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Generally, a man that is the biological father of a child can seek parental rights.  Relatively recent advances in reproductive technology can result in situations in which it is necessary to determine whether a man is a child’s father or merely a sperm donor. For example, in a recent Florida case, a former couple called on a court to determine whether a man had paternity rights over a child born via IVF. If you need assistance with a paternity matter, it is advisable to speak to a Florida paternity lawyer to determine what steps you can take to protect your interests.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the father and the mother were involved in a romantic relationship, during which they entered into a contract to have a child via in vitro fertilization. The IVF transfer took place in September 2019, but the parties ended their relationship a month later. The child was born in June 2020. Shortly thereafter, the father filed a paternity lawsuit seeking parental rights on the grounds that he and the mother were a commissioning couple as defined by Florida law.

Allegedly, the mother moved to dismiss his petition, arguing that he was merely a sperm donor. During the hearing on the motion to dismiss, the trial court sought evidence from both parties without notice, after which it found the parties were a commissioning couple and granted the father parental rights. The mother appealed, arguing that the trial court violated her due process rights by holding an evidentiary hearing without notice. Continue reading ›

Generally, in Florida custody cases, the courts aim to preserve the relationships between parents and their children and will grant both parents timesharing rights. The courts must always rule in the best interest of the children involved in a custody case, though, which in some cases will require the court to determine that a parent’s time with a child should be supervised. When a court orders supervised timesharing, it is not always clear what a parent must do to obtain unsupervised access, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is smart to meet with a Florida custody attorney to discuss what steps you can take to protect your parental interests.

History of the Case

It is reported that the wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. The court issued a final judgment dissolving the marriage that dictated, in part, that the husband must be supervised during the time he spent with their minor children. The husband appealed on numerous grounds, including the argument that the trial court unjustly impinged on his parental rights by ordering his timesharing to be supervised for the duration of the children’s minority, as the court did not provide a roadmap for him to achieve unsupervised timesharing. The appellate court ultimately rejected the husband’s arguments and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Grounds for Lifting an Order Imposing Supervised Time-Sharing

The appellate court explained that recent Florida rulings resolved the issue of whether a court issuing a final judgment altering a parenting plan is required to provide a parent with concrete steps he or she can take to restore lost timesharing rights or return to a pre-modification custody status, affirmatively stating that the court did not owe such a duty. Continue reading ›

In some marriages, one spouse relies on the other for financial support. As such, if a couple with disparate income decides to divorce,  the lesser earning spouse may seek alimony. The courts must assess multiple factors in determining whether alimony is appropriate, and if they fail to conduct a thorough evaluation, their rulings may be overturned. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case, in which the appellate court vacated the trial court’s order on the grounds the trial court failed to determine if the wife was entitled to alimony. If you or your spouse intend to seek a divorce, it is advisable to confer with a Florida divorce attorney to assess how the dissolution of your marriage may impact you financially.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the husband and the wife were married in 1996. In 2018, the wife filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage, in which she sought rehabilitative alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, and permanent alimony due to the length of the marriage. She asked the court to require the husband to maintain a life insurance policy naming her as a beneficiary as well.

It is alleged that the court found that the husband’s total monthly expenses were close to $7,000, while the wife’s total expenses were slightly less than $3,000. Further, the court noted that the wife had amassed some savings while the husband had none. Thus, the court found that the husband lacked the ability to pay alimony and denied the wife’s request. It also declined to require the husband to maintain life insurance. The wife appealed. Continue reading ›

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Florida courts generally find that it is in a child’s best interest to maintain connections with both parents and are reluctant to sever the parent-child relationship. While the courts will usually determine if there are other, less restrictive, means of protecting a child prior to terminating parental rights, such an analysis is not always required. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion in which the appellate court reversed a trial court order denying a motion to sever the parental relationship on the grounds that the father engaged in egregious conduct. If you have questions about your parental rights or the rights of your co-parent, it is smart to meet with a Florida child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

The Subject Case

It is reported that the mother and father shared custody of their minor children pursuant to a time-sharing agreement. The mother and her boyfriend drove to the father’s house to pick up the children, but the father refused to let them go. Then, in front of the children, he threatened to shoot the mother in the face if she took them. The mother loaded the children into her boyfriend’s truck. The boyfriend began driving away, and the father went into his house.

