Establishing Legal Paternity in Florida. 

In the state of Florida, the law assumes that when a mother is married and gives birth, the child´s father is the mother´s husband. On the other hand, when the mother is not married when the child is born, paternity must be established. This can be done whether voluntarily or through a court order. 

First of all, it is important to understand the difference between Biological Father and a Legal Father. Identifying the Biological Father is a relatively easy process since it describes a man who fathers a child. However, the Legal Father is the man who has the responsibilities and rights of parenthood regarding the child. A Legal Father can be established through adoption, marriage, or a court ruling. 

When the mother and the alleged father agree on who the child´s father is, both parties sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity”. This form states that the alleged father is in fact the child´s true legal father. With this document, the father gains all the legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood, which include visitation, having a paternal relationship with the child, active participation in raising the child, and providing support for him or her. 

The acknowledgment becomes final and binding sixty days after it has been signed, after which neither party can revoke or set it aside. There could be an exception if some extreme pressure or force caused a party to sign the form. 

Another way of establishing paternity is through marriage or legitimization. This means that when a mother of a child is married at the time of the child´s birth, the husband is determined as the legal father of the child. 

Legitimization can happen when a couple gets married after the child is born, given that the husband is the biological father of the child. 

If there is no voluntary acknowledgment, establishing paternity requires the filing of a court case to determine the issue. Under Florida law, any of the following persons or agencies can start the court process: 

  • The mother of the child.
  • The alleged father (the man who believes he is the father of the child or who has been identified as such by other people).
  • The child through a legal representative. 
  • The Florida Department of Revenue. 

When the Florida Department of Revenue starts the court process it is for the sole purpose of making child support orders. This means that the court does not enter orders granting parenting time. 

The court can find the alleged father to be the legal father through genetic testing or through evidence. This evidence can be gathered through testimonies or other evidence concerning the nature of the parties´ relationship with other people. 

Additionally, if the alleged father is served with a summons directing him to appear in court and he fails to do so, the judge may enter a default judgment, which then finds the alleged father as the legal father. 

When a paternity matter is started in court, it is important to know that the judge may also make orders for child support, parenting time, decision-making authority over the child, health insurance for the child, and payment of a party´s attorney´s fees and court costs. 

Establishing paternity can be a complex process that must be handled by an experienced Family Law Attorney. This way, your rights and best interests will be safeguarded. Russell Spatz is an attorney with experience in handling all types of paternity matters. Give him a call at (305) 442-0200 to see how he can be of assistance in your paternity matter.

Differences Between Contested And Uncontested Divorces

When you have come to the conclusion that getting divorced is the best option for you, it is normal to have subsequent questions that are important to clarify. One of those questions may be what an uncontested and a contested divorce is and how the process works. 

Most people want to get through the divorce process as quickly and with as little aggravation as possible. This is why many attorneys advise that couples work out as many issues as possible before going to court.

What Is An Uncontested Divorce? 

This is the kind of divorce that happens when both parties agree on the major issues affecting their marriage, this includes division of property, debts, alimony, child visitation as well as, spousal and child support.

Working out these issues is one of the requirements for getting this particular type of divorce. You also have to complete a financial affidavit, a marital settlement agreement, and a parenting plan, if applicable. The parties have to go to court for a final hearing, and a divorce can be wrapped up within thirty days from when the parties come to an agreement. 

A financial affidavit is a statement of a party´s income, expenses, liabilities, and assets, and in this case should be filed by both spouses. In addition, a marital settlement agreement is a document in which any agreements reached between spouses are memorialized. 

Getting divorced by this method is easier and faster than a contested divorce. However, it can happen that due to a lack of familiarity with the law, pressure form their spouse or the desire of ending the marriage as soon as possible, uncontested divorces can result in a few mistakes. This is more than enough reason to reach out to an experienced divorce attorney. 

When Does A Contested Divorce Happen? 

An uncontested divorce turns into contested divorce when the spouses are unable to agree on the terms of their divorce. The issues that people disagree the most on are alimony, child support, monetary issues, child custody, and distribution of marital assets. 

It is important to know that this divorce requires the employment of lawyers and the court system to reach an agreement.  The terms are then decided by the court. The spouse´s disagreements do not prevent them from ending their marriage.

