Who will raise the children is many times the most emotionally charged and highly contested issue of a divorce.  The best way to determine child custody is by a voluntary agreement  between the parents as this allows both parents to create a custody arrangement that best meets their and their children’s needs and desires.  However, when parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, it is then left up to the courts to decide the particulars of the custody agreement.

One high conflict custody case that has been in the news for some time has finally come to an end this past week.  Grammy-winning R&B singer Usher was awarded custody of his two sons, ending a long legal fight with his ex-wife, Tameka Foster Raymond.

In Atlanta, Georgia, Fulton County Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane awarded primary custody of the two boys, Usher Raymond V and Naviyd Ely Raymond, to the 33-year-old singer, according to Cherrise Boone, the court clerk’s office spokeswoman.  The former couple will have joint custody of their two sons, with Usher’s primary custody beginning on September 1.

Usher, whose real name is Usher Raymond IV, married Tameka in 2007, and the couple divorced two years later.  According to the singer, they have been living apart since July 2008, and he claimed there was “no reasonable hope of reconciliation” and the marriage was “irretrievably broken.”

Usher stated that in May, his former wife had both spit at and attempted to hit his girlfriend during a visit, and that his wife actually hit him during the dispute.  He did not press charges at the time as he did not want his sons “to know that their father put their mother in jail.”

When you are having difficulty negotiating child custody, seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can offer candid, practical and compassionate guidance.

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Many marriage vows contain the words, “for richer or poorer.”  A new study by Brigham Young University and William Patterson University found that when both spouses’ emphasis is on the “for richer” part of their vows, there is a good possibility there will be trouble in the marriage.

The two university’s researchers surveyed 1,700 married couples with the intent of gauging the couple’s materialism.  These couples were asked whether they agreed with certain statements concerning materialism, such as “I like to own things to impress people” or “Money can buy happiness.”

The study’s lead author, Jason Carroll, a professor at BYU, said researchers found that materialistic couples had lower levels of responsiveness and less emotional maturity.  “Materialism was also linked to less effective communication, higher levels of negative conflict, lower relationship satisfaction and less marriage stability."  Researchers found those couples who had little interest in money scored 10 to 15 percent higher in the quality and satisfaction of their marriage.  Carroll also found the correlation between interest in money and marital satisfaction remained the same regardless of how wealthy the couple was.

The researchers discovered, however, when only one spouse had materialistic tendencies and the other spouse didn’t, the materialism of the one spouse did not negatively affect the marriage.  According to researchers, the nonmaterialistic spouse stabilized the marriage, and allowed the couple to balance each other out and improve their marital quality and satisfaction.

Although materialism may be a point of contention in a marriage, the authors want to stress that materialism alone isn’t to blame for marriage problems, as there are many other  issues that can negatively affect a marriage.  However, the researchers do feel that the materialistic tendencies of one or both spouses can play a large role in marriage dissatisfaction and marriage quality that in time could lead to divorce.

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In this country today, about fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.  There are those who question if it would be wiser if couples lived together to see if they were compatible and then married.  In the past, if a couple lived together before marrying, it was a sign that if the couple did marry, there was a good chance their marriage would fail.  However, according to a new study, this no longer seems to be true.

In the United States today, about sixty percent of couples live together before marriage.  The co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University, Wendy Manning, says that the trend has become so common, that “it’s not surprising it no longer negatively affects marriage stability.”

The study conducted by the Center found that those couples who were engaged and living together before marriage were just as likely to have marriages that lasted fifteen years as those couples who hadn’t lived together.  Those couples who lived together without being engaged, however, were less likely to make the 10-15 year mark in their marriages.  Researchers believe the reasons for these statistics could be more lax attitudes about commitment, lower education levels or family histories that made these couples not engaged more pessimistic about marriage.

According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), both women and men with bachelor degrees usually marry at a later age, but once they marry, are more likely to stay married for twenty or more years.  The Center also found that Asian women had the best marriage rate, with nearly 70 percent still in their first marriage, compared to 54 percent of white women, 53 percent of Hispanic women, and 37 percent of black women.  Among men, 62 percent of Hispanic men were still in their first marriage at twenty years, compared to 54 percent of white males and 53 percent of black males.

Whether or not a couple does live together before marriage or not, the chances are high their marriage will end in divorce.  When a couple does divorce, there are many issues, such as child custody and support or property division, that need to be addressed.  An experienced Florida divorce lawyer will defend your rights and pursue the best possible outcome on behalf of your divorce case.

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The end of a marriage is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.  A divorce can lead to feelings of anger, guilt, grief, anxiety and other intense feelings.  In most divorces, couples, or their lawyers, will discuss and work out the terms of the divorce.  What happens, though, if one partner in a divorce has left and his spouse has no idea where he is?  Can a divorce still be granted?

In Florida, one party in a divorce needs to have resided in Florida six months or more prior to filing for divorce.  If a spouse has met this requirement and does not know where the other spouse is, he or she can still file for divorce.  There are a few differences in filing for divorce when a spouse’s location is unknown.  Since the spouse filing for divorce does not know her or his partner’s address, an affidavit with the court will need to be filed, and she will have to swear in court that he or she has searched for and was unable to find her or his partner.

