Recently in Child Custody Category

December 31, 2013

THE NEW YEARS RESOLUTION OF DIVORCE: INSTEAD OF RESOLVING TO SHED POUNDS, MANY COUPLES OPTING TO SHED THEIR SPOUSE

champagne-1101944-s.jpg

There are numerous reasons that spouses cite when filing for divorce. These reasons vary greatly. However no matter what the reason, in recent years a new trend has developed on when spouses actually file for divorce- and it is right after New Years Day.

The most common time of year for filing for divorce is the month of January, which is now nicknamed divorce month. In the month of January, the most popular day to file is January 2nd and January 3rd, which is right after the New Years's Day holiday.

There are probably many reasons why divorce filings double during this period of time. Many spouses report wanting to stick it through the holidays because they feel it will be easier on the family and/or the children. Some couples believe that the togetherness and emphasis on family that comes with the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas will solve all of the preceding year's problems. Sometimes the stress of the holidays makes an already declining marriage much worse.

Since the New Year's Holiday seems to bring with it a period of reflection and review of the previous year, it may be the last reflection that a spouse needs in order to get them to file. No matter what the reason for the split is, divorce filings double in January. Statistics show that approximately 10 percent of couples don't make it to their fifth wedding anniversary and roughly 25 percent divorce before they make it to their tenth wedding anniversary.

Continue reading "THE NEW YEARS RESOLUTION OF DIVORCE: INSTEAD OF RESOLVING TO SHED POUNDS, MANY COUPLES OPTING TO SHED THEIR SPOUSE " »

November 8, 2013

18 Laws Every Jacksonville Florida Parent Should Know About Part 3

The last several days we looked at laws Jacksonville, Florida parents should know about. This is the last installment in this series.


18. I am not sure that I want my kids vaccinated against all of the diseases that my pediatrician recommends. I have heard about negative side effects. Do I have a choice? Section 381.003, Florida Statutes establishes programs for the prevention of preventable disease. The law requires that all children receive vaccines protecting against the spread of diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and other diseases for child-care center or school attendance. There are religious exceptions.


A religious exemption for vaccination is a written form certifying that the parent's objection to immunization for religious reasons exempts the parent and child from state vaccination requirements.
.

This exemption is only necessary for use in Florida Public and private schools for kindergarten through grade 12.

