COVID-19 UPDATE: Sandy T. Fox, P.A. remains open remotely to serve our community and assist them with their family law needs. We can be reached via the contact form on the site, and meetings can be handled virtually through the Zoom teleconferencing app.

With close connections, both culturally and economically, to the Caribbean, Central America, South America and beyond, South Florida is a truly international region. The impacts of that are felt in many areas, including in family law. For areas (like here) where family law disputes cross not just state but national boundaries, it is essential to have a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney who understands all of the laws that go along with child custody cases, including international custody cases.

One of the most important pieces of law when it comes to certain international custody disputes is something called the “Hague Convention.” While that treaty officially covers the topic of “international child abduction,” its effect on family law goes beyond just kidnapping cases. It also has the ability to impact a substantial array of child custody disagreements.

That treaty had a major impact on one Brazilian couple’s custody dispute, which was recently litigated here in Florida. The parents had married in Brazil in 2010 and welcomed a child in 2012. In 2016, the father, the child and the mother (who was pregnant with child #2) traveled to Florida so the father could advance his medical career by participating in a cardiology fellowship, and so the mother could deliver the second child in the United States.

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If you have a court order that obligates you to pay a reasonable amount of alimony to your ex-spouse and you’re capable of paying it, then the best thing you can do is… pay it. Of course, life isn’t always that simple, especially in this time of coronavirus-fueled economic instability, which is affecting more and more ex-spouses who are under court orders to pay alimony. If your court-ordered amount is more than you can pay or is otherwise unreasonable, then you should reach out as soon as possible to an experienced South Florida family law attorney so that your attorney can begin working on getting your alimony obligation modified.

Simply allowing yourself to fall behind on alimony is almost never the right answer, and can come with some serious consequences. However, even if you have made the mistake of racking up an alimony arrearage, failure to pay does not mean that you are without any rights. You are still entitled to certain legal protections and there are still certain processes and procedures the court must go through before administering certain penalties.

As an example, we can look at a recent alimony case from Broward County. That husband owed alimony to his ex-wife in excess of $600,000, and the wife filed a motion to find the husband in contempt.

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As anyone who’s been through divorce litigation knows, getting a favorable ruling from the judge is a huge step, but it may not be the last step. There may be occasions where, despite a clear order from the court, your ex-spouse doesn’t do what he/she was supposed to do. This is one of the many reasons why it pays to have a skilled South Florida family law attorney on your side: so that you can not only win your case in court, but can win the legal battles that come afterward.

For example, look at A.L. and K.M., a married couple who created a postnuptial agreement. That agreement said that the wife would pay the husband a one-time equitable distribution payment. The payment, which was $250,000, was due within seven days of the spouses’ signing of the agreement.

The wife didn’t pay the whole $250,000, though. Instead, she paid $225,000. The husband responded by filing a contempt motion. The magistrate who heard the case initially recommended that the court rule in favor of the husband and order the wife to pay the remaining $25,000.

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Many of us, at some point, have made a job change expecting the new job to improve our lives professionally, financially and personally, only to realize just a few months later that, rather than an improvement, the new job is a financial disaster. If that happens to you, it can have many negative consequences, especially if you’re someone who owes a child support obligation. There is a little bit of good news: depending on your specific circumstances, a skilled South Florida family law attorney may be able to take evidence of your reduced income and help you get a modification of child support and a smaller monthly payment.

P.S. was a father caught in that type of situation with his child support obligation. In 2016, he was a financial advisor at a major investment firm, but decided to make a lateral move to another major investment firm. Unfortunately for P.S., a major scandal rocked his new employer just after he changed jobs. It started in the company’s banking division but, eventually, the scandal spread into the brokerage unit, according to a CNBC report from November 2016.

This was a huge problem for P.S. In the investment industry, financial advisors who change firms often bring their clients with them from the old firm to their new firm. However, due to the cloud of scandal plaguing P.S.’s new employer, he failed to persuade many of his clients to switch. As a result, he failed to hit several performance targets and that failure meant that his overall income took a significant nosedive.

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Many families with children – even those where divorce is involved – may go through the children’s entire formative years with everyone living in one state. For a lot of other families, though, that’s not the case. When you’re in that latter group, any legal disputes regarding parental responsibility and timesharing can become profoundly more complicated and may possibly force you to have to litigate in some far-away state. Having a skilled South Florida family law attorney by your side can provide you with immense benefit when it comes to seeking to avoid such a disadvantageous situation.

The story of an ended marriage with children and a post-separation family spread across two states hit the news recently. Devoted fans of the Real Housewives of New York reality TV show will undoubtedly recognize the name “Jules Wainstein” as one of the cast members during Season 8. People following celebrity “gossip” news will also recognize Jules Wainstein as a new divorcee. People.com reported that she and her husband, Michael, who share two children and who separated in 2016, received their final judgment of divorce this fall. Although Wainstein and her husband resided in Manhattan, she told BravoTV that she and the kids “temporarily” relocated here to South Florida, living with her parents in Boca Raton.

The mother’s comments to Bravo seem to indicate a clear intent to return to the Big Apple but, certainly, Wainstein wouldn’t be the first New Yorker who “temporarily” moved to South Florida and ultimately decided to stay. If the mother and children were to remain in Florida, any child custody issues that they would have to litigate in the future would implicate a statute known as the “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act,” or UCCJEA.