After this affidavit has been filed, the spouse desiring the divorce then needs to publish in a local newspaper for a certain amount of time that he or she is divorcing his or her spouse and that the spouse has to respond by a certain date.  Once the publication has run for the designated time and no response was received by the missing spouse, the partner seeking the divorce will need to file with the court a Motion for Clerk’s Default.  In this motion, the court clerk will review the file, the deadline, and verify that the missing spouse did not respond or file any documents with the court, and that the missing spouse is in default of the petition for divorce.

After this step is taken care of, then the divorcing spouse will have a hearing before a judge and explain why the marriage is over and what she or he expects as a result of the divorce.  The judge will then, based on the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing, make a ruling about the divorce.

Divorcing a missing spouse is a complicated process.  There are many steps to be taken before the divorce is finalized.  It is important to retain knowledgeable legal counsel to pursue the best possible outcome on behalf of your divorce case.

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When an unmarried parent adopts his or her partner’s biological or adoptive child without eliminating the parental rights of the biological parent, this is considered second parent adoption.  In Florida, second parent adoptions are treated the same as regular adoptions, which means there will be a home study, parental fitness tests, court appearances and plenty of paperwork.  This adoption, in most cases, gives the second parent full parental rights.  Some state legislatures have voluntarily established domestic partnership relations by statute as a way to recognize same-sex unions.  However, domestic partnerships may involve either different sex  or same sex couples.

There are those individuals who are in a domestic partnership who think that because they take care of their partner’s child, they will have legal rights to that child.  However, this is not true, as the only way to be legally secure is through a second parent adoption.  Without this type of adoption, the non-biological parent in the relationship will have no legal rights to the child.  He or she will not be allowed to make important decisions and share in custody of the child should something happen to the relationship or to the biological parent of the child.

In the Orlando area, the most common couples obtaining second parent adoptions are lesbian couples with one partner being the biological parent.  Others who use this type of adoption are gay male couples, couples where one partner has previously adopted a child of his or her own and couples where one partner has a biological child with a previous relationship and the other biological parent has given up his or her parental rights.

To obtain a second parent adoption, you will need consent from the third party biological parent, or will need an already legal parent to terminate his or her parental rights.

There are those states which do not allow gay couples to obtain second parent adoptions.  Gay adoption was illegal in Florida until just a few years ago, and although it isn’t easy to receive approval for a second parent adoption, it is possible in Florida today.

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An NFL receiver’s treatment of his wife during an argument not only ended in his arrest, but also resulted in his wife filing divorce papers.

Evelyn Lozada, VH1 Basketball Wives star, filed for divorce from her husband of 41 days, Chad Johnson, according to Sports Illustrated.  Johnson was arrested for allegedly head butting his wife during an argument.  After the incident, the Miami Dolphins cut the receiver from their preseason roster and VH1 canceled the couple’s pending show, “Eve and Ocho.”

They both released statements on Tuesday addressing the alleged domestic violence incident.

Johnson posted on his website that he wanted to apologize to everyone “for recent events that have occurred.”  He also wrote that he “wanted to wish Evelyn well and will never say anything bad about her because he truly loves her to death.”  He wrote that he plans to continue to be positive and train for another opportunity in the NFL, that he apologizes to his fans and supporters, and that he will stay positive and “get through this tough period in his life.”

His wife, Lozada, also released a statement on Tuesday that addressed the alleged altercation.

She wrote that she was deeply disappointed that her husband “failed to take responsibility for his actions and made false accusations against me.”  Lozada also wrote that she hopes Johnson will seek help to overcome his troubles, that domestic violence in not okay, and that “by taking a stand, she hopes she will encourage other women to break their silence as well.”

Domestic violence in any form should not be taken lightly, as it destroys families and threatens the well-being of spouses and children.  If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact an experienced domestic violence lawyer immediately.

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Married  couples divorce for many reasons, but their reasons usually fall into ten categories.  Although some of the issues in a marriage can be addressed if caught in time, there are those issues that may not be repairable.

  • Infidelity is one of the most common reasons for divorce in this country.  Although cheating is usually the ultimate relationship death sentence, the percentage of marriages where one or both spouses admit to infidelity is 41 percent.
  • When you marry, whether you like it or not, your new spouse’s family is now your family.  Most in-law problems happen when your partner’s parents treat you disrespectfully, ignore you, are openly hostile to you, criticize you frequently, attempt to control you or your partner using money or guilt, give you unsolicited advice, expect your partner to choose between you and them, or expect your partner to meet their unmet emotional and/or practical needs.  When any of these issues are severe, it can disrupt your marriage if steps are not taken to curb their potential negative impact.
  • If you are being abused, whether it be physical, emotional or verbal, in a marriage, your should not stay as 99.9 percent of the time the abuse will not stop.
  • It has been said that the love of money is the root of all evil.  Whether this is true or not, money problems are at the root of many disputes between married couples and can lead to divorce.
  • Stress in a marriage can build up and manifest itself in many forms in a marriage, from abuse to sexual problems.  If a couple does not deal with the stress in their marriage, it can ultimately lead to divorce.
  • Addiction in a marriage in any form – alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. – can ruin a marriage and even the life of the addicted spouse.
  • When a person is unaware or refuses to admit he has a mental disorder, whether it be depression or bipolar disorder, the issue can cause a multitude of problems in a marriage and can also lead to divorce.
  • Perhaps one of the most common reasons for divorce is a lack of communication.  This is also one of the easiest issues in a marriage to fix.  If a couple can have an open dialogue, concern for their partner’s feelings and learn to compromise in their dealings with one another, their marriage has a good chance of lasting.
  • Although a married couple does need to have some independence in their marriage, too much time away from each other can lead to problems, too.  Married couples need time together to grow and mature as a couple.  Too much time apart can lead to infidelity, which as we all know, leads to divorce.