While this kind of divorce is more frequent, there are certain drawbacks. Getting a contested divorce takes more time and effort because of litigation. In a contested divorce, emotions run high and tension often increases between individuals. 

Do You Need An Attorney? 

No matter what type of divorce you are facing, it is important to understand their differences and how your interests can be protected.Whether you are getting a contested or uncontested divorce, getting help and support from an experienced lawyer is advised. At the Spatz Law Firm, PL, communication is a priority. Attorney Russell Spatz has helped countless people in Florida with their family law needs. Give him a call at (305) 442-0200 or contact him online to schedule a meeting.


Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Ideally, an individual gets married without thinking about getting divorced sometime in the future. However, being prepared for this scenario is wise and could save you a lot of time and money if a marriage ends in divorce. According to Statista (2021), there were about 750,000 divorces conducted in the United States just in 2019.  

With this in mind, having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement seems like a good idea. And it is. 

You may already be familiar with prenuptial agreements, but postnuptial agreements can also be an option for your marriage. Both agreements are legal documents that are signed by people who are about to get married or that are already married. 

These agreements address what will happen to marital assets in the case or divorce or death of one of the partners. They may also include retirement benefits, division of financial assets, alimony payments, and spousal support. 

Despite their similarities, the most important difference lies in the date on which the document is signed. The prenuptial agreement (commonly known as a prenup) is signed before a couple is married. A postnuptial agreement is signed after the marriage. 

What is a Prenuptial Agreement? 

As mentioned previously, this is a document made before the marriage. It is a contract where the couple determines how they will divide their assets should the marriage come to an end, or if one of them passes away. 

This type of agreement is more advisable than postnuptial agreements in the sense that it is made when two people are still independent and their assets have not yet legally merged. Moreover, it is advisable to sign a prenup if one of the spouses is wealthy, expecting a large inheritance, or is entering their second or third marriage. 

What is a Postnuptial Agreement? 

Postnuptial agreements generally exist simply because couples did not think (or ran out of time) to sign a prenuptial agreement. The postnup can also be used to address concerns raised by a significant change in the finances of the couple or one of the spouses, such as a gift or a large inheritance. Another reason why one may consider having a postnuptial agreement is if previously unknown knowledge about one spouse´s financial situation surfaces.

Getting married and divorced are probably the most life-changing decisions in one´s life, and as such, you should always take the best legal steps guided by an experienced Family Law attorney. Russell Spatz has handled all types of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements over the last four decades. Make sure to give him a call at (305) 442-0200 or contact the Spatz Law Firm PL online to schedule a meeting.

Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting

When it comes to separation, every couple is different. Some couples end the relationship on good terms, while others can´t even look at each other. And when children are involved, it can be even more difficult. Depending on the nature of their relationship between the individuals, parents can opt to co-parent or parallel parent. 

What is co-parenting? 

Co-parenting is a post-divorce, or post separation, arrangement made by both parents to continue to raise their child(ren) together. 

This option is chosen by couples who are able to make decisions jointly about the raising of the child or children. In this arrangement, both individuals will continue to be involved in the child´s life, amicably interacting with each other for the overall benefit of their child(ren).

Part of co-parenting is having a plan that helps them be on the same page to raise their child and address important issues such as healthcare decision-making so that opportunities for conflict are minimized. 

Keep in mind that both parents take part in their child´s activities, such as school recitals, extracurricular activities, and more, so communication is key for co-parenting, and differences between parents should be put aside for the child´s benefit.  

Tips for co-parenting

  • Have good communication: as we mentioned before, being able to communicate is key if you choose to co-parent. The information that is shared should be complete and accurate. 
  • Be prepared: whether you chose a digital tool or not, make sure to have a plan and a 12-month calendar. You can include the weekly parenting time schedule, the holiday schedule, school events, and any activity that involves the child. 
  • Maintain a cordial relationship with the other parent: this is not only about being able to communicate. The way parents relate to each other can affect their child, especially when the family is all together for certain events. 
  • Be positive about the child´s visit to the other parent: each parent must be supportive of the other parent´s right to a great relationship with their child.  
  • Give the child some control over parenting time: depending on the child´s age, you may want to consider letting them have some control over the time they spend with each parent. This may help the child know that his or her opinion and feelings are important and taken into consideration. 

