Articles Posted in Parental Rights

Relocation after a divorce where there are children involved can be a touchy situation.  On the one hand, there is a parent that believes he or she needs to move to accomplish some perceived improvement in life.  On the other hand, there is a parent who will suffer by having an increased distance between him or her and the children.  Both non-majority time-sharing and majority time-sharing parents can have concerns about the other ex-spouse moving far away.  However, usually, the situations call into question whether a majority time-sharing parent should be allowed to move with the children.  These types of situations are even more serious when the majority time-sharing parent wants to move with the children to another state.  Although the move is more drastic, the same factors will be considered.


Relocation can a touchy situation.

Relocation is addressed by Florida Statute 61.13001.  Per statute, “ ‘Relocation’ means a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.”  The parent seeking relocation has the burden of proving that the relocation is in the best interest of the children.  The court will consider many factors, including the reason for the move, the effect the move will have on the time-sharing of the other parent, relevant economic considerations, and many other factors.

The relocation statute applies where cases have already been filed, but not pre-filing.  For example, Florida appellate courts have found that where a mother has moved out of the State prior to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage being filed and served in a divorce case, the mother was free to move with the children without getting approval from the court.  In cases where the relocation statute should apply, but the move is less than 50 miles, there may be other grounds for objecting to the move.  At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced family lawyers that can help protect your rights as a parent.  Call today for a free consultation.

If your divorce case goes wrong, you made need to appeal the judge’s decision. Judges don’t always get it right. I’ve witnessed this as a Jacksonville family and divorce lawyer. Whenever, cases have reached a final conclusion, our legal system allows a person to appeal the decision. In family cases, judges listen to evidence at trials and must decide what is in the best interest of a child when considering time-sharing or child custody issues.  Florida Statute 61.13(3) lists the factors that the judge should use. The trial judge has discretion to do what he or she sees fit and in accord with the facts and the law in each case.

system_failureWhen cases are appealed, the appeals court will look back at the decision made by the trial judge and decide whether the judge abused his or her discretion. In the recently decided case of Niekamp v. Niekamp, the Second District Court of Appeals overruled a Leon County, Florida judge regarding several issues.  The judge in the Niekamp case awarded no time-sharing to the Husband in the case, but did not implement a plan for reunification of the Husband and the children. The appeals court deemed the lack of a reunification plan as an abuse of discretion.  Although the trial judge found that no time-sharing was appropriate for the time, there was no evidence that it was in the children’s best interest to never be reunited with the Husband.

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movingkidsIn Florida, the biological fathers of children born out of wedlock have few, or no rights, regarding the children until the court establishes paternity.  Florida Statute 744.301 makes a child’s mother the natural guardian when a child is born to unmarried parents.  Mothers are deemed to have automatic custody when the child is born. This means a single mother has the parental responsibility to make important decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing and the child lives with the mother.  Generally, there are two methods for a biological father to gain parental rights. He can formally petition the court for these rights, or he may establish through an informal method with the mother’s consent.

Petitioning the court.

A father may take legal action to establish his parental rights. He can prove that he is the biological father and petition the court for parental rights. In Florida, a father can file a Petition to Establish Paternity to establish parental rights. The court may then issue a parenting plan, which will describe in detail how the mother and father will be responsible for the daily upbringing of the child, the time-sharing schedule, and methods of communication with the child.

After a court has established paternity through this method, the father has the same rights as he would if he were married to the child’s mother. The mother can also ask the court to order the father to pay child support. The amount of child support to be paid usually depends on the father’s income and guidelines established by state law.

What does it mean to be a putative father?

In Florida, the term “putative father” means an individual who is or may be the biological father of a child whose paternity has not been established and whose mother was unmarried when the child was conceived and born. In order to establish rights as a father, the putative father must file a notarized claim of paternity form with Florida’s Department of Health, which maintains the Florida Putative Father Registry. A claim of paternity may be filed at any time prior to the child’s birth, but a claim may not be filed after the date a petition is filed for termination of parental rights. Once a claim is filed with this department, the registrant expressly consents to submit to DNA testing upon the request of any party, the registrant, or the adoption entity with respect to the child referenced in the claim of paternity, according to Florida Statute 63.054.

