Family Law and Divorce Attorney serving Tavares, Leesburg, Eustis, Mt. Dora, The Villages® community and surrounding areas

(352) 343-0091 500 W. Caroline St., Tavares, FL 32778

Wednesday
September 20
2017

Step Parent Rights

A divorce is never an easy situation to be in, and one thing that makes it even harder is having children in the mix of things. With biological parents, they typically share equal rights to custody of the child(s) in question unless determined otherwise by a court of law. What if there is only one biological parent and the other a step parent? What kind of rights do step parents have during a divorce? That’s one of the more difficult questions a step parent will have to find out in case of divorce proceedings. The following will provide more information on staying in a step child’s life after divorce.

Unfortunately, in Florida, a step parent does not hold anyof legal right to have custody of a child. Once the biological parent decides to severe ties with their partner (the non-biological parent), they can no longer see that child at all. Even in extreme cases, such as the death of the biological parent, the step parent does not have the rights to continue raising said child. The other biological parent or a family member would ultimately have to look after the child until he/she is of age.

But don’t fret! This doesn’t mean all hope is lost for step parents during a divorce, but it does mean that they need to plan accordingly. If a step parent wants to retain a permanence in the child’s life, the best (and albeit only) option out there is to adopt the child. That in itself may cause some difficulty because the step parent has to get the permission of the other biological parent in question to adopt the child. Without the consent of the other parent, the step parent must be able to prove that the other parent is non-existent in the child’s life and cannot be reached andor found to obtain consent from. As soon as the adoption is finalized, the step parent now holds parental rights and custody of the child.

Ultimately, the best way to protect the relationship between a step parent and step child is to go through the adoption process with a lawyer and obtain their rights. It can be a long, drawn out process but in the end, the payoff is much greater than the payout. Don’t let a divorce stop you from being in the life of the child you love and care for. 

Source

Tuesday
August 15
2017

Unmarried Custody Battles

child custodyIn this day and age, marriage is not seen a necessary life event. There are many families that live harmonious amongst each other and marriage has not needed to be a factor in their lives. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and couples who have started families eventually decide to go their separate ways. Custody battles can get a bit tricky in this case. Who have what rights? Here we will go over a few basic facts you should know about custody battles if you are not married.

If you are legally a parent of the child in question, meaning you are a biological parent or have gone through the necessary procedures to legally adopt the child, then the custody process is the same as if there was a divorce taking place. This means the court will decide what is in the child’s best interest and place him/her accordingly. Same goes for visitation and child support. Florida  requires a parenting plan be submitted in all child custody cases (Diaz – FL Court Forms).  Everything is done practically identically to the same process of a divorced, married couple.

If you are NOT legally a parent, the process changes quite drastically. If a person does not go through the proper outlets to obtain legal rights to a child, even if he/she raised the child along with a legal parent, it does not hold in a court of law. Most states give little to no rights to a non-legal parent, some not even allowing visitation or requiring financial help.

In some cases, such as where the biological parents of a child pass away, a non-legal parent or guardian may be appointed to parent the child. The court process varies from state to state, but ultimately the judge determines if a person is fit to continue to raise the child in question.

It is a good idea for unmarried couples with children to write out their own parenting agreements. It should be gone over with a mediator or family law attorney, if possible for the family, that way things can be worked out fairly through a legal process.  

Lastly, always remember the most important thing in all of this is the children! It is imperative to keep the child’s best interest in mind, making sure any agreements don’t indirectly hurt the child in some way. Listen to what they have to say (if applicable) and listen to the other parent in their lives. Working together through situations like these makes it a whole lot easier and stress-free in the long run.

Source 1, 2

 

Monday
July 10
2017

Divorce & Kids and a unique solution…Nesting

What is nesting?

There is a new term used in divorce called “nesting” or “bird nesting.” The label applies to parents who allow their children to remain in the existing family home while the parents alternate between living in the family home and a separate location.

Unfortunately, in most divorces, both parents are not entirely willing to put the needs of their children before their own. Ideally, the idea of nesting would minimize the trauma to children involved in divorce, and both parents would have the first-hand experience of bouncing between homes the way children usually do.

