Articles Posted in Adoption

Child support is essentially a payment from the higher income parent to the lower income parent.  Child support and timesharing have an interesting relationship.  The law values the child and parent relationship.  A parent’s right to timesharing is not dependent upon being current in child support.  It is a frequent mistake among individuals to assume that timesharing can be denied if an Obligor parent fails to keep up with his or her child support.  Such has no such relationship to Florida law.

Another misconception is that child support must go to the child specifically.  However, it is a general purpose reimbursement which covers the cost of living in a household with children.  The amount of child support paid by each parent is dependent upon the amount the Florida child support guidelines determine.  The number of overnights the child or children spend with each parent is one of the factors used to decide a parent’s child support under Florida’s guidelines.  There is a chart that is published within the Florida Statutes that shows the amount of child support a child is entitled to.

Florida law requires that generally, where there are minor children then child support should be paid.  The principle behind this general rule is that entitlement to support belongs to the children and parents cannot decide not to pay support.  There are situations in which a parent does not have a child support obligation.  In Florida, this must either be because the amount of support owed is very minimal, as determined by the guidelines, or the specific reasons must be enumerated in the child support order.  The law allows up to a 5% deviation from the guidelines without further enumeration.  Florida has a form known as a Child Support Guideline Worksheet which is required to be filed in every divorce and paternity case where child support is determined.  The guidelines account for some of the specific costs of supporting a child, such as health insurance and uncovered medical expenses.  As long as a parent is awarded at least 20 percent of the overnights, overnights are a specific factor used to determine a parent’s support.  Items like rent, electricity, water, and food are essential items that are not specifically accounted for in the guidelines.  Other items that are specifically accounted for under the guidelines are taxes, daycare, and medical costs.

SHOULD CHILDREN BE PERMITTED TO TESTIFY IN A CUSTODY CASE?

One of the most common questions we get is if children can or should be allowed to testify in a divorce or child custody case. Self-represented litigants in Florida occasionally come to court with a child in anticipation that the child will testify for them.  However, there are specific prerequisites that must be followed under the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure before a party is permitted to bring a child to court to testify. Often clients ask “At what age can my child testify in a Florida divorce case?’ Why maturity can be an issue, age itself is not the main factor use to determine if a child can testify in a divorce case.  It is not prudent for a party to bring a child to court unless authorized previously by court order.  Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.407 applies to the testimony of children in Family Law Cases.  It reads as follows:

(a) Prohibition. Unless otherwise provided by law or another rule of procedure, children who are witnesses, potential witnesses, or related to a family law case, are prohibited from being deposed or brought to a deposition, from being Family Law Rules of Procedure August 28, 2019 99 subpoenaed to appear at any family law proceeding, or from attending any family law proceedings without prior order of the court based on good cause shown.

(b) Related Proceedings. In a family law proceeding held concurrently with a proceeding governed by the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure govern as to the child’s appearance in court.

(c) Uncontested Adoption. This rule does not apply to uncontested adoption proceedings.  Florida Family Rules of Procedure 12.407.

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It’s only natural that when a step parent has been a major father or mother figure in a child’s life that the subject of adoption comes up.  It makes official what has already been a reality for quite awhile.  How complicated is step parent adoption in Florida?

The step parent must consent to the adoption and the process is started by the step parent filing a sworn petition to adopt.  A copy of any judgment terminating parental rights or consents to the adoption from the parents must be attached.  If the child is over 12 years of age, a consent to the adoption may be attached.adoption

Under Chapter 63, Florida Statutes, consent of the parent is required but the court may waive the consent of:

In 2009, a 14 year old girl was raped in Massachusetts and became pregnant.  Her attacker, Jaime Melendez, pled guilty to rape charges and was sentenced to 16 years probation.  He was also brought into family court and ordered to pay $110 per week in child support, according to a paper published by the American Bar Association.  It was bad enough that the sentence was only 16 years probation.  Later, Melendez sued the victim in order to have visitation with the victim’s child since his parental rights were still intact.  Melendez felt that if he was going to pay child support, he should be allowed to spend time with the child.

parental rightsMany states have laws that restrict the rights of a father that produces children as a result of a sexual assault.  Of these states, nearly none terminate the rights of the rapist outright without the victim making some sort of effort.  Parental Rights termination is something that should be considered carefully, but this is probably an instance where termination of parental rights should be simple and easy to accomplish.

