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Florida Legal Blog

When one parent denies access to the children

Florida parents who have a contentious relationship with a former partner may find themselves being denied visitation with or access to their children. While it is uncommon for family courts to deny visitation rights to a parent absent serious questions of neglect or abuse, the other parent might take it upon themselves to do so. In some cases, custodial parents may cite transportation problems, convenience issues or a difficulty working with the other parent's employment schedule. While failure to pay child support can lead to significant penalties, these do not usually include loss of visitation rights. However, an angry parent might refuse access anyway to a parent with a child support debt.

The family courts do not favor this kind of action, especially as it can damage the parent-child relationship. Other reasons for denying visitation can be more complicated. A parent may object to the other parent's boyfriend or girlfriend. Still, outside specific provisions in the divorce regarding exposure to a partner or problematic behaviors like exposing the children to drugs, inappropriate material or abuse, this is rarely a reason to deny visitation. In addition, some problems may arise when a child does not want to see the other parent for their own reasons, especially when older kids are involved.

Tips for creating an effective parenting schedule

Florida parents who are going through a divorce might need to make a parenting schedule. This schedule deals with when the child is with each parent. If exes cannot agree on an arrangement, they may have to go to court. However, some parents will find that a judge's schedule leaves them with even less child time than they were originally offered in negotiations.

Courts generally base custody decisions on the child's best interests, and parents should do so as well. A custody schedule should help ensure that the kid is able to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents. This means that one ex should not try to use it as a tool to get back at the other. Parents also must recognize that while they may have different parenting styles, both approaches may be equally valid.

What custodial parents should know about relocating

Custodial parents who choose to move to or away from Florida may need to ask a few questions before doing so. For example, it is important to consider whether the child is going to be better off in his or her new home. In some cases, being closer to grandparents or other family members isn't the same as being close to the noncustodial parent.

Parents should be ready to justify the move and be willing to accommodate the noncustodial parent. This may require a willingness to adjust a visitation plan to allow for longer visits during school breaks. Generally speaking, the move must be for a legitimate purpose such as moving for a job opportunity.

What exactly is a Guardian ad Litem?

Divorce proceedings are an emotional prospect with child custody being one of the more emotional issues. Children are often caught in the middle and don’t always have a voice in the proceedings or outcome.

A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) plays an important role for children, or in some cases a mentally incompetent individual, that may be involved in the court system. 

Joint custody is often best for kids of divorced parents

There are typically several aspects of life that can be difficult for families of divorce in Florida. One of the most important issues to figure out is how child custody issues will work for everyone concerned. If parents can find common ground when it comes to their children, it will likely make matters easier.

A psychologist performed an in-depth analysis of research and scientific data about various forms of child custody and parenting plans. The researcher was particularly interested in the effects of shared parenting on the youngest children. Ultimately, he found that joint custody is best for kids of all ages. More than 100 authorities on the subject agree with his findings.

The role of DNA testing in paternity cases

DNA testing is a common method used to resolve cases in Florida involving paternity issues, especially when child support is being sought by a custodial parent. Oftentimes, results can mean the difference between being required to make support payments and being relieved of the obligation to do so. While no DNA test is completely accurate at 100 percent, the outcome of these tests comes very close at 99.9 percent certainty when performed at a facility that's AABB (American Association of Blood Banks) accredited or approved.

If parents are unmarried when a child is conceived, paternity is not automatically assumed. In fact, the name of a possible or "alleged" father does not have to be included on a birth certificate until a legal determination has been made. Once a DNA test proves paternity, a court usually requires the father to pay child support if they are not the parent with primary or full custody. In some instances, DNA results are used to make a case for visitation rights or even custody.

The holidays season after divorce for parents and children

When Florida parents go through a divorce or a separation, the holidays can be hard for them and their children. All of them may be feeling any number of emotions that could include anger, sadness, loss and betrayal. However, parents need to set those emotions aside so they can concentrate on their children and make sure their holidays are happy.

Family and friends or professionals, such as therapists, can help parents work through their emotions at this time so they do not direct them at their ex-spouse. It is important that instead of trying to punish the other parent by keeping the children away during the holidays, parents encourage children to enjoy themselves with that parent.

Divorcing parents consider new take on joint custody

When Florida parents consider divorce, they may be concerned about how the end of their marriage will affect their children. Joint or shared custody is an increasingly popular solution for families and within the legal system. In most cases, children travel between their parents' homes on a regular basis, and their parents share responsibility for and time with the children. However, the transitional period immediately after the divorce can be a harsh adjustment, especially if a move for both parents could mean changing schools in the middle of the year.

As a result, many parents are looking for solutions that can help them ease the emotional and practical effects of divorce on the children. Some are opting for "birdnesting" as a form of joint custody that aims to disrupt the children's lives as little as possible. In this scenario, the kids remain in the family house while the exes move in and out, one week at a time. In general, the parents rotate in and out of a small apartment. This arrangement requires a great deal of communication, interaction and shared space, so it's best suited for people who are divorcing amicably.

Parents, visitation and temporary child custody

When Florida parents of minor children are ending their marriage, temporary child custody orders might be put in place. These may become permanent after the divorce is final. There are a number of other reasons temporary child custody orders might be necessary including when a parent is incapacitated, when a parent is financially unable to care for a child or when there have been abuse allegations against the parent.

Grandparents, godparents, cousins, family friends or other family members might get temporary custody of a child in these circumstances. Whoever has custody, the order will usually spell out a few important points. It will name where the child will live, how long the agreement will last and whether there are any financial arrangements associated with it. The temporary child custody agreement will also include visitation arrangements for the parent who does not have custody.

What custodial parents are responsible for

Custodial parents in Florida and across the United States serve as the primary caregiver to their children. However, they generally don't have the right to shut the noncustodial parent out of a child's life. A court may order that the noncustodial parent has visitation or other rights to the child. If a custodial parent wishes to take the child out of his or her home state, the noncustodial parent may need to be notified.

Updating the other parent on the whereabouts of the child may be necessary whether the parent is moving or simply going on vacation. In many cases, both parents are required to contribute for large medical or other necessary expenses involving a son or daughter. Prior to making a purchase or paying for medical care, the custodial parent should consult with the noncustodial parent. This is because it is imperative that the child grow up in a financially stable environment.

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