Being a single parent is stressful. Not only is it hard, but according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by a single parent are more likely to commit suicide, end up in prison, drop out of high school, run away from home, abuse alcohol and drugs, become pregnant as a teen, as well as several other troubling issues. As a result of these findings, 17 states are stepping up and considering shared parenting legislation. If passed, these laws would do away with many sole custody rulings, and likely benefit the children involved.

Currently, courts typically award sole custody to one parent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 83% of cases are done this way. This creates a single parent and a “visitor” parent. This oftentimes leads to custody battles between the parents. While a shared parenting plan may require some work to figure out initially, child development researchers stress that children want shared parenting and do much better if they have it.

Not only do children of all ages tend to do better with shared parenting plans, research shows that shared parenting significantly increases child support compliance and reduces fighting and domestic violence between parents. A shared parenting plan also makes it possible for both parents to pursue their careers and social lives while sharing in the duties of raising a child.

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American child custody trends have changed dramatically throughout history. Until the end of the 19th century, children were considered property of their fathers. If a father wanted his children after a divorce, they were his. Fathers had the right to keep the children from their mother. By the end of the 19th century, courts started favoring the theory that children needed to be with their mothers, applying the “tender years” doctrine. Basically the doctrine was that a child under the age of five should be with their mother. In the 70’s, courts started receiving challenges that the “tender years” doctrine discriminated against fathers.

Today, all but five states mandate that courts treat both parents equally when deciding who gets custody of children. Still, courts often will award primary custody to one parent, even when both parents are equally qualified to raise their children. Ned Holstein, the head of the National Parents Organization, says, “We believe family courts are actively hurting kids.” According to Mr. Holstein, research shows children do better emotionally and academically when both parents have an active part in their lives. As times have changed, fathers have become more active in raising their children but some courts and judges still give mothers primary custody of children regardless. Lawmakers in several states, Florida included, are pushing for measures that favor more equally shared custody.

Courts are expecting parents to endure a bit of inconvenience to ensure that the child’s best interests are being met. This may mean one parent has to drive farther to take the child to school, and it may mean divorced parents have to see each other more often than they would like, but in most cases, joint custody is what is best for the children. More courts and state legislators are realizing this, and child custody trends are changing once again.

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Divorce is tough. Emotions are swirling and stress levels are high. No one is quite sure what the future will hold. Especially for children, it can be an extremely confusing time. When parents are splitting up, it’s very common for children to feel like their lives are being turned upside-down. This feeling can continue after the divorce is finalized. It’s important to work out a parenting plan so that both parents continue to have frequent and continuing contact with their children. A good parenting plan allows both parents to share in the rights, responsibilities, and joys of childrearing.

In Florida, parents can draft their own parenting plan, which then needs to be approved by the court, or the court will establish a parenting plan for the couple. When couples can agree on a plan and work out the details themselves, everyone benefits. But there are many divorces where the couple cannot agree, and the court must step in.

Parenting plans cover issues such as custody, visitation, and parental responsibility. The plan will state whether parents have shared parental responsibility or if one parent has sole parental responsibility. The plan describes how parents will share the day to day tasks associated with raising a child, as well as how the parents will handle healthcare, school-related matters, and other activities. The plan will explain how the parents intend to communicate with each other and with the child. Additionally, Florida legislature requires the couple to file a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) form as part of the parenting plan.

Whether the couple creates the plan or the court orders one, a parenting plan helps all parties involved know what to expect both during the divorce and after it is finalized.

To read more about parenting plans, click here.

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With hits such as “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open,” the band Creed’s albums have sold over 25 million copies, and spent more than a year (cumulatively) in the #1 spot. For the early 2000s, you almost couldn’t turn on the radio without a Creed hit greeting you. Since 2004, the band members have been doing their own solo projects, and living their lives peacefully.

At least, that is what was thought. As it turns out, Creed lead singer Scott Stapp’s wife has filed for a divorce, stating drug-and-alcohol-related bizarre behavior, and irreconcilable differences. In the filing, she is also seeking full custody of their children, saying that Stapp is overall unable to take care of his children.

The 2 have been married for 8 years, and currently reside in Boca Raton with their 3 children.

Jaclyn Stapp, former Miss New York USA, stated that Scott vanished without warning back in October, hasn’t been telling her or their kids where he’s staying, and that he’s been doing so many different drugs (crystal meth, steroids, and amphetamines) that he is not the same person he used to be. She states that she fears he will act on his previous threats of suicide and harming the family.

Also included in the petition are a collection of texts sent from Scott that she is trying to use to get a Marchman Act petition approved. If a judge rules in her favor, it could require Scott to go into treatment for at least 5 days, and up to 5 months if the judge-approved treatment requires it.

