5 Summer Vacation Tips for Divorced or Separated Parents

summer parenting plan custodySummertime can be an exceptionally fun time for families to travel together to adventurous new locations. Unfortunately for some, summer vacation time can also cause a lot of stress if a family is going through a divorce or separation. Children are often caught in the middle of family feuds, which can cause them extreme angst, and may even lead to problems that surface much later in life. If you are going through a divorce or separation, and still want to ensure that your child or children have a fun and relaxing summer vacation, here are some tips to keep your vacation time as drama-free as possible.

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is the most important factor in any family traveling situation. It’s extremely important to be honest and transparent about the itinerary of the trip, who will be going, and when exactly you will be home. If you plan on taking a significant other, it’s also important to communicate who this person is, especially if your estranged/former spouse or your child has never met your new significant other. The best policy is no surprises with regards to the trip.

2. Plan Ahead

This tip has its basis in the law. Many separated families have court orders regarding custody and visitation. You will need to plan vacations way ahead of time if you have to notify the courts and your spouse of any intention to leave town with your child. It’s also good to plan ahead so that both parents can plan to spend quality time with the children over the summer.

3. Leave the kids out of disagreements

If there is any conflict surrounding the planning or execution of the trip, do not involve your children. You kids do not need to know that there was an argument over where you are going or how long you will be gone. As parents, you should resolve the problems quietly, or through the courts if necessary. However, do not let your kids know that their summer vacation was the source of an argument between their parents.

4. Stick to the plan

Stay on course and stick to the plan that was established and agreed upon by both parents. Leave no room for misinterpretation by your estranged spouse. Unfortunately, if one spouse tries to keep a secret from another, children find themselves in a tough spot, as they are asked to provide information and become “spies” for the other parent. None of this is healthy for your children.

5. Agree on Finances Ahead of Time

Make sure that all financial discussions are made ahead of time. This includes deciding who is giving the child spending money, and which parent is paying for the trip in its entirety. You don’t want to come home and have the discussion of money hanging in the air. Again, this may put your children in a position where they end up asking one parent or the other for money as a way to get back at the other. Do not let this happen, and simply ensure that all financial decisions are agreed to in advance.

Any time there is a separation or divorce, there is a large amount of stress on a family. This can be mitigated in certain situations such as summer travel as long as there are open and transparent lines of communication, and children do not become pawns in a game that the parents play with each other. If you are a parent of a child and going through a divorce, it’s important to have custody arrangements agreed to and established ahead of any major travel. Contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you ensure that your separation is as easy as possible for you and your family.



Dickerson, K. (. (2016, March 29). 6 Summer Vacation Tips for Divorced or Separated Parents. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kyung-kathryn-dickerson/6-summer-vacation-tips-for-divorced-or-separated-parents_b_9547234.html

Posts about Family Law on The Spatz Law Firm Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved June 07, 2017, from https://thespatzlawfirm.wordpress.com/category/family-law-2/





5 Things to Know About Adopting a Child in the State of Florida


The decision to start a family is a major life-changing decision. If a couple, or even a single person decides that they would like to either become a parent or grow their family, it can completely alter everything from routines to finances to the order of your home. However much your life may change, the choice to have a child, whether biologically or by adoption, is a beautiful decision that will hopefully bring mostly positive changes to your life.

In the state of Florida, if a person or couple decides to adopt a child, there are many benefits beyond the love of family to look forward to. Adoption is a selfless gift to a child who needs a permanent home. Those who choose to adopt have made a promise to care for a child as if he/she were their own, and raise a family in a healthy manner. If you are interested in adopting, here are some benefits for you to consider.

1. Common Interests

If you choose to adopt, you can ask for a child that shares some of your common interests. This may give you an immediate bonding point that you can start with in your journey as a parent.

2 Legally Secure

Children are not available for adoption until the courts have legally terminated the parental rights of the biological parents. Therefore, you do not have to worry about the biological parents claiming any rights to the child.

3. Financial Assistance

Many children in the care of the state qualify for monthly subsidies until age 18 in order to offset some costs of care. The program that offers these subsidies is called, “Florida’s Adoption Assistance Program.” Subsidies are decided on a case-by-case basis.

4. Free College

Children adopted from state care are eligible for free tuition at any Florida state university, community college, or vocational school in Florida up until age 28. Some private institutions also offer free tuition to students who are adopted from foster care.

