Recently in Parental Rights Category

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.
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December 27, 2012

DNA Doesn't Always Determine Paternity Of The Legal Father

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.

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.

April 29, 2012

Parenting Plans in a Divorce Case

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.

April 28, 2012

Child Abuse and Child Custody

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.

April 22, 2012

Termination of Parental Rights in Florida

Marshall_Glass.jpgThe Department of Children and Families are considering terminating the parental rights of a Brevard County couple whom were arrested in March of this year on three counts of aggravated child abuse. The couple, Michael Marshall and Sharon Glass, reportedly admitted to locking up a 13 year old boy in a bathroom and withholding food and care as a form of punishment. When the boy was found he weighed a startling 40 pounds. Responding police reportedly stated the boy looked as though he was an inmate in a concentration camp.

It is believed that three children were found in Marshall's and Glass's home. The boy and his 11 year old sister are Marshall's children, whereas a third child, a boy, is Glass's. Marshall's two children are now in foster care and Glass's child is with his father. Caseworker's are reporting that if the Department succeeds and has the parental rights of the couple terminated then Marshall's children could be adopted by another family.

As an Orange Park Family Law Attorney I turn to Florida Statute 39.806 when dealing with sad cases like that described above. This Statute covers the Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights, which range from mutual consent by the parties to abuse, neglect and abandonment. However, this Statute not only specifies what are grounds for termination of parental rights but also specifies circumstances which do not establish grounds for termination of parental rights.

Circumstances that do not establish grounds for terminating parental rights include: mental illness or deficiency, alcohol or drug induced incapacity, failure to maintain contact, failure to provide support and/or failure to establish paternity.

Curious about issues relating to you and your children? Contact an Orange Park Family Law Attorney today.

April 8, 2012

Child Abuse & Neglect in Family law

child abuse.jpgAs a Jacksonville 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.

Neglect, on the other hand, "occurs when a child is deprived of, or is allowed to be deprived of, necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment or a child is permitted to live in an environment when such deprivation or environment causes the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired. The foregoing circumstances shall not be considered neglect if caused primarily by financial inability unless actual services for relief have been offered to and rejected by such person. A parent or legal custodian legitimately practicing religious beliefs in accordance with a recognized church or religious organization who thereby does not provide specific medical treatment for a child may not, for that reason alone, be considered a negligent parent or legal custodian; however, such an exception does not preclude a court from ordering the following services to be provided, when the health of the child so requires:"

(a) Medical services from a licensed physician, dentist, optometrist, podiatric physician, or other qualified health care provider; or
(b) Treatment by a duly accredited practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing in accordance with the tenets and practices of a well-recognized church or religious organization.

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 a Jacksonville 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 a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible to help prepare your statements and/or defend yourself. Sometimes we see charges 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.

February 16, 2012

Parental Rights Of Pregnant Minor Child

pregnant teen.jpgIf you are parent of a teenage girl in Florida, I am sure you have seen the show 16 and Pregnant, documenting the tribulations of teenage pregnancy. Some of these teens contemplate abortion. It is important to know that in Florida the parents of a teen who is pregnant have rights when it comes to the abortion of their soon to be grandchild.

The Florida legislature recently passed a bill that will go into effect on October 1, 2011, giving more rights to these parents during the occurrence of their minor daughter's abortion. One of the rights in this bill is the right to be notified. A physician administering the abortion must give the parents of a minor "constructive" notice by way of first-class mail AND by certified mail.

Please contact a Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer for more information on this or similar issues.

January 19, 2012

Florida Bill Seeks to Protect Parental Rights of Military Parents

military children.jpgLast year, the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would help protect the parental rights of mothers and fathers serving in the military. Unfortunately, time ran out before the state Senate could consider the bill, so it will have to be re-voted on. However, it seems likely that the bill will pass in the house and again move to the senate.

The bill attempts to solve some of the problems military parents face, such as visitation rights when the parent has to be away for a prolonged period of time. The bill allows the parent to ask the court to delegate parental rights to another one of the child's family members, not limited to the other parent and including the child's stepparent.

To illustrate, let's say the father of a child has custody of the child over the summer, but the father will be away for several weekends and a full week during that time. Instead of simply sending the child back to her other parent, the child could, with the court's permission, remain with her stepmother while the father is away.

Note that the delegation is not automatic; it is something the court must grant either in the initial parenting plan or in a later modification. But, it is something that will hopefully help separated military parents struggling to provide a beneficial environment for their children.

No matter what your situation is, you should contact a Florida Family Law Attorney if you are facing custody issues. A Florida Family Law Attorney here in Jacksonville can help explain your rights and the options you can take in retaining your parenting rights.

January 3, 2012

LGBT Parental Rights

lesbian child custody.jpgOn December 23, 2011, the Florida 5th District Court of Appeal handed down a ruling on a very unique case. The case involved a lesbian couple who had been in a committed relationship for eleven years, and prior to splitting up, had a child together. One mother donated an egg, which was then planted in the other mother who gave birth.

The question before the court was, who is the mother?

According to Florida law, the woman who gave birth is the mother. However, the District Court in this case felt differently and ruled both mothers have parental rights. The District Court reasoned that the U.S. and Florida Constitution trumps Florida law and Florida's laws have not kept pace with the times.

Although this is a very unique case, the overall issue of parental rights is not. Contact a Jacksonville Florida Family Law Attorney today if your parental rights are being questioned.

December 28, 2011

Who Should Raise Your Child

foster kids.jpgAs a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney I am always reading articles that relate to family law issues in the Jacksonville and surrounding areas. I recently stumbled upon a Tampa Bay Times article titled, "Is a child always better off with relatives, even after bonding with a foster family?". This article describes the turmoil that can develop in a Termination of Parental Rights/Dependency case. Whether you find yourself having your parental rights terminated or are just interested in the issue I encourage you to read the article.

Contact a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney today for a consultation for any family law related issues.

November 30, 2011

Obese Children and Parental Rights

The debate over parental rights and obese children has reared its head again. CBS News is reporting an 8-year-old Ohio boy was recently placed in foster care because his parents medically neglected him. Reports are suggesting the boy weighs more than 200 pounds, whereas, government growth charts suggests most 8-year-old boys weigh approximately 60 pounds.

County case workers allege they had been working with the mother for 20 months without any noticeable improvement in the child's health.

This case begs the question of when should the state step in and intrude on parental rights.

If you have questions regarding when the State of Florida can step in and take away parental rights of Jacksonville residents contact a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney today.

November 8, 2011

Child Obesity and Custody Issues

According to a recent news report, parents are increasingly arguing the issue of child obesity in child custody cases. In many states, including Florida, family courts are often burdened with deciding the rights of parents following a divorce. Couples should figure these terms out on their own, but the court may, in some instances, have to make the decision for them. In Jacksonville the court makes this decision based on the best interest of the child standard and considers arguments from both sides as to which parent should get which rights.

Parents are generally free to offer any sort of evidence (provided it complies with the rules of evidence) for the court to consider, and some parents are beginning to argue that the other parent has contributed to the child's obesity. They can show this in any number of ways; for example, by referencing the child's weight, by showing the sort of diet the other parent provides the child, or showing the other parent lets the child sit inside to play video games all day. For example, one case from Oregon saw a judge limit rights of a parent who was providing fast-food meals to the child for nearly every single meal.

It is important to note that a child's obesity is just one factor the court might consider. But if a child's parent is encouraging unhealthy behavior, there are likely other issues to consider as well. If you are going through a child custody case or a divorce, contact a Florida Family Law Attorney to discuss your case.