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Orlando Custody & Visitation Law Blog

Fathers' rights explained

Traditional roles in which the father has been characterized as the breadwinner and the mother being the primary caregiver have historically resulted in mothers being awarded status as the custodial parent and fathers receiving less time-sharing. However, these traditional gender roles have changed in more recent history due to many homes consisting of two full-time working parents. In these families, it is not uncommon for both parents to share in the responsibility of raising the children.

Courts have begun to recognize a father's parental rights and, as such, prefer arrangements that provide for liberal time-sharing with both of a child's parents, as well as joint decision making. Courts make decisions pertaining to custody and the amount of time sharing to be awarded based on the best interest of the child.

Sharing child custody after a divorce

Aspects of child support, especially divvying up parenting time, can be contentious. The state of Florida has clearly outlined statutes regarding such cases. This is a sensitive aspect of divorce law that should be taken with utmost seriousness; for the most part, however, the law follows what is in the best interest of a child.

According to state law, the court shall determine all matters relating to parenting and time-sharing of each child of the parties with regard to the best interests of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Unless the court is given evidence that one of the parents is abusive or will inhibit a child's well-being, shared responsibility is usually granted. The court may determine that continuity and consistency are best for the child and would therefore grant more responsibility to the parent who can maintain stability for the child.

Procedural rules in regular dissolution cases

A Florida regular dissolution of marriage case begins with the filing of a legal document called a petition for dissolution of marriage. Either spouse may file the petition, but it must be filed in the circuit court of the county where the couple most recently lived as husband and wife or in the county of residence of either party.

The petition in a regular divorce case must include certain specific information such as an allegation that the marriage cannot be repaired and a statement of the relief sought from the court. The petitioner must also see that the other spouse is served with the proper documents. Upon service, the other spouse has 20 days to file an answer.

Mistakes to avoid during a Florida divorce

A Floridian may make several mistakes when getting a divorce. For instance, a person could underestimate cash flow needs upon the end of a marriage. Valuable assets like stocks, mutual funds and stocks could be sold immediately and could help with cash flow concerns. However, it is still necessary to think about how joint liabilities could affect cash flow.

This is because a lender may demand payment for a debt that an individual thought was taken care of. It may also be harder to get new credit if old joint debts are still showing on a credit report. Experts say that it is a good idea to review a credit report to ensure that debts are being properly reported to all concerned parties. If a mortgage cannot be refinanced, it may still show up on a credit report and make it harder to get credit in the future.

Ending a marriage through simple dissolution

Those live in Florida may be able to file for a simplified dissolution of marriage if certain requirements are met. Many people choose this route when dissolving a marriage because it may be done quickly. The basic requirements for filing for a simplified dissolution include at least one of the spouses being a Florida resident for six months, and both parties must cooperate throughout the entire process.

If a couple has children, none of them may be minors or dependents. This means that the children must all be over 18 years of age and not dependents due to disabilities or any other reason. Children of one spouse from a previous marriage will not be considered as long as the other spouse has not adopted the children. Additionally, the wife must not be pregnant at the time of the dissolution of the marriage.

Obtaining paternity in Florida

For Florida men who have a child, determining paternity is incredibly important for legal reasons. For example, if the man is determined to be the father of the child, he has the legal right to have his name on the child's birth certificate, obtain medical histories and seek a court order for visitation or child custody, among other rights.

If the child's parents are married, the man is automatically assumed to be the father. If the couple is not married, they can both acknowledge the man's paternity by signing a legal document when the child is born or after the child is born. The acknowledgment of paternity can also occur if the unmarried couple decides to get married after the child is born. However, they will need to update the birth record.

Unmarried dads face fathers' rights hurdles in Florida

If you are a Florida dad who is struggling to assert your parental rights, we may have answers to your legal quandaries. Acknowledging paternity and identifying adoption options are just two of the many concerns that often enter the discussion about fathers' rights. In fact, the gender of a parent should not play a significant role in his or her access to the child. Further, fathers should be allowed to have a voice concerning the adoption of their biological children.

All too often, mothers fail to notify the fathers of their children that they are even pregnant -- and they often avoid telling the dads about giving birth to the child until long after the fact. Even more disturbing is the fact that many women take extreme measures to avoid notifying the fathers of their children about pending adoptions, which puts many dads in a tenuous legal position. Fathers who are unaware that they had a child are often prevented from contesting the adoption of that child.

Child custody relocation: Are your motives pure?

Parents who are considering relocating their families after a divorce may not be aware of the legal restrictions that govern such a decision. In many cases, both ex-spouses are able to agree to relocation, and custody arrangements are modified accordingly. However, child custody can become far more difficult when one parent is seeking relocation and the other does not approve. Before you make the decision to apply for a move-away request from a Florida court, consider the following factors that will play a role in the court's decision.

Judges in your state will want to determine whether the relocation is truly in the best interests of your child. These interests generally include overall welfare, though educational factors such as schools and daycare can also weigh in this decision. Further, the community of friends and family members surrounding the child will be taken into consideration. If you are the parent requesting relocation, make sure that you have identified school and daycare options and that you can present evidence of an existing community of family and friends to provide a support network.

Florida Supreme Court gives child custody rights to lesbian mom

Florida's highest court has made a groundbreaking decision in a same-sex couple's child custody case. The court ruling will clear the way for a lesbian mother to obtain visitation rights with her young son, whom she had legally adopted after her female partner gave birth to the boy. The Florida Supreme Court confirmed a lower-court opinion indicating that the adoptive mother deserved child custody rights.

Official reports show that the women were still together in 2012 when a judge in Sanford granted their application for the formal adoption. However, the relationship became strained and ultimately ended that year. The birth mother had requested that the adoption be nullified; the family court complied.

Back to school tips for the newly divorced

The school year is starting again for most Florida families -- and that could mean some difficulty in transitioning for those who are newly divorced. Preparing yourself for back to school is never a simple task, but it can be even more complicated if your family has just gone through a divorce. The fact is that many splits occur during the first part of the year, so they are finalized in the late summer shortly before school starts. Set yourself up for success by following these simple tips.

First, it is important to ensure that your kids have a smooth transition into the split home format that will prevail during your co-parenting experience. Make sure that your children know where they are staying during the week and on the weekends. They should also know where they will be during the hours after school. Create a routine -- and stick to it. Your kids are already having to juggle different bus routes and overnight bags; simplifying your parenting plan can make the transition much easier.

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