sign of a supportive relationship.  

 

What Does NOT Qualify as a Supportive Relationship?

To properly understand what a supportive relationship is, it helps to know what is NOT a supportive relationship. If your ex-spouse moves in with their parents after the divorce, this is not considered a supportive relationship. Even if your ex-spouse is receiving financial assistance from their parents, it’s still not a supportive relationship. Blood relatives or relatives through marriage do not count as supportive relationships. In addition, if your ex-spouse is cohabiting with a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend, but they keep all of their finances completely separate, it’s not considered a supportive relationship. Remember that spouses paying alimony need to be able to prove that substantial financial assistance exists.

 

For More Information on Supportive Relationships

If you’re currently paying alimony, but you believe your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship, action should be taken. It’s unjust to make payments if their financial lifestyle has significantly changed. Since it is challenging to prove a supportive relationship in court, it’s highly recommended to work with an attorney. An experienced divorce attorney can provide you with the guidance you need in these circumstances. They’re experts in alimony modifications and providing evidence to prove a supportive relationship exists. Contact a divorce attorney today to learn more!

 

10 Things You Should Know About Mandatory Disclosure in Florida

Posted on: February 18, 2019 by in Family Law
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Mandatory Disclosure in Florida

For most people, blending finances and assets is a natural step when you get married. You’ll likely share bank accounts, credit cards, property, and savings. Of course, when you divorce, you have to go through a process of untangling all of those items. This act of identifying and disclosing all the financial documents for the purpose of separation is called mandatory discovery. Mandatory disclosure in Florida (Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285), is one of the most critical steps in a divorce. It’s also one of the most time consuming and frustrating steps in the divorce procedure. Most people find the process invasive and challenging, but it is a critical step that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. To fully understand the concept of mandatory disclosure in Florida, we’ve composed a list of the most important things you should know about this process.

  1. Mandatory disclosure is part of the litigation process in which both parties request and provide essential documents. These are financial documents that will be reviewed by the courts to make fair and just rulings in regards to the separation of finances and assets. If children are involved, you must include any documents that describe their financial role in the home as well. This might consist of private school tuition, extracurricular activity costs, or summer camp costs.

 

  1. Mandatory disclosure in Florida contains a list of sixteen financial items that should be disclosed by both parties. These documents include but are not limited to: bank account statements, pay stubs, tax returns, retirement or pension plan statements, debts, and other official documents.

 

  1. You can also request answers to a list of questions, called Interrogatories. It is a requirement to answer these in writing.  Remember that these are considered official court documents for mandatory disclosure in Palm Beach County. You can be charged with perjury if you provide any false statements to these questions.

 

  1. Mandatory disclosure in Florida also allows each party to provide a Request of Admissions, which is when you ask the other party to admit to something or deny something in writing. Again, this will be an official court document, so, false statements can result in perjury. Putting statements like this early into the mandatory disclosure process can help to move the divorce proceedings along faster.

 

  1. Both parties also need to provide a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit and file it in the court. A Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit is an official court document and sworn statement of your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

 

  1. In certain circumstances, it is possible to waive the requirement to hand over your financial documents, but waiving the Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit is not possible. Regardless if you’re going through mandatory disclosure or not, completing this step is always necessary.

 

  1. Mandatory disclosure in Florida requires all parties to hand over the documents requested within 45 days of the initial petition of the divorce. The documents must then be copied and inspected for legitimacy.

 

  1. You can request an extension for the mandatory disclosure process. Up to five days before the deadline, either party can request an extension, but both parties must agree to it. Requests are often granted when you need more time to collect certain documents from banks or other financial institutions.

 

  1. There are certain circumstances when mandatory disclosure in Florida doesn’t apply.  Simplified divorce cases usually do not involve minor children, and each party has already agreed on the terms of the divorce and the separation of finances, debts, and assets.

 

  1. Disclosing these documents and providing all the necessary information during this process helps to make it more efficient and cost-effective. While neither party may want to disclose this information, it’s essential to provide these documents to your divorce attorney. Handing over all required documents can help lower your expenses during the litigation process and make the divorce move forward. Any legal expert will tell you that it’s in your best interest to collect and provide these financial documents as soon as possible.

