Articles Posted in Parenting

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If you are no longer married or in a relationship with the other parent of your child, you will need to make many legal decisions regarding time-sharing and visitation. These are the terms that have largely replaced the term “child custody” in Florida, since Florida law sets out that maintaining continuing and frequent contact with both parents is in the best interests of the child unless there is evidence to the contrary. No longer do the courts presume that the mother should automatically have full custody and the courts make this type of determination hoping to uphold both parents’ rights to share in raising their child.

Determining how to share time and legal custody of children is not a simple matter and many parents may consistently argue over specifics of the arrangement. To avoid this, parents who have joint physical and/or legal custody over children must have a parenting plan approved by the courts. It is always preferable for parents to agree to the specifics of a parenting plan and then have the court approve it, as they know their child’s schedule and specific needs firsthand. Unfortunately, in some cases, parents cannot agree on all of the specifics of a parenting plan and the court must intervene and decide for them. No matter who decides the specifics, however, a parenting plan must include certain provisions.

Necessary Provisions in a Parenting Plan

The following are some terms that must be decided upon and put into writing:

  • The schedule regarding when a child will physically reside with each parent;
  • A specific description about how you will share in raising your child on a daily basis and who will be responsible for specific tasks;
  • How the parents will communicate with each other and with the child when they are not physically together, such as text message or calling on the phone;
  • Who will make decisions regarding the child’s health care;
  • Whose address will be used to determine which school the child will attend and for registration at the school;
  • Who will be responsible for extracurricular activities and sports.

In addition to necessary provisions, parents can include other information to make future decisions easier and to avoid conflict. For example, they can decide in advance who will get to take the child on vacation during which time of the year. They can also set out instructions on how they will settle conflicts regarding parenting should they arise. Often, this can keep parents out of court in the future and avoid the cost and stress on themselves and their child of having a court resolve parenting and time-sharing issues.

Contact an Experienced Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for a Consultation

If you are facing a time-sharing and visitation case, you should always have the guidance and representation of an experienced Boca Raton family lawyer. Attorney Alan R. Burton can assist you in coming to a favorable arrangement with only minimal involvement of the courts. Please call our office today at 954-229-1660 for assistance.

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On June 11, 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed the bill that will remove the language banning gay couples from adopting children from Florida law. Though a judge for the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and state officials stopped actively enforcing the ban in 2010, the language remained codified in Florida law. Florida was the only state in the U.S. to have such a ban and, though removing the language is largely a formality, gay rights advocacy groups celebrated the fact that the “lingering insult” of the decades-old law will be gone.

Another Threat to Gay Adoption Failed in 2015

Earlier this year, there was another bill on the table in Florida regarding same-sex couples adopting, though that proposed law would have threatened gay adoption rights, not preserved them. HB 7111 would have allowed private adoption companies to deny adoption for gay couples by citing “religious or moral convictions or policies” without risking losing their adoption agency license from the state. Though the bill was presented as a protection of religious freedom, opponents maintained that it was no more than a thinly veiled attack on the equal rights of same-sex couples.

HB 7111 passed overwhelmingly in the Florida House of Representatives though it could not get passed in the Senate to be sent to Gov. Scott’s desk. Gov. Scott, however, has been a vocal supporter of the bill and would most certainly sign it if it passed through the legislature. Gov. Scott has stated that he hopes the bill will be proposed again in upcoming legislative sessions but, for now, private adoption agencies cannot legally deny adoption to couples because they are gay.

Family Law Rights Improve for Same-Sex Couples in Florida

In addition to formally lifting the ban on gay adoption, same-sex couples also received the right to legally marry and get divorced in Florida this year. The extension of numerous family law rights to gay couples also means that more same-sex couples may be headed into the state family courts to resolve any family-related legal disputes. These cases should be handled in the same manner and in accordance with the same family laws as any case involving opposite-sex spouses or parents.

Call an Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney for Assistance Today

Families can face many different types of legal issues, including adoption, paternity, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and more. Boca Raton family law lawyer Alan R. Burton understands that many of these issues can be costly and stressful and he strives to handle every case in the most efficient manner possible. Mr. Burton thoroughly understands the ever-changing Florida family laws and knows how to apply them to your case to achieve the most favorable result for you. If you are facing a family law matter in Florida, call for a free consultation at 954-229-1660 today.