There is a list of things under Florida law that can result in termination of parental rights.  Chapter 39 authorizes the termination of parental rights if clear and convincing evidence shows that the child was conceived as a result of a sexual battery.  See F.S. 39.806.  According to Florida law, “[i]t is presumed that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child if the child was conceived as a result of the unlawful sexual battery.”  A conviction, or a guilty plea being entered, is enough proof to satisfy the statute.  Having to share parental rights with a person that violated you, only serves to continue the agony of the victim.  At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville family lawyers that can help you terminate the parental rights of your attacker, and help reclaim your peace of mind.

150502_hand-in-handI live life with the blessing of being fascinated by small, simple things.  I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the new seedlings that have sprouted in my garden.  It’s a very warm and fuzzy feeling, but It’s not quite like bringing a new child into the world.  If you are a parent yourself or have shared in the experience of welcoming a child to life, you know that the new addition to the family brings in an avalanche of beautiful emotion.  What you may not be aware of is that Stepparents often feel a similar sense of elation when they adopt their spouse’s children.

I’ve had the pleasure to assist many families with stepparent adoptions as a Jacksonville family lawyer.  Although in every situation that I’ve been a part of, the stepmother or stepfather has been a part of the child’s life for years, when the adoption is final, the new parent is overwhelmed with joy.  Once the adoption is final, a legal parent-child relationship is created to go along with the emotional bond that already exists.  The child even gets a new birth certificate with the stepparent’s name on it.  The court records are then sealed, as all adoptions are private matters. Continue reading

On 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.

adult adoption.jpgIn my role as a family law adoption attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, I find that people often think adoption in Florida is only for families seeking an infant or other small child incapable of taking care of him or herself. Adoptions are confidential in many states and as such, hard numbers are difficult to come by, but experts say the number of adult adoptions in Florida is on the rise. Many orphaned adults eventually find a sort of family, whether through coworkers or other friends, with whom they bond. Making that bond legal makes both emotional and financial sense. Not only does it provide a feeling of family and belonging, legally being able to refer to someone as family has numerous advantages in courtrooms, hospitals, and other avenues in life. While adult adoptions are restricted in some states, adult adoptions in Florida are not restricted. If you are considering an adult adoption in Florida, contact a Florida Family Law Lawyer to see how this process can work for you.

adoption.jpegAs a Jacksonville Adoption Attorney, I am often asked whether a spouse’s new husband can adopt a child from a previous marriage. The answer is yes (in most cases). It is important to note that this will alter any prior child support obligations. Florida law stipulates that upon the adoption of a child, for whom support has been previously ordered, by someone other than the father, the liability of the father for the support of the child is terminated. In other words, a father who previously paid child support is no longer required to do so.

If you are interested in adopting a child, contact a Jacksonville Adoption Attorney today to begin the process today!

gayadoption.jpgLate last year, a Florida appeals court declared unconstitutional a 33-year-old state law that prevented gay people from adopting children. Since that decision, gay couples in Florida have quietly begun adopting children.

Prior to the ruling, social workers often did not ask about the sexual orientation of an adopting parent, which meant some gay Floridians were adopting children under the radar. However, even with this option gay couples could not obtain the same legal rights as straight couples in the same situation, such as custodial rights in the event the adoptive parent died. The court’s ruling, however, means gay couples can legally adopt and have many of the same custodial rights as straight parents.

There are many things a gay couple should consider prior to adopting a child of their own. For example, the current court ruling is relatively young and will likely be challenged in other courts or the Florida legislature. Additionally, the media may be interested in your adoption and you may find yourself with unwanted attention. If you are interested in growing your family, contact a Florida LGBT Lawyer or a Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer to discuss your options.

As a Jacksonville, Florida adoption attorney, people often ask me how they can adopt or take legal custody in Florida of a relative such as a grandchild, niece or nephew or sibling. There are several ways you can adopt or gain legal custody in Florida of your loved one. Some, such as a guardianship, require annual accountings to the court. There are less invasive ways to take custody of your loved one. Please contact a Florida adoption lawyer or Jacksonville child custody attorney for expert information on how to adopt your loved one.

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