For More Information on Mandatory Disclosure in Florida

If you’d like more information on the mandatory discovery process and what it includes, contact an experienced divorce attorney. Your attorney can help you to understand why this process is necessary and how to complete this step efficiently and smoothly. Remember that when both parties make the mandatory disclosure process difficult or refuse to disclose certain documents or statements, it can not only become frustrating, but it can also become more expensive. It’s vital to gather and disclose these financial documents so you can find resolutions to the terms of the divorce and move forward. Contact a trusted Boca Raton divorce attorney today to learn more about your options.

 

What Should You Know About Florida Guardianships?

Posted on: February 10, 2019 by in Family Law
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Florida Guardianships

If you’re reading this, you might be in the position of becoming a guardian in the state of Florida. Becoming a guardian can be a daunting process for some, as it is a very important position with many responsibilities. However, if you become more aware of the guidelines and you understand the roles and rights of guardians, you can start feeling more comfortable with your new title. That’s why we composed this list of things you should know about Florida guardianships. You’ll learn more about what a guardian is, how these roles are legally obtained, and how to terminate a guardianship if necessary.

 

What Is a Guardian and Why Are They Necessary?

Florida guardianships are an important part of the family law and child services departments in the state. Basically, a guardian is an adult who is legally assigned to make decisions for a minor or an adult who is not capable of making decisions on their own, commonly due to an illness. There are a variety of reasons why someone would need a legal guardian. In the case of becoming a guardian for a child, it’s likely that the parents have passed or they have no other family members to care for them. Florida guardianships are also used in cases of adults who are incapacitated, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or suffer from some other illness that deems them incapable of making sound choices.

 

How are Guardians Selected?

Of course, it’s always better if a guardian is a spouse, a close relative, or a friend close to the family. With legal documentation, the child or adult in need (often referred to as the ‘ward’) can also designate a guardian for themselves. If none of these options are possible, the court will choose a guardian for the ward. When considering a guardian for a ward, Florida courts take many factors into consideration. This includes the guardian’s experience caring for others, their education, finances, medical history, mental stability, suitability of their home, and other characteristics. While all of these factors are considered for Florida guardianships, having a lower income or a limited education will not disqualify any individual from becoming a guardian.

 

What Exactly Does a Guardian Do?

As stated above, a guardian is someone who is designated to make decisions for the ward (a minor child or an incapacitated adult). But what kinds of decisions are these? How significant are these decisions for Florida guardianships? The decisions made by guardians are normally decisions that hold a lot of weight in the ward’s life. For instance, a guardian will often make decisions regarding their medical care, education, and finances. In addition, a guardian will assist in their everyday purchases of basic necessities like food, clothing, and other personal care items.

 

What are the Two Types of Guardianships?

Florida Guardianships are broken down into two separate categories: testamentary guardianships and temporary guardianships. A testamentary guardianship is when parents assign a person as a guardian in the case that one or both parents pass away. These are the types of guardianships that you normally see stated in wills. Parents will often name a relative or family friend as a guardian to watch over their children in the event of a devastating illness or accident. A temporary guardianship is one that is legally provided for a limited amount of time. Normally, there’s a reason why someone needs a temporary guardian. For instance, an adult with a disability who is undergoing surgery might assign a temporary guardian to make medical decisions. Once the surgery is complete and the ward has recovered and is of sound mind, the guardianship is terminated.

 

How Do You Terminate Florida Guardianships?

There are a number of different scenarios that might result in a guardianship being terminated. One was briefly mentioned in the example above. If a ward has recovered from an illness or surgery and is now of sound mind to make decisions on their own, the guardian can terminate their role. A guardianship may also be terminated if there’s a change in the ward’s legal residence. In these cases, it’s important to make sure that the ward’s case file is moved to the new location. Of course, a guardianship can also be terminated upon the passing of the ward. In any case of termination of a Florida guardianship, proper legal proceedings need to take place. Guardians can’t simply quit or stop being guardians on their own. The state has specific legal procedures to follow.

