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Plantation Family Law Blog

Will I be able to spend time with my children after the divorce?

Imagine facing the threat that you'll never get to see or spend time with your children again. The thought seems unimaginable to most parents, but for some Florida mothers and fathers this threat is real. Regardless of how it happens -- be it because the parent was convicted of a crime, convicted of committing abuse, accused of child neglect or some other reason -- some parents never get to see their kids.

Fortunately, the cases in which a parent cannot see his or her child are rare. In most situations, Florida parents have the right to -- at the very least -- some form of child visitation. There are two primary kinds of child visitation in this regard: unsupervised child visitation and supervised child visitation.

Information about parental child abduction cases

The most common kind of kidnapping is done by one of the parents of the child. This parent may not agree with the child custody orders and decide to take matters into his or her own hands by taking the child and keeping him or her in violation of a court's ruling. When these instances happen, the law offers the means for the other parent to get his or her child returned.

The first course of action for a parent to take following a parental kidnapping is to notify the police. Local, state and federal authorities will swiftly move into action where necessary in these cases. Often, the authorities involved will be able to locate the child and get him or her returned. Sometimes, parents may employ a private investigator to assist in locating the child.

Under what circumstances can parents lose their parental rights?

A parent could suffer the termination of his or her parental rights under various circumstances. Courts usually will not order the termination of parental rights, however, unless a parent presents some kind of risk to the child, has abandoned the child or is unfit to serve as a parent.

Here are some examples of circumstances in which a parent could lose his or her parental rights in Florida court. Loss of custody could result if the parent:

  • Regularly or severely abused the child
  • Sexually abused the child
  • Psychologically tortured or abused the child
  • Inflicted emotional damage onto the child
  • Neglected the child's basic needs
  • Suffers from chronic mental illness
  • Has a drug or alcohol abuse problem
  • Cannot or will not support the child
  • Does not stay in contact with the child/abandoned the child
  • Does not offer the child the chance to go to school
  • Was convicted of a violent crime against a family member or the child

How should I spend time with my child on visitation days?

Depending on how your family was organized while you were married, you may or may not know how best to spend time with your children during visitation days. For example, let's say you have your child for every other weekend. You've cleared your schedule so that you can spend every second together on these days, but what should you and your son or daughter do to pass the time?

Before answering this question, the first order of business is for newly single parents to understand that it's not their responsibility to make every weekend an incredibly spectacular, fun-filled adventure. The most important thing is that you have reserved the time and you'll be devoting your weekend to your child. Just getting a chance to spend time with mom and dad, in the world of a child, is always enough.

Divorced noncustodial dads: What do the statistics say?

The Fatherhood Institute studies single dads and their relationship with their children. The institute offers useful statistics that show how noncustodial dads maintain their relationship with their children. Studying this data may be interesting to fathers who want to know where they stand in terms of the norm for a single, noncustodial father.

Here's what you should know as a single dad:

  • Approximately 33 percent of children get to spend time with their nonresident father every week.
  • Approximately 50 percent of nonresident dads see their children on a monthly basis.
  • Approximately 25 percent of children rarely or never get to see their nonresident dads.
  • Approximately 25 percent of nonresident dads encounter difficulties when trying to see their children because the mother made it hard.
  • Approximately mothers say that the nonresident father is uncommitted, inflexible or unreliable and it poses a problem for the children.

What should I do if my child was taken to a foreign country?

International marriages are more common than ever, and that means that international divorces are also on the rise. These situations get particularly complicated when children are involved -- especially if the foreign spouse decides to take the child outside of the United States and back to his or her home country.

Sometimes, the foreign parent will simply ask to take the child home to his or her country for a short vacation or trip -- but the short trip turns into a permanent stay. Other times, the foreign parent will travel with the child back to his or her country without the other parent's permission. If this has happened to you, and you can't get your child back, there are a few things you will have to do to try and get your child returned:

What are my rights as a Florida grandparent?

Florida is a popular spot for retirees and elderly individuals, but that doesn't mean grandparents have an easy time safeguarding their right to visit with their grandkids. In fact, Florida's grandparent visitation laws are don't protect very much in terms of visitation rights, but they do offer some protections.

Specifically, if one of the parents of the grandchild have died, gone missing or become incapacitated, the grandparents can file a lawsuit to secure the right to visit with their grandchild. Grandparents can also file for visitation rights if the parent was convicted of committing a felony-level offense that was violent in nature, but they will need to prove that the parent is "unfit" or could cause "significant harm to the child." Grandparents may also have rights in cases where children are born out of wedlock and following a divorce or dissertation. The same rules apply to great-grandparents.

Child visit tips: How to be the best 'soccer parent' you can be

When your time with your child is limited, it's important to make the most of that time. Showing up for your child's sporting events to lend your parental support is a great way to do this. That said, some Florida soccer moms and soccer dads have to be careful not to put too much pressure on their kids.

Here are a few things that noncustodial parents and custodial parents should remember when attending their child's sporting event:

  • Sports for your child are about having fun, making friends, getting exercise, learning new skills, building confidence, learning to be a good sport and learning how to work on a team. Sure, everybody wants to win and compete, but are these the most important things for your child, or are they just important to you?
  • Pushy and demanding parents take the fun out of the game. Pressured kids feel stressed, and sports stop being fun.
  • The line between being a supportive fan and being a stress-inducing fanatic is easy to cross without realizing. Reserve your fanatic antics for the pro teams you love. The pros are adults and professionals, so they can handle the pressure.
  • Seventy percent of children stop playing sports because they're not fun for them anymore. Is this because the sports were never fun, and they've just become more conscious of their feelings? Is this because of increased pressure to perform coming from hard could result in them giving up. There's a fine line between being supportive and being destructive.

Virtual visitation is just as important as real visitation

Florida parents who have the chance to live with their children are truly fortunate. There are many parents who don't have full-time access to their children. Usually, the parent who doesn't live with his or her child full-time is awarded visitation rights. These rights could allow the parent to spend only a handful of days with his or her child each month. However, what about the other days? Can the parent continue to maintain contact with the child?

In addition to in-person visitation time, family law courts usually give non-custodial parents the right to conduct "virtual" visitations with their children on a regular basis. Generally, this involves the non-custodial parent calling the child on the phone and/or using Skype, FaceTime and other communication methods.

How to petition for child custody

In the state of Florida, parents who are in the process of getting a divorce will have the custody of their children decided during their divorce process. As for parents who have not yet started their divorce, they can file a child custody petition in the appropriate circuit court.

As for unwed fathers, the procedure to gain child custody is different. The father will have to first prove his paternity before filing the petition for child custody. DNA testing will likely be required to prove paternity. Once paternity has been proved, the court will decide on an appropriate parenting plan that dictates the responsibilities of both parents, in addition to a time-sharing arrangement. The court will also submit a child support order.

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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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