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Plantation Family Law Blog



Our law firm, Law Office of Kelley A. Joseph, P.A., offers this Custody & Visitation blog for residents of Plantation, Florida. We hope you'll share your thoughts with us.



Updated: 2018-04-20T09:22:28Z

 



Are you and your spouse unable to resolve your disagreements?

2018-04-20T09:22:28Z

Marriage isn't always going to be easy. You and your spouse will no doubt get into plenty of disagreements even if you're in a perfectly loving relationship. That said, couples do need to draw the distinction between healthy marital...

Marriage isn't always going to be easy. You and your spouse will no doubt get into plenty of disagreements even if you're in a perfectly loving relationship. That said, couples do need to draw the distinction between healthy marital spats and unresolvable problems that never seem to go away.

Have you and your spouse fallen into the pattern of getting into a discussion that invariably expands into the same argument over and over again? Maybe it's as simple as you choosing the wrong color to paint the living room. However, your spouse will never let it go. It starts as a minor disagreement about where to go to dinner, and it leads to a snide comment about the lime-green paint in the bedroom, and then your both slinging ugly names at one another.

If you're stuck in a rut and you can't ever resolve your disagreements, that's no way to live. Yes, family counseling can help in certain situations, but divorce is also a perfectly reasonable solution if you can't live in the same house without getting into a heated, blowout argument every day. Being in a relationship that involves constant blaming of one another or an inability to compromise is toxic and depressing. It's certainly not the kind, warm, intimate and trusting marital environment that most people hope for.

It's not easy to come to the conclusion that your marriage is over, but when it's truly over, the telltale signs will be there. What might not be clear, however, is the best legal strategies to employ in your divorce proceedings with regard to child custody and asset division. The more you understand about how divorces get resolved, and how parents organize their child custody arrangements and property division, the better you'll be able to navigate the dissolution of your marriage.




When does joint physical custody work for parents?

2018-04-13T15:52:42Z

Joint physical custody involves two parents sharing time with their children equally. The parents will essentially set up two separate living environments in their respective homes and their children will -- in fact -- have two different homes. According...

Joint physical custody involves two parents sharing time with their children equally. The parents will essentially set up two separate living environments in their respective homes and their children will -- in fact -- have two different homes. According to most family psychologists, children adapt well to these circumstances and benefit from enjoying equal time living with both of their parental figures.

Here's a little bit more about when joint physical custody can work for parents and kids:

  • Joint custody arrangements are best when the parents can agree with one another. If the parents are constantly fighting, they won't have the ability to agree on the daily issues that they encounter and need to decide as co-parents.
  • The parents should also live close to one another, or at least close enough so that it's convenient for the parents to drop off and pick up the children from one another's homes.
  • Both parents also have to have the energy, ability and interest in being highly involved in their children's lives. The fact of the matter is that some parents just aren't that interested in being parents. In joint custody arrangements, it's vital that both parents are engaged, involved and active in their children's lives.
  • Neither parent has been involved in kidnapping, domestic abuse or child abuse in the past.

If you think that you and your ex-spouse are good candidates for joint physical custody parenting arrangements, you can build this into your child custody and parenting plan. When managed appropriately, families and their children can benefit a great deal from these kinds of arrangements.




Did your marriage end for this reason?

2018-04-06T09:55:23Z

Irreconcilable differences. You've heard the phrase many times while reading about celebrity divorce proceedings. Although you never thought you'd see "irreconcilable differences" written out in your own divorce papers, you always knew what it means. It's the polite or...

Irreconcilable differences. You've heard the phrase many times while reading about celebrity divorce proceedings. Although you never thought you'd see "irreconcilable differences" written out in your own divorce papers, you always knew what it means. It's the polite or legally appropriate way of saying that two people were incompatible. To put it another way, two people with irreconcilable differences might have been arguing day in and day out, non-stop, for years before they finally decided to call it quits on their marriage.

