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Plantation Family Law Blog

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:

Court says Florida father cannot discuss religion with children

A father in Florida has been restricted from sharing his religious viewpoints with his children. In a recent appeals court case, a three-judge panel determined that the man's religious opinions are emotionally damaging for his children; therefore, he should not be permitted to share them.

The couple split up in 2013 following a psychotic episode suffered by one of their children. At the same time, the mother filed for a domestic violence injunction against the father. According to three professionals who testified in the divorce case, the father's demonization and damnation of the mother of the children resulted in all three of the children suffering emotional distress and anxiety to a level that qualified as abuse.

Can I withhold visitation if I'm owed child support?

When a parent who is supposed to be paying child support falls behind on making the payments, this can place enormous strain on the already difficult relationship between former partners who are now separately parenting a child together. Sooner or later, the desire to compel the owing parent to get one's act together and pay the child support will probably inspire the idea to withhold visitation privileges. While this may seem like a reasonable form of leverage, anyone who is thinking of taking this course of action should absolutely reconsider.

The primary reason to reconsider withholding visitation to compel another parent to pay owed child support is because visitation is just as much the right of the child as it is the right of the parent. Ultimately, on a personal level, you want the best for your child. This is why you want the other parent to follow through on his or her responsibilities -- for the sake of your child. While you have many responsibilities as a parent, it is unfair to take away a child's right to see his or her other parent simply because the two of you are in a conflict.

How to make divorce as stress-free as possible for your children

Divorce is never easy, and when children are involved, the process is even more difficult. This is largely because parents are not only trying to manage their own feelings and process the difficulty of separating from someone they used to be in love with, but they also have to try and manage and protect the sensitive feelings of their children through the process. This article will discuss three pieces of advice to help make divorce as stress-free as possible for your children.

First, parents should never make their children into pawns to get leverage on property division matters and financial disputes. In divorce negotiations, a parent might say that he or she will allow one spouse to have full custody of a child in exchange for receiving certain property division allotments in the negotiation of property rights. Using children like this can be extremely destructive for the self-esteem of the child.

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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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