5. Older Children/Siblings Adoption

There are also great benefits to adopting older children and groups of siblings. Older children give you the opportunity to enjoy having a child beyond the baby years. You can expect more time having conversations and sharing interests, and less time changing diapers and potty training.

If you choose to adopt a group of siblings, you are giving yourself the opportunity to instantly grow a big family of children who already have a bond with each other. This is a great option for anyone who wants to have multiple children and enjoy a big family feeling.

Adoption can be very rewarding, but it is a major decision, and should not be taken lightly. Throughout the adoption process, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced family attorney. Your attorney will help you navigate through the family law requirements of adding a new child to your family.


Explore Adoption. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2017, from http://www.adoptflorida.org/faq.shtml

Explore Adoption. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2017, from http://www.adoptflorida.org/benefits.shtml



Establishing Paternity in Family Law Cases

child parentIssues that arise in Family law can cause a lot of stress and hardship on the families involved. Often times these cases are full of emotion and hurt depending on the context of the situation. Specifically, cases that involve questioning paternity or establishing paternity can be stressful on parents and the child. In situations where the paternity of a child is in question, the mother and/or the alleged father may seek to establish paternity through the court system. When going through the Florida court system to seek or confirm paternity of a child, these are some things to keep in mind.

Assumption of Paternity

In the state of Florida, it is assumed that the mother’s husband is the father of her child. However, there are situations where this may not be the case and a paternity test will be requested, either voluntarily by both parties or by court order. If the mother and the alleged father agree on the paternity of the child, then they can both sign a “voluntary acknowledgement of paternity” form. This form requires that both parties swear under oath that they agree on the paternity of the child and the man on the form becomes the child’s legal father. Neither parent can revoke this statement after 60 days when it becomes final, unless they can prove fraud or extreme force to sign.

A Question of Paternity

If there is a question of who is the father of the child, the mother, alleged father, the child through a legal representative, or the Florida Department of Child Support Services can request to begin the court process to determine paternity. The case can be started before the child’s birth, but the hearing cannot take place until after the child is born. A judge has the authority to rule on paternity, and can also establish child support, parental time, health insurance obligations, and payment of court fees. According to Florida law, if a judge does not rule on decision-making power over the child or parental time, these fall solely to the mother.

Establishing paternity can be an extremely emotional process, but an important one if the result is ensuring that a child has access to resources and the support of both a mother and a father. There are many important reasons to establish paternity, including better financial stability through child support, and access to benefits such as health insurance, but perhaps the most important of these reasons is to give both child and father peace-of-mind and the ability to establish a relationship. If you are in a situation where paternity is in question, it’s important to contact an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the legal process of establishing paternity for your child.


Gaspar, D. (n.d.). Paternity in Florida: How to Establish & Benefits. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from http://www.divorcenet.com/resources/paternity-florida.html#

What are The Types of Divorce in Florida?


Deciding to file for divorce can be an extremely difficult decision that not only affects those who are in the marriage, but possibly children and families of the spouses as well. As family attorneys, we try to make it as comfortable as possible for our clients as they go through this transition in life. Part of that involves providing resources to help our clients understand the options available to them when filing for divorce. In the state of Florida, there are different paths that can be pursued for complete dissolution of a marriage. Making the choice to file for a simplified dissolution of marriage or a regular dissolution depends on what has transpired over the course of the marriage, and if there is complete agreement on the dissolution terms.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

There are very specific conditions in which spouses in the state of Florida can file together for a simplified dissolution of divorce. In order to qualify for this type of divorce, there must be no minor children involved in marriage and the wife cannot be pregnant at the time of divorce. In addition, both parties must have agreed that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and there is also agreement on the separation of property, debts, and assets. With a simplified divorce, neither party is seeking alimony. It is not necessary to hire an attorney for this type of divorce, but many will do so to assist them with the legal process. Both parties are still responsible for filing all the necessary paperwork and both spouses must appear before a judge in a final decision.

Regular Dissolution of Marriage

With a regular dissolution of marriage, either spouse can file for divorce and state what they want from the court. The responding spouse must file an answer within 20 days, and is also allowed to file a counter-petition with any additional concerns regarding issues to be resolved within the dissolution.

With a regular divorce, both spouses must disclose financial and property information, and a child-support guidelines worksheet must be filled out if there are minor children from the marriage. In some counties, judges may require that the spouses attend mediation to work out solutions to splitting marital assets and property, however this is not always required, but often recommended. If there is not an agreement of terms for the dissolution, then the divorce will go to trial. A judge will make the final decision on how the marriage is dissolved.