 

For More Information on Florida Guardianships

If you need more information on becoming a legal guardian in the state of Florida, it’s important to speak with a Boca Raton Guardianship attorney. In addition, if you are currently a legal guardian and you wish the terminate the relationship, you will also need the assistance of an attorney. You can face a long list of legal troubles if these types of relationships aren’t created or terminated properly. While we don’t handle guardianship cases at Lewert Law, we do feel that it is important to put this information out there for anyone considering a Florida guardianship. For any other family law matters, contact Lewert Law today for a consultation!

How to Handle a Paternity Dispute

Posted on: December 10, 2018 by in Family Law
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paternity dispute

A paternity dispute can complicate and lengthen and be the hardest part of a divorce. Even after divorce or without a marriage, these proceedings can be the toughest in family court. The court wants to make sure that they are doing what is best for the child, so the feelings of the parents don’t usually matter as much. They want to make sure that whatever choice they make will be the best for the child and that can mean knowing more than you want them to.

Everything Matters

In cases like these, everything that is brought to the court matters. Whether it is social media, history of any drug use or what your marriage was like; it all makes a difference. This is because the court is deciding to place a child in your care. They want to make sure that they have as much information about you as possible, to make sure that they are making an educated decision. This means that something as simple as you being upset in court can turn a judge off and make them wonder about you. If you are visibly angry during a court proceeding when it is critical to be calm, what must you be like with your child? And because they know that children notice everything, they want to make sure that little things like that are in consideration.

The Father

The father doesn’t necessarily have to be the genetic creator. They don’t even necessarily have to be genetically related to the child. There are many ways to determine someone as the father of a child, even if they are not a relative. You can read more about that here. And contrary to popular belief, there is no one parent that is automatically granted favor in the courts. That means that they won’t necessarily choose to side with the mother or the father right off the bat. That is an urban myth that tends to circulate to justify the outcome of a case. In all actuality, they chose whichever parent shows to be the biggest asset to the child. Whether this is financially or emotionally, there is always a reason that the court chooses the side it does.

Court

Though it doesn’t happen very often, you can settle a paternity dispute out of court. If you have a good attorney and the negotiations go well before the court date, you can have a legal document drafted and avoid the time with a judge. While this is something that happens, it happens less when divorce is involved, and even outside of that it happens rarely. There are cases where a legal document isn’t required, but these tend to end up needing one in the long run. This isn’t because of the fault of any party, only that a paternity dispute is best clearly given a resolution. And a legal document is a good way to do that. Not only does it clear things up, but it also gives a reference point. There is always an answer when you have a legal document that explains everything.

Your Attorney

Regardless of whether you go to court or not, an attorney is necessary. They will be your biggest asset in negotiating to avoid court and your loudest voice if you need to go. This means that having a good attorney will not only save you time but save you money. You want to make sure that you find someone with experience and knowledge of the law regarding a paternity dispute. Your lawyer will need to put together an excellent case for you, regardless of the route you take. If you try to settle out of court, they will need a good reason to try to avoid a judge. And a strong structure in your case can give you that. And if you do go to court, you want to make sure that your case will stand firm.

A paternity dispute can seem like the end of the world when you are going through it. However, it doesn’t have to feel that way. Having a strong attorney working for you will be a comfort. And being able to trust them will go a long way, as well. This will help you relax more through the process, but also save you money. The longer you have your attorney, the more you will have to pay. And having someone who has experience in these cases can make a big difference when trying to settle out of court. Even if you do have to go to court, having a Boca Raton family law attorney that will put up a great fight for you can make the process a bit faster. Not only will you spend less money, but you will have an amazing stronghold in your case. And that is a win-win. You can start your search here.

 

How to Change A Child Support Order in Florida

Posted on: October 30, 2018 by in Family Law
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How to Change Child Support Order in Florida

Things change in life. You were once single without responsibilities, and then you had a child. Your life changed. No matter if you went through a divorce or weren’t in a relationship with the other parent, you are both tied together through the child. Child support is meant to help the custodial parent provide a good life for the child through financial assistance. That doesn’t mean that things won’t change after a child support order is put into place. Learn more about how to change a child support order in Florida.

What Is a Child Support Order

A child support order in Florida is the court document that determines how much money one parent has to pay the other. This payment is intended to help support the child financially. It’s often based on the income of both parents. Other factors are often used towards this amount, such as if the child is disabled or has medical concerns. The order determines who pays the support and who receives it. It also determines how much is to be paid, when, and the frequency of payments.

