Child Custody or Time Sharing in Florida

For the most part, Florida has shied away from the concepts of “custody” in its family law rules and statues. However, this doesn’t mean that such instances do not exist. Florida does advocate for “Time- sharing”. With “Time-sharing” each parent is expected to enjoy a certain amount of time with the child. It could be during daytime, nighttime or during the holidays as long as the child gets to benefit from time spent with both parents. A primary residential parent is determined and designated in addition to determining which of the parents will have sole responsibility when it comes to decision making on things such as school, education and religion in the child’s life. Florida Law appreciates that each child deserves the right to spend time with both parents which is why the law is clear in this regard. According to the Florida Time-Sharing statute in Section 61.13(2)(c)(1), each child deserves the right to have as much time and contact with both parents in the event of a divorce or separation. Parents are encouraged to share in the rights and responsibilities that revolve around the child. The statue doesn’t make any assumptions for or against the amount of time that the child will spend with each parent. That being said however, the ultimate decision as to time-sharing will be based on the child’s best interests. According to Section 61.13(2)(c)(3), 20 factors are listed which help the court determine the time- sharing issue. The first listed factor is the parents’ ability to participate in the time-sharing process. Each parent’s capacity to share and encourage sharing the child with regard to...

Mediation in family law

When it comes to family law cases, nothing frustrates more than a contested case! Contested cases tend to take longer than they otherwise would. When one is served with papers, he or she is given twenty days to file their ‘Answer’. After that, you can expect to wait a long period of time (anywhere from one month to two months or longer) as disputes arise against discovery, motions are filed or when hearings have to be attended for things such as time-sharing, temporary support or attorney’s fees. When a family law case is filed, you may find that one party is able to pay their attorney fees while the other is not. In such cases, it normally pays to try to reach a temporary support agreement as opposed to injecting money into the attorney’s fees or spending time waiting for a temporary support hearing. Granted, different circumstances call for different solutions. However, in most cases opting for mediation to resolve arising issues is better than dragging on the court case. Mediation is especially important if safety is not an issue. Of course, mediation may not be what one of the parties wants especially if their ulterior motive is to delay proceedings for their own advantage. Mediation can be a time and money-saver if both parties work to resolve the case as soon as possible. No matter how complex a case may be, mediation is a good attempt to try and resolve a litigated case as early as possible. Mediation is especially important when both parties realize that conflicts can only hurt them and their loved ones (children in case...

Modifying Parenting Plans

Unless you have unwavering reasons for Parental Plans modification, it is not something easy to do. There are many instances where people wish to make modifications in family law cases but without substantial proof, this may not be possible. According to the Florida Statute, section 61.13 requires that the person that wishes to make modifications show a substantial, permanent and unanticipated change of circumstances which helps supports the change in Parenting Plans. The Parenting Plans can only be changed if they do embrace the children’s best interests. Unfortunately, being able to proof said substantial, permanent and unanticipated change of circumstances can be quite a challenge in most cases and may not yield positive results in most cases. As such, it is especially important that you understand that a parenting plan once signed is for a lifetime. You should therefore be in complete agreement with the schedule given. In order to change a parenting Plan, the onus will be on you to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the current schedule is causing harm to the child/...

More than a parenting plan: Embrace the unknown such as Hurricanes

In Florida, if you have kids, you are required to file Parenting Plans. What the plan entails is what will happen to your kids’ welfare in case of a divorce. It basically covers things such as holiday programs, regular programs and extracurricular activities. In other words, it covers anything related to a child- parent relationship. Much as parenting plans are geared towards parenting essentials, they don’t touch on natural disasters such as hurricane. In such instances, there is an unexpected abruption in schedules that should be considered by the parents. While in some cases parents may be able to work through the disaster by shifting around the given schedule, there may be instances when the plan may not be effective. In life, it is not possible to account for each and everything that may or may not happen. However, it is possible to have contingency plans in place in case of unexpected events. As such, it is not a bad idea to have in place a hurricane plan so that in the event of one, there is no question as to where the kids will be. Being able to anticipate and plan accordingly for as many occurrences as possible can save your plenty. This helps ensure that you do away with avoidable problems in the future as far as your kids are...

Child Support

Help, My ex is underemployed, voluntarily!!! Child Support Modification By: Walid O. Mabrouk, Esq. So perhaps you have been through a divorce. You have dealt with the unfortunate complications and challenges associated with the process. Or perhaps you were never married and you have at least one child in common with another. Maybe you were able to reach an agreement through a court order or a mediation regarding your child(ren)’s rights including child support. After an agreement is reached, many issues can come to surface, including voluntary underemployment of a parent responsible for child support. Many would think, who would do such a thing? However, as frustrating as it sounds, it does unfortunately happen. Underemployment by choice has been addressed both by Florida Statute as well as case law. Just recently, a Florida Court of Appeals dealt with a situation involving an underemployed parent. Not because the parent was looking and could not find a job. It was underemployment by choice. In that case, Carlson v. Carlson, the Fourth District Court of Appeal concluded, “the Magistrate did not abuse her discretion in concluding that the wife’s voluntary underemployment was a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification in child support”, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8325 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. June 1, 2016).  Florida law, through Fla. Stat. 61.30 (2)(b), imputes income to an unemployed or underemployed parent when that underemployment is found to be voluntary, where there is no physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances where a parent has no control. Furthermore, Florida courts have dealt with parents who are paying child support and asking the...

