Today, more than ever in recent memory, people have side businesses. Perhaps they drive for Uber, housesit, walk dogs, deliver groceries or have some other freelance gig. For others, it’s owning rental property, as changes in the economy have made owning rental property very attractive in recent years. Whatever your side business, it is important to understand how it can impact other aspects of your life, such as your child support obligation. Obviously, if your side business is profitable, that has the potential to raise your child support obligation. What about, however, a business that is losing, not earning, money? The law in Florida may be able to help you… if you know how to advance your case properly. For that, be sure you have the services of a skilled Fort Lauderdale child support attorney.

Such was the case for S.S. Before she got married, S.S. purchased a townhouse property. Fast forward several years and S.S. had gotten married, had a child and gotten divorced. At this point, S.S. still owned the townhouse but was using it as a rental property. Although she had a tenant in the townhouse, the mortgage payments and maintenance fees on the place were so high that, even with the rental income, S.S. was still losing money every month on the property.

That townhouse “in the red” became an issue when it came time to litigate S.S.’s divorce from A.M. In order to set child support in any case in Florida, the court needs to make determinations about the money that is available to support the child. That includes making a finding about the father’s gross income and the mother’s gross income.

Late last May, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion called In re Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code. As a spouse contemplating divorce or a parent potentially facing a parental responsibility/timesharing case, you may think that a thing like a Supreme Court opinion on “amendments to the Florida Evidence Code” would be some sort of “hyper-technical lawyer thing” that would have little or no impact on your case. And, quite possibly, you’d be wrong in thinking that. Of course, it really isn’t reasonable to expect you, as a non-lawyer, to be keeping up with all the new changes to the Florida Rules of Evidence. This is a great reason, among a host of others, why it pays to have a knowledgeable Florida attorney on your side. Your experienced Fort Lauderdale family law attorney is going to be up to date on all of those changes and how to use those amended rules to your maximum benefit.

That May opinion from the Supreme Court altered the way that trial courts analyze whether or not expert evidence is admissible proof in a case. Up until the Supreme Court’s opinion, the rules for determining whether expert evidence was admissible were contained in a 1923 federal appellate case. Going forward, Florida’s rules of evidence for expert evidence admissibility will rely much more on a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case called Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.

Under the new rules in Florida, expert evidence is admissible if the testimony “is based upon sufficient facts or data” and “is the product of reliable principles and methods.” Additionally, the expert witness advancing that testimony must have “applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.”

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Recently, an appeals court here in Florida ruled that a stepfather was not entitled to timesharing or visitation with his stepchild, even though his evidence established that he was the father figure in that child’s life. This harsh result is a reminder of the status of Florida law and the profound importance of making sure you are taking the proper legal steps to protect your relationship with that child. Whether you are an LGBT partner/spouse of a biological parent, a heterosexual stepparent or hold some other relationship, it is very important to retain a skilled Fort Lauderdale child custody attorney and complete the right legal processes, or else you may be denied contact with that child if you and your spouse/partner split.

In that recent case, J.H. and his wife were a married couple raising three children in the Tampa area. The eldest of the three was born the year before the marriage and had her last name changed to match the rest of the family. She was, however, not J.H.’s biological child and J.H. never legally adopted her.

After eight years of marriage, the husband filed for divorce. The mother did not promptly take action in response to the husband’s filing, which led to a default judgment in the divorce. That default judgment said that J.H. would have 100% timesharing with the children except for visits with the mother that were subject to J.H.’s approval. The judgment also said that the two would share parental responsibility for decision-making but that J.H. would hold tie-breaking authority in all areas.

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If you watch or read the news much, you know that one of the most frequently recurring topics is the matter of paying for healthcare and healthcare insurance in this country. If you are a parent going through a divorce or a paternity action, health insurance for your children is going to be an important issue. A collateral aspect of that often can be insurance “networks” and what happens when an “out-of-network” doctor is used. This all may leave you with many questions like… “Who gets to pick the doctor?” and “Who has to pay for those out-of-network costs?” To make sure you’re not left footing a very large medical bill after having had no say-so in the provider selection process, be sure you have an experienced Fort Lauderdale child custody attorney representing you in your case.

In a divorce with minor children, or a paternity action, the court’s judgment will often order one parent to maintain health insurance for the minor child (or children) at all times. Of course, for most people, that means including the child or children on their employer-sponsored plan. And, if you’re like a lot of folks, that means an HMO or other plan that declares some doctors to be “in network” (and therefore much cheaper for you) and other to be “out of network” (and therefore much, much more expensive for you.) In many divorce cases, the judge will order you and your ex-spouse to split the costs of your child’s healthcare that are not covered by insurance, so it is very important to make sure that you have the necessary control when it comes to the decision-making process in selecting a doctor for your child.

As an example, there’s this recent case from Tallahassee. T.N. and K.N. divorced in 2015. They had two minor children. The spouses worked out a marital settlement agreement that said, among other things, that the father would maintain health insurance coverage for the children and that the parents would split all of the children’s uninsured healthcare costs 50-50.

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When people think about the services that their skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney provides, the first thing probably involves the attorney standing before a judge (or filing legal documents) to make strong and persuasive arguments that get the client to a successful outcome versus their ex-spouse or partner. Certainly, that is a big part of what your family law attorney does… but it isn’t everything. Another service is something that takes place outside court. That service is giving you the knowledgeable and unbiased advice you need to hear in order to be best equipped to make sound decisions about your case.

Take, for example, a misguided ex-husband from Kansas. D.O. and his ex-wife were involved in family litigation in a court in Iowa. The couple contested many issues, according to 850 WFTL, including property distribution, parental responsibility, timesharing and property taxes.