What Is the Process for Modifying a Child Support Order?

A child support order can be reviewed for modification by the courts as long as some conditions are met. The first is that the current order is enforceable for longer than six months from the time you place the request. The second is that you haven’t had it reviewed or changed in the previous three years. The final condition is that you can show that there was a big change that impacts your finances. Some examples of this would be if the child becomes disabled or if there is a significant change in income of the parties involved.

Other Conditions That Can Result in a Change

There can be other reasons why a child support order is changed in Florida. One is to remove or add a child from the order. An example would be if there are several children involved in the order, and one is no longer a dependent. Another reason that an order can be changed is to extend the time period. An example here would be if a child doesn’t pass a grade, and will remain in high school longer than expected when the order was written. Also, an order can be changed if medical support needs to be added or removed from the order. An example here would be if there’s a change in the child’s health.

How Long Does it Take?

The overall period for the review and implementing any changes is about six months. Once your review is finished, you’ll be notified of the decision. The courts will then be working on implementing the change in the order.

What Do You Need to Change A Child Support Order?

The main thing that you will need to have to change a child support order is documentation. You need to be able to document the changes. They need to see a diagnosis if a medical reason is behind the requested review. The reviewers need to see the paperwork regarding your lost job or increased salary. They may also require you to fill out and return forms for the review process. Be sure to always complete and return these forms right away to not slow your review down or have it decided against you.

What Happens If You’re the Parent Paying Child Support?

Either parent may go through the process for requesting that there be a change to the child support order. Parents that are paying out child support because they are the non-custodial parent can also have changes in their finances that can necessitate going through this process. For instance, the loss of your job through layoffs can have a significant impact on your finances. This event may make it impossible for you to continue paying the amount that was determined previously. You have the same right to go through the review process to reduce the amount you’re paying for your child.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer can always be helpful in a situation where one parent is seeking to change child support order agreements that were made in regards to the children. A custodial parent may seek out a modification to the amount of child support being paid to them because of changes in the financial circumstances of the parents. A non-custodial parent can also want to have the amount of child support changed based on differences. A lawyer is helpful because they can guide you through the process while advising you as to what is in your child’s best interests.

Are you considering asking the courts to change child support order in Florida? Lewert Law, LLC is here to help. Contact us today to learn about how we can assist you with your child support case. You deserve to receive the financial help you need to raise your child. Let us help you change a child support order.

 

 

What Determines a Time-Sharing Schedule in Florida

Posted on: October 18, 2018 by in Family Law
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time-sharing schedule

If you are facing a divorce, you may have to consider a time-sharing schedule, as Florida prefers shared parenting to over the concept of custody. A Florida shared parenting plan typically divides the responsibility of parenting to both parents if both demonstrate the ability and willingness to act in the interest of the minor children. If you have a dispute with your co-parent or questions about your joint custody schedule, contact a child custody lawyer who can guide you through the process and inform you of options.

What is a Time-Sharing Schedule?

Florida has converted from a “custody-centric” to shared parenting. A time-sharing schedule grants both parents the rights to spend time with their children as agreed upon. In this way, there is no custodial parent, giving each parent frequent and continual contact with the children. While the goal of a shared parenting agreement is to maximize the time between each parent, not all co-parents can determine an agreeable arrangement. If you have trouble agreeing with your child’s mother or father, the court considers several factors when determining a shared parenting schedule.

Factors Affecting a Time-Sharing Agreement

Florida Statute 61.13 outlines the laws regarding time-sharing schedules and co-parenting. The statute has set forth many stipulations that affect the common custody schedules of parents seeking more time with their children. The primary consideration of common custody schedules relies heavily on the best interest of the minor child.