With any divorce in Florida, the spouse who files, or the “petitioner”, must state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, and for a simplified dissolution, this point must be agreed to by both parties in order to proceed.

When making the choice to end a marriage, it’s important that you hire someone experienced in family law to guide you through the process. Emotions are high at this time, but a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help keep you on the right path to understanding the legal process and transition caused by divorce.


Consumer Pamphlet: Divorce In Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://www.floridabar.org/tfb/tfbconsum.nsf/48e76203493b82ad852567090070c9b9/50c0b911a9cb28fd85256b2f006c5ba9#Untitled%20Section_2

Overturned Conviction Settlement Considered Marital Property in Divorce

shutterstock_162913184It’s not extremely uncommon that criminal court and family court cases collide. However, one recent case involving a $20 million settlement stemming from an overturned conviction found its way into the Illinois Court of Appeal. This case involved a settlement received by Juan Rivera for his wrongful conviction and subsequent incarceration for a rape and murder he did not commit in 1992. Rivera was cleared by DNA samples in 2011 and released from prison in early 2012, but he had already spent a considerable amount of time in jail for the crime. His wife now claims that she is owed part of his settlement payout in their divorce.

In 2000 Rivera married Melissa Sanders-Rivera while he was still incarcerated. Rivera filed for divorce in 2014 after he was exonerated and released from prison in 2012. He had been awarded $20 million by the government for his wrongful conviction and took home about $11.4 million after taxes and attorney fees.

Sanders-Rivera claims to be owed part of his overturned conviction settlement as martial property distributed as part of the divorce and an Illinois Court of Appeals agrees with her. The reasoning behind this ruling had to do with the fact that the lawsuit leading to the settlement payout accrued during their marriage and therefore, is considered marital property.

Rivera and his legal team had hoped to take the case to the Illinois Supreme Court in order to overturn the appellate court’s ruling claiming that the settlement was due to events and injuries that occurred in 1992 prior to the marriage. The state Supreme Court declined to hear the case, which means that the appellate court decision stands and the settlement must be distributed as marital property accrued during the marriage. The divorce trial is set to take place summer of 2017 in the domestic relations division of the courts.

In cases of criminal law and family law, there may be certain times when these two divisions collide, as in the above-mentioned case. An experienced attorney versed in both will be able to assist in navigating the system. If you are going through a divorce, or need assistance with settlements related to family law matters, you should contact an attorney immediately who may be able to protect your assets, and may be able to help you receive what is owed as part of marital distribution.


Hammill, L. (2017, January 27). $20 million wrongful conviction settlement headed for divorce court. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/news/ct-lns-juan-rivera-settlement-case-st-0128-20170127-story.html

Weiss, D. C. (n.d.). Exonerated inmate’s $20M settlement is marital property in divorce, appeals court says. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/exonerated_inmates_20m_settlement_is_marital_property_in_divorce_appeals_co

Here’s why January is Known as Divorce Month

shutterstock_292069334We often think of the holiday season as a time of joy and excitement. However, for some families the holidays can be stressful and aggravating. Divorces can occur in the following months as the result of a rough Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sometimes it’s the effort of the family to attempt to stay together, and keep negativity from surfacing when Santa is supposed to be coming to town.

Due to this timing, statistics consistently show that at the start of the New Year, there is typically a one third increase in divorce filings, giving January a reputation as “divorce month.” Just how seasonal is divorce? Filings tend to pop up again in March and August, dissipating when we finally reach the fall. The latter most likely due to the approaching holidays, once more.

Coping with the Divorce

With renewed foresight of these possible events, how can you better prepare for them when they happen? Divorce is often difficult to deal with emotionally not just because of the end of the marriage, but also because of having to go through the legal processes such as the division of assets and belongings. There are a lot of technicalities to be keeping in mind: cost, time, emotional strain. One way to ease this stress is to keep finances together until the proceedings have concluded.

Another important factor that both parties need to keep in mind is the amount of money they will need to make due on their own, including the fees for the divorce itself, which is typically around twenty thousand dollars. Some individuals think to increase their income by means of cashing in retirement accounts. However, it’s best to consult with an attorney if feel you’re going to need additional monetary assistance after you separate from your partner. Your lawyer will be able to explain how additional income may affect such financial factors as child support amounts.