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Thousands of adoptions occur across the United States every year. Most of them proceed very smoothly and without any unexpected surprises.

However, there are a handful of adoptions that do occur that involve unsuspecting problems, and result in heart wrenching stories.

One recent story involves Sonya, a young child adopted by a Tennessee couple. The biological father’s rights were believed to have been terminated. The biological father received a 10 year sentence for illegally transporting firearms. State law provided for termination of his parental rights based upon the ten-year sentence that he received. This sentence paved the way for the adoption Sonya.

Unfortunately for Sonya, her biological father, whom she had never met, negotiated his ten (10) year sentence to 7 1/2 years, which resulted in reinstatement of his parental rights.

As you can well imagine, the outcome for Sonya has not been a pleasant one. The family court judge relied solely on biology, when he voided the adoption and placed Sonya with her biological father. The judge did not consider the best interests of the child, which should always be the paramount concern with this judge or any other judge.

The adoptive parents of bringing this matter back to the attention of the judge for him to consider the best interests of Sonya. You can read more about the story of Sonya by clicking on this link to CNN.

The primary concern for any family court judge should always be the “best interest” standard for the child. Biology, in many, many cases, standing alone, will not result in the “best interest” for a child.

If you are facing possible child custody or visitation issues, experienced Florida family law attorney Alan R. Burton will help you stand up for your rights with your child. He knows how to fight for you and your child. Do not hesitate to contact our offices in Boca Raton or Ft. Lauderdale for help today.

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Welcome to the 21st Century! With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter and the internet in general, your life has become an open book. You may need to seek the services of a seasoned attorney when social media becomes a central issue in your case.

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Postings to your facebook page can become fodder for your spouse’s lawyer, especially when there are minor children involved. Don;t be fooled thinking that what you are posting is off limits to your spouse. It’s not. As equally important are postings by others, which may have a direct link back to you, whether you were aware of it or not. One such example may be a posting of your underage child under the “influence at a party”. Who was the parent “on call” at the time?

Everything on-line becomes a record, which may be used either in your favor or against you, as the case may be. The electronic age is not limited to social media, but to all aspects of your life, including financial matters.

Banking records are easily reproduced, which will clearly document a trail of your finances.

Privacy today simply does not exist. Be careful what you say or do, as it will most surely be used against you in court.

Source: The Huffington Post, “The Divorce Mistakes You Don’t Even Know You Are Making“, Taryn Hillin, March 18, 2014

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Incredible as it sounds, the Massachusetts legislature is considering such a bill. The proposal should not be considered in a vacuum however, as it applies only in specific situations, when minor children are involved.

The proposal was designed to promote and protect the best interests of the minor children, whose parents are in the midst of a divorce.


Robert LeClair, a local Massachusetts lawmaker proposed the bill, after going through a bitter divorce himself. The specifics of the bill would be to prohibit the parent in possession of the marital home, from engaging in any type of sexual relationship with a new partner during the parties separation, and prior to the divorce proceedings concluding.

The bill would would have to be passed by the state legislature, and then approved by the governor.

The language of the bill reads as follows:

“In divorce, separation, or 209A( restraining order)proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts,”

The law, if passed, would raise some interesting questions about obtaining the necessary evidence to prove a violation of the law. Since children are generally not allowed to testify in court, absentee spouses will need to become quite creative in order to prove their case. This bill will most certainly keep the private detectives in Massachusetts quite busy.

The Huffington Post, “Massachusetts Bill Could Ban Sex During Marriage“, Emily Thomas, March 24, 2014

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Divorce often times becomes a power struggle for control over the children. Issues such as time sharing, educational decisions, sports activities, religious upbringing, and medical care are just a few of such issues.

Anger between parents also brings the children into the middle of things. What role should the children play in their parent’s divorce? Whose side should they take, and for whom should they speak on behalf of
The answer to these questions should be apparent. They are not the ones “getting divorced”; their parents are divorcing. It is not their battle, and they should not be a part of the proceedings.
Divorcing parents in Florida must participate in state mandated parenting education courses before their divorces are finalized by the judge. It is better to participate in this required program early on in order to avoid as much conflict as possible throughout the proceedings.