Allegedly, the father then returned with a gun and began shooting at the truck. One of the bullets hit the boyfriend in the back of his head, causing him to lose control of the vehicle and drive into a ditch. The mother suffered injuries in the crash, and one of the children suffered cuts when bullets shattered the truck’s windows. The father was ultimately arrested and charged with attempted murder, and the mother filed a petition to terminate his parental rights. The trial court denied the petition, and the mother appealed. Continue reading ›

Generally, when a couple with children divorces, the courts will find it is in the best interest of the children for both parents to have custody rights. Typically, the courts will issue an order setting forth a parenting plan establishing when each party has physical custody of the children. The plans generally may be modified, but only if the party requesting a change demonstrates that it is warranted and that it is in the best interests of the children, as discussed in a recent Florida ruling. If you need assistance protecting your parental rights, it is prudent to speak to a Florida child custody lawyer to discuss your options.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife divorced in 2016. They had two minor children, and the divorce decree set forth a parenting plan that granted the wife the majority of time-sharing rights and granted the husband time-sharing on alternating weekends and Wednesday nights and set forth a standard holiday and summer schedule. The husband filed a motion asking the court to hold the wife in contempt and for the appointment of a parenting coordinator.

It is alleged that in support of his motion, he argued that his schedule as an emergency room surgeon made it difficult to adhere to the schedule, and the wife was unwilling to compromise. The court held a hearing and then ruled that the husband should be allowed to change one of his weekends each month as long as he gave the wife advance notice. The wife appealed. Continue reading ›

In many marriages, one spouse is the primary breadwinner while the other largely takes care of the household. When such marriages end, then, the courts may find it appropriate to award the spouse with lesser means alimony. The courts will evaluate numerous factors in determining appropriate alimony, including the length of the marriage. While permanent alimony may be awarded in some instances, it is rarely appropriate in cases involving short-term marriages. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion in which an appellate court reversed a trial court order granting a party permanent alimony due to the fact the trial court misapplied the applicable standard. If you or your spouse intend to end your marriage, it is smart to consult a Florida divorce lawyer to evaluate how you can protect your financial health.

The History of the Case

It is reported that wife one and wife two were married for three years before divorcing. Prior to marrying, they lived together for twenty-four years. Four years before they decided to wed, wife two suffered health issues. Wife one verbally advised her that she could stop working and that she would provide for both of them financially. Thus, at the time of the divorce, wife two sought alimony. The trial court ultimately awarded wife two permanent alimony. Wife one appealed, arguing the court improperly considered the length of the couple’s relationship prior to the marriage in issuing the award.

Permanent Alimony Under Florida Law

An appellate court will uphold an alimony award if it is supported by competent evidence. Under Florida law, permanent alimony may only be awarded following a short-term marriage, which is one that lasts less than seven years, if the court issues written findings that exceptional circumstances are present. Further, if a court grants a party permanent alimony after a short-term marriage, the order must include a finding that no other form of alimony is reasonable and fair given the parties’ circumstances. Continue reading ›

Parents typically want the best for their children and aim to raise them in a loving and stable environment, but not all parents possess the ability to properly care for their children. As such, in some instances, the courts will make the difficult decision to terminate parental rights. In some cases, the court will legally sever the parent-child relationship despite the fact that the parent is making strides towards improvement. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court affirmed the trial court’s order in which it terminated a mother’s parental rights, despite evidence the mother had made marked progress. If your parental rights are in jeopardy, it is critical to retain a seasoned Florida child custody attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the Florida Department of Children and Families instituted an action to terminate the mother’s parental rights with regard to her two minor children. The court developed a case plan that the mother was required to adhere to in order to maintain her parental rights. The mother failed to adhere to the plan, and the court issued a final order terminating her rights. The mother then appealed.

Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights in Florida

The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling after reviewing the facts of the case. In its brief opinion, the appellate court noted that the mother initially neglected to comply with the case plan, but testimony indicated that she recently began to make progress. The appellate court explained, however, that there was nonetheless substantial evidence that supported the trial court’s determination that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the best interest of her children. Continue reading ›

When a couple with disparate economic resources divorces, the court will often grant the lesser earning spouse alimony. The courts make alimony determinations, in part, by assessing each party’s income. Unfortunately, some people try to avoid support obligations by underreporting their income. Courts are not bound by financial disclosures they believe are inaccurate, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court affirmed an order holding a husband in contempt for failing to provide discovery on his ability to pay support to his former wife. If you need assistance with an alimony issue, it is prudent to speak to a knowledgeable Florida divorce attorney to discuss your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that in March 2014, the trial court dissolved the couple’s marriage. Pursuant to a consent agreement, the husband was obligated to pay the wife $2,600 in permanent alimony and over $1,000 per month as repayment for a personal loan. In May 2016, the wife moved to hold the husband in contempt on the grounds that he failed to pay her either the alimony or the loan payment. Prior to the hearing on the motion, they entered into a second agreement in which the husband agreed to pay a lump sum of $5,000 per month and $18,000 in arrearages in payments of $5,996 per month.

Allegedly, the wife moved for contempt for non-payment a year later, while the husband moved to modify his obligations, arguing he could not afford the payments. He also refused to comply with discovery requests regarding his income. His arrears reached $100,000, and the court sanctioned him for failing to comply with discovery. A hearing was held, after which the court determined the husband had the ability to pay support but willing refused to do so and ordered him to pay almost $30,000 in attorney’s fees and $14,500 in contempt sanctions within 60 days or face jail time. The husband appealed, arguing he lacked the ability to pay the purge amount. Continue reading ›

Back on May 10, the FDA opened the door to 12-to-15-year-olds receiving the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. Many parents greeted this news with profound joy, while others were highly skeptical. One poll showed that 43% of parents surveyed were in favor of their 12-to-15-year-old getting vaccinated as soon as possible, while another 29% were opposed to having their 12-to-15-year-old child receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This is the sort of split that can – and many family law attorneys believe will – lead to litigation. As with any potential dispute like this, the welfare of your child is what’s paramount. So, if protecting that means legal action, make sure you have representation from an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

Several news sources, including MarketWatch, have reported that family lawyers and other experts expect a surge of disputes over kids and COVID-19 vaccinations. As one attorney put it, some parents “are going to fight over their children, given the opportunity, and make any kind of power play that they can.”

In the past, some courts outside Florida have taken up vaccine-related issues. Courts in Texas, Colorado, and North Carolina have all sided with the parent who desired the child’s immunization. A court in Pennsylvania modified custody from shared legal custody (with primary physical custody to the mother) to sole custody to the father because the mother had repeatedly flouted a court order allowing the father to get the children vaccinated.

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Sometimes, life may deal you multiple bad blows in succession, perhaps including jail time, income loss, and even a breakup of your marriage. If that marriage also included minor children, then you likely can expect your spouse to pursue an award of child support. If that happens, your incarceration or job resignation may lead a court to order you to pay support commensurate with an income that’s higher than what you actually make. This is called imputed income and, while it is sometimes available when events like a job resignation or incarceration occur, it is not automatic. With the help of a skilled South Florida child support lawyer, you can defeat your spouse’s argument for imputed income.

The idea behind imputed income is that a supporting parent should not be able to dodge paying support by voluntarily not working or working at a level far below his/her abilities. If your spouse was a Miami neurosurgeon making $750,000 a year and voluntarily left that job to take a position as a swimming instructor making $40,000 per year, he’s probably going to be considered voluntarily underemployed. A parent’s inability to earn a certain amount of income because of current or past incarceration is something that the law will also often view as voluntary.

Not every job change with a downward salary trajectory is voluntary underemployment, though. Take J.P., a dad from Orange County. He voluntarily left a job that paid him $68,000 per year. Two years later, J.P. was working for his parents and making $30,000 per year. J.P., however, could not be found to be voluntarily underemployed.

Continue reading ›

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