Articles Posted in Child Custody

Changing Venue: Moving  Family Law Cases

One question we often receive from our family law clients is if they can change courts, also known as venue, when they move to a new area in Florida from the court where the marriage dissolution proceedings originally occurred to a more nearby court.

venue changeThe short answer to this question is yes. In family law, the courts in Florida always try to act in “best interests of the child.” This standard will be explained further in this article, but first lets explain exactly how the change in venue process would potentially work.

Before a spouse can change venue, it is important to understand where a family law proceeding can actually be brought. According to the Florida Statute 61.13, a family law case may be brought in “the circuit court in the county in which either parent and the child reside or the circuit court in which the original order approving or creating the parenting plan was entered…” This usually means that venue will start in the court where the divorce was filed, and stay in this court for all related matters such as equitable distribution, alimony, parenting responsibility, child support, and all modifications.

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The need for emergency pick up orders can be brought about for various reasons.  A couple of the most common reasons I’ve encountered in my practice as a Jacksonville family lawyer are appropriate to set the stage.  Families made up fathers, mothers, and children where the parents were never married are common.  When these families split, there are less issues to address than in an actual marriage, but the most important issue still remains– the children and how time will be split between the parents while continuing to raise them together.  Under Florida law, the mother is the natural guardian of a child born out of wedlock.  A father’s signature on a birth certificate creates a legal presumption that the father is, in fact, the father, but does not give automatic rights to the father for visitation.  Visitation rights, referred to as “time sharing” must be established by the court with a parenting plan approved by the court.

Emergency pick up orders are sometimes necessary.I have found that most couples split without going to the court and filing paternity actions so a parenting plan can be established.  They attempt to sort out visitation without family lawyers and without judges.  This can work, but there are issues that can become thorns for the parents.  Two common issues I encounter as a Jacksonville family lawyer are: (1) one parent refuses to send a child back after the child has been with the other for time sharing; and (2) one parent believes that the child is in some sort of danger while in the care of the other parent and wants the court to help reclaim possession of the child.  Of course, these issues can arise even when a parenting plan has already been put in place, but resolving the issues is easier when there is an established case and a parenting plan in effect.  Note that there are different variations of scenarios that include couples that were once married and couples that were never married; however, the general principles are the same. Continue reading

According to Florida law, “It is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.”  Simply put, people are expected to co-parent, meaning that they act as if they are still together, at least as far as it relates to the children.  This idea can sometimes get lost in the mix of things.  As a Jacksonville family lawyer and divorce lawyer, I have found that some of the biggest issues in family and divorce cases come from people’s emotions getting the better of them.  Spite can mix with anger and other emotions and lead to parents making irrational decisions concerning the parties’ children.  Way too often these irrational decisions manifest in a lack of co-parenting between parties.  The state’s policy is that each parent will have the right to spend quality time with the children, the right to participate in the lives of the children, and be part of major decisions affecting the children.  Even more important than the parents’ rights is the children’s well-being and best interest.  Having both parents involved in a child’s life is normally the best thing for him or her.

Co-parenting means children don't have to choose a parent.When a father and mother are properly co-parenting that means they are each doing what is necessary to make the lives of the children and the success of the children their number one priority.  They are working together to ensure that the children’s best interest are always put first. Simple courtesies must come from both sides, because things will arise that make it necessary for accommodations to be made for and by each parent.  For example, if a parent is running late to pick a child up for visitation, if the parenting that is waiting with the child doesn’t give a reasonable amount of extra time, this could cause issues.  When the parents don’t get along, they don’t co-parent well, and what happens a lot of times is the waiting parent won’t allow the late parent to pick the child up due to being late.  This is not successful co-parenting.

Other than being the right thing to do for the children’s sake, the willingness of the parents and their ability to successfully co-parent is something that courts will take into consideration when making decisions about custody and timesharing during a divorce or timesharing modification AND, it will be considered afterwards, if contempt proceedings come about. Parents lack of co-parenting after a parenting plan has been put into place will continue to cause issues and create more litigation, because the parent that feels wronged will sometimes file a Motion for Civil Contempt.  Contempt actions are all about a person not doing something that the judge has ordered.  Here, if a parent is not cooperating or following the parenting plan, he or she could be found in contempt and have sanctions, such as fines, imposed.