According to Jaclyn’s attorney, “her primary concern remains, as it always has been, the best interest of her children.”

Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/ent-columns-blogs/jose-lambiet/article4083816.html

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Whether you’ve been tuned into things or not, there’s currently a heated national debate taking place regarding child custody. The November 2014 election cycle saw states like North Dakota vote on equal parenting time, a cause championed by the “Parental Rights Initiative”.

This controversial measure ultimately failed, by what many would consider a landslide margin – 62% versus 38%. Whereas we could easily look the other way regarding this initiative, it’d be wiser to adopt the opposite position: a radical campaign to alter child custody cases is taking place now.

Child custody is evolving all the time. You don’t need to look back far in history to see that child custody was once indivisible, meaning one parent solely held guardianship of their children. Common belief was that only one parent could raise a child, something the 20th century later revisited.

That a child could not have a proper upbringing with split parenting was a presumption difficult to overcome, but it made one thing abundantly clear – presumptions, as pertaining to divorce, are dangerous. Initiatives like what recently occurred in North Dakota and what was traditionally believed about child custody prior to the 20th century are inherently flawed ideas.

Who does a 50/50 parenting split really stand to benefit? It’s easy to see how parents are being considered before their children in some of these cases. Any legal presumption concerning equal parenting time puts a child’s welfare secondary to the interests of their parents.

So what’s the solution? Writers from the Washington Post believe it lies in crafting a ‘parenting plan’, a blueprint of sorts of how to allocate parental guidance to address a child’s needs post-divorce. These plans essentially mandate that parents work together in the best interest of their children, something far more constructive than arguing over time sharing.

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When going through a divorce, an individual will likely have a thousand questions running through their minds. Who will get custody of our kids? How long will this take? How are we going to split assets? Is the family going to split, or stay close? Will I have enough money to live off comfortably afterwards? What about child or spousal support?

One of the questions that often is glossed over, however, is who will be paying for college?

According to Florida law, parents are legally required to provide support and education for their children. That means housing, food, clothes, other basic necessities, and schooling.

The problem is that this legal obligation stops once the child is no longer considered a dependent. This can be when the child turns 18, or it can be later if the child is still in high school or has a disability preventing self-support.

For most parents, though, child support stops around 18 years of age. This can be a problem for parents that have custody of their children and are receiving support payments from their ex-spouse. All of a sudden, the child is no longer dependent on you, and even though you want to be able to send your child to college, you’re facing the daunting bills all on your own.

This is where collaboration can really come in handy. It may be possible to have a court ordered stipulation where child support will continue past 18 for college expenses, but it’s much easier to simply sit down and discuss with your ex-spouse the desire to send your child to college. It’s in every parent’s best interest to see their child succeeding in college, so it’s important to do everything possible to ensure that future.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for solving these complex issues by yourself, but if you mention your concerns with your attorney, they will be able to provide you with the insight you need.

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One Florida woman’s recent arrest is the perfect example of how lying to a family court is never a smart idea, even when it means protecting your children.

The incident in question involved a woman who won full custody of her child after she showed police threatening messages she had received from her then-husband via Facebook and email.

The trouble came when police looked into the exchanges a little more closely and found that the woman was lying. She had created fake accounts for her husband, and used them to send herself threats, intentionally in order to win full custody.

She was found guilty of perjury, and was sentenced to a 5-year suspended sentence.

This whole situation highlights a very important issue: There is a point where fighting for your children ends up hurting them.

If she had let the divorce proceedings play out normally, even if she was not awarded custody, she would have been able to visit with her child, and been a part of their life. Instead, now she will be in jail, and her child will grow up these early years not really having a mother, and having to live with the social stigma of a parent in jail.

Protecting your children is paramount, and you should always exercise every legal right you have to protect your kids, but as this case points out, don’t push too hard or visitation hours could mean an entirely different thing.

With a skilled family law attorney on your side, you can be assured that every possible measure will be taken to ensure the well-being of your children.

Source: http://swtimes.com/news/florida-woman-pleads-guilty-perjury-fort-smith-custody-case

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A Florida mother recently learned the hard way how being caught unprepared can cost the ultimate price: Your children.

When it comes to criminal courts, the rules are clear: Evidence of a crime leads to sentencing, which leads to punishment. In this example, if someone is found guilty of child abuse, they lose all parenting rights. In addition, that information is clearly spelled out in a special hearing, and is easy to locate.

In this particular situation, however, Linda Marie Sacks was not found guilty of any crime, and still is unable to see her children. That is because family courts do not require hard evidence to be able to sever the parent/child relationship. A family court judge can cut that tie at any point, and it will be buried in the divorce filing, making it nearly impossible to locate a paper trail of evidence in order to overturn it.