  • A religious exemption is for anyone who has a sincere religious conflict with vaccination.
  • A religious objection may be expressly implied by religious denomination or it may be based on an individual's own moral/spiritual conscience to live God's Word.
Q: What constitutes a religious conflict with vaccination?
  • All vaccines are made in violation of God's Word.
  • Vaccines are made with toxic chemicals that are injected into the bloodstream by vaccination.
  • All vaccines are made with foreign proteins (viruses and bacteria), and some vaccines are made with genetically engineered viral and bacterial materials.
  • A conflict arises if you believe that man is made in God's image and the injection of toxic chemicals and foreign proteins into the bloodstream is a violation of God's directive to keep the body/temple holy and free from impurities.
  • A conflict arises if you accept God's warning not to mix the blood of man with the blood of animals.
  • Many vaccines are produced in animal tissues.
  • A conflict arises if your religious convictions are predicated on the belief that all life is sacred.
  • God's commandment "Thou Shall Not Kill" applies to the practice of abortion.
  • When you believe that the practice of abortion should not be encouraged or supported in any way, a conflict arises with the use of vaccines produced in aborted fetal tissue even though you did not have any other connection with the abortions from which the vaccines are derived.
Q: What religions qualify for religious exemption?
  • The statutory language for Florida vaccine policy clearly states that religious exemption must be granted without question if vaccination conflicts with a person's religious convictions.
  • A religious objection may be expressly implied by religious denomination or it may be based on an individual's own moral/spiritual conscience to live God's Word.Agents acting on behalf of the state in vaccination matters are prohibited from requesting ANY administrative proof that explains the recipient's religious belief or that proves membership in an "acceptable" or specific religion.
  • The state may NOT discriminate between religious denominations and may NOT make judgments regarding religious convictions.
Q: What specific scriptural teachings form the basis for religious objection to the practice of vaccination?
  • The New Testament epistles provide an exposition of Christian teaching regarding ethical behavior.
  • Christians think of life as a gift of God and the body as a marvelous work of divine creation to be reverenced as a temple of God (I Corinthians 3:16, 6:19).
  • To keep the body/temple holy and clean from blemish, scripture warns against defiling the body. (I Corinthians 3:17, 2 Corinthians 7:1).
  • There is no scriptural support for injecting poisons or any virus into the bloodstream to cure or prevent disease.
  • The Old and New Testaments, however, are replete with references to keeping the body blemish-free so that we may have abundant life.
Q: Where can I obtain a religious exemption from vaccination?
  • A religious exemption from vaccination must be obtained from a county health department.
  • Religious exemption is not authorized or issued by schools or physicians.
  • Every county health department issues a standardized approved religious exemption form (DH 681) that includes the following written statement from the parent or legal guardian:
  • "I am the parent or legal guardian of the above-named child.
  • Immunizations are in conflict with my religious tenets or practices.
  • Therefore, I request that my child be enrolled in school, preschool, child day care facilities, or family day care homes without immunizations required by sections 232.032, F.S., 402.305, F.S., and 402.313 F.S."
  • (232.032 is now 1003.22)
Q: Is the religious exemption process the same in every Florida county?
  • Whether you live in Manatee County, Palm Beach County, or St. Johns County, the procedure for getting a religious exemption from vaccination is the same.
  • The Florida statute regarding either proof of vaccination or authorized exemption for entry into school (FS 1003.22) is a state-wide requirement that applies to all students enrolled in all Florida public and private K-12 schools.
  • All county health departments are obliged to authorize a religious exemption when requested.
  • Therefore, your request for religious exemption can be provided by any county health department.
Q: Is it necessary to schedule an appointment in advance with the county health director to obtain a religious exemption?

Florida law provides that you are entitled to a religious exemption. When requesting a religious exemption, it is NOT necessary to provide any administrative evidence that proves your religious beliefs. Any agent acting on behalf of the state in compliance with vaccine mandates may not ask for religious documentation, letters from religious leaders, or church membership. It is also not necessary to discuss any other particulars regarding your beliefs or your child's health history.

The standardized approved religious exemption form (DH 681) requires only your child's name and birth date, the requesting parent or legal guardian's name, the date of authorization, and the signatures of the county director and the parent/guardian. The social security number of the child is optional, but not required. You need only provide valid identification.

Q: Can I get an exemption from some vaccines?

The vaccine dilemma applies to both the decision of whether to vaccinate or not, as well as to the decision to vaccinate with only specific vaccines. On the first question, one could desire never to vaccinate based entirely on religious grounds or based on a belief that all vaccination is inherently dangerous because (1) all vaccines are toxic, (2) the theory that vaccinations improves immune function is flawed, and (3) injecting harmful substances, including attenuated diseases, into the blood stream is ethically immoral.

Similarly, there are both religious and non-religious reasons fordeciding the second question. The theory that vaccination improves immune function need not be disputed to conclude that there are unacceptably high known risks, including death, associated with certain vaccinations (though reasons for those risks is not generally understood). Likewise, some vaccines are inherently more dangetous than others. Also, the risk for getting some diseases is less than the immunological risks associated with the vaccine for that disease.