The factors that affect a time-sharing schedule include:

  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to facilitate a close relationship with the child, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to allow for changes in the schedule within reason
  • Being able to agreeably divide the responsibilities of parenthood between each parent and to a third party if necessary.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to act in the interest of the child, despite the parent’s own needs or desires.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment, and the need to maintain continuity.
  • The viability of a shared parenting plan regarding the geographic location of each parent with the time in travel a consideration for school children.
  • The moral fitness of each parent.
  • The mental and physical wellness of each parent.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The preference of the child if the court decides the child has sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to relay his or her preference.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to actively know things about the child, such as his or her friends, teachers, healthcare providers, and favorite things.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline and daily routines including homework, meals, and bedtime.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to communicate with the other parent, informing them of issues and activities regarding the child, as well as the willingness to join in a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect. If there were prior or pending actions for the preceding, the court must acknowledge in writing that these were considered concerning the best interest of the child.
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided the court with false information regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
  • The tasks typically performed by each parent and the division of these duties before litigation, including how and when a third party may handle these duties when necessary.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to actively participate in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to maintain an environment free of substance abuse.
  • The capacity and willingness of each parent to protect the child form ongoing litigation by not discussing it with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and not making disparaging comments to the child about the other parent.
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child, as well as the demonstrated capacity of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule.

There are other stipulations to consider as well. For instance, a parent who must receive child support as a stipulation of the agreement cannot refuse to honor the shared custody schedule. Violating the shared parenting agreement can result in losing time with your child, having to pay for court costs and attorney fees, and mandatory attendance to a parenting course. Other disciplinary actions for violating your shared parenting plan include community service, and modifications the schedule.

If you need help devising a Florida standard visitation schedule or need answers regarding your time-sharing schedule, contact a child custody lawyer today. Our legal team is ready to fight for your rights as a parent. Get now for a consultation.

What You Should Know About Grandparent Visitation Rights in Florida

Posted on: October 6, 2018 by in Family Law
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Grandparent Visitation Rights

When a divorce takes place, we picture the problems that the immediate family faces. The separation of mom and dad and the child or children are the primary focus of the problem. We sometimes forget that the extended family can face heartbreak and distress just as much as the immediate family during a divorce. Grandparents specifically may feel disconnected and rejected from major events or decisions regarding their grandchildren. It’s important to understand what kind of rights grandparents can exercise to see their grandchildren after a separation. What are the terms of grandparent visitation rights in Florida? What can they do to make sure they can still form a relationship with their grandchildren? What are their limitations?

 

Current Laws on Grandparent Visitation Rights in Florida

Florida is a popular location to spend your golden years. More people retire in Florida than any other state. It’s a bit ironic that Florida has one of the highest numbers of residents that are grandparents, yet some of the toughest laws on visitation. Every family faces similar but unique challenges when it comes to divorce. There are a lot of different circumstances that come into play when attempting to gain grandparent visitation rights in Florida. Overall, Florida draws some very strict lines that don’t offer much flexibility. If the parents are both communicating and decide to allow grandparent visitations on their own terms, it doesn’t pose any problem. However, it does pose a problem when one parent prohibits a visitation after a divorce. If a parent decides that they don’t want their child to see the grandparents, there’s not much they can do about it.

 

A law that became effective on July 1, 2015, states that grandparents can’t request visitation rights unless

 

  • Both parents are deceased, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state

OR

  • One parent is deceased, missing, or in a vegetative state AND
  • The other parent has been convicted of a felony or an offense of violence evincing behavior that poses a substantial threat of harm to the minor child’s health or welfare

 

This basically means that as long as one parent is around and they’re not a violent criminal, grandparents don’t have a lot they can do to gain visitation rights.

 

If Your Family Meets These Criteria

If you believe that your family meets the conditions mentioned above and you have the grounds to file for grandparent visitation rights in Florida, there is a procedure set in place. First and foremost, there needs to be a hearing in which evidence is presented that proves the child or children are in a position where the primary parent is unfit. If this can be proved and a judge confirms that the parent is unfit, the child may be assigned to a guardian ad litem temporarily while the case goes into mediation. Once it is proven that the parent is unfit or harmful to the child, the grandparents will then have to present their position. Even when the criteria mentioned above are met, the judge still needs to know that the grandparents can provide a safe and healthy environment. The following conditions need to be met when considering grandparent visitation rights in Florida:

 

  • A parent is unfit or there is significant harm to the child
  • Visitation is in the best interest of the minor child AND
  • The visitation will not substantially harm the parent-child relationship

 

The Issue of Privacy

It’s normal to wonder why legislation like this is so strict and what the reasoning is for these regulations on grandparent visitation rights in Florida. A lot of support for these strict rules on rights come from privacy. In 1980, there was an amendment added to Florida’s constitution that focused on privacy. It reads, “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into his private life except as otherwise provided herein.” In a famous case that was presented in 1996, Beagle vs. Beagle, the state denied grandparent visitation rights due to the inherent privacy laws. Basically, they cannot force a parent to allow a grandparent visitation mainly to protect the privacy of the parent.