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You probably already knew that the outcome of your family law case can be affected by the state in which the case is litigated, as another state’s laws may be different from those of Florida. But you may not have known that the outcome of your case can differ based on where it’s litigated within Florida. A case heard in Broward County might conceivably have a different outcome than if it were heard in Orange County, due a difference of opinion between the two different District Courts of Appeal (the Fourth and the Fifth, respectively) whose rulings control in those counties. This is just one more example of the many nuances of the law and just one more reason why you can benefit from having a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney on your side.

Very recently, the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland made an important new ruling. In 2019, a trial court in Pasco County modified two parents’ parenting plan, switching from majority timesharing with the mother to majority timesharing with the father.

In her appeal, the mother argued that the trial judge made a critical mistake in failing to give her specific instructions on what steps she must complete in order to regain majority timesharing. In the past, the Second District court had said that, “when a trial court denies or restricts a parent’s time-sharing with his or her child, it must specify steps for the parent to take in order to regain meaningful time-sharing.” In D.M. and B.M.’s case, the court made a significant change to that rule, stating that the decision to include or forego stating such instructions is a matter of judicial discretion, so failing to put them in an order is not necessarily a legal error.

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When you’ve decided to divorce, it can go one of two ways. It can be adversarial, with issues decided by the judge, or it can be more collaborative, with the two spouses working out some or all issues through negotiation. It obviously pays to have a skilled South Florida family law attorney in the first scenario. What too many people overlook, though, is that a knowledge family law attorney can also provide invaluable aid in the second scenario, too. So, whether you are reaching your divorce outcome through litigation, negotiation or some of both, be sure you have the quality legal help you need.

You might wonder why you’d need legal representation in a divorce where you are trying to negotiate an outcome out of court. There are several reasons, actually. For one thing, there’s no guarantee that you’ll settle all your issues and never have to litigate anything before the judge. Secondly, a seasoned attorney can help you assess whether the terms your spouse has offered are fair or are unreasonable.

Thirdly, the right attorney can protect you in the event that a dispute arises about what has happened during the negotiation process and what legal meaning those processes should hold. That was the case for one husband in Panama City.

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For better or worse – and it’s often “worse” – COVID-19 has impacted nearly every part of our lives. The pandemic has damaged many marriages and created an uptick in the number of spouses seeking divorce in Florida. The virus’s impacts can also be felt when it comes to timesharing and parental responsibility in Florida. As some cases are starting to demonstrate, a parent’s failure to keep their child (or children) sufficiently safe by following governmental guidelines may be enough to cost them time with the children. This is, of course, a new and emerging area of the law so, whether you need to seek a timesharing change or to oppose one, be sure you are armed with legal representation from a skilled South Florida family law attorney.

Losing timesharing… over mask usage? Wondering how that could happen? A report from the Sun-Sentinel offers some insights. The case, litigated in Broward County, involved a Florida father, a mother who had moved from Coral Springs to North Carolina and a child with asthma. The child’s asthma placed him in the elevated risk group regarding COVID-19.

In June 2020, according to the report, the mother posted a “selfie” from the waiting room of her doctor’s office. The mother captioned the picture “no mask for this girl.” That action, which probably seemed relatively insignificant at the time, eventually came back to haunt in her Florida timesharing case.

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When you go through the process of getting a divorce and you have minor children from the marriage, there are multiple legal issues that must be synthesized and work together. If not, problems are almost inevitable. For example, if your timesharing and your child support are based upon two different parenting plans, then something is going to go wrong. Either you’ll be paying too much (or too little) in child support, or else you may be getting an incorrect amount of timesharing. Whatever has happened, you still have options; namely, through the process of making a motion for modification. To make sure you’re going about that process properly, be sure you have a skilled South Florida family law attorney by your side.

A.C. and E.C. were a couple whose divorce case was an example of this problem. The couple had two minor children, and their 2013 divorce included a parenting plan and child support order. The parenting plan gave the father roughly 82 nights of timesharing. For reasons not explained by the Court of Appeal, the child support order did something very different: it calculated support based on the father having the children for 146 nights. Obviously, this disparity could potentially make a huge difference in the child support amount calculated under the guidelines.

Four years later, the mother asked for a modification of child support. The father responded by filing a claim for modification of timesharing.

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In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the signs are everywhere… in some places, literally. In the Tampa Bay area, a billboard contains the name, website and phone number for a divorce law firm on the bottom half. On the top half, it says in large all caps “COVIDIVORCE.” In fact, #COVIDivorce has been trending on social media for months. What all of this reflects so clearly is one undeniable reality: the COVID-19 pandemic and its stay-at-home orders, job losses and distance-learning educational issues have upped the stresses on families and have increased the number of married spouses who no longer want to be married. If the events of these last 6+ months have led you to the unavoidable conclusion that your marriage is hopelessly broken, be aware that the courts and legal system remain operational during this time of pandemic, so you should reach out without delay to contact a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney.

As CBS Miami reported in early September, the uptick in spouses contacting local family law attorneys about getting a divorce began just three weeks after the government’s stay-at-home orders went into effect in Miami-Dade and surrounding counties. While the courts were closed for a time, local family courts have begun to utilize various emerging technologies to re-start the provision of services while still minimizing the risk of mass transmission of COVID-19.

For one, the courts in Miami-Dade County have Zoom hearings. These hearings allow for you to move your case forward while still maintaining the optimal level of distance. Additionally, the courts in Miami-Dade County are now encouraging parties who are handling their cases without an attorney to sign up on the Florida Courts e-Filing Portal system. That system allows parties to turn in their pleadings and other documents to the court over the internet.

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