Archive for the ‘ Family Law ’ Category

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 chose 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 an 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.

Biological Dads Now Have More Rights To Their Children

Posted on: July 18, 2018 by in Family Law
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Biological Dads

Pretty much everyone assumes that in child custody matters, the mom gets the full custody of the children while the dad is left with nothing. Biological dads are often given the short straw when a relationship breaks apart, and the pieces have to be picked up. Many dads can feel helpless when it comes to going to court because of this historical trend in granting moms more rights. However, things are changing in the world. The way that people look at gender and gender roles are evolving. The way that people are looking at marriage is also changing. These changes can have a huge impact on the laws, including family law and the rights of biological dads.

What Is the Antiquated Law That Put a Child’s Legitimacy Before a Biological Father’s Rights?

A child’s legitimacy is based on the child’s parents being married. In the past, a child that was born to parents that weren’t married was stigmatized. These children received a label of being illegitimate. The way that marriage is looked at in this country has changed. More people are opting to not get married before having a child. Others are married to someone else, and end up having a child with someone else. Relationships are not very black and white.

The problem with keeping this antiquated scenario is that there are many situations where the baby is born to a mother that’s married to a man that’s not the biological father. In the eyes of the court in the past, the child is considered the legitimate child of the wife and the husband, even if the husband is not the biological dad. In the case that was decided, the mother was married but told the biological father that her marriage was for legal purposes. The biological father was very involved, and even attended the birth of the child, but had to fight for his parental rights. This antiquated law needs to change.

What Are the Cases That Brought This Scenario to the Supreme Court?

The case that brought this scenario to the Supreme Court is a perfect example of how relationships are different and have evolved into many gray areas. The biological father entered into a relationship with the mother. He was not aware that she was married to another man in the beginning. Once he found out, she explained that her marriage was for the purpose of immigration. The couple was together for three years, and they had a baby together.

This biological father remained very involved. As mentioned, he was at the hospital when the baby girl was born. The birth certificate has the name of the man rather than the woman’s husband. He paid child support for his daughter. He was involved with taking her on errands, such as going to the doctor or dropping her off at daycare.

The problem came when he wanted to legally declared the father by the courts so that he could earn visitation. The judge stated that because of these antiquated laws her husband should be considered the legal father. This ruling stopped the biological dad from being able to be with his daughter.

Thanks to the history between the man and his daughter, the appeals court reversed this ruling. The Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court and allowed that decision to stand.

How Does This Benefit Biological Dads and Families?

The key benefit that this case offers to biological dads is that it has set a new precedent. It gives biological fathers the opportunity to use this case’s decision to help them in their decision. Ultimately, the benefit is that it may allow biological fathers that are in a tricky situation because of not being considered the father due to a husband being involved to have more of a chance to be involved with their child. Fathers that are involved in their children’s lives make a difference.

How Can A Lawyer Help?

An experienced lawyer that’s familiar with helping biological dads gaining custody and establishing their rights can help. A legal professional that’s familiar with how changes have been made based on these Supreme Court cases can help in restoring rights that had been taken away. Fighting for your rights is important, but not always easy. It can be hard to handle dealing with the questions of legitimacy versus biology.

Seeking professional help is one of the best ways to protect your rights as the biological father. Biological dads are just as important to the upbringing of a child as the mother, and as time goes by, society is changing their views on gender roles. This change in society has resulted in changes in how family law is delivered. Contact our law firm to learn more about how these cases may offer some insights into your particular situation. Our professional staff is experienced with handling family law custody cases and can speak with you about your case. Do what’s best for you and your child by allowing the law to work for you.

 

 

How Do Florida Courts Determine Child Support

Posted on: July 5, 2018 by in Family Law
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child support

There are few things that can complicate a relationship more than money and children. On their own, these issues can be hard to handle after a relationship is over. However, putting them together it can be even worse. It can be confusing when it comes to trying to figure out why one parent ends up paying a set amount of money while another parent in a similar situation ends up paying a completely different amount. There are actually a few factors that the court uses when it comes to determining the amount of child support that the noncustodial parent will pay out to the parent with custody.  

What Do Families Need to Know About Child Support?

Child support is going to differ based on the family. A person may hear that someone they know was ordered to pay a particular amount of money for child support. This fact may make them think that they have to pay the same amount. They may think that it’s low enough that they don’t have to worry. Or they may worry that they won’t be able to afford it. The truth is that you can’t base what your child support order will be on other people’s experience. In some cases, a parent with four children could end up paying less than another parent with two children.

How Are Amounts Determined?

Child support amounts are determined on two main factors. The first is the number of children. The second is how much money is made by the parents. In Florida, the courts use a model known as the income shares model. This model has the theory that the parents will continue to spend the same amount of money on the children that they did before they separated. The courts will estimate the amount each partner would spend on the children if the couple were still together. This amount is divided between the two parents using their income. This calculation determines the obligation of each parent.

What Happens If You Quit Your Job or Reduce Your Hours?

The Florida courts are familiar with some parents that will deliberately try to impact the amount of income they have coming in to influence the amount of child support. Some parents will deliberately quit their job or ask their employer to reduce the number of hours that they work. The courts are legally able to assume that the individual has the same income when it comes to child support even if they have made these changes. This measure acts as a deterrent. However, this action can only be taken if the reduction in hours or job loss was voluntary and beyond their control.

Can Child Support Be Modified in Florida?