For that reason, a parent may desire to vaccinate for only the diseases with which a child is likely to be infected or feared to be infected. If your religious objection concerns use of vaccines developed from aborted fetuses, you may desire to never use those vaccines while having no objection to other vaccines.If you believe that some vaccines are not objectionable and con be useful, then you should have the right to decide on one, some or all vaccines, and you should be able to determine when to have them administered. Ethics in medicine generally requires informed consent for all medical procedures, including vaccination. Public health law undercuts that ethical standard by purporting to eliminate informed consent for parents of children enrolled in K-12 public and private schools, childcare, daycare or other preschools. Because vaccine policy adheres to one-size-fits-all full vaccination schedules determined by public health officials, you are not free to decide optimal timing forvaccinations or pick and choose which vaccines to utilize.

You are not free to choose to withhold vaccination in the event that your child is not fully healthy before the deadline for compliance, and you may not claim to know whether your child is at risk for immunological consequences when your doctor or pediatrician says otherwise.

Florida's vaccine policy seems to demands that you choose either all vaccinations or none, regardless of individual circumstances or health history. Unless a doctor has a reason to authorize a medical exemption, your only options with current vaccine policy are to (1) comply with accepted vaccine standards and all mandates, or (2) have religious objections to vaccination because partial exemptions and exemptions for personal or philosophical reasons are not permitted in Florida.

If you realize that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with your religious belief after some vaccines have been administered, you are entitled to a religious exemption from vaccination.

November 7, 2013

18 Laws Every Jacksonville Florida Parent Should Know About Part 2

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).

Continue reading "18 Laws Every Jacksonville Florida Parent Should Know About Part 2" »

November 6, 2013

18 Laws Every Jacksonville Florida Parent Should Know About Part 1

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.

Continue reading "18 Laws Every Jacksonville Florida Parent Should Know About Part 1" »

January 10, 2013

Series-- How To Win Your Family Law Case By Keeping The Judge Happy: #1 Is My Position Reasonable?

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.
A-happy-judge-007.jpg

January 4, 2013

Don't Put Your Drama on Facebook!

slide_11845_156784_large.jpgFacebook is a good resource to communicate with old friends. Some people find it useful for such odd things as improving your heart rate or landing a job by networking. But one thing using Facebook may hurt is your chances of getting a fair hearing if you are going through a Florida Divorce or a Child Custody proceeding.

Facebook based circumstantial evidence has been used by 81percent of its members according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

You are probably thinking that you set your facebook account's privacy settings high and you've blocked your ex, so they can't see damaging information. But that does not stop your "friends" from forwarding damaging information.

He's a list of things never to post to Facebook while going through family law related legal issues:

• That your ex was just a surrogate.
• Your ex is CRAZY, STALKING YOU or PSYCHO!!!!!!
• Pictures of you in the embrace of your new squeeze.
• Pictures of you consuming alcoholic beverages.
• Don't check in at 3am at the club.
• Don't Friend that Hot Guy or Girl that has 1000 friends.
• Photos of your Children.
• Racy Pictures.
• Brag about how sexually desirable you are now that "you're free."
• Anything that can be deemed negative about your former mate.
• Anything you would not want a Judge to find out about.

If you need a Jacksonville Family Lawyer, please give us a call at 904-685-1200.

January 4, 2013

Winter - Usually the Busiest Season for Divorce in Florida

old-tree-2.jpgWhile most of us look forward to a happy New Year as we head into January, many couples in Jacksonville marital problems are thinking about taking the first steps towards separation.

Winter is widely regarded in the legal profession as the busiest time of year. Jacksonville Divorce lawyers find that a lot of people who are having marriage difficulties try to get through Christmas, especially if they have children to think about, but once the stressful festivities are over, they see the New Year as the ideal time to make a fresh start.

Legal Seperation in Florida is not valid so the decision and implementation of a separate is one of the most important step in ending a relationship. the decisions you may during seperation or without advice of counsel can affect you for the rest of your life. It can change the division of assets, child custody, child support and even who gets to keep the marital home. The emotional upheaval, worries about how much the divorce will cost, and how it will affect your children make it a time fraught with worry and uncertainty.

At a minimum getting sound legal advice will make you feel that you have some control over a very unfamiliar situation and give you some reassurance about your long-term future.

