Sometimes bad things happen to good people. It’s quite possible for 2 individuals, who their respective friends and family would call “the nicest, most honorable person in the whole world,” to get locked together in a bitter divorce proceeding.

You could even be one of those individuals, and you could have every facet of the moral high ground supporting you. You could have everyone you know, including your spouse’s friends/family, backing you up with emotional support.

However, the judge does not know that, and given your limited interactions with the judge, they will likely never know that. All the judge knows is what is in the filing, and unless it is specifically spelled-out for a valid reason, an individual’s character is relatively unimportant.

That is why it is critical to put everything down on paper. Ask as many questions as you possibly can (especially when signing documents), fact-check every single thing you are told (especially when coming from your spouse), and do not expect anyone to see things from your perspective.

This often seems to be particularly tricky when you are trying for a cooperative divorce, but it’s really not. It is one thing to treat your spouse with civility, and quite another to blindly accept every word they say. You can still work together while you keep a cool, wary distance. The alternative is to get embroiled in a nasty, heated battle which will benefit no one. Just remember, divorce is a very serious event, with life-altering consequences, so take nothing on blind faith, and double (maybe even triple) check everything you can.

The court will not see things from your perspective, but if you and your attorney work together, you should be able to spell the situation out in language that any judge could understand.

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Child support can be a major expense for anyone. What happens, though, when it is not just difficult to pay, but impossible?

By far the most common approach is to have the court hold them in contempt, and thrown in jail. There is a potential problem with this, however. Being thrown in jail prevents them from being able to earn any money in order to pay future child support, and chances are that once they’re released, they will be unemployed and with a criminal record to boot.

For many lower-income families, this can mean that the only way to pay back child support is to work 2 or even 3 jobs.

Luckily, however, there is a new trend that is slowly making its way around the country, and that is finding employment for individuals in order to pay off child support balances rather than throwing them in jail.

The latest example of this has shown up in Virginia, and it is a collaborative effort between social service agencies, the courts, and even fatherhood groups/programs.

While it is certainly a crime to neglect to pay child support, there is often much more going on than appears at first glance, and offering individuals the chance of working to pay off debts rather than spending time behind bars can only be seen as a good thing.

There are already dozens of success stories that have taken place in Virginia, and as the success of this program spreads, it is undeniable that it will continue to shift its way to other states. Keep your eyes peeled, because Florida could be next!

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/09/26/locking-up-parents-for-not-paying-child-support-can-be-a-modern-day-debtors-prison/

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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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Gay and lesbian rights advocates continued their historic run last week as a federal judge deemed Florida’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. Although the landmark victory opens the door to same-sex marriage possibilities in Florida, the recent action will not directly permit such marriages right away.

The landmark ruling made by US District Judge Robert Hinkle is one of several made across federal courts striking down state laws that explicitly ban same-sex marriages. Many of these decisions have been placed on temporary hiatus as they trickle through an appeals system, but all verdicts share the principle conclusion.

Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages has a storied history, beginning decades before in 1977. The ban was later written into the state’s constitution in 2008. Judge Hinkle deemed the longstanding legislation stood in violation of ‘due process’ and ‘equal protection’ provisions in accordance with the US Constitution.

The ruling now applies to same-sex couples who marry in Florida as well as whether same-sex marriages are recognized throughout the state’s jurisdiction. The decision will not take effect immediately, meaning many same-sex couples in Florida remain in limbo.

On explaining his ruling, Hinkle writes, “The Florida provisions that prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages lawfully entered elsewhere, like the federal provision, are unconstitutional. So is the Florida ban on entering same-sex marriages.”

LGBT advocates consider their work far from over in the state of Florida. At the forefront of the minds of many alliance members is the fact that no ruling in favor of same-sex couples has taken effect – many continue to wait for a new dawn in the Sunshine State.

The rulings do not stand without potential opposition, however. Governor Rick Scott, Florida’s top-elected official, has reiterated his stance on the issue. A campaign spokesman recently announced Governor Rick Scott supports a traditional marriage consistent with the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2008.

Original story reported by CNN.

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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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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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There have been many stories in the news recently about homosexual couples being denied marriage licenses due to certain states not recognizing same-sex marriages, but rarely do you hear about couples being denied divorces for the same reason.

However, that is exactly what happened for one lesbian couple living in Hillsborough County. They originally got married in Massachusetts and ended up moving to Tampa. In their divorce filing, which was started in January, they were attempting an uncontested divorce.