If you and your spouse are no longer compatible, it doesn't mean your years of marriage were pointless, and it certainly doesn't mean that you and your spouse never loved one another. It just means that you've come to realize that you and your spouse have different core values, don't want to live in the same place or don't want to live in the same way.

If you're incompatible like this, it's normal for friction to happen because – for this kind of partnership to work – one of the spouses will have to give up something that he or she fundamentally wants and needs, and this can result in resentment and arguments.

If you find yourself thinking, "There's no hope for us," or "We're never going to work this out," it might be time to consider divorce proceedings. By bringing your marriage to a close, you and your ex-spouse can start new lives that satisfy your respective needs. Also, when done in a peaceful and thoughtful manner, divorce does not need to be difficult or contentious. Indeed, numerous spouses can reach respectful, out-of-court divorce agreements quickly and cost-effectively.

Source: CNN, "5 factors that may predict divorce, according to psychology," Drake Baer, accessed April 06, 2018




How to have a blast on child visitation day with your 3-year-old

2018-03-30T19:39:55Z

Imagine you have child custody rights after a long legal battle. Your child is still just a toddler and this weekend is going to be the first time he is coming to stay with you. What kind of activities do...

Imagine you have child custody rights after a long legal battle. Your child is still just a toddler and this weekend is going to be the first time he is coming to stay with you. What kind of activities do you plan to enjoy together? If you're a seasoned parent, you probably know exactly what kinds of things a toddler likes to do, but if it's your first rodeo you might not have a clue.

Here are a few ideas for your first day with your son or daughter:

Exploration time: Give your toddler an object and let him explore it, touch it, feel it, taste it and smell it. Just go with the flow and see where it leads. Give him something else and he'll probably be just as curious and interested. Talk about the object and name it. Go outside and explore the random things you discover there.

Don't make a plan: The key phrase is "go with the flow." If you try to make a planned activity, it probably won't work out when your child is only a toddler.

After playing with something: Make sure you leave it around so your toddler can pick it up on another day and look at it again.

Choose clean objects: You better believe whatever you give your toddler is probably going to go in his mouth, so make sure that whatever you're playing with is clean.

It sounds simple, doesn't it? Spending time with a toddler is as simple as that. If he's a talker, he'll probably ask you a million questions. Answer them as best you can. Remember, it's the fact you're spending time and bonding in your own way that is the most important part of all this, so - if your child visitation rights are being challenged - make sure you defend them by any means necessary.

Source: preschoolrainbow.org, "Preschool Home Activities for Parents and Young Children," accessed March 30, 2018




Do some jobs create more single parents than others?

2018-03-23T13:17:36Z

As it turns out, your choice of profession could have something to do with your future ability to stay married. A study compiled from U.S. Census Bureau data from 2015 looked at divorce rates for people in different career...

As it turns out, your choice of profession could have something to do with your future ability to stay married. A study compiled from U.S. Census Bureau data from 2015 looked at divorce rates for people in different career tracks and discovered that certain jobs had seemed to promote their workers being divorced more than other jobs.

In some of the circumstances, the jobs with high divorce rates make sense from a logical perspective. For example, as you might expect, low paying jobs and jobs in industries that are declining tended to have a higher divorce rate -- perhaps because monetary problems are the cause of most marital issues. Also, jobs where the individuals were constantly traveling, like being a flight attendant, were also prone to having higher divorce rates.

The careers that had fewer divorces also made sense. The career with the lowest divorce rate was "actuary." Since actuaries have the job of reducing risk for a living, it makes sense that they'd do a good job of minimizing the risks of not marrying "the one."

Other professions where people had better chances of staying married were in the medical field. Doctors, podiatrists, dentists, pharmacists and physical therapists all tended to have lower divorce figures. Perhaps this is because they have steady jobs, tend to stay in the same general area and enjoy economic stability.

Although having a certain kind of job might make you less prone to getting a divorce, the fact of the matter is that selecting the right kind of job will never be enough to prevent you from getting a divorce. Considering what kinds of effects your job could have on your love life, however, is an interesting dilemma to ponder.