Because most divorced couples refuse to communicate effectively or show respect with one another, divorced couples that make the nesting process work for even a short period are rare.

Also, nesting gets expensive because it requires three homes instead of two. Often, this aspect is unfeasible for divorcing families.

Divorcing couples should always attempt to communicate and show respect for the ex-spouse for the sake of the children. This is only possible when divorcing parents avoid selfishness and immaturity. The few cases of nesting that work are between two ex-spouses who can get along despite no longer being married.

When the dating aspect comes into play, the situation can become complicated.  Many single men and women are unwilling to get involved with divorcees so intimately involved with their ex-spouse.

Although all of the above factors may steer couples away from the idea of nesting, some couples that have used the method successfully and continued to do so until all of their children were off to college. These are the kind of couples with unselfish and loving attitudes for their children.

 

Tuesday
June 6
2017

How can I get back child support that is owed?

florida child supportMost parents agree that even in a divorce, the number one priority is the best interest of the children, and to guarantee that the child support arrangement offers adequate financial security.

The State of Florida has specific guidelines to determine the amount of child support that is ordered and various ways of obtaining the payment from the responsible party.

When your attorney presents your case to the judge, the judge will take into consideration the following factors:

  • The income of both parents
  • The time-sharing schedule (how many overnights the child has with each parent)
  • Child care expenses paid by both parents
  • Health care expenses paid by both parents

If child support has been ordered and the responsible party falls behind or ignores their financial responsibility, it is imperative to have the matter brought back before the judge. This can be done by asking the judge to find the responsible party in contempt of court and violation of the standing court order. The judge can then order that the responsible party pays a purge amount toward what is owed, and have their wages garnished for future payments. In some cases, the judge will order the responsible party be incarcerated until a purge amount is paid.

Tuesday
May 2
2017

My ex is not holding up their end of the bargain in our divorce, now what?

Many clients fail to realize that courts handle issues that arise at every stage of divorce - including defiance of divorce court orders. There are legal measures that are available to everyone in family court to hold your ex responsible for failing to hold up their end of the bargain.

divorce exA few examples include:

  • An ex who fails to meet his/her child support or alimony obligation
  • An ex who refuses to adhere to a court ordered visitation schedule
  • An ex who enters your home without permission or harasses you

You have the right to have the matter heard before a judge. You or your attorney must file a motion with the court addressing the specific issue/order to get relief. It isn’t fair to live without the money you need to care for your children or go without seeing your children because you believe you have no legal recourse.

Many clients believe they are stuck living with the consequences of a defiant ex because they don’t feel they can afford an attorney or they fear repercussions from their ex. The truth is, however, suffering without cause will continue as long as utilizing the court is delayed.

Take the first step.

You don’t have to do this alone.

If you need help getting through the divorce, custody or support process, then contact the offices of Benjamin J. Cox and we will be glad to help.

Or, you can call our office at (352) 343-0091.

Or, you can stop by our office in downtown Tavares, just steps from the Lake County Courthouse.

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Latest Blog Posts

Step Parent Rights

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A divorce is never an easy situation to be in, and one thing that makes it even harder is having children in the mix of things. With biological parents, they typically share equal rights to custody of the child(s) in question unless determined otherwise by a court of law. What if there is only one biological parent and the other a step parent? What kind of rights do step parents have during a divorce? That’s one of the more difficult questions a step parent will have to find out in case of divorce proceedings. The following will provide more information on staying in a step child’s life after divorce.

Read more...

Unmarried Custody Battles

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In this day and age, marriage is not seen a necessary life event. There are many families that live harmonious amongst each other and marriage has not needed to be a factor in their lives. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and couples who have started families eventually decide to go their separate ways. Custody battles can get a bit tricky in this case. Who have what rights? Here we will go over a few basic facts you should know about custody battles if you are not married.

Read more...

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Benjamin J. Cox, Attorney at Law
500 W. Caroline St.
Tavares, FL 32778

(352) 343-0091 (phone)
Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm
Saturday 9am to 12pm
Special appointment times by request

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