Recently in Parenting Plans and Time Sharing Category

April 5, 2014

Are we all now familiar with the term "Conscious Uncoupling" ?

I know I am. Do we all know what it means? Do we know where the term originated? Do we know who created that term? The phrase is seen or heard almost on a daily basis.

I think by now we all know that Gwyneth Paltrow, the well known and talented actress, created it, or at least brought the term to the public forefront. Does the phrase actually have a clear defined meaning?

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What comes to my mind, as a divorce lawyer, is that the separation and split of the parties will be an amicable one. There will be no fighting and hostility. The parties will most likely conclude their marriage with an uncontested divorce proceeding.

Many of the articles I have read about the use of this phrase interprets it as some sense of superiority or pretentiousness. To me it simply signals the ability of the adults to consider their children's interests, and not to lay blame for the failure of the relationship to endure. It is the ability to understand that it is never just one person's fault, but a multitude of reasons, on the part of both parties.


Source:
The Huffington Post, "What the Hell is Conscious Uncoupling", Anyway?, Dr. Sonya Rhodes, PhD, April 2, 2014

March 6, 2014

Custody of Children in Florida

Custody of children in Florida is governed by the standard of the "best interests of the child." In actuality, the term "custody" is no longer used in Florida. The terminology that is used by the court's is what is known as "time-sharing."

Time-sharing is established in a parenting plan, which is a written agreement between the parents of the minor child. The parenting plan may be as general or specific as the parents of the minor child may require.

At a minimum, the parenting plan should provide for the day-to-day responsibilities for the minor child, the days the minor child will be with each respective parent, the school district in which the child shall attend school, who will provide the health insurance for the child and who shall make decisions regarding the best interests of the child

Every parenting plan will be different because the needs of the parents and the minor child will be different in each case. Every family has their on unique circumstances.

I would encourage you to call me to discuss your particular situation. I can be easily reached at 954-295-9222. There is no charge for you to discuss your case with me during your initial conference. I am an experienced Boca Raton lawyer with over 30 years of experience, with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton..

September 22, 2012

Don't move without permission!

Moving from the state of Florida with minor children without permission can have serious consequences. The rules for relocation from the state of Florida are found in Florida Statutes 61.13001.

If the "stay behind" parent consents to relocation, make sure that consent is given in writing. stock-photo-18805289-boarding-pass.jpg If consent is not given, relocation must be initiated by the parent seeking to relocate, by filing a petition in the Circuit Court that currently has jurisdiction over the parties.

The petition must include a substantial amount of information, including the complete address of the intended new residence; telephone numbers, the reason for the requested relocation, and if for employment purposes, should include a copy of the employment offer.

The petition must be served on the other parent, who is afforded a twenty day period to respond to the petition.

The case then follows a process similar to the initial divorce case. Both sides gather their "discovery" and prepare for trial. The trial judge will have to consider what is in the best interest of the children that are involved in the proceeding. This is not an enviable task for the judge, who obviously must make a very difficult decision.

Whether you are seeking to relocate, or are opposing a relocation case. you should be represented by an experienced and qualified attorney, one who frequently is involved with relocation cases. Boca Raton attorney Alan R. Burton has been extensively involved in relocation cases, and he can provide you with invaluable assistance in these types of cases.

September 22, 2012

Divorce and children, and what is important to them

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.
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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.


August 6, 2012

Custody litigation should become extinct in Florida

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.
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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.

August 4, 2012

Relocation with minor children in Florida

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.
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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.

August 1, 2012

What is a parenting plan?

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.

August 1, 2012

No one is exempt from paying child support

Is anyone exempt from paying child support? The answer is clearly NO. Each parent has a responsibility to support their children, not just one parent.1380007_one_dollar.jpg

This is even true if one parent is wealthy, and the other parent is down and out. Remember the television show, Jon & Kate plus 8? This situation exemplifies the example that both parents owe a duty of support.

In a recent news story published in "RealityTea" about child support, Jon Gosselin confessed that he was having difficulty sustaining himself, let alone all of his children.

Keep following this story. Mr. Gosselin will soon learn that regardless of the fact that his ex-wife has money or not, he has a responsibility to his children as well. Remember, "it takes two to tango."

July 14, 2012

Relocation of minor children

Relocating with minor children involves the consideration of many factors by the court.

Although there are many factors involved in this process for the court to consider, the primary factors often become the extent of the involvement of the non relocating parent, the payment history of any child support obligation, and of course, the reason for wanting to relocate.

If relocation is premised upon a good employment opportunity, the chances for a successful petition are increased.