Source: Monster, "New study finds which jobs are marriage killers," Lisa Martis, accessed March 23, 2018




Visitation time and child custody: Supervised visits

2018-03-16T13:33:17Z

Sometimes a judge will award a parent supervised visitation rights. Supervised visitation usually becomes necessary following one of the parent's conviction of various crimes, or as a result of a mental condition. For example, the parent with supervised visits...

Sometimes a judge will award a parent supervised visitation rights. Supervised visitation usually becomes necessary following one of the parent's conviction of various crimes, or as a result of a mental condition. For example, the parent with supervised visits might have been convicted of a violent crime, a sex crime or he or she might have a history of child abuse or domestic violence.

If you were awarded supervised visits, you're probably not entirely happy about it. No one wants to be monitored or watched while spending time with their children. However, you might want to try to see the positive side of it. Many years ago, it's more likely that someone would simply not be permitted to have contact with his or her children following conviction of various crimes. Modern family law courts in Florida, however, see the wisdom and value for the best interests of the children to spend time with their biological parents -- even if those parents were convicted of potentially dangerous crimes.

During supervised visitations, the visits will often occur in a neutral location, and they will have a supervisor present. This supervisor might be a trusted individual whom both parents trust implicitly and have agreed to serve as the supervisor. Maybe it's a grandparent, an uncle or someone else. Or, maybe it's someone the court appoints.

If you've been awarded supervised visitations, try to enjoy them as much as possible as quality time with your child. Eventually, as time passes by, you will be able to spend unfettered time with your child once again. At the very least, you have gained the right to spend time with your child.




Can a prenuptial agreement help my current or future kids?

2018-03-09T08:20:38Z

The practicality of a prenup cannot be ignored. To put it simply: Responsible couples sign prenuptial agreements before they get married. That's because a prenuptial agreement takes into account the possibility of divorce and helps couples prepare for it...

The practicality of a prenup cannot be ignored. To put it simply: Responsible couples sign prenuptial agreements before they get married. That's because a prenuptial agreement takes into account the possibility of divorce and helps couples prepare for it in advance to prevent the threat of infighting, costly divorce battles and stressful decisions when they are in difficult emotional states.

One area of divorce, however, that couples cannot prepare for in their prenuptial agreement is the area of child custody. Ultimately, any decision or agreement regarding child custody must be negotiated and approved by the parents and then brought before a judge for approval. However, although a prenuptial agreement wouldn't be able to make predetermined decisions regarding child custody, it can help one's children a great deal during the divorce process. Here are two reasons why:

  1. A prenuptial agreement makes divorce less stressful and less likely to end in argument. When parents are less stressed, less angry and calmer, they are going to be better parents to their children and give their children the extra time and attention they need during and after the divorce process.
  2. A prenuptial agreement can protect the future inheritance of children. Parents who have children from previous marriages can prevent the inheritance of their children from being absorbed by a new spouse in the event of an unexpected death.

As one can see, signing a prenuptial agreement could assist children in two very important ways in the event of a divorce. As such, it may behoove many single parents to enter into a prenup if they choose to get married -- not only for the potential financial benefits, but also for the benefit to their children.

Source: US News, "Why Almost Everyone Needs a Prenup," Kimberly Palmer, accessed March 09, 2018




Make a plan for revising your parenting arrangements post-divorce

2018-03-02T07:23:52Z

Divorcing parents generally have a lot of freedom when drafting their parenting plans and child custody agreements. As long as a judge agrees that the parenting arrangements are both lawful and serve the best interests of the children involved,...

Divorcing parents generally have a lot of freedom when drafting their parenting plans and child custody agreements. As long as a judge agrees that the parenting arrangements are both lawful and serve the best interests of the children involved, the parenting plan will get approved. However, that doesn't mean it will be perfect.