D.O., frustrated by the court filings submitted by his ex-wife’s lawyer, hatched a plan. He made a motion requesting permission “to settle his differences with his ex-wife by having a sword fight,” according to the report. Yes, that’s right… a sword fight… complete with authentic samurai swords imported from Japan. The husband’s motion for trial by combat stated his goal as hoping to “rend [the] souls” of his ex-wife and her lawyer “from their bodies.”

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In a 1980s film, the movie’s protagonist (played by Tom Cruise) opines that “everything ends badly… otherwise it wouldn’t end.” While that isn’t always true with marriages, an unfortunately large number do end in bitterness and acrimony. If you find yourself in the aftermath of a bitter divorce, you may find yourself defending against a large number of legal actions launched by your ex who is trying to game the legal system. If that happens to you, it is well worth your while to retain the services of a skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney. Your ex may be using (or abusing) the legal system, and your skilled attorney can help you use the system’s rules to overcome this onslaught through proper defense strategies, legal filing techniques and arguments.

J.J. was a Tampa Bay area man facing this type of situation in his case. He and his ex-wife, B.J., had a son together. The couple’s divorce and all other family law –related cases were litigated in Pasco County, just to the northwest of Tampa. In late December 2018, a judge in Pasco County rejected the mother’s request for an injunction against domestic violence on behalf of the couple’s child. In rejecting that petition, the judge declared the mother was not a credible witness and “was using the litigation as a weapon against her ex-husband.”

Just three days later, the mother was back in court… only this time she was in Tampa (Hillsborough County.) Once again, she sought an injunction against domestic violence on behalf of the couple’s child. The father fought back procedurally, asking the court in Hillsborough County to transfer the case to Pasco County.

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Florida, like all states, has laws governing awards of spousal support (also known as alimony) following a divorce. Typically, alimony involves a monetary payment from one spouse to the other to help the less well-off spouse maintain something close to the standard of living he/she enjoyed during the marriage. Florida has many different types of alimony, so if you’re considering a divorce, whether you’re the wealthier or the less wealthy spouse, you should take the time to retain a skilled Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney to help you ensure that the alimony ordered in your case is a fair outcome.

Unfortunately, in several areas of the law, society evolves and changes faster than the law. In some ways, that’s good, as the law should be a stable and consistent thing. Other times, though, it isn’t, such as when it doesn’t keep up with important shifts in the way people live. Believing that some of Florida’s alimony laws fall into the latter category, some members of the state legislature have, once again, championed alimony reform, with HB 843 having been introduced in the legislature in December.

One of the key targets that HB 843 seek to reform is the concept of permanent alimony. Generally speaking, permanent alimony means that the recipient spouse is entitled to continue receiving payments until she dies or remarries (or, in some situations, begins cohabiting with a partner.)

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Several experts recommend against doing business with family. A few years ago, CBS News published an article about “5 Dangers of Doing Business With Family and Friends.” Many times, though, the pull of familial love and the desire to help out a child, sibling or parent may overcome concern about those dangers.

So, what happens if you receive money from your parent while you’re married and then you and your spouse divorce? It depends of the specific facts, but many times, if that money is a loan, then it is a marital debt. If your spouse is trying to put you on the hook for paying 100% of the loan debt you received from your mom or dad, don’t give up. Fight back with a skilled and knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney.

That type of scenario actually happened to one Florida Panhandle man in his divorce case. During the marriage, the couple received $125,000 from the husband’s mother. The couple received that money after the wife, a real estate professional, discovered a condo she deemed to be a good investment and suggested that she, her husband and her mother-in-law go in on the condo together. The husband’s mother balked at buying an ownership stake in the condo, but instead allegedly decided to loan the couple $125,000 so that they could make the purchase.

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It is once again the holiday season. It is the time of vacations from school and (perhaps) work, along with family get-togethers. For divorced spouses with children, it is also a time for managing the challenges of timesharing. Hopefully, the parents will work together cooperatively to facilitate the growth of each parent’s relationship with the child.

Regrettably, that is not always true. Whether it is the holidays, spring break, summer vacation or some other visit, your spouse may seek to make unreasonable demands regarding timesharing that aren’t part of your agreement or court order. When that happens, be sure you have a skilled Fort Lauderdale child custody attorney on your side to ensure that your rights and your relationship (and time) with your child are protected.

R.B. and M.O. were a divorced couple whose case involved long-distance timesharing logistical issues. The mother lived in Broward County. The father was a major in the U.S. Army stationed in Colorado. The couple had a timesharing order that said that the father and mother would “confer regarding airplane tickets and will mutually agree prior to booking” any air travel.

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One recent Southwest Florida case included a “de facto” domestic violence injunction, and served as a reminder to anyone going through a divorce, especially a hotly contested one, that things can always take unexpected turns. You can’t always expect the unexpected, but you can prepare for it and safeguard yourself from an unexpected and potentially damaging twist in your divorce case by having a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney on your side from the start.

Do you know what a “de facto domestic violence injunction” is? Probably not, as almost no one outside a certain set of lawyers would even be loosely familiar with the phrase. It’s very important to know that, if a court that was deciding your divorce case issued such a de facto domestic violence injunction, it would be just as serious as a “regular” domestic violence injunction.

So, what exactly does a de facto domestic violence injunction look like? In that extremely contentious case from Collier County, it involved a divorce judgment that, in Paragraph 19, said that “the Husband shall not come on or about the Wife’s place of employment. The Husband shall not come on or about the Wife’s residence, unless he has been specifically invited by the Wife, in writing, and for the sole purpose of delivering the children into her care. The Husband shall not come within 100 feet of the Wife’s motor vehicle.”

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