 

What to Do If You Want Grandparent Visitation Rights in Florida

If you’ve read every word of this article, you might feel a bit discouraged about gaining rights to see your grandchildren. Thankfully, there are family law experts out there that know how to interpret Florida family law to present the best possible scenario for the children. If you strongly believe that it is your grandchildren’s best interest to spend a significant amount of time in your care, it’s important to call a family law attorney. These professionals can provide you with all of the information and support your family needs to handle your case properly. Contact a child custody law expert today for a consultation.

What Happens When A Parent Violates the Child Custody Order

Posted on: September 26, 2018 by in Family Law
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Parent Violates the Child Custody Order

Everyone knows that there’s nothing easy about family separations. Divorce is difficult on its own, but when children are involved, it can become much more painful. Suddenly, you have boundaries where they didn’t exist before. Schedules are different, communication can be inconsistent, and it can be difficult to understand what you can and cannot lawfully do as a parent with shared custody. When a parent violates the child custody order, it can bring on more confusion and conflict. That’s why it’s so important to understand every detail of a child custody order and follow it appropriately. Below we discuss the purpose of custody orders, what constitutes a violation, and what to do if a violation occurs.

 

Purpose of a Child Custody Order

 

When a couple goes through a divorce and parents separate, they need a structured plan for visitation and communication with the children. In some cases, a divorcing couple can come to an agreement on these details. Typically through mediation, they can create their own shared calendar and set their own terms on child custody. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. When tensions are high and a couple can’t agree on the terms of custody, the courts will have to decide for them. This is a very unnatural feeling for most parents who are used to seeing their children every day.

The purpose of a child custody order is to make sure that both parents understand who the child should be with on any given day. Since it’s enforced by law, the schedule is protected and everyone involved is responsible for following the order. When a parent violates the child custody order, it’s considered breaking the law.

 

Determining Who Gets Custody

 

Traditionally, the courts were more likely to give physical custody to the mother. This is due to historical and conventional ideas of mothers being more influential on development. However, modern courts don’t automatically assume these roles anymore. There are a lot of variables that go into determining who gets custody of a child, but overall, the common mantra is always in the best interest of the child. Some of the elements that judges will consider before making custody arrangements are:

 

  • What the child wants
  • The age of the child
  • The relationship between the child and both parents
  • The parent’s ability to take care of the child and provide
  • The child’s relationship to their school and community
  • The willingness of the parent

 

If a parent is upset about the terms of the child custody arrangement, they’re more likely to violate them. When a parent violates the child custody order, it can lead to much bigger problems for the family as a whole.

 

What Is Considered a Violation?

 

Basically, anything that falls outside of the details in your child custody order can result in a violation. Many times, these are simple accidents. If a parent picks up a child from school on the wrong day, that could be a violation. Normally, these situations can easily be resolved with your ex-spouse and the family attorney. In other circumstances, the violations can be much more severe. For instance, if one parent refuses to give the child back to the other parent, or if one parent takes the child out of state, the consequences can be much more severe. It’s important to understand all of the terms of the order and always consult with your attorney if changes need to be made.

When a Parent Violates the Child Custody Order

 

There are a number of different consequences that a parent can face for violating a child custody order. This can vary by state, but overall parents have to understand that a child custody order is enforceable by law and it can be very serious if these orders are violated. If a parent violates the child custody order, here are some of the possible results:

 

  • the violating parent is immediately at risk of losing the rights that have already been set in place by the courts.
  • The violating parent could do jail time, since he or she could be considered in contempt of court.
  • Violating parent could have to appear in court to explain why the violation happened.
  • The non-violating parent has the rights to call law enforcement and/or petition the court for enforcement of the order.

