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Plantation Family Law Blog

Child custody and moving out of the house

Debating child custody with a soon-to-be ex-spouse is never easy, and Florida parents will generally have a lot of legal questions about the issue. One of those frequently asked questions relates to moving out of the house. Indeed, when tensions are high, one parent may decide to move out of the house for the sake of having his or her own space, but what does this do to that parent's chance of winning custody of his or her children?

Unfortunately, it probably will affect the parent's chances of gaining custody of his or her children. The parent who leaves the family home -- even in cases where the parent had every good reason to leave -- could have less of a chance of getting custody in cases that are decided by a Florida court. This is because judges will generally view the act of leaving as that parent having less of a commitment to the children.

What's virtual visitation?

Virtual visitation refers to the way we visit with our children via telephone, video conferencing, email, instant messaging and other forms of electronic and internet-based communication. This designation of visitation rights is usually addressed in modern parenting agreements and child custody orders.

Virtual visitation comes mostly into play in scenarios where the child lives in a different state from the parent. However, virtual visitation request might additionally be included in a new visitation or child custody request, including in situation that involve non-married fathers and spouses who have yet to be divorced but are living separately.

The most important points courts consider in child custody cases

These days Florida courts are beginning to lean toward a preference for awarding parents with 50-50 custody of their children. What that means is that courts like to see children spending half of their time with each parent, equally, and having the parents share their parental responsibilities equally as well.

However, courts do have discretion when considering a child custody case to make decisions regarding how custody issues will be divided between the parents. When considering such an issue, Florida family law courts will generally review the following information:

Establishing a father's paternity rights voluntarily

When a man fathers a child with his wife, he will receive paternity rights automatically, as the legal process assumes he is the father. On the other hand, when a man fathers a child when he is unmarried, paternity rights are not transferred automatically. Specific steps need to be taken in order for the man to be on record as the father of the child. Fathers are always best served to take those steps as soon as possible - while they are still in a relationship with the mother - in order to avoid possible complications in the event of a breakup.

The easiest way to establish paternity when a couple is not married is for the couple to get married. If the marriage happens prior to birth, then the father will be presumed to be the husband. However, if the marriage occurs after the birth, then a legitimation form can be completed, and that will provide the same parental rights to both spouses.

What is a parenting agreement?

Most child custody cases can be resolved before it is necessary to bring the matter before a court. In fact, considering that resolving a child custody matter out of court is faster and less costly and stressful, it's clear to see why most Florida parents do everything they can to avoid the courts with their child custody cases. In order to resolve a child custody dispute out of court, however, parents will need to agree on a parenting plan.

A parenting plan lays out the agreement that determines how the parents will care for the child, who the child will be with at specific times and how major decisions about a child's life and upbringing will be made. Sometimes, it may help to involve a mediator or the collaborative law process in order to finalize the parenting plan.

A father has the right to see his children

The state of Florida has firm laws set in place to protect children; the rights of fathers to spend time with their children is not always automatic. As such, fathers sometimes need to assert their parental rights in court if they want to have a meaningful presence in the lives of their children.

Fortunately for fathers, one fairly recent development in Florida family law is the fact that what used to be known as "visitation laws" are now "time sharing laws." Time sharing laws refer to the actual parenting plan that lays out the schedule for when and where a father will spend time with his or her children. The parenting plan also plays a role in how much a father will pay for child support.

Keeping track of 50-plus divorces

Baby Boomer divorce rates are increasing and it is affecting their retirement savings in a negative way. At this time, the divorce rate that applies to people who are 50-plus is more than double what it was in 1990. A recent study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers the biggest areas of contention in 50-plus divorces are alimony, pensions, retirement accounts and business interests.

The fact is, people are living longer and the longer they live, the more their relationships and attitudes might change. As a result, over time, babyboomers can easily change enough to cause their marriages to come to an end and they often do.

What should I know about visitation schedules in Florida

When two parents divorce, they will need to decide on custody and visitation schedules. This can be a difficult process to navigate for someone who is not familiar with the usual way that custody and visitation arrangements are organized in the state of Florida. Hopefully, this article will shed light on some important guidelines that may come into play in the average custody and visitation plan.

First and foremost, Florida parents should know that even though "custody" and "visitation" are terms that have been used for a long time in family courts, in the state of Florida, we now use the terminology of "time-sharing" to describe which parent a child is with and when. According to the law, divorcing parents are required to submit time-sharing schedules in their parenting plans to indicate when children will be with which parent.

Does joblessness lead to divorce?

Every Florida resident knows that fights and disagreements about money are one of the most common causes of divorce. Indeed, any kind of financial stress on a family could cause a marriage to crumble. Furthermore, when it comes to tradition gender roles in a marriage, unlike women who do not work, it appears that stay-at-home dads "house-husbands" face a higher risk of divorce.

A study released by Harvard reviewed the financial, family, employment, and other statistics for thousands of married couples. The study found that the employment status of the husband in the relationship resulted in a higher chance of getting divorced. Husbands with full-time jobs have a 2.5 percent chance of divorce, while husbands with part-time or no jobs have a 3.3 chance of divorce. These statistics are starkly different from those from 1975, when there was a higher chance that a couple would break up if the men and women split their household work 50-50.

Remember the best interest of children during divorce

One of the biggest tragedies of divorce can happen when parents enlist their children into the divorce process in an unhealthy way. For example, parents might use their children as sympathetic ears to whom they voice their worries and concerns. They might try to pit their children against the other parent. They might also just forget to consider the feelings and best interests of their children due to the difficult nature of the divorce process.

According to a former U.S Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, we should not make children the victims of their parents' choices. Parents need to remember how much children are often worried during a divorce process. Sometimes children feel that if their parents stop loving each other that they will stop loving them. Sharing too much information with children could result in those kinds of fears.

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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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