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Plantation Family Law Blog

Mother finally reunited with baby after 5 month custody battle

After five months, a Florida mother is finally reunited with her son. The mother re-gained custody after the allegations of her being an "unfit mother" were thrown out by a judge.

The mother, who was reported to the Seminole County Child Protective Services by a doctor, lost custody of her little boy only 12 days after the birth. The woman's doctor reported her after she refused to take the child, who was found to be 10 percent underweight, to the hospital, and instead the mother used soy formula to supplement her breast milk. The decision to use soy formula also supported the mother's vegan lifestyle.

Under what circumstances can a non-parent get custody of a child?

Florida family law presumes that a child's parents are best suited to care for the child. The law also presumes that the parents should have parental rights. In some extremely difficult cases, however, a court may require the biological parents to relinquish custody of their child. Each one of these cases is unique, and every parent facing this situation should have experienced legal counsel.

A non-parent can be given custody of a child through a number of legal channels. The least contentious route involves the biological parents' voluntarily giving consent. If the parents voluntarily sign a document terminating their parental rights, then legal custody of the child can be turned over to another family member. This is an extremely difficult decision to make, and every party involved should have a legal advocate throughout the process. 

Reduce uncertainty with a legal separation agreement

A primary objective of the divorce process is to reach a final agreement on matters such as property division, spousal support, child support and parenting time. Until that agreement is reached, however, the period of separation may be fraught with uncertainty.

To help alleviate your worries during separation, it is a good idea to establish a temporary agreement with your spouse. A long-term agreement may take some time to sort out, but you can still address any separation issues with a temporary arrangement.

Parents must use proper legal channels in child custody disputes

For many people, divorce is the most difficult experience in life, and the emotional and legal process of ending a marriage can be particularly trying if the spouses disagree over child custody. When a custody order is already in place while the divorce is being finalized, it is extremely important that parents abide by that order. Failing to do so can have negative consequences for everyone involved.

One Florida mom is having an extremely difficult time in the midst of her ongoing divorce. The former sheriff's deputy has recently been admitted twice for involuntary mental health examinations under the Florida Mental Health Act, commonly called the Baker Act, and she was arrested on Oct. 21 for allegedly interfering with a child custody order.

Tips for co-parenting this Halloween

One important aspect of co-parenting after divorce is planning for who will have the children on holidays and other special occasions throughout the year. Halloween is coming up, and with the right planning, this particularly kid-focused holiday can be positively memorable for parents and children alike. What you don't want to do as a parent is leave the planning until the last minute.

An important question to ask: does your parenting plan clearly address the holiday? If you are currently going through a divorce and don't yet have an arrangement that includes holiday provisions, then it is important to communicate with your co-parent well in advance. If you do have a child custody arrangement, then now is a good time to review it just so you're clear on the plan.

Parent coordinators help provide long-term solutions

Understandably, parents who are going through divorce often have a difficult time meeting each other on common ground in terms of child custody arrangements. If this is your situation, then it may be a good idea to make a list of things, no matter how small, that you both can agree on, and then try to build from there.

For example, maybe you and your co-parent can agree that staying with the same pediatrician is the right decision. If you both agree about your child's extracurricular activities, then maybe that can be added to the list. Really, any number of points of agreement may serve as a foundation for a long-term solution.

What are the legal requirements for custodial parents who want to relocate?

Occasionally child custody arrangements have to be modified because the custodial parent wants to relocate with the child. Sometimes both parents agree to the move; other times they don't. Here let's go over the requirements relocating parents must satisfy under Florida law.

The parent with whom the child lives most of the time must notify the other parent before moving with the child if the following statements apply:

  • The new principal residence is more than 50 miles away from the custodial parent's current residence
  • The relocation will last for at least 60 consecutive days

When can a Florida child support order be modified?

When divorce decrees are made, they are meant to be permanent. However, it may be possible to modify a divorce decree with regard to child support if the financial or personal circumstances of the parties have changed. Successfully changing a Florida child support order requires careful preparation, and parents who are seeking a modification, whether it's a reduction or increase in payments, should have the help of a family law attorney throughout the process.

In Florida, the amount of child support is calculated based on the child's needs and both parents' income. A child support order can be modified if the requesting parent can show that a major change in circumstances has occurred. For example, a modification may be appropriate if a parent loses a job or gets a promotion. 

How is paternity established in Florida?

The question of paternity comes up in many family law cases. In Florida, when the parents of a child are married, generally nothing needs to be done to prove paternity. However, when the parents are not married, paternity can be established in three ways: a paternity acknowledgment form signed by both parents, an administrative paternity order, or a judicial paternity order.

Many fathers and mothers sign paternity acknowledgment forms at the hospital when the child is born, but you can also sign this form at a later date. Paternity acknowledgment means that both parents agree that the father has parental rights and responsibilities.

Taking legal steps to protect against domestic violence

When domestic violence is an issue in any Florida divorce or separation of partners, it is extremely important to take immediate legal action to address the situation. If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, then your primary concern should be safety. Contact police and get to a safe place as soon as you can. Once you're there, you can take additional legal steps to help ensure that the abuse never happens again.

In many cases, a restraining order is necessary to guard against domestic violence. A family law attorney can help you obtain a restraining order. An official report of domestic abuse, along with a restraining order, can also have a major impact on every aspect of a divorce, including child custody and parenting time.

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