If you would like to talk about the decisions you are making for the New Year, give us a call at 904-685-1200.

January 3, 2013

Florida Millionaire Dad Gets Jail Time After Custody Dispute

As most everyone realizes, some child custody cases can quickly become heated between the two feuding parents. More often than one might like to admit, one of the parents might engage in some less than honorable behavior. One millionaire father in Florida recently did just that and is now finding himself in hot water.

The Florida dad decided to take his custody case into his own hands, ignoring the ruling by the judge presiding over his divorce. While his actions did help resolve the dispute in his favor, it also ended with a jail sentence of 180 days. Not quite the bargain he was hoping for.

So what did the dad do to warrant such severe criminal sanctions? He made the mistake of ignoring a judge. Family law judges have tremendous power in custody cases and when they issue an order requiring specific action, failure to follow that order can result in an individual being held in contempt of court. In the Florida case, the father was ordered to enroll his son in a boarding school across the country. Apparently believing that he knew best, the father ignored the judge and instead consented to the minor son's marriage.

The marriage was between the 16-year-old son and the 18-year-old daughter of the family's long-time housekeeper. The young couple eloped to Las Vegas where marriage only requires the consent of one parent, which the father gladly gave. The result of the marriage was that it effectively emancipated the son, making any further custody disputes such as child support or decision-making power moot.

When word got out about what the man had done the judge was understandably livid. When handing down his sentence, the judge wrote in his final order that, "It is hard for this court to imagine a bolder, more egregious example of indirect criminal contempt."

The son now lives in a penthouse owned by the father, and the father reported that he plans to appeal the decision sending him to jail. The moral of the story is clear: if your family law judge tells you to do something, do it, or else you might find yourself wearing stripes.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a Jacksonville divorce attorney to assist you in the matter, contact us today by email or by calling at (904) 685-1200.

Source: "Fla. Millionaire Gets 180 Days for Contempt in Divorce Case for Permitting Vegas Wedding," by Martha Neil, published at ABAJournal.com.

December 21, 2012

Can DCF Terminate My Parental Rights?

child left behind.jpgAs a Jacksonville custody lawyer, I often deal with cases where the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Florida has started an investigation of parents because someone has anonymously called in an allegation of abuse on the child. When DCF begins an investigation, often the Department will remove the child from the parent's home. This is called a "shelter". If you or someone you know has been accused of harming a child and DCF is investigating, you need a custody attorney in Jacksonville, Florida to help you. There is a chance that the Department could terminate your parental rights and place your child up for adoption in the future without the help of a skilled Jacksonville, Florida custody lawyer who is trained in dependency in Florida.

December 19, 2012

The TomKat Divorce: When Religion and Parenting Don't Mix

For much of 2012, the news of the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce was almost inescapable in the news media. The stories in the media all seemed to follow a similar arc -Katie Holes was brainwashed and had become a sort of zombie for Scientology. She had broken free to raise her child away from the Church. The story almost seemed like it could be from an episode of Mission Impossible --a secretive exit from her home with her child in tow to a downtown Manhattan apartment, switching cell phones and keeping Mr. Cruise in the dark. But somewhat lost in the motion picture-like drama is what may have caused the split, and how you might learn from Mr. Cruise and Ms. Holmes mistakes.

Ms. Holmes was raised a Catholic, but converted to Scientology after getting engaged to Mr. Cruise in 2005. Once the couple married and started planning to raise their daughter the problems arose.
468px-Katie_Holmes,_2009.jpg
For about 18 months prior to their split, the couple had frequent disagreements over how to raise their six-year-old daughter. Ms. Holmes seemed to bristle at the demands of raising a child according to Scientology's rules. When Holmes exited the marriage, the couple's settlement agreement gave her the lead role in choosing how their daughter would be educated. Holmes report ably has become a Catholic again.