Sometimes, parenting plans will require revision as the child grows and matures and life situations change. As such, parents may want to establish the following guidelines within the plan regarding how to revise and alter it:

  • The parents shall meet at specific intervals – perhaps every other year, once a year or twice a year – to determine if parenting plan changes are required or appropriate.
  • The conditions related to the parenting plan can be revised or supplemented as required by the changing needs of the child and parents. These revisions will be dated, in writing, signed and agreed to by both parents. Both parents will receive a copy of the revised agreement.
  • Parents can ask to change the parenting plan – such as changing the parenting schedule – via written request. The other parent will have two weeks to respond to the request.

The more time parents take to consider the parenting provisions to include in their parenting plans, the better they'll be able to reduce the chances of arguments and misunderstandings later on down the road. Also, if an argument does develop, a well-drafted parenting plan should offer guidelines to swiftly resolve the issue in a manner that respects the sanctity of both parents' perspectives and needs – as well as the best interests of the children.




Modifying child custody orders to gain physical custody

2018-02-23T11:09:01Z

Imagine you discover that the other parent has abandoned your child, even though he or she has full physical custody. In other words, the other parent is the custodial parent, meaning the child lives with the other parent, and...

Imagine you discover that the other parent has abandoned your child, even though he or she has full physical custody. In other words, the other parent is the custodial parent, meaning the child lives with the other parent, and you're the noncustodial parent who only has visitation rights.

The problem is, you've just discovered that the other parent has left your child to live with a friend. Is it possible to revoke the other parent's custodial rights and gain physical custody rights for yourself?

For example, the revocation of the other parent's parental rights might happen in the following circumstances:

Sentencing to prison: If the custodial parent is convicted to spend time in prison, he or she will not be able to care for the children. A family court judge, in this case, would lean on awarding the other, noncustodial parent with full physical custody of the child or children. However, the court would need to ensure that this was in the best interest of the child and that the noncustodial parent is fit to serve as primary caretaker.

Abandonment of the child: If the custodial parent abandons the child, a judge will likely be willing to change the child custody arrangements. For example, if the parent leaves the young child alone for long periods of time without care, a judge may deem this to be abandonment. Or, if the parent often leaves the child with friends or other relatives, a judge may decide to award full custody to the noncustodial parent so that the child can live with and be cared for by that parent exclusively.

Parents who are seeking a modification to their child custody orders need to fully understand their unique situations and existing child custody decrees. By analyzing your situation from a legal perspective, with a full understanding of state family law, the most appropriate legal strategy to seek a modification and obtain physical custody of your children will be revealed.




How can I make the most out of child visitation days?

2018-02-16T17:10:27Z

You fought long and hard to have the right to spend every Sunday with your children. Now that you have the visitation rights you desired, however, you're facing a different kind of challenge: How do you make the most...

You fought long and hard to have the right to spend every Sunday with your children. Now that you have the visitation rights you desired, however, you're facing a different kind of challenge: How do you make the most of these visits, and how you make sure your children feel supported and loved?

Here are a few tips to make sure your child visits are as smooth and beneficial as possible:

  • Be flexible with the other parent regarding your visitation schedule and times and locations for pickups and dropoffs to facilitate easy relations.
  • Always be respectful with your ex during your interactions.
  • Make sure your children feel safe and secure when they're visiting your home.
  • Create routines or "rituals" that allow your children to develop a stable sense of "home."
  • Stay open, communicative and available to your ex to discuss parenting issues.
  • Don't worry about or question the loyalty of your kids. Even if they appear to be grumpy around you, they will always have a strong bond with both parents.
  • Do whatever you can to make the transfer process from your home to your ex's home as smooth as possible.
  • Encourage time spent with grandparents from both sides.
  • Be consistent with discipline and other rules by discussing such issues with your ex.
  • Create a space for your kids in your home. Even if the space is simply a section of one room, this can help your kids feel a sense of place and security.