 

If you or your ex-spouse has violated the child custody order, it’s important to contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. Experts in family law understand how difficult this time is for you and your family. They can offer support and guidance to get you and your family back on track. Before more conflicts arise from violations of child custody orders, contact your family law attorney to help you settle any disputes.

 

5 Tips on Establishing Visitation Rights in Florida

Posted on: July 26, 2018 by in Family Law
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Visitation rights in florida

A legal separation or divorce can be incredibly taxing on both individuals. There are waves of aggressive emotions, unexpected stressful situations, and sometimes even financial hardship. All of these factors become even more overwhelming when there are children involved. No matter their ages, children should be considered first when it comes to making decisions for the family. Of course, it can be hard to prioritize or make arrangements when you’re unfamiliar with the rules and regulations set by the state in cases of divorce or visitation rights. These guidelines can be confusing and the process can become frustrating when you’re dealing with the emotional burden of a separation at the same time. However, the more you know about these procedures, the easier it can be for you to form a plan. Below are five important pieces of advice that can help guide you through the process of establishing visitation rights in the state of Florida.

State of Florida Terminology

First and foremost, it’s important to take note that the state of Florida does not use the terms “custody” or “visitation” anymore. Judges, lawyers, and mediators now refer to it as “time-sharing” and “co-parenting”. It’s always helpful to use your state’s proper terminology when creating official documents, appearing in a courtroom, or negotiating with lawyers or mediators. This helps the courts to know that you’ve done your homework and you’re on top of the current guidelines and procedures.

Awareness of Your Words with Your Children

Sometimes parents have a hard time with this new terminology, or with the language, they use during a divorce. This may seem like silly semantics. Or, you may feel that the words you use to describe these visitations don’t matter. However, the language you use, especially during a divorce, can carry more weight than you think. When children hear words like “custody battle” from family members they can start to associate conflict with these terms, even if it doesn’t exist. There’s a good chance they’ve heard these terms used on TV or in films and they can draw their own conclusions about the situation. It’s very important to be aware of the way you speak with your ex, about your ex, or about parental rights in front of your children. Using more neutral and nonpartisan language can help set a comforting tone during this stressful time in their lives. Plus, any harsh words exchanged can possibly be used against you in later proceedings.

Choose a Negotiating Style

Every single decision that the courts make will be based on your child’s best interest. With that in mind, the state of Florida allows you to design your own visitation schedule that works for everyone in the family. However, more often than not, this is easier said than done. There are dozens of different scenarios of divorce that can dictate how your visitation rights will be divided. If you and your ex can negotiate and formulate this type of schedule together, then you’re ahead of the game. This is always the best case scenario when it comes to time-sharing. Unfortunately, when parents can’t compromise or negotiate on time-sharing, the courts will have to decide for them. This can leave a bitter taste in a mother’s or father’s mouth when it comes to a third party deciding how and when they will see their own children. It’s always better if you can place conflict aside and do your very best to communicate clearly, coordinate peacefully, and compromise when necessary. If you and your ex are not yet on speaking terms and you need time to be able to cooperate, your best bet is to contact a lawyer or mediator who can negotiate on your behalf.

Formulating a Parental Agreement

As stated above, Florida law allows parents to create their own time-sharing schedule with their children’s best interest in mind. If you and your ex have the ability to peacefully sit down and devise a co-parenting plan, there are a lot of different variables to consider before you put this down on paper and officially present it to the courts. You need to consider the age and developmental stage of your child. You need to discuss who will handle their doctor’s appointments, extracurricular activities, summer vacation plans, holiday schedules, and any extension of rights to other family members.

Revisions of Parental Agreements

It may seem almost impossible to spend one afternoon devising a co-parenting schedule that will stick over time, and that’s because it is. Life happens! What may appear to be in your child’s best interest one day, might seem inadequate the next. Your children will grow and develop in different ways. They may change schools. One parent might move to another city. There are endless variables that can affect the parental agreement. These changes are completely normal and acceptable in the courts. However, sometimes officially implementing these adjustments on paper can be confusing. It’s always best to get support from your lawyer if you need to modify a parental agreement.
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