Relocation after a divorce where there are children involved can be a touchy situation.  On the one hand, there is a parent that believes he or she needs to move to accomplish some perceived improvement in life.  On the other hand, there is a parent who will suffer by having an increased distance between him or her and the children.  Both non-majority time-sharing and majority time-sharing parents can have concerns about the other ex-spouse moving far away.  However, usually, the situations call into question whether a majority time-sharing parent should be allowed to move with the children.  These types of situations are even more serious when the majority time-sharing parent wants to move with the children to another state.  Although the move is more drastic, the same factors will be considered.


Relocation can a touchy situation.

Relocation is addressed by Florida Statute 61.13001.  Per statute, “ ‘Relocation’ means a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.”  The parent seeking relocation has the burden of proving that the relocation is in the best interest of the children.  The court will consider many factors, including the reason for the move, the effect the move will have on the time-sharing of the other parent, relevant economic considerations, and many other factors.

Child custody and time sharing battles in Florida divorces are always stressful situations for the people involved.  Jacksonville divorce lawyers and custody lawyers zealously represent clients who each want something different when it comes to custody or time sharing.  The judge hearing the case has to decide what is in the children’s best interest.  This is the standard that is always applied.  What the parties want, including the children, is not the controlling factor.  When the husband and wife are both fit parents and can provide a stable environment for children, difficult decisions have to be made.   So what factors will the judge consider in determining child custody and time sharing battles in Florida divorces?

man-woman-heart-5-1056041-mFlorida Statutes 61.13(3) lists several factors that judges can consider, but gives judges discretion to consider any facts that the judge deems relevant.  Click the link above to view the complete list and the full body of the statute.  Florida’s state policy is that each parent is afforded the chance to build a strong relationship with children.  The first factor on the list of things the judge is to consider is, “The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.”  In view of the State policy and the importance of having both parents actively in children’s lives to help produce healthy, emotionally balanced children, it is no coincidence that this factor is listed first.  Other factors include the future division of parental responsibility, the reasonable preference of the children, school and community records of children, moral fitness of parents, and more.

For help with child custody and time sharing issues, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today at (904) 685-1200.  Initial consultations are free.  Our experienced Jacksonville divorce lawyers can help you understand your rights as a parent and coach you through a stressful divorce.  Our attorneys have years of litigation experience and are prepared to fight for you when needed, but are also skilled in assisting you with uncontested divorces or collaborative divorce.  Schedule a consultation today.

Can children choose what parent to live with after a divorce?  The short answer is probably “no”.  Most child custody lawyers would agree that custody and visitation are probably the most highly contested issues between people when relationships don’t work and the couple has had children.  Whether there is a genuine belief by a parent that children will be better off with him or her, or whether a parent is being spiteful when requesting majority timesharing, one argument that comes up is that the children prefer to live with one parent over the other.

Section 61.13, Florida Statutes states that a child’s reasonable preference about what parent to live with may be considered; however, the child’s choice will not control the court’s decision.  The court will weigh and relevant factors and decide what is in the child’s best interest.  A child’s desire to live with the “fun parent” won’t simply be taken at face value.  A child’s preference doesn’t always come into the equation, but when the preference is at issue, a child’s age, maturity level, and so on will be taken into account.  In practice, the child’s preference is likely to have little bearing on the court’s decision without there being more objective evidence that shows that the child’s preference is in line with the child’s best interest.  There are many things that come into play when the child’s best interest is being decided.  Typically, giving a child continuity and stability will be high on the priority list.  Things like whether one parent is likely to encourage a loving and nurturing relationship between the children and the other parent is important too.

For more information on child custody, visitation, divorce, and family law issues, called the experienced family lawyers at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation.


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.
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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. .

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).
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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.
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