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May 29, 2014

"Time-Sharing" and Other Florida Custody Terms

Traditionally, couples who were facing divorce with children regularly heard terms such as "sole custody" or "visitation." While these ideas often still apply in many situations, Florida law has been updated in recent years to change the way custody arrangements work.

Original Terms


Prior to 2008, one parent was often known as the "custodial parent" and the other as the "non-custodial parent." Other terms used included "primary residential parent" and "secondary residential parent," which meant the children lived with one parent most of the time and visited the other periodically. The timeline and frequency of such visits were set out in a "visitation plan."

Though not always the case, the "custodial parent" was often the mother, while the father was granted visitation rights. These old terms perpetuated the traditional--and old-fashioned--view that it was in the best interest of the children to live primarily with the mother.

New Terms of the Statute


In 2008, Florida legislators addressed the somewhat antiquated statute to respect the fact that both mothers and fathers have equal parental rights and responsibilities. Additionally, the updated law seems to imply that the default view should be that equal parenting is in the best interest of the child, unless evidence is presented otherwise.

The term "visitation plan" is no longer used in Florida, as it was replaced by both "parenting plan" and "time-sharing schedule." The emphasis is now not on a short visit with a father or non-custodial parent, but on the fact that both parents will share comparable time with their child. Additionally, instead of merely setting a schedule to shuttle children back and forth, parenting plans must take a much more in-depth look at how each parent will relate to the child and contribute to the care of the child.

In fact, under the law, a parenting plan must cover the following topics:

· How each parent will be responsible for and share in daily tasks relevant to the upbringing and care of the child;
· Which parent will be in charge of health care matters for the child;
· Which parent's address will be used for school and education purposes;
· How the parents will decide education and school-related issues;
· The technology and methods that will be used for each parent to regularly communicate with their child; and
· The time-sharing schedule.


Furthermore, there may be greater flexibility when the provisions of a parenting or time-sharing plan are not exactly consistent with the parent's or child's needs. In old laws, a modification by the courts was required to make any changes to the custodial arrangement. The updated law recognizes that situations may change and requires each parent to "be reasonable" if the other parent requires a change in the parenting plan.

Alan R. Burton is an experienced family law attorney dedicated to helping families and couples in Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale. Mr. Burton understands the ever-evolving family laws in the state of Florida and can apply them to your case so you receive the best possible outcome. Contact his office today for help.

April 5, 2014

Law Prohibits Divorcing Couples From Having Sex

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.

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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.


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

March 6, 2014

Relocation of minor children

Under Florida law, minor children are not permitted to move more than 50 miles away from their current residence, unless written consent is provided by a parent, or by court order.

An interesting situation arises when a minor child wishes to attend a private school in a out-of-state location. The obvious question becomes whether or not the attendance at this new school would be considered a relocation, thereby requiring the parent to comply with Florida Statute 61.13001.

The answer to that question was recently addressed in the case of Blakely v Blakely, 38 Florida Law Weekly D2170c. In that case the court deemed the attendance of the child at an out-of-state high school to be an educational decision for the child and not one of relocation, therefore the relocation statute in Florida was not applicable.

This analysis of the law was also set forth in the case of Young v Hector, 833 So2d 793, 794 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002).

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.

August 6, 2012

Time sharing and technology

Time haring with minor children in Florida is keeping up with technology. As a matter of fact, there is a specific statute in Florida that deals precisely with this issue.

Florida Statute 61.13003 is titled as "Court ordered electronic communication between a parent and a child.

This type of communication can be ordered by the court when the situation is appropriate. Some of the court ordered factors that are considered are whether it would be in the best interests of the child; whether or not the electronic equipment is readily available and affordable to the parties involved; and any history of drug use or domestic violence involved in the case.
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Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, there is a rebuttable presumption that telephone communication is in the best interests of a minor child. None of this is , of course, designed to take the place of face to face time sharing and contact; it is designed to supplement the contact.

Frequently electronic communication issues arise in the context of relocation cases. Having years of experience in trying many cases in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and Broward, and Palm Beach County, Florida, you can rest assured that you will have a competent lawyer to represent your interests.