This story is not unlike many other mixed faith marriages. Even in relationships where one partner converts, the relationship can seem to be on sound footing until children enter the picture. A crisis can erupt with the birth of the first child. Most often that happens when the couple has not come to decisions related to child rearing, religious faith and education.

Because of the trauma that may result in a mixed faith relationship, couples might want to talk about these issues once the relationship becomes serious. An agreement should be reached before the engagement of a mixed faith couple, which should include issues as to how the holidays are to be celebrated, what religious milestones or ceremonies will become a part of their lives and which house of worship the couple and their children will attend.

Cruiseonoprah.jpg

By thinking about the issues and pitfalls of a mixed faith relationship, problems that creep up for other couples may be avoided.

December 18, 2012

Two Household Families and the Holidays: Create rise in divorce and custody disputes

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.

August 4, 2012

How Do Custody Modifications Work In Florida?

Custody ModificationsFlorida courts will consider modification of a child custody order only if the parent requesting the custody modification is able to prove a substantial change in circumstances. Under Florida law, a "substantial change in circumstances" means a substantial, permanent and involuntary material change. In other words, the change cannot be temporary, it cannot be caused by something the parent voluntarily did and the change must be big enough to warrant the court changing the original parenting plan or custody agreement.

Only after the court has been satisfied that the change in circumstances is substantial, will it then move on to consider what is in the best interest of the child. The reason for this is to prevent constant back and forth motions to change custody which would be destabilizing for the children. It also helps prevent the court from becoming overburdened with frequent and repetitive modification requests.

Parent relocation is one of the most common grounds for seeking a change in custody. The modification request may be submitted by a relocating parent who wants to take the child with them, or a parent opposing relocation who wants the child be placed with them. Some courts switch custody from one parent to the other, although the increasingly common approach is to ask the parents to work out a plan under which both parents may continue to have significant contacts with their children.

Another thing that can prompt a modification is if there is a significant change in the lifestyle of the custodial parent, which the other parent feels will adversely affect the child. For instance, if the custodial parent finds a new job that has longer working hours or the parent is leaving the child alone for long periods of time the court will consider modifying custody based on these factors. Also, if one parent begins drinking heavily or taking drugs, the other parent may file a request for modification of the visitation order. What amounts to a substantial enough change to warrant a revision can vary greatly depending on your jurisdiction and even your particular judge.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a divorce attorney to assist you in the matter by calling us at (904) 685-1200.

August 3, 2012

What Can You Learn From Celebrity Divorce?

Celebrity Divorce Lessons
Many celebrity marriages are over in the blink of an eye. What can average citizens learn from the divorce mistakes of the rich and famous? Plenty.

1. Get a prenup

When Mel Gibson divorced, he was reported to have cut his $900 million fortune in half. Madonna's ex, Guy Ritchie, is said to have walked away with an extra $90 million for his time spent with the singer. Kelsey Grammer, of Frasier fame, had to shell out $50 million to a former Playboy Playmate. Why did they all pay so much? Not because of their generosity, that's for sure. All these people foolishly lacked prenuptial agreements. Even if you don't have the amount of money they have, a prenup can help secure the assets you will need if your marriage fails.

2. Don't trash your ex in public

Kim Kardashian and the rest of her family have wasted no time trash talking her ex, Kris Humphries since their 72-day marriage ended months ago. All the talking causes the process to drag on longer than necessary and leads to emotions running high along the way. Rather than hurting feelings more than has already happened, keep quiet and tell your friends and family to do the same, at least until the papers are signed.

3. Follow your child custody agreement

Follow whatever agreements you reached in court. When Alex Baldwin and Kim Basinger split, Basinger tried to keep their daughter away from him. This move resulted in a very prolonged and nasty dispute between the two and led to hurt feelings all around. If you don't hold up your end of the bargain your ex can drag you right back to court, costing you time and money, as well as damaging your relationship with your child along the way.

