Articles Posted in Adoption

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution that is mandatory in a Florida divorce, paternity, or modification case, but many people do not see the process as the benefit it is.  During mediation, the two parties will meet with a mediator who is an unbiased and uninterested person in the case.  The mediator will try and help the parties resolve all disputes related to the family law case.  If an agreement is reached, it is drafted and submitted to the Court for approval so the case can be closed.  While the process is straightforward, there are still many myths related to the process.  Your Jacksonville family attorney can assist you in understanding the mediation process.  Below are the biggest myths about family law mediation in Florida, and the truth behind them.

The Mediator Will Make All the Decisions

This is simply untrue.  Mediators do not make any of the decisions when they meet with parties going through a divorce, paternity, or modification case.  They cannot force either party to do, or not do, anything.  Instead, they are only there to help you and facilitate you and your spouse, ex-spouse, or co-parent to reach an agreement.  If you cannot reach an agreement and your case requires litigation, it is the Judge that will make all the decisions.  Your Jacksonville family attorney is here to assist you in mediation and to represent you in any litigation should you not reach agreement.

Jacksonville Adoption Attorney, Neil Weinreb helps clients understand what is an adoption under Florida Law?

In Florida an adoption is a process whereby an individual can become the legal parent of a child.  It can result in a greater level of fulfillment to the lives of adoptive parents.  It can also provide a loving and stable home to a child suffering from poverty or neglect.

What types of adoption are available in Florida?

There are three (3) categories of adoption.

  1. There are non-relative adoptions,
  2. there are adoptions that occur as a result of a dependency case, and
  3. there are step parent adoptions.

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Few people want to accept responsibility for a lifelong obligation that they were not responsible for.  There is more than one way under Florida law to create a parental relationship with a child.  Not all relationships in today’s society follow the model that involved a two parent family whereby the husband was the bread winner and the wife was a stay at home mother.  Today, the norm has changed, and single parent households are much more commonplace than they were traditionally. 

There are a number of ways that paternity can be established.  When a woman is married and she becomes pregnant, there is a legal presumption that the husband is the father.  This is true even where the husband could not physically have impregnated the wife.  Section 742.10 of the Florida Statutes covers all of the ways that paternity of a child can be established.  In short, paternity can be established when a married woman has a child, by consent, by court order, or by the legal father signing the birth certificate and notarized documents admitting paternity. 

When a woman has a child out of wedlock and applies for governmental assistance, she may find that the agency or agencies she is applying through will require her to participate in a legal proceeding to establish the paternity of the child.  In part, this is because the government wants to make the father responsible for supporting the child.  Both parents are responsible for their child and a father or mother can be required to support their child until they reach majority.  In some rare cases, they may have legal responsibility beyond the age of majority.  The author of this article has handled numerous child support cases over the last 16 years and he has seen some people have their lives wrecked after they were required to pay child support (an Obligor).  When an Obligor discovers that the child they are supporting is not theirs, disestablishing paternity may be an option for them.  Although disestablishing paternity will terminate an ongoing support obligation, it will not extinguish any child support obligation which has accrued.  Even when disestablishing paternity is successful, an otherwise Obligor may still have to pay a large arrearage. 

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.

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