To avoid divorce, a married couple needs to focus on finding solutions to any problems that may arise in their relationship.  By dealing properly with the above issues when they arise, a couple will not only be more likely to avoid divorce, but have a successful marriage as well.

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How long does a parent pay child support in the state of Florida?  In general, most people think child support automatically ends when the child reaches the age of majority, which means turning eighteen years old.  However, this isn’t always true.  

Before 2010, child support did not automatically end when a child turned eighteen years of age.  The older law required a parent paying support to obtain a new court order when the child turned eighteen, either modifying or ending the child support.  In the statute passed in 2010, the court must provide dates when the child support obligation should be modified or terminated.

Florida Statutes regarding family law allow support to continue for a child if the child remains dependent on his or her parents because of physical or mental incapacity that occurred prior to the child turning eighteen, or if the child is still in high school.  If the child is still a high school student, he is not only expected to perform well in school, but he is also expected to graduate before he turns nineteen years old.

Child support will also end with the emancipation of a child.  A court will order the emancipation of child in order to remove the child from his parent’s control before the age of eighteen under certain situations when the court feels it is in the best interest of the child. 

When a child marries or joins the service before the age of eighteen, the support will also end.

A Florida family law or divorce lawyer can answer any questions you may have concerning modifying or ending child support.

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One of Motown’s greatest musicians, Stevie Wonder, has filed for divorce from his wife of eleven years, Kai Miller Morris.  Divorce papers were filed several days ago in California, though the couple is reported to have been separated since 2009.

Stevie Wonder, 62-years-old, who has been blind since shortly after birth from detached retinas, was considered a child prodigy as he taught himself to play the piano, harmonica, drums and bass at an early age.  Wonder was presented to the head of Motown Records, Berry Gordy, by Ronnie White of Smoky and the Miracles.  Gordy signed the then eleven-year-old boy, to a record deal and Wonder has had many hits over the years.

Wonder and Morris were married in March 2001, and have two sons together.   Wonder cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for filing for divorce, and is asking for shared custody of his sons.  He has agreed to pay child support for his sons and also alimony to his wife.

Although this divorce seems amicable right now, this may change in the near future.  This could become a highly contested and complicated divorce because they are divorcing in California, a community property state.  Under community property laws, those assets that were earned during a marriage are evenly split between the divorcing couple no matter who earned those assets.  This law will pertain only to those assets earned while the couple were living together with the intention of remaining married.  Those assets earned while the couple was apart for three years, may not be included in the community property division, though it may be difficult to prove when specific funds were earned.  It may also be difficult to prove whether or not Wonder and his wife planned to remain apart or reunite after their lengthy separation. 

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Divorce is a painful, emotional time in a person’s life.   When going through a divorce, the stress and emotional upheaval can cause some individuals’ performance to drop at work.  Added to that, some may also find their employer subpoenaed for information, their chances for a promotion disappearing, or their business in jeopardy, too.   Those who have children, may have to pass up a promotion or a new job in another state to  retain custody or visitation rights to their children.  Florida law requires that divorced parents with shared responsibility for children cannot move the children more than fifty miles from a residence at the time of their agreement.

One divorced woman owned a business with her former husband.  While they were going through the divorce, she was not only locked out of her office, but lost access to her computer as well.  As a result of these restrictions, her business failed eventually.  According to this woman, it took a long time for her to recover financially from her divorce.

Although many divorced parents’ careers do suffer because of a divorce,  there are those who divorce and then find new, more rewarding careers.

One such woman, a nurse, married a doctor at age 19.  During her twenty year marriage to her husband, they had four children before divorcing.  After her marriage ended, her biggest challenge was finding identity in her career after her divorce.  At first she struggled, but then decided to follow her passion for pets and now owns several businesses associated with animals.

According to Elinor Robin, a family mediator in Boca Raton, people often do better in their careers after a divorce.  A divorce, in her words, can be a career booster, as when the focus is off the marriage, the focus can be on the career instead. 

Divorced parents can pass their experience on to their children.  Let them know that a marriage doesn’t always last forever.  The best way to be prepared should a marriage fail is to educate yourself before marriage.  Even if you have been out of the workforce for a number of years, if you have either a degree or training to fall back on, you will be more employable and have a better chance at becoming financially independent in a shorter amount of time after a divorce.

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