A claim of paternity form does require the alleged father provide some information such as the name, address, date of birth and a physical description of the mother and the father. It also must provide the date, place, and location of conception of the child if known. Continue reading

Yesterday we looked at laws Jacksonville, Florida parents should know about. Here are a few more.

9. My kid is always bruised from playing. His teacher suspected we were abusing him and called the police and DCF on us. Why did she do that?
She was following Florida law, which requires any person who believes that a child is being abused, neglected or exploited to report the suspicions to the Department of Children and Families (DDCF). The law provides the person making the report with immunity, as long as she acted in good faith. If your son’s teacher hadn’t reported her suspicions, she could have been charged with a crime.

10. What does a child need to know before entering kindergarten?
Admission to a public kindergarten is not contingent upon what a child knows; if the child meets the age requirement, he or she is eligible for admission. The Florida Partnership for School Readiness has published “Performance Standards” for 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Those standards reflect what children should know and be able to do. You may access that information and other resources from the Partnership’s website. In addition, the Sunshine State Standards provide expectations for student achievement in Florida. These were written in seven subject areas, each divided into four separate grade clusters (PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12).
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Like every state in the Union, Florida has a host of laws that affect you as a parent. Some of this laws or Administrative Rules may enhance your parental rights, while others, if not followed could land you in jail or create civil or criminal liabilities if not obeyed. While every Parent in the United States has a Fundamental Right to be a parent, with these rights come important responsibilities.

So how do you know what is the law? We hope this series of articles will guide you to a few important concepts regarding Florida Law.

1. How long can I keep my kids home with me before I have to send them to school?

Florida law, states that all children who are either six years of age, who will be six years old by February 1 of any school year, or who are older than six years of age but who have not attained the age of 16 years, must attend school regularly during the entire school term.

2. Does Florida law specify an age requirement for admission into a public school first grade?

Florida law does not provide a specific age requirement for enrollment to public first grade, the provisions of Florida law related to kindergarten admission and student progression dictate that first grade enrollment be limited to (1) students who turn six years old on or before September 1 who have successfully completed kindergarten; and (2) out-of-state students who turn six years old after September 1 who meet the age requirement for public kindergarten admission from the transferring state, and who have successfully completed kindergarten.
3. Can we home school our Children?

Yes. When you decide to home school a child in Florida, you must notify the school district superintendent of your intentions in writing. The letter must include names, addresses, and birth dates of the children who will be enrolled in home education and must be filed within 30 days of beginning the homeschooling process. The same process must be completed if you decide to stop homeschooling your children, and the letter again must be filed within 30 days of the termination of the home education program. You will also be required to have an annual educational evaluation of your child or children, which is to be performed by a licensed teacher within the State of Florida. If you are teaching elementary grades, an elementary teacher will be needed for the evaluation; and if you are teaching secondary grades, you will need to have the evaluation performed by a secondary teacher.
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Very often a client will tell me he or she wants the best possible outcome in a divorce case. He or she may want the other Parent to have diminished time with their child. Much of the time this parent thinks they are protecting their child from what they see to be a bad person. They have confused their failed relationship with this person with a failed parent, which is an entirely different thing. I take a different approach…is my client’s position a reasonable one that I can justify to the Judge? The one issue that must remain on a client’s mind is this: Will a third party (read the Judge) find my position reasonable?

I find this one of the most important and effective of tools to obtain good and fair results in the courtroom, even when I can’t achieve every single one of my client’s goals. Reasonableness speaks to credibility. It also assumes that possibility of some win-win, and enables the Court to feel it has achieved substantial justice. Judges don’t generally like giving one side everything they ask for, unless of course they are really displeased at the other side.

