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Plantation Family Law Blog

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.

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.

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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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