4. Don't film a reality show about your marriage

Have any doubts about the dangers of letting cameras document your every move? Just ask Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey or the Gosselins how it turned out. Though most of us aren't interesting enough to have television crews knocking down our doors the larger lesson still applies: avoid involving others in your private marital issues.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a divorce attorney to assist you in the matter call us today at (904) 685-1200.

Source: "Celebrity Divorce: What It Can Teach Us," by Silvana Raso, published at HuffingtonPost.com.

July 20, 2012

Do Florida Divorce Courts Have a Gender Bias?

Gender in Law
We hear a lot about how the courts are biased in favor of mothers when deciding child custody. Several different studies show that there might be more to the story as other factors come into play with why fathers are less involved in their children's lives post-divorce.

The following statistics come from a Pew Research Center analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). According to the report, a married father spends on average 6.5 hours a week taking part in primary child care activities with his children. This compares to an average of 12.9 hours for married moms. The study points that that two-income households are now the norm and that the data reveals more mothers are working and doing extra child care. This gap and the increased time spent caring for children may be one reason women are more likely to retain primary custody after a divorce.

Even more surprising are the statistics regarding fathers time with children post-divorce. The results mentioned in the Huffington Post show that when fathers and children live separately, only 22% see their children more than once a week. An additional 29% see their kids one to four times a month. Sadly, a full 27% of dads have no contact with their children at all. These numbers further reflect a possible reason for the gap in custody awards during a divorce.

It could be argued that family courts send the message that fathers are not essential to raising children and that it's because of these judicially created parenting plans that they don't spend quality time with their children. This doesn't appear to be the case, as information from DivorcePeers.com, indicates that in 51% of cases both parents agreed on their own accord that the mother would become the custodial parent. In another 29% of custody cases, the decision was made without any third party involvement. Eleven percent of custody cases had a resolution for custody made during mediation and five percent were resolved after a custody evaluation. This means that only 4% of all custody cases went to trial and of that 4 percent, only 1.5% went through custody litigation.

This data suggests that 91% of custody cases are decided without the interference of judges, biased or otherwise.

If you think that you're an active father who should be awarded majority time-sharing with your child, you need to be able to demonstrate to the court why that is. If you would like more information about divorce and "custody", contact us at (904) 685-1200.

Source: "Dispelling The Myth Of Gender Bias In The Family Court System," by Cathy Meyer, published at HuffingtonPost.com.

June 8, 2012

Halle Berry's Move To France Not In the Best Interest of Her Child

Halle BerryAmerican Actress and Model Halle Berry has been engaged in an emblazoned custody battle with her former boyfriend Gabriel Aubry. Berry has asked that their child, four year old Nahla, be permitted to leave with Berry to live in France. The Los Angeles Court must determine that the move is in the best interest of the child to permit it. The same standard is used here in Florida to permit a moving parent to relocate more than 50 miles away from the other parent.

Proving "best interest of the child" is not always an easy standard. It typically involves a weighing of the pros and cons of moving or staying. In Berry's case, she argues that France has stronger protection for Nahla from the great amount of media attention she would otherwise get here in the states. This sounds like a good argument. Surely, a great amount of media attention and privacy invasion is bad for a child.

Mr. Aubry argues that the real reason for the move is Berry following her new fiance, Oliver Martinez, whom is a french film actor. He cites the fact that she has had two earlier failed marriages which is evidence that this marriage too, is likely to fail.

The courts are also considering the relationship Nahla will be able to have with her father when she lives in France, vs. the relationship they'd have if she remained here. This is a common problem in Family Law where a parent seeks to relocate to a different state with their new partner, often alienating the parent who remains behind.

A Child Custody Evaluation's findings showed that it was not in the best interest of the child to move away, however Judge's may not be bound by the evaluators recommendations.

Nearly every decision when it comes to Florida children is made based on the "best interest of the child" standard. If you have questions about your unique situation and how we may be able to argue the best interest of your child, contact us at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation.