STEPPARENT ADOPTION

It is quite common for a stepparent in a marriage would want and does adopt the minor child/children of his/her spouse. It is relatively easy when the biological parent consents and there are no issues regarding the stepparent, such as a history of domestic violence or drug abuse, to name a couple. Another situation is when one biological parent has abandoned the children for considerable length of time without even attempting to contact them. Basically, the judge is terminating that parent’s parental rights altogether. This is a high burden. It can be considered when a biological parent is sentenced to a lengthy time in jail. The adoption is easier if there has been an Order Terminating Parental Rights issued earlier. The adopting stepparent should keep in mind that when he/she adopts, he/she becomes the parent in every aspect (all the duties and responsibilities). If done with the heart, a grand thing to do.

SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

Florida family law automatically assumes Shared Parental Responsibility in divorce and paternity cases. This means each biological parent is entitled to be just that, a parent! Both have a say as to how children are raised; education, medical care, religion, etc.. A judge can assign Sole Parental Responsibility to one parent if “shared” is detrimental to the child. Examples would be, abandonment, a parent in prison, severe domestic violence, etc. It must be put into the initial petition at the start of the case. Ask your family law attorney.

Undisclosed Debt in Divorce

Recently, I had a opposing party, husband, said he didn’t know anything as to how his wife paid for her 4 year, bachelor’s degree she obtained during the marriage. Aside from that being ridiculously unbelievable, it doesn’t matter. The loan was acquired during the marriage therefore it is a marital debt for consideration by the judge. If the debt was for something considered squanderous like a credit card charge for a Rolex for a lover, nope. You got your lover a gift on the “company card”, that debt is yours.

PREPARING FOR DIVORCE

If you are contemplating divorce, you should protect your assets, cash, documents so that you can afford to live in the process or prevent the other side from absconding (stealing away and hiding) with marital assets that you may be entitled to. Transfer the bulk large joint bank accounts so that your spouse can’t deprive you of it. You’ll want to take or make copies of every financial document you can find in the house. From investment accounts to wills and trusts; credit card statements, etc. These may all help you at a divorce trial. This doesn’t mean hide it. You’ll need to disclose it thru your attorney. But if you’re the non-working spouse, you don’t want to be under the thumb of a vindictive person. Remove documents (titles, financial documents, passport, etc.) from the house. There are so many things to think about in preparation. There are many online articles but it is best to talk to your family law attorney for a full picture.

Spouses Trying to Avoid Being Served with Divorce Pleadings

It won’t work. After your attorney files divorce papers, he/she sends it to the process server. You have 180 days from the day you file for your divorce to have your spouse served. If your spouse abandoned you and you can’t find where he/she is by diligent search, you can have your divorce published in the local newspaper legal section. If your spouse just is being very evasive, you can ask the judge to allow you to do this as well. Once service is accomplished, one way or another, and it remains unanswered for 20 days, you can proceed to get a default and go to final hearing without any further notice to your spouse. Consult an attorney about this.

Child Support: What is not income for calculations.

Florida Statute 61.30 outlines what constitutes income for the purposes of calculating child support. Many times, I get parties, and even some attorneys, who will point to sporadic large deposits into a client’s bank account. Many times, these are loans, cash-ins from other investments, or gifts. Unless these funds come from work or are regular monthly “gifts” from people like parents, it is not income for the purposes of calculating child support. The main clue is whether or not these are regular monthly deposits or items like commissions or bonuses from work. Each situation must be looked at carefully.

Adultery and Divorce in Florida

IT DOESN’T MATTER ! EXCEPT if it leads to squandering of marital income or assets. If he or she is spending money on the “friend”, the judge can disregard any claim that as an expense, obviously. If expensive gifts are bought for the “friend”, the money for those expenses is still considered part of the marital assets and will come out of the offending spouse’s share. Lastly, if there is inappropriate behavior in front of the minor children, the judge can consider that when deciding related issues in the best interests of the minor children. MESSING AROUND IN ITSELF, DOES NOT MATTER! This is a no-fault state.

DIVORCE, CHILDREN AND SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS.

Many divorce and paternity cases are settled by a written agreement between the parents. But before it becomes part of the final judgment in the case, the Judge is going to carefully review any issues regarding the minor children involved. If he believes that the agreement is not in the best interests of the minor children, he will not accept that part and send the parents back to talk or make decisions him/herself. Best interests of the minor children will always govern over the wants of the parents.

DIVORCE AND THE FAMILY BUSINESS

 If the husband and wife have a small family business, particularly incorporated, it is a marital asset which would be subject to evaluation and if possible, division. Sometimes, a third person is involved. If this is the case, the corporation or entity must be joined as a third party to your “lawsuit” for divorce so the Court has authority to resolve issues regarding that business. This is not necessary with large, publically traded corporations like Amazon or GE. The shares are the marital assets.  Something to keep in mind when you speak with a family law attorney

A NEW YEAR: MODIFYING SUPPORT AND OR TIMESHARE.

If it has been a few years or one knows of or has had a substantial change or income which may affect child support or alimony, one way or another, it may be worth while to consult an attorney about modifying the present court support order. If a person has been laid off or has had a substantial increase of income where employed or moved to better employment (either side), it is possible for a change. If one person is not exercising his/her share of timeshare with his/her children, again, a change in the schedule and support may be in order

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