hp.12.19.12.Russiachild.jpgOn December 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law Russian Federal Law No. 186614-6, which prohibits the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens. This law went into effect on January 1, 2013.

Prior to traveling to Russia, The United States State Department strongly encourages families, in cooperation with their adoption service providers, to confirm that Russian authorities will process their adoptions to conclusion and provide all required documents.

It remains unclear whether Russian immigration authorities will allow adoptees to depart the country and whether families in this situation will encounter legal complications with Russian authorities. Because of the Russian Christmas Holidays, which are celebrated later than in the United States, Russian Government offices will remain closed until January 8th.

Last year, nearly 1,000 Orphaned Russian Children found moms and dads in the United States.

If you need legal representation with an overseas adoption, or have a question about the situation in Russia please give us a call at 904-685-1200.

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.

So what do you do when your Ex Spouse decides that since you are now out of state, he or she can ignore his or her child support order or obligations? An out of state child support order can be “domesticated” in Florida even if the obligation was created from another state. What domestication does is bring the out of state child support order into Florida’s Jurisdiction so the court system here can enforce it. Once the child support order is domesticated, the Florida court can determine how much is owed, how much interest is owed and potentially hold your ex-spouse in contempt of court for failure to meet their child support obligations. One prerequisite, the children must be living with you.

A contempt order can send the nonpayer to jail until they make arrangement to pay if it is shown that they have the ability to pay and are refusing to make child support payments. The judge is much more likely to order them to enter into a payment plan with a deduction order so the child support is taken out of their paycheck each payday.

If you have any questions about Domestication of an out of state child support order or any other family law issues, please give us a call at 904-685-1200 or fill out the contact us form on right hand side of this page.

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.

From the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar:

As the start of the 2013 legislative session approaches, one of the items for debate among advocates will be Florida’s alimony statutes. Florida currently enjoys some of the most progressive alimony laws in the nation and the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar has worked closely with members of the legislature to pass good public policy that is fair and equitable to all parties. As a result of the efforts of the Section through changes made to the alimony statutes in 2010 and 2011, fewer cases are litigated and more are settled.

“The Family Law Section believes any new legislation should set a reasonable approach toward improvements,” said Carin M. Porras, chair of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar. “In the upcoming legislative session, we will be working to educate policy makers and the general public to clarify misconceptions about Florida’s alimony statutes; misconceptions such as permanent alimony payors are prohibited from retiring or the income of a second husband or wife creates a basis for an upward modification of alimony.”

The Family Law Section is committed to ongoing dialogue regarding Florida’s alimony statutes with policy makers and advocacy groups alike. Section members have evaluated draft proposals and are interested in supporting fair policy that will continue to decrease litigation, lessen the burden on an already overwhelmed court system and pass these cost savings onto taxpayers.

The members of Family Law Section are family attorneys who represent Floridians on both sides of the statute — people seeking alimony support as well as those who are obligated to pay alimony — as opposed to only representing the opinions of alimony payors. The Section will work together with Florida’s legislators to review and propose improvements to the current statutes that protect the rights of the alimony payor and the alimony recipient.

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.

toolbox.gifIn family law, there are several remedies at the court’s discretion that comprise the toolbox of Family Law. One of these tools is the Child Support Lien.

A “lien” is a recorded claim against property such as real estate. This property can be seized or sold to satisfy and discharge the lien. This process, in the child support context, is just like a foreclosure.

If a parent of your children owes back child support and has no income, the family law court may decide to investigate any real property he owns. The Court would then place a lien on that property which would be recorded in the Office of the Clerk of Court in the county where the property is located. The child support lien, once it has been recorded, is just like a mortgage on a house. In a traditional foreclosure, if a homeowner falls behind on house payments, the bank can, after meeting certain procedural requirements, foreclose on the house. By filing a child support lien, the parent filing the lien is in effect stepping into shoes just like the bank. You can foreclose after meeting procedural requirements.

The state of Florida is a member of the Child Support Lien Network, which helps enforce child support liens across state lines.

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.

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.

Getting good legal representation is not inexpensive. Attorneys have overhead, just like everyone else. There are bills to pay, student loans to pay off, rent and payroll to meet, just like any other business. But the cost of making a bad decision may be even more costly. But that does not mean that you cannot afford to seek legal advice regarding your family law needs. There are ways to minimize the costs of family law so that almost anyone seeking the advice of an attorney can budget for their legal needs.

A good family attorney is always looking for ways to minimize costs to his clients. Keeping the case out court and working out the problems related to a legal separation or dissolution of marriage can save many thousands of dollars in a family law case. Also helpful in keeping costs down, is hiring an attorney who has experience negotiating agreements. An attitude that family court is a court of last resort also helps.

What also helps is a client who has reasonable goals and does their level best to try to avoid letting the emotional trauma of family law matters affect their judgment. If your goal is obtaining what is in the best interest of your children, that in itself can keep cost down. A true proverb in family law is that the party that most wants to punish the other in a family law matter is the party most likely to be disappointed with the outcome is a true maxim.

We try to keep your legal expenses low. We have many different types of agreements to help fit your needs including no surprise pricing. In certain cases, we will quote one flat fee for the entirety of your case. No surprises when you get your bill…

Contact Information