What is parallel parenting?

Different from co-parenting, parallel parenting is the option for couples who are constantly in conflict and are unable to communicate with each other. This kind of parenting allows both parents to spend time with the child(ren) independently. This way, the child will avoid a hostile environment and the relationship between the parents won´t negatively affect him or her. 

In a parallel parenting plan, the need for interaction will be minimized as much as possible, both when making the plan, as well as in daily life. Due to the nature of the relationship, this type of plan often requires the need for a mediator or judge to establish the terms under which the child will be raised, based upon arguments and evidence presented by both parents. 

Tips for parallel parenting

  • Keep communication brief: if there´s ever a time where communication is needed, keep in mind that is better to keep to the facts, and firmly give or solicit the information that is needed. Also consider that being firm doesn´t need to be rude. Even when communication is kept brief, friendly interactions are advised. 
  • Take a moment to check in with the child(ren).
  • Make the child the priority: leave your emotions about the other parent aside to the best of your ability, to ensure that the child´s wellbeing is the priority.

Getting divorced, or separated, and dealing with how to raise the children can be a difficult time for all parties involved. Assistance regarding custody issues is often a necessity. Russell Spatz has over 40 years of experience working on family law cases. Give him a call at 305-442-0200 to see how he can be of assistance in your child custody negotiations.

7 Best Tips to Get You Prepared For a Divorce.

Getting a divorce can be a challenging process, both legally and emotionally, due to all the changes the people involved get through. That´s why we came up with some of the best tips to get you prepared for a divorce. 

  1. Do not panic: staying calm during a divorce is important, this way you´ll be able to make decisions rationally and the process will be less hard on you. 
  2. Do your research: knowing about divorce before starting the actual process will give you peace of mind, but it will also help know what you want out of the process and the divorce itself. 
  3. Have a plan and be organized: on one hand, you´ll want to discuss with your partner how things will be handled (finances, home boundaries), how and when you will tell the children about the divorce, etc. Don´t assume anything.
    On the other hand, it´s a good idea to have backup documentation to support your positions, especially when it comes to financial expenses and movements in general. 
  4. Rely on family and friends: you don´t want to isolate during these hard times. Quite the contrary, it´s advisable to surround yourself with people who care about you and that can be a good support system for you. Emotional support is important during life-changing times. 
  5. Maintain civility: avoiding arguments with your soon-to-be ex-partner will make the divorce process easier for all the parties involved, but especially if there are children in the equation because you will most likely be co-parenting with him/her. 
  6. Take care of yourself: the most important person is you, so no matter how angry or sad you may feel, focus on taking care of yourself physically but also emotionally and mentally. This will make the process easier, but most importantly, you will be ok. 
  7. Get the help of a professional: the process of getting a divorce is not easy, and the last thing you´ll want is to deal with all the paperwork required while going through a life-changing event. Russell Spatz has been practicing law for over 35 years, and he has the experience needed for any divorce case. Make an appointment today for a consultation: 305-442-0200.

When Would a Child be Emancipated?

What is emancipation?

Emancipation refers to the removal of disability of nonage, which means that a person gains the rights and responsibilities of an adult, or freedom from the legal control and custody of their parents. This automatically happens when a minor turns 18 years old, however, early emancipation can be obtained.

When would a child be emancipated?

If a minor is at least 16 years of age, they will be able to petition the court to be emancipated. Furthermore, the minor can be married or living separately from their parents, but he or she must be able to support themselves.

It is important to know that if a minor has been married, he or she is considered to be an adult; however, a minor can´t get married without parental consent, even if he or she is emancipated.

Some factors that can be considered to grant emancipation include that the minor is financially independent, that he or she is mature enough to handle their responsibilities and affairs, but mostly, that the emancipation is in the minor´s best interest.

Why would someone want emancipation?

There are different situations when a person might seek emancipation or might self-emancipate, here are some reasons:

· Marriage: As we mentioned before, a minor is emancipated if he or she gets married, for which parental consent is necessary.

· Economic independence: if the minor can support themselves, this is a reason for getting emancipated, or at least is a minimum requirement regardless of the reasoning behind the decision.

