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Plantation Family Law Blog

How does divorce affect my teenager?

Teenagers are in the process of organizing their values, ideals and beliefs so they can incorporate them into a cohesive self-identity. However, the circumstances surrounding a divorce can trigger a teen to feel insecure about his or her identity. It can also make a teen feel insecure about future relationships and his or her future life path and finances. As such, to ensure the psychological wellbeing of their teens, divorcing parents will want to keep several things in mind about their children. 

A sense of self-sufficiency is very important for teenagers to weather the storm of a divorce. Without a strong sense of self-sufficiency, the stresses of divorce could cause a teen to become rebellious, resentful or carry out self-defeating patterns. For example, perhaps the teen makes friends with people who are harmful to him or her, chooses bad daily habits, changes his or her appearance, alters his or her routine or becomes isolated and withdrawn. 

Florida mom asks for visitation after kidnapping accusation

The tragic story of a mother accused of kidnapping her baby girl is again in the news. The 24-year-old mother was accused of kidnapping her daughter across state lines in 2014. Allegedly, part of the reason why she absconded with the child was to prevent her daughter's vaccination. The woman is now slotted to appear in court this Tuesday to request visitation privileges from a Broward judge. 

The mother pleaded no contest last September to the criminal charges of removing her child from the state against court orders and interfering with child custody. As a result of the no contest plea, she was sentenced to serve two years under house arrest and an additional three years of probation. The Broward County Circuit Court Judge agreed to withhold adjudication -- meaning that it will not be put on the woman's criminal record -- as long as the woman serves out her sentence. 

What are virtual visitation rights?

In the modern era of digital communication, single parents have an unlimited number of options for spending time with their children over the digital airways. Whether it's by telephone, Skype, email, social media or some other method, visiting with your children like this is commonly referred to as "virtual visitation," "internet visitation," or "electronic visitation." These days, family law courts across the United States -- including Florida -- are beginning to recognize a parent's right to virtual visitation with his or her children when the parent cannot otherwise be present in person.  

Florida law actually includes provisions that give courts the ability to order virtual visitation terms in child custody cases. As such, parents who are negotiating their divorces out of court may want to include a provision pertaining to virtual visitation in their parenting agreements. 

Do grandparents have the right to visit their grandchildren?

If you are a Florida grandparent who is not being permitted to visit with your grandchildren, you may have the right to assert your legal right to visit with your grandchildren in court. Grandparents in Florid have the ability to submit a legal petition to secure visitation rights under a variety of circumstances.

First, if a child was born to two unmarried parents, a grandparent can file a legal action to secure visitation rights. Let's say the mother of the child wants nothing to do with the biological father, but the father's paternity has already been established. The mother may be required to allow the grandparents to visit with their grandchildren if such a legal petition is successful.

How courts determine the best interest of a child

Child custody cases in Florida largely center around the best interests of the child involved. In fact, courts must make their child custody decisions with the primary objective of supporting the welfare of the children above anyone else in the matter. Secondarily, the courts will consider how convenient their decisions are for the parents.

Across the country, Florida and 22 other states have specific language in their family law statutes on child custody that require courts to hold the best interests of the child as a starting point in their custody decisions. Here are some of the factors that courts will usually consider in this regard:

Can I prevent my abusive ex-spouse from visiting my children?

The majority of divorce proceedings happen peacefully between two consenting adults, and the reason for the divorce is usually because "irreconcilable differences." However, in certain cases that involve children, the situation is a great deal more serious. Sometimes, one or the other spouses was criminally abusive toward the other and/or toward their children. In this situation, the victimized spouse may feel it necessary to protect him or herself and the children by filing for divorce.

Particularly in cases, where a spouse was physically abusive, it may be possible for the other parent to take legal action to prevent the spouse from receiving child visitation rights. Facts relating to a history of abuse may be emphasized during family court proceedings in order to show that an abusive parent should not be granted full access to his or her children.

Using DNA tests to establish paternity

Florida fathers who wanted to establish paternity before the era of blood and DNA tests were up against some very serious challenges. For this reason, courts traditionally would award paternity to whatever man was married to the woman who gave birth to the child, and in terms of unmarried women, courts would not allow a great deal of speculation or argument unless the physical appearance of the child in question was overwhelmingly proof enough.

Genetic testing has changed all this, making it possible for any father to prove that he is the parent of his or her biological children at any time. All that is required is a piece of genetic material from the child and the father in question. Children receive half of their genetic information from their fathers and half from their mothers, and since DNA is entirely unique to the individual, scientists can examine DNA to conclusively prove with 99.9 percent accuracy whether or not a man is the father of a particular child.

Special needs children and divorce

Parents of children with special needs must work tirelessly to make both their own lives and the lives of their children as normal, happy and stress-free as possible. Fortunately, many parents are able to achieve this for themselves and their families. However, when divorce is entered into the equation, it can represent a significant challenge to the balance and harmony one has worked so hard to achieve.

At the Law Offices of Kelley A. Joseph, here are some of the most common issues we help parents of children with special needs deal with. At all times, we strive to limit the stresses and frustrations associated with divorce, while protecting the rights of our clients in the following important areas:

Reasonable visitation versus fixed visitation in child custody

When two Florida parents are getting a divorce, the most important thing to consider is how the parenting plan will be organized, and how the children will spend time with each parent. When it comes to one parent having full custody of the children, the other parent will have the right to visitation. Visitation arrangements can be categorized "reasonable visitation" and "fixed visitation."

Reasonable visitation allows both parents -- provided they are still in communication and getting along -- to have the freedom to create their own parenting plans and visitation schedules. When negotiating reasonable visitation arrangements, usually the parent with full custodial rights will have more influence and power over the duration and times of the visitation schedule. If the custodial parent becomes unreasonable, achieving reasonable visitation will usually be impossible and it may be necessary for a family law judge to make an opinion on the matter.

Information to include in your parenting plan

In order for a Broward parenting plan to be approved by a Florida family law court, parents need to include specific information and details inside it. They also need to ensure that the plan honors the rights of both parents and is clearly in the best interest of the children. For this reason, parents often turn to the assistance of an experienced family law attorney for help in these matters.

In the state of Florida, here is what a parenting plan needs to include:

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Law Office of Kelley A. Joseph, P.A.
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900 South Pine Island Road, Suite 230
Plantation, FL 33324

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