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Articles Posted in In The News (Custody/Time Sharing)

Every parent feels a natural urge to protect their young children. That is especially true during times of enhanced danger, such as the current pandemic. This has led to a recent spate of court cases where one parent is a medical professional or first responder with enhanced risks of contact with the novel coronavirus, and the other parent is someone who thinks it best that the child not have contact with the health care provider or first responder until the current state of emergency passes. To preserve their relationship with their child, a parent who is a health care provider or first responder should consult a South Florida child custody attorney who can provide them with tenacious advocacy. Our law firm recently won an important victory in a case of this type.

We represented Dr. Theresa Greene, a South Florida woman who found her timesharing cut off by a judge in Miami-Dade County. Dr. Greene is an emergency room physician who, along with her ex-husband, shared a 50-50 timesharing split of their four-year-old daughter. According to NBC 6, she underwent a COVID-19 test last week, and the test result came back negative. Dr. Greene also wears proper protective equipment when working with patients. Nevertheless, the father desired to cut off the daughter’s visits with Dr. Greene while the pandemic continued.

The father went to court and obtained an emergency order temporarily suspending all visits between Dr. Greene and the daughter. The judge’s order stated that a temporary cessation of visits between Dr. Greene and the daughter was necessary in “order to protect the best interests of the minor child, including but not limited to the minor child’s safety and welfare.” The order made it clear that the change was not the fault of Dr. Greene but was “solely related to the outbreak of COVID-19.” Dr. Greene decided to appeal this outcome, and we represented her in the appeal.

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Recently, this blog took a look at the challenges associated with maintaining a court-ordered timesharing schedule during this time of COVID-19 risks and governmental shelter-in-place orders. You should follow your timesharing order when you can. When that’s impossible, you should work together collaboratively with your child’s other parent to forge a solution. If you have questions about whether your preferred (but off-schedule) solution for dealing with timesharing in this pandemic could get you in trouble with the court later on, be sure you consult with an experienced South Florida family law attorney before taking any unilateral action that is inconsistent with your timesharing order.

The Miami Herald took a look at this pandemic and its impacts on these sorts of families. The best technique for dealing with any sudden and unexpected disruption to your family’s court-ordered timesharing schedule is, of course, working together as parents to reach a solution that meets the best interests of your child. As an example, one mom from outside Florida, who worked as a doctor, agreed with her ex-husband that the couple’s daughter should remain with him until the danger passed because the mother was at too great risk of exposure. Additionally, a Pennsylvania dad, whose job required him to fix HVAC systems in grocery stores on a daily basis, concluded (in tandem with his ex-wife) that his job carried too much risk and that the couple’s 20-month-old son should temporarily stay full-time with the mother.

On the flip side, though, the Herald article cited an example of a potentially inappropriate response: a Virginia mom who, shortly before she was supposed to hand off her 10-year-old son to his father, unilaterally decided that the boy should stay with her until the current shelter-in-place order expired. (Currently, Virginia is under such an order until at least June 10.) “She basically used this to indefinitely halt my custody with my son,” the father said in the article.

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In recent years, one of the more hotly debated issues for many people is vaccines. Since a large portion of the people who receive vaccinations are underage children, the question of whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate can be a contentious one if a child’s parents do not agree. Sometimes, these disagreements spill over into the legal system, as was the case recently with one family from Michigan, as reported by the Washington Post. Whether or not you can use the courts to force your ex to get your child vaccinated may depend on the specific facts of your case. As a Florida parent, if you have concerns about this or any other type of vital medical decision-making element of your child custody arrangement, it is important to contact an experienced Florida child custody attorney promptly.

Many anti-vaccination individuals believe that vaccines are of questionable effectiveness and may be the source of various ailments ranging from bowel disease to autism. Vaccine proponents believe that vaccines are safe, effective, and not only an important part of good health for the recipient but also beneficial to the community at large due to something called “herd immunity.” The recent rise in vaccine opponents, vaccination proponents argue, has led to the increased occurrence of many diseases (including the re-emergence of some nearly extinct diseases), like measles, mumps, whopping cough, scarlet fever, and polio.

Thus, do you have to vaccinate your child if you desire not to vaccinate them, or, alternatively, can you get a court order that requires your ex to get your child vaccinated even if that is against the other parent’s wishes? Like many things in the law, the answer is, “It depends.”

If you have gone through the family court system, the chances are that you may have experienced stress or anxiety in anticipation of your hearing. What if my hearing doesn’t go well? What if the court’s ruling isn’t the outcome my family needs? These feelings are all normal and examples of why it helps to have an experienced attorney on your side. Perhaps you think you can’t afford an attorney. What you should do if you have such concerns is never simply assume, but instead get information first and then make an educated decision about your ability to afford representation. You may find that your options for retaining a skilled Florida child custody attorney could be greater than you might think.