By staking out a position that the judge will find thoughtful and reasonsable, you may gain wiggle room in other areas that you deem to be more important. Winning in Family Court means everyone walks out a winner. And a very happy Judge.

DNA Doesn't Determine FatherFew Floridians realize that although the DNA test is the strongest evidence we can get to prove actual genetic relationships that there is a difference between Legal Fatherhood and Genetic Fatherhood in Florida.

For instance if a Legal Father finds out that he is not the Genetic Father of the child and despite this fact allowed himself to be listed on the child’s birth certificate, he cannot disestablish his paternity. Any even trickier provision states that a Legal Father cannot disestablish his paternity if a government agency directed him to take a DNA test and he refused. The reason for the refusal appears to be irrelevant, so if he doesn’t want to pay the cost of a DNA test, he loses his right to deny that the child is his.

During the holidays, the stress level for many Florida families inevitably goes up. With the much of Florida still stuck in the 2009 recession, unemployment still very high and the foreclosure rate in and around Jacksonville still at record levels, when family problems creep into the picture, stress can go through the roof. Add a separation or dissolution of marriage to the picture and the situation can seem unbearable.

Competing parents can make this unseeingly unbearable situation far worse by fighting over sharing time with their children. But a wise parent, with their eye on the long term will add perspective to their thought process. How do you add that perspective? By remembering two things. First, just because the holidays do not seem like a joyous time right now, does not mean that your children feel the same way. Find ways to hide this stress from your children. Don’t make them associate the holidays with economic and marital stress.

Second, instead of fighting with the competing parent, why not talk things through? Most parents don’t want their children to go through the stress of a divorce and when both parents share that attitude, the stress of sharing time with their children decreases with the level of cooperation.

Right now, if you are going though a separation, think about what really is important to you, and act on that. Don’t act on a temporary situation. You will thank yourself that you had the presence of mind to talking things through, instead of fighting things out.

pp.jpgIn Jacksonville all divorces where there are minor children (under the age of 18 in most cases) require a “parenting plan.” This is also true in paternity cases.

In a Jacksonville Divorce, a parenting plan is created to establish the roles of each parent in regards to important decisions about a child’s education, health care, physical, social, and emotional well-being and must include:

A description of who will be responsible for health care, school-related matters, and other activities.

A time-sharing schedule for the parents and child which describes the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.

In creating the plan, the parents’ relationship, any history of domestic violence, and other relevant factors must be taken into consideration. A parenting plan can be developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by the Jacksonville Family Law Judge. However if the parties cannot come to an agreement on their own the Jacksonville Family Law Judge can and will order a parenting plan after a trial. Or the Jacksonville Family Law Judge can take different courses of action, such as, appointing a third party (often times a guardian ad litem or psychologist) to make a parenting plan recommendation or appointing a third party to conduct a social investigation.

Ideally, a well drafted parenting plan is not a fixed document etched in stone – but rather a flexible agreement about how best to share timesharing of the minor children. It is meant to be an agreement that will help facilitate proper co parenting that is in the best interest of the children.

For further information on parenting plans or to review your circumstances for changes to your current plan contact a Jacksonville Florida Divorce Attorney today.

ca.jpgAs an Orange Park Child Custody Attorney, I often see cases involving child abuse and child neglect. I run into these issues primarily in cases involving termination of parental rights or simply child custody disputes.

Florida defines abuse as “any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child includes acts or omissions. Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.

When I run into cases involving allegations of child abuse I always tell my clients of the importance of reporting such abuse. Florida Statute § 39.201 defines when it is required to report child abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

To learn more about what Florida considers as child abuse and what you are required by law to do if you’re aware of incidents of child abuse contact an Orange Park Child Custody Attorney but if you ever find that you are being accused of these crimes or suspect that you will be charged, you should contact an Orange Park Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible to help prepare your statements and/ or defend yourself. Sometimes we see charged like this that result from actions which are intended to change the child custody situation and may not be based on events that actually happened or can be substantiated.

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