Relocation comes into play when a parent wishes to move more than 50 miles from their current residence.

These types of cases can be difficult, and there is usually very little room to negotiate a settlement, as they are often "all or nothing" types of cases.

The court will require a well organized, thought out presentation, of all of the statutory factors for relocation, as set forth under Florida Statute 61.13001.

The Florida relocation statute also offers a rare opportunity for those who avail themselves of the section of the law, not frequently encountered under the law. That is the opportunity to get a quick, expedited hearing, usually within 30 days from the date a request is made.

Consult with an attorney like myself, who has substantial experience in these matters. You usually have one opportunity to put your best foot forward, so you want to reduce your risks of making any mistakes.

February 17, 2012

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

1064682_airbus_a380.jpgIn today's economy, we see more and more people struggling to find employment. As a result, people are searching over a broader market area then they would normally be looking at, and as a result, more employment opportunities become available to individuals in other states.

This brings up the ever difficult decision a trial judge must face when a parent seeks to relocate with the minor children to another state, or to a new residence that is a substantial distance from their current residence.

Most frequently this situation will arise due to new employment opportunities that may be available to one of the parents.

Relocation of minor children is governed by Florida Statute 61.13001. The provisions of this statute will be applicable whenever a parent wishes to relocate from their current residence, and if the new residence is more than 50 miles from the current residence.

The consequences of not complying with the provisions of the statute could lead to some rather unpleasant consequences for the relocating parent, so it is extremely important to have a clear understanding of all of the provisions of that statute.

There are not only important factual considerations for the court to consider, but procedural ones as well. The petition that is filed, which seeks the ultimate grant of permission to relocate, must contain specific information, including the address of the proposed new residence, the new telephone number, and all the appropriate information regarding the new employment offer. There must be specific warnings to the other parent, in bold type, of the consequences they could suffer by not timely responding to the petition.

If anyone has had any prior experience with the judicial system, the have probably discovered that the judges are busy, and that it takes an extended amount of time to resolve issues that are pending before the courts.

What happens then, if an employment opportunity must be acted on promptly and access to the courts would not be swift? There is a remedy provided under the statute for this very situation.

Under Florida law, if you file a motion seeking expedited relief, for permission to relocate on a temporary basis while your petition is pending, you are entitled to a hearing on that matter within thirty (30) days of filing that request. What I do as a matter of course, is to file that motion right along with the petition, and obtain that hearing very quickly.

These types of cases require close attention to all the details, since the court is guided as to what will be in the best interests of the children. The proper presentation of the relevant evidence and documentation to support the claim for relocation can only increase the likelihood of success in these proceedings.

January 17, 2011

"Primary residential parent" abolished in Florida

dad and daughter desktop.jpgIn 2008, the Florida legislature made substantial changes to the law in reference to minor children. The primary and most significant changes made by the 2008 amendments to section 61.13, Florida Statutes, was the abolishment of the terminology of "primary residential parent."
The effective date of the amendments were on October 1, 2008, and the changes were to have prospective application only. The changes could not be utilized to effectuate any modifications to agreements that were previously entered into by individuals prior to October 1, 2008. See the case of Hahn v. Hahn, (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).

The Hahn case is an interesting case to read. It clarifies many points of law that have arisen under the 2008 amendments to section 61.13. Although the designation of "primary residential parent" has been removed from the statute, the trial court is still required to consider the best interests of the child if called upon to create a parenting plan. The trial court must still "determine all matters relating to parenting and timesharing of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child. Section 61.13(2)(c)1., Florida Statute (2008)(amended October 1, 2008).

The Hahn case involved modification proceedings that were filed two years after the final judgment was entered, and before the effective date of the new statute. It was error on the part of the trial judge to apply retroactively the provisions of the new statute.

January 12, 2011

Relocation decisions cannot be deferred

airplane desktop.jpgFlorida, and in particular south Florida, is suffering from the economic downturn experienced by the rest of the country. Foreclosures are at an all time high in Palm Beach and Broward County; families are losing their homes at an unprecedented pace.

This situation makes relocation a very real possibility for many families after divorce. Single parents are looking for better opportunities for themselves as well as for their children. As a result, trial judges are dealing more frequently with the very difficult issue of relocation. Relocation cases are extremely difficult since most often times there is little to negotiate and there is no room to compromise. One parent wants to go, while the other would prefer that his or her children remain in close proximity.