Going through a divorce can be difficult for the entire family. If you’re going through one this month or considering filing for divorce, it’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed or confused. Professional family lawyers can help assist and prepare you for the events to come.


Bresiger, G. (2015, January 11). January is the biggest month for divorces. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from http://nypost.com/2015/01/11/january-is-the-biggest-month-for-divorces/

(2017, January 18). It’s January, also known as divorce month. Here’s how to cope. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/18/its-january-also-known-as-divorce-month-heres-how-to-cope.html

4 Ways Divorced Parents Can Ease Holiday Stress

Ways Divorced Parents Can Ease Holiday Stress


Holidays bring magic, laughter, and memories to last, but sometimes, holidays can be stressful, especially for families of divorced parents. As a family law firm, we are all too familiar with stress that child custody (i.e., timesharing) can cause year round, yet holidays can add even more emotion to an already complicated matter.

Whether this is your first holiday season as a divorced parent or even if you’ve been sharing custody for quite some time, taking extra steps can make all the difference. Here are some ways to ease holiday stress for your whole family:

  1. Put the children’s interests first.

Be flexible and sensitive to their wants and needs. For example, do they have a favorite holiday tradition with your ex-spouse’s family? Allow them to participate if it’s feasible. Splitting time on a holiday might add more stress on the children. Alternatives to splitting time during each holiday is alternating holiday years and maybe celebrating the holiday on another day, before or after, the day the actual holiday falls on. The less transitional phases kids have to go through, the more enjoyable the day(s) will be.

  1. Plan ahead.

Planning ahead can help ease stress on both parents and children, as everyone will know what to expect during the day and celebration. Planning ahead can help avoid unfavorable behavior from both parents and grief from extended family members. If an agreement cannot be made, refer to the custody agreement. If one is not made, we strongly recommend discussing one with an attorney.

  1. Communicate.

Making sure your plans are in order before discussing them with your children will help ensure an enjoyable experience for all. Communicating about travel plans, gifts, and other events during the holiday season is vital for parents to ease additional stress on their children. Children might be used to certain holiday traditions a family unit, but encourage them to enjoy the holidays by discussing new traditions and still being a family unit, just in a different way. If children see their parents supporting each other, they will often feel more relaxed and enjoy themselves more.

  1. Possibly plan some celebrations together.

If divorced or separated parents and their extended families are able to celebrate the holidays together without hostility and mal behavior, parents should consider this for their children. Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to put on a “happy face” when in the vicinity of their exes, but think of the smiles on your children’s faces and that will help put your differences aside.

If your family needs assistance with custody, divorce, or other family planning needs, we a family law attorney assist you and help keep your families best interest a priority.


Cannavo, A. (2016, December 12). 3 Stress-relieving holiday tips for separated or divorced parents. Retrieved December 18, 2016, fromhttp://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/moms/article120371338.html

Rubin, R. L. (2016, November 11). Putting Children First: The Best Gift Divorced Parents Can Give Their Children This Holiday Season. Retrieved December 19, 2016, fromhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/randi-l-rubin/putting

Florida Supreme Court May Hear Child Support Case

Florida child support collection appeal

In child support matters, discrepancies often occur between the parents, but not many of them make their way to the Florida Supreme Court. The Fourth District Court of Appeal, however, recently asked the state’s Supreme Court to hear a matter in which a woman is attempting to sue her ex-husband’s employer for covering up his real income. The appeals court is asking for the case to be heard by the Florida Supreme Court because it is refusing to amend Florida law that would create “a sweeping change.”

The appellate process began when a woman in Palm Beach County alleged that her ex-husband and his employer conspired to cover up his real income. She claims that the two came up with the plan in order to keep her from receiving court-mandated child support payments.

In an article that appeared on Florida Record, Professor Timothy Arcaro of Nova Southeastern University, commented that there would be cause to pursue a violation of the court mandated child support order if the employer knowingly reported a reduced income. The violation would most likely be sought against the employer, which could be held responsible for breaking the law by the Florida Supreme Court.

Child support matters are complicated. Although the State of Florida has specific parameters set up for calculating child support, a variety of factors go into the final amount to be paid. In addition, child support is never written in stone. Whether you need to set up child support for the first time, amend your child support due to financial changes, or collect unpaid child support, a family law attorney can ensure that your rights are protected.