A recent case from Oklahoma that made news headlines recently offered a bizarre example of what not to do in this type of situation. A mom who lived just west of Oklahoma City had a custody hearing approaching soon. She didn’t have an attorney, thinking that she couldn’t afford one. Apparently she was worried that, without counsel, her case would end badly. The mother’s current boyfriend (who was not the father in the custody dispute) decided to try to help his girlfriend. He, in an ill-advised move, phoned in a bomb threat to the courthouse. He thought, according to what he told investigators, that the bomb threat would cause a delay in the case and give his girlfriend some extra time to address her situation, according to KFOR.

For his efforts, the boyfriend received criminal charges and the prospect of a long prison sentence of 3-10 years. News reports did not indicate that the mother participated in, or knew about, the boyfriend’s bomb threat plan, but if she did, her participation could have a negative impact on her court case and her custody arrangement with her kids.

It started as a typical daytime TV installment of “exasperated single parent and out-of-control teen” on a September 2016 episode of the “Dr. Phil” show. Then, with one heavily accented taunt, a South Florida teen launched countless internet memes and became a social media star. Now, the girl’s father, who has been estranged from the daughter for most of her life, is fighting for custody, according to the Palm Beach Post. The legal contest regarding the ‘viral’ sensation teen and the past history of the parents’ circumstances can be very instructive for any parent who’s dealing with child custody, timesharing, and child support issues.

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In a decision that may, hopefully, bring a degree of closure to one family, prosecutors in South Florida decided to drop criminal charges that were pending against a mother who had famously violated court orders related to the custody of her young son, the Palm Beach Post reported. The case made national news due to the issue at the center of the parents’ dispute (the child’s circumcision), but ultimately provides a reminder of the strong enforceability of parenting agreements, even if one parent has a profound change-of-heart later.

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It is being reported today that the death of Daniel Markel, a former Florida State University law school professor, has been linked to a murder-for-hire scheme. Markel was shot in the head inside his garage at his home during the middle of the day on July 18, 2014.

Law enforcement officers in Hallandale Beach, Florida have arrested Sigfredo Garcia for his alleged role in the 2014 death of Daniel Markel. On May 25, 2016, Garcia was charged with shooting Markel only two days after he was interviewed by investigators. He has pled not guilty and is presently being held without bond in Leon County, Florida. Law enforcement officers intend to charge a second man, Luis Garcia, in connection with the homicide.

It is believed that the murder of Daniel Markel is related to the desire of his former wife’s family to have his former wife, Wendi Adelson, and their two minor children relocate from Tallahassee, Florida to Miami, Florida. It is, however, unknown who hired the killers.

Alimony reform in Florida is dead for at least one year after an April 15 veto of SB 668 by Governor Rick Scott. The veto represents the second time Scott has vetoed a bill that would have updated Florida’s alimony laws. While the most recent bill removed certain retroactivity provisions from the alimony reforms, which Scott cited as problematic in vetoing the previous bill, the governor again issued a veto, this time due to certain additional reforms addressing timesharing laws, which he said ran the risk of “putting the wants of a parent before the child’s best interest.”

Had it become law, the reform measure would have made several major changes in the way courts resolve divorce and child custody cases. The new law would have ended permanent alimony and would have set up alimony calculation guidelines as well. These guidelines would have assessed the amount and duration of alimony based upon each spouse’s income and the length of the marriage. The most recent bill also would have created a presumption in favor of alimony for all marriages except those lasting two years or less.

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A Florida woman who raised four children together with her same-sex partner for several years lost her bid to obtain court-ordered timesharing with the two biological children of her partner. The 2d District Court of Appeal ruled that, even though the women had raised the children together for years, and they had an informal visitation arrangement for two more years after the relationship ended, the woman had no legal relationship with the children, so the children’s biological mother had a fundamental right to cut off and deny visitation to her former partner. Even though the law has recently changed in Florida regarding same-sex marriage, a marriage between the two women alone may have not saved the woman’s case, since she still would not have been a legal parent to the children. Only adoption would have guaranteed her rights, which was a choice that became available in Florida prior to the women’s separation.

The couple, S.R. and E.P., decided to start a family after several years together. The women purchased anonymous donor sperm, and, using that sperm, each woman became pregnant twice and had two children. The women raised the four children together as one family until their relationship deteriorated and, in the spring of 2011, they separated.
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The long-running and often contentious child custody dispute between pro basketball star Dwyane Wade and his ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches, added a new chapter recently when the 3d District Court of Appeal issued a ruling upholding a timesharing decision made last year by a Miami-Dade trial judge. Although rejecting the mother’s appeal, the court warned lawyers on both sides regarding their behavior in email exchanges between the two sides. The case offers a reminder that, regardless of the amount of financial resources, child custody matters are often very emotional and hard-fought disputes.

Wade and his wife filed for divorce in 2007, which was finalized three years later after a long and arduous battle. During their marriage, the couple had two sons. In 2011, the father obtained a court order from a judge in Chicago granting him sole custody of both of the boys. The Illinois court’s custody ruling was domesticated to, and became enforceable in, Florida a year later.
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