Relocation cases must be dealt with when the issue arises; it is not appropriate for the court to consider a relocation case today when the anticipated move will occur sometime in the future. See Sylvester v. Sylvester, 992 So.2d 296 (Fla 1st DCA 2008).

The law on this issue is supported by substantial case law. When a cause involving child custody is presented to the trial court, "the trial court is required to make a final determination on that issue at that time." Martinez v. Martinez, 573 So. 2d 37 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990).

The court in the Sylvester case made it very clear that it would not be appropriate for a trial court to look into its crystal ball and determine whether relocation would be in the best interest of the child at some time in the future. The proper cause of action is to determine whether relocation is presently appropriate and consider future relocation based on the circumstances existing at that time.

January 7, 2011

Supervised visitation and hearsay

whisper desktop.jpgObviously, the courts won't hesitate to enter any orders when necessary to protect minor children from harm. This would include orders for supervised visitation against a parent if the circumstances warranted this type of relief.

In the divorce proceedings between N.W. and M.W., 41 So.3d 383 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010), the mother alleged that the father was sexually abusing the parties' daughter. As a result of those allegations, the father was restricted to supervised visits with his daughter. The father subsequently moved for unsupervised visits, and the mother moved to admit the child's hearsay testimony regarding the sexual abuse pursuant to section 90.803(23), Florida Statutes (2009). The court denied the mother's request, and re-instated the father's unsupervised visitation.

The mother filed a timely appeal, and the appellate court reinstated the order for supervised visitation. The court said that the trial court had applied the incorrect standard of law.

The proper standard for admitting hearsay statements of children was succinctly stated in State v. Townsend, 635 So.2d 949, 954 (Fla. 1994). The trial court has responsibility in ensuring that child hearsay statements satisfy a strict standard of reliability before admitting them as evidence. The trial court must make findings that satisfy two criteria:" (1) the source of the information through which the statement was reported must indicate trustworthiness; and (2) the time, content, and circumstances of the statement must reflect that the statement provides sufficient safeguards of reliability."

As the Townsend case makes clear, the focus on these types of cases is on the person to whom the statement was made by the child and the manner in which the statement was made.

The appellate court also noted that the mother sought to introduce statements made by the child to the mother, the grandmother, a therapist, and a family friend. The trial court's order was reversed because, as the appellate court found, the trial court made no findings with regard to any of these sources and also failed to address the individual statements and circumstances under which they were made.

The trial court neglected to follow the mandates of the Townsend case, as established by the Supreme Court of Florida.

If you or any of your family members require expertise in the admissability of hearsay evidence in order to protect a child from harm, you can contact me directly by clicking on my name, Alan R. Burton, Esq.

December 26, 2010

The impact of divorce on children

happy girl desktop.jpgDo the odds of having heart disease increase if your parents have a history of heart disease in their family?

Do your odds of having cancer increase if there is a history of cancer in the family?

The answer to these questions is yes, the risks do increase. In a similar manner, children whose parents have divorced are more likely to divorce than those children who come from intact marriages, where the parents are committed to each other.

A recent article written by Robert J. Hughes, Jr., Professor of Human Development, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus, has compiled the data to support this point. See the article entitled "Are Children of Divorce Doomed to Repeat their Parents' Mistakes?"

The essence of the study is actually quite logical. Children learn from what they see. If they observe parents who are commited to working through conflict, they will be more likely to follow the skills that they have observed and learned for themselves. Unfortunately, the opposite holds true as well. If they observe lack of commitment, they will be more inclined to abandon their own personal relationships as they mature.

Raising strong, healthy children is a responsibility we all share as parents. The responsibility should not be taken lightly.

December 20, 2010

Do grandparents have rights?

grandparents desktop.jpgUnder Florida law, the rights of grandparents are extremely limited. In fact, recent cases have indicated that grandparents do not have the right to visit with their grandchildren over the objection of the child's parents. Any law to the contrary has been declared unconstitutional.

In 2004, the Supreme Court of Florida made it very clear that any law which afforded grandparents the right to visit with their grandchildren was unconstitutional. A full explanation of their analysis can be found in the case of Sullivan v. Sapp, 866 So.2d 28 (Fla. 2004).

The Supreme Court has consistently stated that based upon the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution, the state may not intrude upon the parents' fundamental right to raise their children except in cases where the child is threatened with harm.

Prior to this decision, the Supreme Court also dealt with grandparent visitation rights in the case of Von Eiff v. Azicri, 720 So.2d 510 (Fla. 1998). The court stated "neither the legislature nor the courts may properly intervene in parental decision making absent significant harm to the child threatened by or resulting from those decisions."