JACOBSON, K. (2016, November 23). Florida appeals court asks state supreme court to take up child support case. Retrieved November 30, 2016, from http://flarecord.com/stories/511048156-florida-appeals-court-asks-state-supreme-court-to-take-up-child-support-case




5 Surprising Facts About Child Support in Florida

document-428338_960_720Child support is always a hot topic in family court. Even though it’s based on numbers and the Florida Child Support Calculator, it can be an extremely emotional subject for all parties involved. It can also be exceptionally confusing.

Here are five facts about child support in Florida that you should be aware of:

1. A 50/50 custody agreement doesn’t guarantee that you won’t have to pay child support.

A common misconception of child support in Florida is that if the parents share equal custody, or time-sharing, that they will not have to pay child support. If one parent makes substantially more income than the other parent, it is possible that once the numbers are worked out, they will still be ordered to pay child support.

2. Child support payments can be reviewed and changed.

Financial circumstances change and if they are significant changes, you may be able to request that your child support payments be reviewed and changed. These changes may include losing a job, substantial medical expenses, or another change in the child’s needs. Keep in mind that voluntarily quitting a job isn’t enough to seek a change in child support payments.

3. An arrest warrant can be issued if child support is not paid.

In Florida, if a parent fails to pay child support, the court may be able to issue an arrest warrant. Other penalties can also be imposed such as a suspended license, property liens, and more.

4. Imputed income can be assigned if a parent is voluntarily not working.

If one parent is capable of working, but voluntarily chooses not to work, imputed income can be assigned and factored into child support payment. This means that if one parent isn’t currently employed, it doesn’t automatically mean that the other parent will have to pay them more money. A salary will be assigned to the non-working parent for child support calculation purposes.

5. Wages can be deducted directly from a parent’s paycheck to pay for child support.

Wages can be deducted voluntarily from a parent’s paycheck, which can help ensure that payments are not missed. However, a paycheck deduction can also be ordered by the courts. 6. Parents who pay child support do not have the right to know how that money is spent. In Florida, there is no law that requires that the parent who receives the money (the payee) tell the parent who is paying child support (the payer) how the money is spent.

If you’re facing a child custody matter, an experienced family law attorney can guide you as to your rights as a parent. Whether the issue is new or you would like to have an existing order, such as child support payments, reviewed and possibly amended, a family law attorney can help ensure that the best interests of both you and your children are not overlooked.

5 Things to Know About Alimony in Florida

Generally following a divorce, a spouse can be awarded alimony. Alimony is defined as a court-ordered provision that is granted to a spouse after separation or divorce. The alimony can be one or more things including child support, financial support, and maintenance.

Within the state of Florida, there are a few things you should be aware of in regards to alimony in a divorce/separation case.

  1. Distribution of the Alimony

After the dissolution of the marriage and award of the alimony, it may be asked that payments be made periodically or in lump sums. A very important thing to consider if the latter, as lump sum payments are often harder to achieve. The adultery of either spouse can be utilized in the case in order to determine the amount of the alimony awarded. The court will also determine if there are any facts that lead them to believe either spouse is actually in need of alimony.

  1. Factors Considered by the Court

The court takes a variety of circumstances into account after the divorce when making a decision on awarding alimony. Such circumstances of the marriage are included, but not limited to, the duration of the marriage, the standard of living of the marriage, the financial resources of each party, the contribution of each party to the marriage, and all sources of income that each party possesses.

  1. Protection of the Alimony to the Awarded Spouse

The court may order that the individual that is to be making the payments take out a life insurance policy in order to provide security to the awarded party. If not a life insurance policy, a bond, or other forms of available assets will be asked to serve the same purpose.

  1. The Awarding of Rehabilitative Alimony

If a single party is incapable of supporting his or herself after the marriage has dissolved, a rehabilitative alimony may be awarded in order for that person to re-establish themselves. This can be anything from acquiring further education or job skill training that assures the individual can seek adequate employment. In order to be awarded the alimony, it has to be shown that there is a plan or end goal for the seeking party.

  1. Awarding of the Alimony May Not Leave Payor with Less Income

The net income of the recipient is not to exceed the net income of the payor unless an extreme or special circumstance calls for it. Only in the case where there are written findings of “exceptional circumstances” may there be an outcome of the payor acquiring a lower net income than the recipient.

If you have been through a recent divorce in Florida or may be filing for divorce in the future, it is wise to seek an experienced family lawyer. Adequate representation can help protect your rights during a divorce. Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.




Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine. (2016). Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute