Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

It is important to know your rights following a divorce.  The final judgment of dissolution and the parenting plan determine the legal playing field for the future.  However, most issues are dynamic.  Children get older and their schools change and sometimes their relationship with parents change.  Incomes change, which can directly impact child support and people sometimes desire to relocate where child custody can be an issue.  There are a myriad of circumstances that should be re-evaluated following divorce. 

In Florida, the standard used to file an action to modify a final judgment is that a substantial change in circumstances occurred that was not anticipated at the time of entry of the final judgment.  It does not always make practical sense to file an action to modify a final judgment just because a party can do so.  The relationship that a party has with a former spouse is important, especially where children are involved.  Every time a party considers filing a supplemental petition (this is the instrument filed requesting modification of a final judgment), one should consider how such will impact their relationship with their former spouse and other legal consequences.  I frequently have parties coming to me that wish to file for a modification.  I typically find that they have only evaluated a part of the effect of seeking a modification.  For this reason, it is imperative that one review the ramifications of an action for modification with an experienced family law attorney.

Although a divorce is designed to deal with all of the legal issues concerning dissolution, the reality is that there are sometimes issues that are left unresolved.  On occasion there are assets that neither party put on their financial affidavits that require addressing post dissolution.  One example of such an issue involved a divorce of a long time married couple in which neither party included the child’s prepaid college fund account on their financial affidavit.  The fund was cashed out by the Father/Former Husband after the divorce without permission from the court or the Mother/Former Wife.  Since the asset was not listed on either party’s financial affidavit, the judge considered the asset marital property and ordered the Former Husband to pay back one half of the funds post dissolution.

Unwed fathers may believe that it is unlikely or impossible to gain custody of their child when they were never married to the child’s mother.  Fathers with this attitude should think again, as the courts and society have realized that fathers can be every bit as responsible as mothers in rearing a child.  The court system may still have a few vestiges of what was known as “The tender years doctrine”.  Such is the idea that a young child should primarily be cared for by their mother.  However, most judges today that I have encountered no longer display any indication that this philosophy still exists.  The reality is that a caring father can be every bit as nurturing and responsible as a caring mother.

In Florida, paternity is established by filing an action in the Circuit Court.  The action is known as a paternity action.  The petition should be titled a Petition for Paternity and Related Relief or a similar name.  There is no legal presumption for or against a father obtaining what used to be called primary custody.  The court’s have changed from using the term custody to using the term timesharing.  It is supposed to promote the idea of the children being shared between parents.  I personally do not believe that much has changed because of the change in terminology.  That said, the law has changed regarding child support in that the non primary residential parent (the parent that has minority timesharing) can now receive a reduction in child support if he or she has the child for at least 20 percent of the overnights.  The prior rule required the non majority parent to exercise at least 40 percent of the overnights to get a reduction in child support.

In a paternity suit, a father attempting to obtain timesharing must request either shared parental responsibility or sole parental responsibility.  Sole parental responsibility is exactly what it sounds like and so is shared parental responsibility.  Even people with serious criminal histories frequently are awarded shared parental responsibility.  Florida has enumerated the factors that it considers important and that a judge must take into account in deciding custody issues between parents.  They can be found in Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes.  In short, they equate to the best interests of the child.

National headlines were made when the wife of former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover was arrested for domestic violence battery and resisting arrest in St. Johns County, Florida on May 13, 2018.  The altercation allegedly occurred after Lucas Glover missed the 54-hole cut at The Players Championship.  Lucas Glover told authorities that his wife gets violent every time he does not play well in a major PGA Tournament.  There were allegedly visible injuries on Lucas Glover and his mother.  Krista Glover faces a court date on May 31, 2018 and was released on a $2,500 bond.

The Glovers children were present at the home when the incident happened.  Krista Glover had been drinking throughout the day and started yelling profane insults at Lucas Glover in front of their children and his mother.  Lucas Glover told her to stop the argument while in front of the children.  The children were in bed when the physical altercation happened, and it is unknown if they observed any of the altercation or the subsequent arrest afterwards where Krista Glover allegedly resisted arrest. The couple was married in 2012 and have two children, a two-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter.

The consequences of arguments in front of the children can be serious to both the aggressor and the victim.  The Florida Department of Children and Families may become involved if they receive an abuse report to investigate regarding the situation, which could even lead to possible removal of the children from both parties if it is alleged Lucas Glover failed to protect the children from multiple instances.  Also, it is key that alcohol was involved.  Drinking is perfectly legal and acceptable; as long as there is not a demonstrable effect on the children.  If there is a demonstrable effect on the children, alcohol treatment would most likely be ordered by a dependency court.

An injunction (or protective order) can be a good way for there to be an immediate response when children need to be protected from any person, including a parent.  Many times, injunctions will come after the police and the Department of Children and Families are involved.  The injunction process is typically the quickest way for there to be court intervention, especially if the incident that necessitates the need of a protective doesn’t not lead to an arrest of anyone.  There could be many reasons to seek an injunction for protection on behalf of a minor child.  This article will focus on abuse allegations.

InjunctionWhenever a child is subjected to intentional infliction of physical or emotional harm, child abuse has occurred, as defined by Florida Statute 827.03.  This issue comes up sometimes after divorces or in paternity cases where children go between mom’s house and dad’s house.  Of course, physical discipline is allowed, but going too far becomes a crime, and can also be the basis for having an injunction put into place.  Florida Statute 741.30 allows for injunctions in domestic violence situations; child abuse qualifies as domestic violence.

If one parent files for an injunction to get protection for their children, if granted, the injunction can control time-sharing and visitation until a family court can hear the case and determine what is best for the children.  An injunction court may limit the visits to supervised visits, or the court may stop visitation all together.

1. “I brought my ‘friend’ with me to the interview.”

You and I have an attorney client privilege. But once you bring in a third party, whether it’s a friend, a lover or whoever, the benefit of the attorney client privilege is gone. Unless that third party is named in the case or otherwise officially associated with the case, there is no attorney client privilege.. If a friend or a lover is in a meeting with attorney and the case goes sour, in the event of a trial or deposition, there is no privilege and all those secrets can spill out in a deposition or in court.

2. “I am so depressed over this.”

As an experienced Jacksonville Beach Divorce Lawyer, I often see couples at their worst. Many times, when a relationship is breaking up, the civility between the parties is also lost, and the harassing begins. This harassment can go from simply bothersome to criminal.

Florida law requires that if you feel that you are becoming the victim of harassment, you must first put the offender on notice to stop calling you or your family members or to cease the harassing act. You should keep a log of each call with the time, date, and number from where the call came and from whom. If the offender continues to harass you after being placed on notice to stop, then the act becomes criminal and you may seek the protection of the police or the Office of the State Attorney.

Also harassment may rise to the level of domestic violence if the harassment includes a threat or threats of violence. If physical threats have been made and there is a history of domestic violence an injunction (aka restraining order) may be an option.

As 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:”

dv.jpgDomestic violence is a serious issue, and you should speak with the proper authorities as well as an Orange Park Domestic Violence Attorney if you have been a victim. But you may need to go a step further and have the court grant a protective order or an injunction preventing the other person from contacting you. This allows the police to arrest the person if he or she violates certain provisions of the court order. If he or she is arrested they could be looking at misdemeanor criminal charges placed against them.

However, what exactly does Florida law define domestic violence as in order to get an injunction?

“Domestic violence” means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

You may have heard the story of Crystal Harris, a woman in California who was sexually assaulted by her husband. Ms. Harris pressed charges, and her husband was convicted of sexual assault in part because of a recording that caught the audio of the ordeal.

Spousal rape cases, however, are typically very difficult to prosecute. Ms. Harris’s husband was convicted only of sexual assault; the jury was unable to reach a verdict on two other charges, including spousal rape. The most heartbreaking aspect of Ms. Harris’s story was how the court handled the legal fees: the judge ordered her to pay the husband’s legal bills from the divorce and, even worse, she was forced to pay alimony from their divorce. In other words, she was forced to pay money to the man she had just divorced because of his sexually abusive behavior.

Of course, many people were outraged when they heard about the situation. In California, the family law code currently provides that a judge can consider the criminal conviction in adjusting spousal support, but a spouse convicted of attempted murder will not receiving anything. Lawmakers are trying to change that language to disallow spousal support for any spouse convicted of any violent felony.

gun.jpgAs a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney I have worked on numerous domestic violence injunction cases. Through my work on these cases I have come to understand there are many ramifications stemming from injunctions for domestic violence that people are simply and completely unaware of.

Specifically, not even one of my past clients was aware of the effect domestic violence injunctions had on their gun rights. None of these clients had ever heard of the Lautenberg Amendment. Well, I’m going to take this opportunity to give a very brief rundown on this very topic.

The Lautenberg Amendment, which is often referred to as the Domestic Violence Amendment to the Gun Control Act, is codified at 18 U.S. Code §922(g)(9). In summary this act bans the ownership and use of firearms or ammunition by individuals convicted of a misdemeanor where the underlying charge is that of domestic violence, or who are under an injunction for domestic abuse. This act also makes in unlawful to knowingly sell or give a firearm or ammunition to such persons.

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