Articles Posted in Child Custody and Timesharing

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For most any parent, the best interest of their child is paramount in their mind. This concern can take on a whole other level of intensity if your child’s other parent is experiencing problems with alcohol or drug abuse. If your ex is having difficulty with drinking or drugs and you think that it is impacting her/his parenting of your child, you have options in Florida. These options may include, among other things, suspended timesharing, supervised visitation or substance use monitoring. The key is to make sure that your have amassed the evidence you need and then develop the sort legal arguments required to obtain the modification that will help your family. To make sure you have a persuasive case for modification, be sure to consult an experienced Miami family law attorney.

An example of this type of scenario was the recent case of two Miami-Dade parents, J.N.R. and T.R. Originally, as part of the divorce, the mother, J.N.R., had received unsupervised visitation with the couple’s four-year-old daughter. However, the mother allegedly had ongoing problems with drug and alcohol use. Based on that alleged problem, the father went back to court and obtained what’s called a “post-judgment order.” That order from the judge said that the mother’s unsupervised visitation was suspended. The judge also ordered the mother to undergo substance abuse evaluation and treatment, as well as to obtain and wear an ankle monitoring device that electronically reported if the mother used alcohol. The judge ordered that the mother pay for all of this on her own.

The mother appealed that order, arguing that the trial judge made legal errors both in suspending unsupervised visitation and making her pay for the substance treatment and monitoring expenses.

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You may think that your family law case is simple and straightforward, so much so that you don’t believe you need an experienced Miami family law attorney to provide you with legal representation. The truth is, though, that any case can come with profoundly unexpected twists and turns and, if that happens to you, you need someone who knows exactly what to do. If, for example, your trial judge oversteps his/her legal bounds, your knowledgeable Miami family law attorney can guide you through your options to get you to the outcome you deserve.

A recent case originating from outside Jacksonville was an example of this. Former spouses M.W. and R.S. engaged in years of protracted litigation. In early 2017, the couple attended court-ordered mediation. The mediation took nine hours but, at the end of it, the spouses had come to a resolution on all of the disputed issues they had. The agreement that the spouses negotiated was put down on paper, which spanned 16 pages. It included terms related to parental responsibility, timesharing, child support, property division, insurance and tax exemptions. Both spouses initialed each and every page of the agreement

This sounds exactly like the way that the process should work, and the reaching of an appropriate endpoint, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, cases are not always as straightforward as they should be. During what was supposed to have been a five-minute status conference, the husband’s attorney allegedly presented the agreement to the judge for approval. (Neither the wife nor her attorney attended this hearing.) Instead of merely signing off, the judge made substantial changes. The parties had agreed that the wife would have sole parental responsibility of the pair’s two children; the judge awarded shared parental responsibility. The spouses agreed that the wife would be entitled to take tax exemptions for both children; the judge awarded one exemption to each spouse.

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In any type of binding agreement, it is very important be sure that you understand all of the terms of the agreement and that you are sure that you’re willing to follow those terms. That includes family law-related matters like custody agreements. Ensuring that you understand and truly agree with your arrangement is so important because there are only a very few scenarios in which you can get out of the agreement if you change your mind after you sign. Generally, you have to prove that there was fraud or certain other misconduct; otherwise, you’re required to honor the deal you signed. This also demonstrates the importance of having a South Florida family law attorney on your side for reliable advice and representation.

A dispute from the panhandle was an example of this. M.G. V. filed for divorce after eight years of marriage. She and her husband, T.V., had one daughter together. Initially, the trial court entered a temporary order that put into force the couple’s stipulated temporary timesharing agreement. That set up a 50-50 split in timesharing with the daughter. Several months later, the two parents (each of whom had his/her own attorney) worked out an agreement on timesharing. The agreement called for the mother to have timesharing with the daughter during summer break, every other Thanksgiving break, half of each Christmas break and every “three-day” or “four-day” weekend during the school year.

The wife’s attorney asked her if she understood what the terms of the agreement were. The mother said yes. The mother’s attorney asked if she was in agreement with those terms. She said yes.

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When you and your former spouse or partner share a child, there can be some very special logistical hurdles you have to navigate. That is especially true if you have to move away from your current home and seek to bring your child with you to your new home. Many times, these issues come up because a parent has a job-related or family-related need that makes them choose to relocate. However, what happens if your relocation is not voluntary, such as parents who are facing deportation? Regardless of why relocation happens, be sure you follow the rules necessary to relocate with your child. An experienced Florida family law attorney can provide you with the representation you need when it comes to the legal processes of child relocation.

A Florida couple from Indian River County recently found themselves facing this type of case. The wife was a citizen of the Philippines and received a Green Card when she and the husband married. The marriage lasted only a little more than two years before the husband filed for divorce.

The trial court, in addressing issues of custody and timesharing, recognized that the mother’s future circumstances were uncertain. Her citizenship application was still pending. If the government denied the application, the mother would be deported. The trial judge decided that, if the federal government deported the mother, then she would be entitled to take the daughter with her to the Philippines.

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Many courts, when facing a divorce or paternity case, award the parents shared parental responsibility. In fact, shared parental responsibility is the default option that will be implemented unless there is proof that such a custody arrangement would be against the best interest of the child. However, what happens if you and your child’s other parent are at complete opposites when it comes to a major decision, such as the child’s education? Hopefully, you can find a way to resolve the issue between yourselves but, other times, litigation may be necessary. When that happens, you’ll want to reach out to an experienced Florida family law attorney.