These are just a few ideas that will help you increase the level of safety and happiness that your children feel when they visit your home. Whatever you do, as long as you do your best, time with you is the best gift that they could ever receive. Also, if your visitation rights are ever challenged, make sure to understand the options you have available to assert your rights in court.

Source: jud6.org, "Visitation Dos and Don'ts," accessed Feb. 16, 2018




Stay conscientious when talking about divorce with your kids

2018-02-09T01:12:31Z

Parents are often at a loss for words when it's time to tell their young ones that mommy and daddy are getting a divorce. It's important to remember, however, that divorce is commonplace in modern society and your children...

Parents are often at a loss for words when it's time to tell their young ones that mommy and daddy are getting a divorce. It's important to remember, however, that divorce is commonplace in modern society and your children have probably talked with other kids about what it's like to live with a single mom or dad.

With this in mind, you may have an opening for the "divorce talk." Ask your kids about their friends who live with divorced parents, and try to keep the following in mind when breaking the news:

Make sure your kids know that the divorce is not their fault: Tell your children that their behavior has been excellent and your decision to get a divorce has nothing to do with them – it was a decision that mom and dad reached on their own.

Tell your kids that it's okay however they feel: Your kids need to be supported no matter how they feel about the divorce. Encourage them not to feel guilty about their feelings, that however they feel is natural, and that they could change throughout the day. Given that information, parents should also support their kids' feelings and no try to change or redirect how they feel.

Look for support from a professional: Sometimes parents may want to seek out support from a family counselor if they feel that their children are having trouble dealing with the news. A family therapist can be very helpful in assisting children to work through their issues relating to the divorce.

Another way to support your children is to reach a peaceful out-of-court divorce and child custody agreement. By finalizing your divorce in a peaceful way, your children will have an easier time coping with the divorce.

Source: The Spruce, "Talking with Children About your Divorce," Wayne Parker, accessed Feb. 08, 2018




Parenting provisions regarding custody exchanges

2018-01-31T02:17:02Z

Busy Florida parents barely have enough time to go grocery shopping, take their kids to school and get to work on time. Adding into your schedule the need to meet up with your ex-spouse for a child custody exchange...

Busy Florida parents barely have enough time to go grocery shopping, take their kids to school and get to work on time. Adding into your schedule the need to meet up with your ex-spouse for a child custody exchange can become the straw that breaks your schedule's back -- especially if your spouse is continually late or misses your appointments.

In order to ensure that you and your spouse are clear about child custody exchanges -- and to ensure that you have legal recourse in the event that the exchange guidelines are broken by your ex -- here are some important legal provisions to include in your child custody plan:

  • A detailed description of who or how transportation to the child custody exchange point will be provided.
  • A detailed description of who or how transportation from the child custody exchange point will be provided.
  • Describe exactly where drop-offs and pickups will occur and on what days. One way of handling this is to state that the exchange will happen at the residence of the parent who currently has the child, or at the school on days when the exchange occurs after school. Alternatively, state that the parents shall discuss with one another to agree upon the exact place of the exchange ahead of time.
  • State whether the parent responsible for transportation can use a third party or not. In some cases, this could provide convenience. In other cases, it could also result in an unknown or untrusted party providing transportation, so parents may want to clarify exactly which third parties will have the ability to provide transportation like this.

The more planning you do ahead of time in your child custody agreement, the fewer chances there will be of disagreement over what was intended when you created your agreement. Be sure to understand your legal rights and plan accordingly to prevent parental conflicts in the future.

Source: CustodyXchange, "Parenting Time and Exchanges Provision Examples," accessed Jan. 30, 2018




2 factors to think about in your shared custody plan

2018-01-26T14:46:32Z

Shared physical child custody arrangements can be an excellent situation for the parents and the children alike. For one, the arrangements will benefit the children because they'll get to spend more time with both their mothers and their fathers...

Shared physical child custody arrangements can be an excellent situation for the parents and the children alike. For one, the arrangements will benefit the children because they'll get to spend more time with both their mothers and their fathers on a weekly basis. Secondly, the parents will both be given a certain amount of break time to themselves when the children are with the other parent.

