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Plantation Family Law Blog

Child custody doesn't always have to be a win-or-lose situation

Children want and need both of their parents, but historically child custody has been handled in the courts in such a way as to make the parents adversaries. This creates a situation in which one parent wins and the other parent loses. Despite the court's intention of protecting the child's best interests, the win-or-lose approach too often greatly limits a loving and capable parent's time with the child.

Of course, there are cases where the child should definitely be in the physical and legal custody of one parent and not the other, but that is not true in every instance. To ensure that their rights are protected and that their child's well-being overrides all other concerns, parents should have a legal representative who understands what is at stake.

Failing to pay child support not only hurts the child; parents can face serious legal consequences

In matters of child support, as in decisions related to parenting plans and child custody, the primary concern is doing what is best for the child. Sometimes the parent who receives support feels the amount being paid simply isn't enough, and sometimes the paying parent has doubts about how the money is being spent.

The best way to go about resolving a child support dispute is to go through the proper legal channels. In some cases, a modification of a child support order is appropriate. What a paying parent should never do is simply abandon his or her obligation to support the child financially.

Talking about child custody in collaborative terms

Most people think of language in terms of which words will best express what they think and feel. But the relationship goes the other way as well. Words and phrases have the power to shape how we think and feel. This is among the reasons why Florida courts prefer to use phrases like "parenting plans" and "time sharing" rather than the more traditional "child custody" and "visitation."

For decades, the custody model was often based on picking the "better parent" and awarding custody accordingly. In some parts of the United States, this is still how things are done. But family courts are increasingly realizing that frequent and continued contact with both parents is often in the best interests of children after divorce.

Knowing when divorce is the right decision

Couples who are having serious trouble with their marriage are sometimes able to work things out through counseling. Misunderstandings and confusion can take hold of a relationship in unexpected ways, and sometimes a counselor is able to help spouses carefully and calmly identify their differences and resolve them.

However, some situations are serious enough that counseling is not likely to result in conflict resolution, and divorce may be the right decision for all parties involved.

What you should know about Florida divorce law

To get divorced in Florida, you don't have to prove that your spouse is at fault, and your spouse doesn't have to agree to divorce or even participate in the process for the marriage to be legally ended. Florida law provides for no-fault divorce, and you can simply state that your marriage has undergone an irretrievable breakdown. If your spouse chooses not to participate, then it may be possible to get a default judgment in order to end the marriage.

However, to file for a divorce in Florida, you must have been a resident of the state for at least six months, and Florida residents who have filed for divorce have to wait 20 days from the date of filing before the divorce can be finalized.

How is child support calculated in a high-asset divorce?

A recent article reminds us that child support disputes can arise for divorcing parents at any income level -- even billionaires.

According to a recent article, Kenneth and Dias Griffin’s high profile and reportedly contentious divorce includes a dispute over child support for their three children, ages 2, 4 and 7. Kenneth, a hedge-fund manager, has an estimated net worth of over $5 billion. Dias also has her own assets, valued around $50 million.

What can prompt motions to terminate parental rights in Florida?

We have written often about the shift that has taken place in the landscape when it comes to how the Florida law approaches family law matters related to child custody and parental involvement. In recent years, especially when handling divorce cases, the focus has moved from trying to decide which parent should have the greatest control over parenting to one that seeks to keep both parents actively and equally involved.

The premise of that policy is that the parent-child relationship is of such a special nature that the child's best interest is better met if both parents remain part of the child's life through all his or her formative years.

Change in circumstances can require parenting plan modification

After you went through the process of establishing an enforceable parenting plan with your ex-spouse, you may have felt relieved that the process was finished. Matters were settled, and you could begin moving on with your life and being a loving parent without the distraction of divorce. After all, divorce decrees are supposed to be treated as permanent.

But life is full of unexpected turns, and sometimes divorce decrees and child custody arrangements have to be amended.

New custody provisions protect rights of parents in the military

Military families can face specific kinds of challenges in child custody disputes. Because service members are so often deployed and redeployed, it is possible that judges in multiple jurisdictions will have a say in divorce and child custody matters.

To provide some inter-jurisdictional uniformity and protections for military members, new rules were included in this year's defense authorization bill, which was passed by Congress in December. According to the new rules, unless a modification is needed to protect the child's best interests, child custody arrangements cannot be changed while a parent is deployed, and the custody arrangement prior to deployment will be in place after the deployed parent returns.

Divorcing parents need legal counsel with understanding and empathy

You don't have to look far to find stories of celebrities going through contentious and expensive divorces, often involving heated and public disputes over child custody and property division. The stories are so headline-grabbing that one might have the impression that every divorce has to unfold as a court battle.

While the need for litigation may be necessary in many cases, an increasing number of divorces are being settled outside of court with the help of parent coordinators and divorce attorneys with expertise in parent-child relationships. Going to court is certainly an option, but much work can be done in a more private setting, and parents who take this route often find it to be more efficient and less costly.

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