A recent Miami-Dade case presented such an impasse. The parents divorced in 2015. The children were 9 and 8 at that time. During the 2017-18 school year, the children attended public school in Pinecrest. For the 2018-19 academic year, the mother wanted the kids to continue in public school, while the father wanted to enroll them in a nearby Christian academy. The father asserted that the Christian school offered a stronger academic program for the children, and the father also offered to pay the entire cost of the kids’ private school tuition. Nevertheless, the mother still opposed the change.

With the parents unable to resolve their disagreement, the matter went to court. The trial judge sided with the father, and ordered that he pursue applying for admission for the children and enroll them if the school accepted them.

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Most parents just want the best for their children. Part of that includes ensuring that they can have a healthy and meaningful relationship with the child. If you are denied visitation or have all of your visits supervised, that may impair the growth of your relationship with your child. To make sure that you get an appropriate order of visitation that will help to enhance your parent-child relationship, be sure you have representation from an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

One of the key aspects of getting quality visitation time can be obtaining unsupervised visits. One recent case from Miami focused upon that question of transitioning from supervised to unsupervised visits. The parents, D. and S., were married for 14 years before the wife filed for divorce. As part of her divorce petition, the wife sought an injunction for protection against domestic violence. That injunction prevented D. from having contact with S. or the couple’s two children.

The court appointed a psychologist to examine the parents and the children. The psychologist recommended that the father receive supervised visitation with a goal of ending that supervision “in a short time frame.” The guardian ad litem for the children recommended that unsupervised “visits should considered as the next step.” However, when the court entered its parenting plan for the couple, it stated that the father’s supervised timesharing was to continue and made no reference to any future potential for unsupervised visits.

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Almost all parents want to provide the best for their child. They also often believe that what’s best for their child is for that child to live with them, which can be a recipe for discord when addressing issues of child custody and timesharing in a Florida divorce. Miami is, of course, a truly international city, which means that, in this area, divorces may involve parents not simply in different states but in different continents. If a parent believes that the other parent is not following the court’s rules, the law gives that parent certain rights, including seeking an order of contempt. The other parent has rights too, including the basic right to due process of law. Whether you are the parent going to court or the one being brought into court, be sure to protect your rights and your family by retaining a skilled South Florida child custody attorney for your case.

A recent Miami case presented this type of issue of international timesharing. Bronislaw and Monika were married in Poland. The couple had one child. Eventually, the couple decided to divorce, which was litigated in Poland. Later, the mother brought herself and the child to Miami on a visitor visa.

The father alleged that the mother absconded from Poland with the child. The Polish court apparently did not agree, creating a custody arrangement in which the mother had majority timesharing. The father was allowed to bring the child to Poland during his time, but only on the condition that the child return to Florida at the end of each visit.

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Most divorced parents genuinely desire to provide the best they possibly can for their children. The problem that arises in many situations is that the parents disagree on which arrangements would be best for the children. These disagreements can sometimes lead to litigation. When it does, it is important to know what a court can, and cannot, do in terms of creating an order of custody and timesharing. It is also important to make sure that you have representation from a knowledgeable Florida child custody attorney to help you protect your relationship with your children.

The custody case between ex-spouses Elisia and Kenneth was an example of the limits of what the court can do. The two were the divorced parents of one child, who was not yet of kindergarten age. The mother lived in Pensacola, while the father lived roughly 50 miles to the west in Mobile, Ala. While the parents were going through the divorce process, they had equal timesharing. They met once a week halfway between Mobile and Pensacola to exchange the child. The child actually attended two different preschools – one in each city – due to this arrangement.

Of course, this arrangement would not be workable once the child reached kindergarten age. In court, each parent argued for receiving majority timesharing. Specifically, each parent argued that the child, once kindergarten started, should live with him or her during the school year and attend school in his or her hometown. The father’s proposal called for continuing the alternating weeks plan for the next 20 months until the child started kindergarten in Mobile. The trial judge ordered that the couple’s parenting plan would match the father’s proposal in totality.

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Divorce often can be an extremely emotionally trying time for any couple, and especially so for couples with minor children. Those stresses and challenges can frequently be amplified even more if one parent desires to move far away and take the children with her or him. Ideally, the parents will be able to work cooperatively for the benefit of the children. When they cannot, though, it becomes necessary to involve the court system. Whether you are the parent seeking the relocation or the parent opposing it, it is important to make sure you have skilled Florida child custody counsel on your side to advise you and, when necessary, advocate for you to protect your family and your relationship with your children.

Florida has a statute specifically dedicated to the process of parents relocating with their children. This relocation statute only applies if the distance of the relocation is at least 50 miles. Thus, if you are, for example, moving from Coconut Grove to Boca Raton, you don’t need the court’s permission. If you are moving from Coral Gables to Palm Beach Gardens, you do need court approval, or else an agreement with your child’s other parent.

The statute says that there are multiple ways to relocate. As noted above, you can work out a mutual agreement between you and the child’s other parent. If you find yourself using the court option, it is important to bear in mind that the statute demands the submission of several pieces of information before the judge will consider your request. You must provide the court with the exact location to which you are moving and the specific reasons why you are making the move with the child. If your reasons center primarily around a job offer, and that offer has been made in writing, the court is going to need a copy of that written offer.