That said, you will want to consider a lot of different factors in order to ensure that your shared custody plan serves the best interests of your child. Here are two things to think about in this regard:

What is the age and temperament of your child? Certain children may be too sensitive to leave one parent for half the week, change homes and have so much flexibility during the week. In some cases, a child might be too young for these kinds of transitions. In other cases, the child may have individualized emotional needs that won't be readily met with this kind of schedule. Perhaps, it's simply a matter of waiting until the child is a little older and more mature to divide his or her time between mom and dad.

The special needs of your child: If your child has a disability or has some other kind of special need relating to his schedule or the way you and your spouse need to take care of him or her. For a special needs child, the house-swapping arrangement could simply be too difficult to do.

If you're setting up shared parenting arrangements relating to a recent divorce, you might want to look at all the different options available to parents who are sharing time between their children. You might just find an arrangement that perfectly suits your and your children's needs.

Source: CustodyXchange, "13 Factors to Consider When Creating a Schedule," accessed Jan. 26, 2018




Will I be able to spend time with my children after the divorce?

2018-01-19T12:22:09Z

Imagine facing the threat that you'll never get to see or spend time with your children again. The thought seems unimaginable to most parents, but for some Florida mothers and fathers this threat is real. Regardless of how it...

Imagine facing the threat that you'll never get to see or spend time with your children again. The thought seems unimaginable to most parents, but for some Florida mothers and fathers this threat is real. Regardless of how it happens -- be it because the parent was convicted of a crime, convicted of committing abuse, accused of child neglect or some other reason -- some parents never get to see their kids.

Fortunately, the cases in which a parent cannot see his or her child are rare. In most situations, Florida parents have the right to -- at the very least -- some form of child visitation. There are two primary kinds of child visitation in this regard: unsupervised child visitation and supervised child visitation.

When it comes to unsupervised child visitation, this is what most parents get to have. There will usually be one day a week, or a full weekend every other week, when the non-custodial parent gets to spend completely unfettered time with his or her children. These days are usually fun and enjoyable for both parent and child, and the parent will have the freedom to decide what they will do without anyone else trying to direct the activities.

As for supervised visitation, it's exactly as it sounds. The mother or father will need to have a court-approved supervisor present whenever he or she is spending time with the child. Although rare, supervised visits may be ordered by a judge if the parent has been accused of neglect, abandonment, abuse, addictions or some other violent crimes.

If you're in danger of not receiving the right to spend time with your children, you may want to educate yourself on your legal rights as a parent and how to go about preserving those rights when they are threatened.




Information about parental child abduction cases

2018-01-12T14:30:21Z

The most common kind of kidnapping is done by one of the parents of the child. This parent may not agree with the child custody orders and decide to take matters into his or her own hands by taking...

The most common kind of kidnapping is done by one of the parents of the child. This parent may not agree with the child custody orders and decide to take matters into his or her own hands by taking the child and keeping him or her in violation of a court's ruling. When these instances happen, the law offers the means for the other parent to get his or her child returned.

The first course of action for a parent to take following a parental kidnapping is to notify the police. Local, state and federal authorities will swiftly move into action where necessary in these cases. Often, the authorities involved will be able to locate the child and get him or her returned. Sometimes, parents may employ a private investigator to assist in locating the child.

After having your child returned, you can take steps to prevent another abduction. For example, if the abducting parent violated a court custody order, the abducting parent could lose his or her custodial rights, parental rights and visitation rights. Such a revocation of parental rights could prevent the likelihood of another abduction. The abducting parent could also face jail time and other criminal penalties following the incident.

If your child has been taken from you in violation of a Florida child custody order, you will want to act as quickly as possible. Notify the police and notify the court immediately after something like this has occurred. You may also want to research the law as it applies to your case because fully understanding your rights could help you prevent another parental abduction from occurring in the future.