In the ruling, released on May 9, the judge stated that a divorce could not be granted for a marriage which the state does not recognize. In the ruling, judge Laurel M. Lee cited the 2008 constitutional amendment which 62% of the population put in place.

The amendment states “inasmuch marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

An attorney, speaking on behalf of half the couple, said that they would be appealing the decision to the Second District Court of Appeal, and that this is not a direct challenge to the 2008 amendment, as they are attempting to dissolve a marriage rather than collect the legal benefits from it.

It is unknown how the appeal will play out, but if this first appeal fails, the couple are expected to continue appealing. The ACLU and the Equality Florida Institute are expected to join in, attempting to challenge the amendment.

Source: http://www.watermarkonline.com/2014/05/20/lesbian-couple-denied-divorce-in-hillsborough/

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When people hear of marriage counseling or training, they almost always think of relationships that are already showing signs of trouble.

However, recently, there have been outbreaks of so-called “skills training” classes for new couples to undergo. In a published study, the results have shown that while the overall divorce rate for “trained” couples is not any lower, the overwhelming results were that couples were less likely to report their marriages as in trouble.

Given how the divorce rate was unchanged, those results point to couples who are overall happier spending time together, even while undergoing a separation.

According to Seth Eisenberg, President and CEO of the PAIRS Foundation, the results show “more evidence that our work is to help people develop competence in skills that are most effective to sustaining intimacy, while respecting that every person makes their own deeply personal decisions about whether to get married or stay married.”

It is undeniable that undergoing a divorce is an extremely emotional experience, these results show a fascinating trend that trained couples are able to stay amicable and friendly even as they come to the realization that they would both be better off alone.

Source: http://fatherhoodchannel.com/2014/04/10/landmark-study-finds-skills-training-improves-marriage-happiness-but-doesnt-reduce-divorce-410/

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According to Florida activist group Equality Florida, despite the current political climate, they are predicting that 2016 will be the year of marriage equality. Members of the group are currently working on a strategy, and gathering personal stories in order to help push for new legislation related to the LGBT community.

In addition to the many concerned citizens, many business owners are also worried about the state’s current attitude towards LGBT people, as it is likely to drive potential workers out of the state and into friendlier states, such as Colorado. They are especially worried given the current economic climate, as the states with the best outcome will be the states with the best and most dedicated workers.

According to several advocacy groups, since the ban on gay marriage passed into the state constitution 5 years ago with a 62% vote, attitudes have drastically shifted, even in the Republican-powered state legislature. In fact, several of the more recent bills to broach the topic have been met with warm reception by Republicans. One of the more recent bills would make a registry for domestic partnerships, and set up harsher punishments for gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination.

Since the Defense of Marriage Act was shot down by the Supreme Court earlier this year, Florida users have been left with a veritable maze of rules and regulations. The positive side of this is that there has never been a more opportune time to challenge the laws. The negative side, other than the obvious, is that the laws are in a very vulnerable place right now, and are vulnerable to a series of minor changes.

Currently, Equality Florida is taking their time gathering as much information as possible so that when they do finally submit their lawsuit, they stand the greatest chance of winning. Time will tell what happens to Florida law, but chances are the next year will be an eventful time.

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The Supreme Court’s ruling last week striking down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act as well as allowing the trial-court ruling finding California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional to stand, has advocates in Florida and several other states pushing to expand marriage equality efforts.

In Florida, a plan to launch a petition drive to reverse the state’s marriage ban amendment will be held Wednesday evening.  The effort is spearheaded by Vanessa Brito, a political consultant from Miami, who is pushing for an amendment to be placed on the ballot in November 2014.

New Mexico’s Governor Gary Johnson is a supporter of marriage equality and is assisting Florida advocates with their effort.  Tim Hardaway, a former NBA player and once in the headlines in 2007 for an anti-gay tirade, will be signing the Florida petition to reverse the marriage ban at Wednesday’s launch event, as well.

In New Mexico, two groups, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and American Civil Liberties Union, announced they are teaming up to ask the New Mexico State Supreme Court to order officials in the state to allow same-sex couples to marry.  Currently, the state has no law against same-sex marriage, but according to Attorney General Gary King, a law would need to be enacted through the legislature or a decision be made by the courts before gay couples could legally marry. 

Lawsuits have been filed in New Mexico seeking “state and county officials to apply the state’s marriage license statutes without regard to the sex or sexual orientation of the person who seek enforcement or application of those statutes” and also wanting same-sex married couples treated “equally with all other married couples.”

Other states filing motions or involved in lawsuits over same-sex marriage bans are New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Nevada and Hawaii.

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