The courts in Florida can modify child support payments, but only in cases when there has been a significant change in the amount of money they make. This may be from a loss of income, such as losing a job or making a career change. However, this can also be from circumstances where income is higher than before, such as a raise or promotion. In addition, if there are changes in parenting that go against the parenting plan, such as not having as many overnight visits with the child can result in modifications.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support?

The first thing that happens if you don’t make your payment is that you’ll receive a late notice. After this late notice, other actions may occur. These actions may include withholding your income to cover the payments. They may also suspend your driver’s license and any business licenses that are in your name. In addition, the state may take any refunds you receive from the federal government for your taxes, any worker’s compensation payments, and any lottery winnings from the state lottery. If you apply for a passport, it could be denied. Finally, it can show on your credit report and negatively impact your credit score.

Getting Professional Assistance

Most parents, even if they aren’t happy with the other parent, want what is best for their kids. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll agree on the amount of child support the court orders. It can be beneficial for all parties to have a professional to help in going through this process. A lot of time and attention to detail can be needed when handling child support orders, and disputes can often come up in these cases. An experienced attorney can be beneficial to have on your side.

Are you dealing with a family law situation and have a concern about child support? It can often be a tricky situation that’s not easy to handle. Contact Lewert Law today to discuss your case. As a parent, taking this step to receive help is one of the best ways you can protect yourself and your child.  

Palimony: What You Need To Know

Posted on: June 29, 2018 by in Family Law
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palimony

Palimony divides real property and assets between unmarried, cohabitating partners who have shared financial interests. Couples who live together for long periods of time but never get married still form close bonds and financial ties. In many cases, domestic partners behave just like married couples, with the same commitments. When a long-term, live-in relationship ends, each partner often goes through the same emotional and financial troubles as with a divorce.

What is Palimony?

Palimony is similar to alimony in that one member of a separating couple pays support payments to the former partner. The term became popular when actor Lee Marvin separated from his long-time partner, Michelle Triola, in 1977. Famed attorney, Marvin Mitchelson, Triola’s lawyer, came up with the term when Triola filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Marvin. It is a combination of the word “pal” with the word “alimony.” Ms. Triola claimed that she had given up her career to care for Mr. Marvin. Thus, she felt she deserved support payments so she could carry on with her life in the same style. She also said that there was a verbal agreement that Marvin would take care of her financially. Although she was awarded over $100,000, the case was later appealed, overturning the judgment.

Cohabitation is currently a popular lifestyle alternative to traditional, legal marriage. It is wise for both parties in the relationship to sign a formal cohabitation agreement before moving in together. The paperwork should clearly explain the financial responsibilities of both parties when the relationship ends. Like prenups, most people don’t like to sign cohabitation agreements. People in love tend to think of them as pessimistic. But judges are less likely to award support payments if the living arrangement does not involve a legal framework.

How is Palimony Different from Alimony?

Palimony differs from alimony in that palimony is only recognized in a few states. The court considers alimony as spousal support and division of property between a married couple, either during marriage separation or divorce. There could be no alimony if there were no marriage. All 50 states have provisions to award alimony. Different types of spousal support include permanent, temporary, and duration (lasts as many years as the marriage lasted) alimony, to name a few.

Judges typically award alimony as a monthly support payment. A judge will usually award palimony as a one-time lump sum.

The majority of states don’t recognize or have laws in place for support payments between unmarried couples. Cohabitation laws vary from state to state. Living together under specific circumstances results in what is known as “common law marriage.” Only a small percentage of states recognize such marriages.

What States Allow Palimony Requests?

Generally, most states will hear palimony cases if the relationship was a common law marriage established in a state where common law marriages are recognized. Except in Iowa, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia, same-sex couples do not qualify for common law marriages.  The states that have common law marriage are:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia (if formed before 1/1/1997)
  • Idaho (if formed before 1/1/1996)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas (If both partners are over 18)
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (recognized only after the death of a partner)
  • Ohio (if formed before 10/10/1991)
  • Oklahoma (if formed before 11/1/1998)
  • Pennsylvania (if formed on or before 1/1/2005)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas (with specific rules)
  • Utah (with specific rules)

What are the Conditions for Receiving or Giving Palimony?

There are no set-in-stone rules for palimony support. However, each state that recognizes common law marriage has its specific guidelines. Contrary to common belief, a man and woman who live together for 7 years or more are not automatically in a common law marriage.

A couple that lives together for a long period (several years) and presents themselves to the community as a “married couple” will likely be regarded as being in a common law marriage. Of course, this only applies to the states mentioned above that recognize common law marriage.

Considerations in a palimony case would likely include if the couple:

  • Shared a dwelling
  • If the woman uses the man’s last name
  • Signed contracts or made large purchases together (ex.car or home)
  • Filed joint tax returns
  • Had a shared bank account
  • Call each other as husband and wife
  • Shared expenses
  • Raised children together

Palimony in the State of Florida

Florida is not a state that recognizes common law marriage. The courts in Florida do not regularly hear palimony cases or award palimony in the event of a terminated cohabitation. However, if the common law marriage was formed in a state where it is legal, the palimony case may be heard in a Florida court.

If you need to learn more about palimony in Florida, contact the Lewert Law, L.L.C. family law attorney Tina L. Lewert is board certified in marital and family lawyer who can guide you through the upheaval that comes with the end of a long-term relationship. Call today for a private, free consultation at 561-220-0123.

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