HBO will be airing a documentary throughout the month of October which deals with divorce from the children’s perspective. Kids will explain the impact of divorce on them, and they offer advice to parents on how they should conduct themselves during the difficult process of divorce.

Any parent who wants to clearly understand what impact the divorce process has on their own children should not miss this HBO documentary, “Don’t Divorce Me! Kid’s Rules for Parents on Divorce.”

If you need any additional information, or assistance in the divorce process, and reducing the potential harm to children, contact an experienced attorney, one who is an advocate for children’s rights. Alan R. Burton, Esq., an attorney with offices in Boca Raton, Florida is ready to advise and assist you.

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Child custody issues, or extensive litigation in order to “win” the title of primary custodian should become a thing of the past. All of the reasons to litigate these issues have been abolished under Florida law.

Instead, Florida has adopted what is now referred to as time sharing with minor children, which is established under the provisions of a parenting plan. The requirements for a parenting plan are found in Florida Statute 61.13.
Furthermore, the trend today is approximating an equal time sharing arrangement whenever possible. Each case would be decided on its own merits, but if it is geographically feasible based upon the distance between the parents home, and consideration of other statutory factors as found in Florida Statute 61.13, the most likely outcome will be a 50-50 split.

The best interests of the child will always be the guiding principal in consideration of the court approving a parenting plan. The plan, at a minimum, must establish how the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child are to be apportioned; the times each parent is to have with the child; who is to be responsible for the health insurance for the child; and which parent’s address is to be utilized for school purposes.

A parenting plan can be as detailed as the parties require, or it can simply cover the minimum requirements under Florida law.

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Facebook is mentioned in at least 33% of all the divorce cases filed in the United States in 2011. This is according to a story aired by ABC News.

There is no doubt that social networking and facebook are and will continue to play an integral part of all of our lives now, and well into the future. Privacy rights are now the exception, rather than the rule. Technology has taken over all aspects of our lives.

Someone is always watching you, and in a divorce proceeding, there are countless ways in which your actions can be used against you by your spouse. Custody and time sharing issues, and marital waste are just too examples.

Information, both helpful and useful, as well as damaging to your case, is just a click away.

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The divorce process becomes more complicated when there are minor children involved. This is especially true when one parent wishes to relocate.

Relocation with minor children in Florida is governed by Florida Statute 61.13001.

If a parent wishes to relocate from south Florida cities such as Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, or from anywhere else in Florida, they must comply with Florida Statute 61.13001 if the move is more than 50 miles from their current residence.

The easiest way to comply with the statute is to obtain the written consent from the non-relocating parent, If that consent will not be given, you will then have to file a petition for permission to relocate. The petition is filed in the County that granted the initial divorce decree.

These cases are factually intensive, and each individual case will be heard on its own merits. Some of the relevant factors for the court to consider is whether or not child support is being paid and whether or not it is current; the reason for the requested move; whether or not alternate time sharing arrangements can be made, and who will be paying for those addidtional expenses.
Relocation cases are important. Do not take them lightly or for granted. BE PREPARED! Feel free to call me if you have unanswered questions about the process, or whether you require any assistance in your quest to either relocate or to defend against such a proceeding.

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Under Florida law, terms such as custodian, primary custodian,and any other use of the term custody have been abolished.

Florida has now adopted what is known as a parenting plan, the provisions of which can be found in Florida Statute 61.13 (2)(b). A parenting plan must include, at a minimum, certain things, as follows: a detailed description as to how the parents will share and be responsible for daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child; the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent; a designation of who will be responsible for any and all forms of health care, school-related matters including the address to be used for school boundary determination and registration, and other activities; and the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.

Developing a parenting plan is an individualized matter, and every plan should be tailored to your family. It is important to consult with an attorney who handles these child issues on a routine basis.

Alan R. Burton, Esq., a Boca Raton, Florida attorney
, has been in practice for over thirty years, and deals primarily with divorce and other family law cases.