Appealing her decision will be an immensely complicated, long, and expensive process. She initially attempted to represent herself, even going as far as to write a 112-page Supreme Court petition, but that was shot down back in 2011. Meanwhile throughout this entire process, her children are growing up completely away from her, and she is only allowed a few hours of supervised visitation per month. For all intents and purposes, she is completely out of her children’s lives.

While it is nigh impossible to plan for all eventualities, the sad truth is that an experienced attorney could have seen the writing on the wall and taken preemptive steps to ensure that her proper custody agreement was in place from the very beginning, rather than letting a judge make a one-off decision which robbed her of her kids, despite there being no wrongdoing to begin with.

Source: http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2014/07/10/if-you-want-custody-of-your-kids-it-s-be

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Going through any sort of family change can be rough, whether it’s a divorce, or changing a child support arrangement, or nullifying an existing spousal support agreement. Whenever loved ones are put into the middle of a situation, it can get very stressful very quickly.

While it is understandable that a lot of that stress comes merely from the subject matter at hand, recently a group of individuals gathered to protest, saying that a lot of the difficulties are the fault of the general state of family law in Florida.

One particular individual, Ray Granstrom, was not happy with how his child custody agreement came out. He considers himself to be a loving, active father, but the state considers him nothing more than a visitor in his children’s lives.

Libertarian governor candidate Adrian Wyllie showed up at the protest as well, declaring that the current system creates “fathers that have absolutely no role in the children’s life, and these are good fathers.  And mothers, though a rarity it happens as well, who are shut out of their children’s lives.  Not for any real cause, not for neglect, not for mistreatment, but by arbitrary decisions of a court that has too much power.”

Wyllie went on to state that he thinks the power of decisions like these should not be in family courts, but rather simply left to the civil courts.

Even though there were only a few individuals who showed up to protest, the fact that there were any people who felt as if the state failed them is somewhat alarming.

Source: http://news.wfsu.org/post/critics-florida-family-courts-rally-capitol

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When many married couples decide to end their marriage and seek a divorce, they do so amicably.  Decisions involving child custody and support, debt and asset division, and, if applicable, spousal support are made in a calm and respectful manner.  Unfortunately, not all divorces end amicably, especially when child custody issues are at stake.

One South Florida father, Jason D. Simione, made the drastic decision to hire a hit man if he did not receive custody of his child.

Authorities believe that the 39-year-old Florida business owner of Bulldog Tactical Equipment in Ft. Lauderdale, was seeking a gang member from El Salvador to kill his wife, his mother-in-law and his brother-in-law if he did not gain custody of his child.  Detective Ricky Libman of the Broward Sheriff’s Office said at a conference that Simione offered $150,000 for the kill on his family members.

Detective Libman described Simione of Dania Beach as a survivalist, who stockpiled not only food, but guns and bomb making materials as well.

Not only is Simione accused of hiring a hit man to kill his own family, but he is also accused of threatening the life of President Barack Obama, as well.

Detective Libman stated that Simione made statements to him as well as to his employees how dissatisfied and unhappy he is with the president and our government’s policy.

Detective Libman said Simione’s wife reported that he had abused the couple’s nine-month old child by throwing him onto a table.  His wife also said Simione had been displaying paranoid behavior, which included delusions and violent outbursts.  This behavior could have been caused by Simione abusing illegal steroids.

Simione, who was arrested and charged with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, one count of threatening to throw, place or discharge a destructive device and one count of child abuse, was brought to court before Broward Judge John Hurley on Tuesday morning.  Hurley stated, “The court is very concerned on a number of levels.  Number one is his alleged willingness to hire a hit man to kill everyone in his family including his own child.”

Hurley continued by saying that Simione’s employees had said that their employer had threatened the President of the United States numerous times, had approached an employee for assistance in finding someone to kill his family, had been witnessed taking steroids, and had been stockpiling firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials.

Prosecutors said during Tuesday’s hearing that Simione was worth between $2 to $9 million.  Judge Hurley set his bond at $5 million.

Simione’s attorney, David Bogenschutz, argued for a lesser bond saying Simione had been a Florida resident a long time.  “He is in the middle of a divorce and it’s a pretty contentious divorce,” Bogenschutz said.

Simione will have to wear a GPS monitor if he is able to post bond.  His wife has obtained a protection order against him, which means he must stay away from both his wife and his child.

Divorce can be a difficult, emotional time in the lives of all involved, especially children.  When there are child custody issues in a divorce, it helps to have a caring, aggressive family law attorney on your side.  An experienced, competent Florida attorney can help you settle your divorce amicably and protect your relationship with your children, too.

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