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Fort Lauderdale Family Law Blog

Lesbian parents face unusual paternity challenges

Many Florida residents assume that because the United States Supreme Court legitimized same-sex marriage a couple of years ago, that same-sex parents gained a new set of rights. In reality, however, states have addressed this issue in a number of different ways. In some states, same-sex couples have been permitted to list both partners' names on a birth certificate. In other states, however, parents face insistence that only biological parents be listed on a child's birth certificate. That presents a unique paternity problem for families that are comprised of two women.

As a result, multiple lawsuits have been filed seeking clarification on the matter, and a change in state laws that would support parental rights for both partners in a same-sex marriage. The basis of those lawsuits is the fact that when a heterosexual couple decides to add a child to their family through artificial insemination, the woman's husband is allowed to be listed as the child's father on the birth certificate. That step is taken despite the fact that the husband has no biological connection to the child.

Couple faces serious family law issues related to marijuana use

A family is fighting for the return of their five children after a prolonged child custody case that involves their extended family members and their state of residence. The couple lost custody of their kids after the parents expressed an interest in moving to a nearby state to be able to access legal marijuana for medical use. They have recently received assistance in their family law case from attorneys who specialize in medical marijuana advocacy, and the case has received national media attention, including in Florida.

The couple claims that they have been treated unfairly by the state Department for Children and Families, and that the requirements for obtaining the return of their kids have been altered as the case moves forward. It has been more than two years now, and the couple claims that they have not been able to visit or speak with the children in some time. They are faced with a hearing to terminate their parental rights in the coming weeks, although their new legal team may have that hearing rescheduled.

Covering all the financial bases during divorce

For many Florida residents, moving through the property division process is one of the most stressful aspects of ending a marriage. Understanding how to properly divide marital wealth is a challenge, especially for spouses who have not played an active role in managing family finances. For those individuals, it is absolutely critical to construct a post-divorce budget that will outline projected expenses for the months and years to follow the divorce.

When constructing a budget, spouses should begin by outlining their basic living expenses. This includes the cost of any new housing arrangements, including items such as utilities, insurance and the need to procure new furniture or household items. It is also important to include expenses that do not occur on a monthly basis, such as car maintenance and repair, vacations and unexpected veterinary care.

Shared child custody is a Florida family law option

As most divorce attorneys will say, few legal matters are more emotionally fraught than child custody battles. No loving parent can bear the thought of losing access to a child. That fear is often what drives parents to fight to the bitter end to retain as much time with their kids as possible. According to research, however, there may be a better way for Florida parents to approach this critical family law need. Shared custody is an option that should be considered by virtually all Florida families as they explore their child custody possibilities.

Shared custody is a structure under which both parents remain closely connected to their child or children. Many parents assume that shared custody means an equal 50/50 division of parenting time and responsibilities. In reality, however, very few families are able to accommodate or incorporate a true 50/50 division of parental duties. A more reasonable approach is simply to promote a healthy amount of time spent with both parents, even if that amount is not an exact 50 percent figure.

When custody disputes spoil vacation plans

Vacations are supposed to take you away from the stress and strife of daily life. However, if you are battling with your ex-spouse about custody arrangements during the summer months, you are probably having a hard time relaxing and enjoying the time off. More importantly, your children may feel the tension between their parents, and this could create anxiety.

When making vacation arrangements, divorced parents must keep in mind the custody plan the court put into place. If either you or your co-parent violates that order, you may face serious legal consequences.

New ruling addresses division of military benefits after divorce

Most Florida residents who are members of the United States military have a basic understanding of how their benefits are handled. For those who are preparing to divorce, it is important to take a closer look at how those benefits will be divided, as the outcome will have a lasting impact on the financial standing of both spouses. A recent U.S. Supreme Court case addressed the matter, and the ruling is the subject of debate among many military communities.

The case centered on a veteran of the Air Force and his former wife. At the time of their divorce in 1991, it was decided that the wife was entitled to 50 percent of her former husband's retirement payments. When he retired in 1992, both parties began receiving payments the following year. However, some years later the man filed a disability claim, and argued that his degenerative joint disorder in his shoulder was the result of his time spent serving the nation.

How YouTube can negatively impact family law matters

Many Florida readers make frequent use of YouTube, an online platform that allows users to upload and share videos. In fact, some families have even created their own YouTube channel to share content with friends, family and anyone else who happens to take interest in their videos. It is even possible to monetize one's YouTube channel, by allowing ads to be placed next to uploaded content. As one family recently discovered, however, YouTube can lead to serious family law problems.

The couple behind the YouTube channel DaddyOFive has lost custody of two of their five children after the online community became outraged by content placed on the channel. The couple are a blended family, with three children belonging to the mother and two others belonging to the father. The main focus of their YouTube channel was a series of pranks played on the children, and the response that those actions would elicit from the kids.

Woman uses domestic violence experience to help others

When a Florida resident is harmed at the hands of a loved one, it can be difficult to come to terms with what has occurred, and to chart a course for what should happen next. One of the hardest things for people to understand is why a victim so often remains with his or her abuser for a significant period of time after abuse has taken place. There is no clear answer to this pressing domestic violence question, but one former victim, Beverly Gooden, has decided to use her own experience in the matter to help others who may be in similar positions.

Gooden's mission did not begin immediately upon leaving an abusive husband. It took the media focus on NFL star Ray Rice after a video showed him assaulting the woman to whom he was engaged at the time in an elevator to prompt her into action. During reporting on the issue, much of the language focused not on Rice's behavior, but on why the woman who was assaulted chose to stay with him. That prompted Gooden to take to Twitter to talk about the myriad reasons why women stay, through the aptly named #WhyIStayed.

Could divorce actually make you a better parent?

The end of a marriage is often a stressful process for Florida parents, and many wonder how they are going to be able to handle parenting without a partner. Divorce does not always have to be a negative change in regard to parenting, however. There are ways that parents can use the experience to actually boost their parenting skills, making life better for all involved.

Compromise is an area where definite improvement can be made. During a turbulent marriage, many parents lose sight of their basic partnership. That can filter down to failing to work together to serve the needs of their children. After the end of the marriage, both parents have the chance to refocus on their shared goals and priorities, which means giving their kids their best effort and attention. In addition, working through the ins and outs of the divorce process often fosters better skills in the area of compromise.

It's the little details that make a parenting plan work

Have you ever counted the number of decisions that you and the other parent make regarding your child each day? Has your child earned the right to stay up later? What discipline is appropriate for your child's transgression? Should your child watch that movie or is it inappropriate at this age?

Parents make all of these decisions and more across Florida on a daily basis whether they are together or not. Couples who are married or live together often make these decisions together when the situations come up, but what happens when your relationship with the other parent ends? A plan needs to be made for handling these situations, regardless with which parent the child is.

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The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
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Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301-3424

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