Life and Divorce

Life and divorce can be so tough and unfair. Kids suffer. Parents suffer. What can we ALL possibly do differently? What am I, as an aggressive family law practitioner, doing differently to mitigate the pain and the financial costs? Well, in the last few months, I am doing several things differently to offer more value, greater certainty and to alleviate some of the pain associated with divorce and post-judgment matters.  The main purpose of this blog is to let you know you are not alone, you do not have to be alone and no matter what there are remedies for you. In sharing these remedies, I will also elaborate on how may firm may be able to help you or someone you care about. First, you should know there is NOTHING to be embarrassed about.  EVERYONE has their unique challenges. Today is the best day to start from because if you start from anywhere else, chances are you are living in the past and in your head and you are not truly living to arrive at your new goals. So, make today a fresh start. Whether you or ex suffer from  mental illness, alcoholism, a recent job loss or are catching up with paying down your debt, you are not alone.  All my life I have been so focused on solutions that they have generally come easy to me.  I have even learned to find happiness after losing my dear Mom to suicide almost 30 years ago. As a result of some recent challenges that I have personally endured, I have never been more empathetic or understanding of what its...

Articles and Statutes

F.S.61.13001 – Parental Relocation with Child F.S.61.30 – Child Support F.S.61.075 – Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets F.S.61.13 – Support of Children parenting and timesharing F.S.61.08 –...

How to Effectively Deal with an Ex who causes you constant angst

I recently had a Mediation with one of my favorite clients, who was very emotional about the whole divorce process and I realized something that may be of great value to anyone going through a divorce or a break-up. In the majority of divorces, one party initiates the process and the other defends themselves. It is rare that a petition for a dissolution is filed along with a settlement agreement reached between the parties. In most cases, one or both parties are very hurt and often at least one remains acrimonious throughout the process. The question this blog seeks to answer is “How do I deal with my Ex when all he/she wants to do is cause me harm?” My first suggestion is don’t resist the truth about your ex. While he/she may be difficult, obstante or just very unpleasant, wishing they were different does not make it so. Many people going through divorce want the process to just be over, but not necessarily at the expense of a very unfair arrangement. Thus, my second recommendation is that you accept that divorce IS a PROCESS. My client, whom I will refer to as Blanca, is frustrated, tired, at times overwhelmed and just wants this all over. Her Husband has been unreasonable through most of the process and is remaining so at Mediation. He has been a bully to her for a long time and we are now about to conclude Mediation without settlement and get ready for trial. Thankfully, despite many differences, they have worked out a timesharing arrangement for their two children and I am not litigating timesharing...

Does a civil servant’s “religious freedom” trump the duty to follow the law?

Controversial Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis has made headlines after she was incarcerated (and later released) for refusing to follow a court order requiring her to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.   Ultra-conservative presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz have lined up in support of Davis, arguing that her right to religious freedom (i.e., her Christian belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman only) trumps any requirement under Kentucky and Federal law that she issue licenses to those entitled to one under the law.   This New York Times op-ed piece highlights several opinions against Davis’ position as well as those in support of the purported “religious freedom” Davis argues she is entitled to.    ...

Dealing with Divorce with Love

Quite a title, huh? Yes, it is possible. Don’t worry. I wont advise you here about what is impossible. Your first thought might be along the lines of “Love. Are you KIDDING ME?!” Your next thought might be, who is writing an article with this title? Yes, I am a divorce attorney. However, through my 20 plus years of practice I know that it is possible to deal with Divorce with Love even when the other side may feel differently. If you a re contemplating a divorce, have been through one or are going through one, please bear with me as I hope to shed some light to hopefully empower you. I suggest that the biggest obstacle people face during a divorce is the problem. Yes, the biggest problem is the problem! Here you are shaking your head again, right? So, allow me to explain. You are focused on the problems that have led you to get a divorce and not focused on the solutions. Lets say you are married for ten years and have two children. You and your spouse have been fighting for three years regularly and the example of love you both show the children is not what you had in mind ten years ago. As a matter of fact, your spouse is interested in another person and you feel unfulfilled daily. What are the problems in your marriage? How do you feel about those problems? Hopefully, you have at least both tried counseling. If you haven’t, stop reading this article and do whatever it takes to find solutions to save your marriage. When you have...