· Abandonment of the parental home: a minor may want emancipation if their parents are not present, or if they are unable to support him or her. Another reason is when the parents cannot physically care for the child, are abusing them, or some other situation that may put the minor at risk.

· Military service: If a minor is enrolled in military service and fulfills it, the minor is now considered an adult.

There are other aspects that the court may consider to grant emancipation, so if you are considering emancipation, it is important to have legal guidance from an experienced attorney to help you with all the process needed.

Children and Grief after a Divorce

Children and Grief after a Divorce

Divorce is a terrible event for any family to endure. When a couple decides to separate, it can have a ripple effect into the lives of those close to them as well. Perhaps the most negatively affected people outside of the couple themselves are the children who were products of the marriage. A divorce can be a crisis of major proportions for a child. Not only will a child lose an intact family unit, but he may also lose a standard of living, which can have lasting impacts both mentally and emotionally.

A child will undoubtedly go through a process of grieving following a divorce, and this is normal. There are steps that parents can take to help their child, but families should know to expect the following stages of grief.

Denial

The child may not be able to believe that his parents are actually separating. He may deny it, and tell himself that his parents will reunite soon. Parents should work with each other and experts to help set realistic expectations for their child.

Anger and Resentment

The child may be angry with one or both parents at this point. This can be exacerbated if a parent is attempting to turn the child against another parent. It’s important that parents try to keep their personal thoughts about the other parent to themselves, and not give too much information against one another to the child.

Bargaining

At this stage, the child may try to tell himself that if he only does better in school, or is a better person that his parents will reunite. At this time, it’s important that parents reinforce with their child that the divorce has nothing to do with him, and that their love for him will always stay intact.

Depression

Depression can be debilitating, but it is a normal stage in the grieving process. Depression occurs when the child finally accepts the divorce. This may be a good time for family members to encourage counseling if it is not already taking place.

Acceptance

This stage means that the child may be through the worst part of the depression, but may still need guidance and support from friends, family, and counselors. Grieving is a long process, and it’s important for parents to recognize that their child is enduring pain due to a divorce. Help and support is important each step of the way.

Divorce is hard on each member of the family, but the process can be smoother when parents choose to cooperate with each other, and enlist the advice and guidance of experts in family issues and law. If you are considering divorce, it may be beneficial to contact an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can help you with each step of the process as your family changes during this time.

What Visitation Rights Do Grandparents Have in Florida?

According to Florida law, grandparents—maternal, paternal, or step-grandparents— are allowed to to retain visitation rights if a child has been removed from the parent’s home and adjudicated a dependent of the state. In order for this to happen, the court must find that continued visitation and relationships with the grandparents is in the best interest of the child. For example, if a grandparent has previously been found guilty of physical or sexual abuse of a child, the court may withhold these visitation rights.

If a grandparent is awarded visitation rights of a child who has been removed from their parents, the grandparents will be responsible for all costs of transportation to visits and must work with the child’s caseworker to arrange the visits. The grandparent is not allowed to arrange a visit with the child and the child’s parent, or else they risk losing all visitation rights.

Under other limited circumstances, Florida law allows a grandparent to take temporary custody if they make a sufficient showing that temporary placement in their home will be better for the child than placement in a foster home or other facility. Florida courts weigh these decisions very carefully to make sure the parent-child relationship is not unnecessarily threatened by the wishes of the grandparents to retain rights over their grandchild. As you can see, grandparents obtaining visitation or custody rights to grandchildren may be difficult—though not impossible—in Florida.

If you’re seeking your rights as a grandparent to visit your grandchild who has been removed from their parent’s home, contact a family law attorney like Russell Spatz to assist in the court process of gaining those rights. Spatz has over four decades of experience and will do what it takes to help reunite your family.

Enforcing Child Support in Florida

A separation between parents can be heartbreaking on an emotional level, but it will also create other hardships in the life of a family. Financially, it can be difficult to lose an income when raising a child, especially if one parent will be responsible for most of the care of the child. Therefore, we have measures in place to ensure that children who are involved in a divorce or parental separation are eligible to receive financial resources.

In the state of Florida, all children under the age of 18 have the right to receive ongoing financial support from both parents. Many times this is in the form of child support from one parent to the parent who has primary custody of the child. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be married to be required to pay child support to the other parent. If paternity is established, child support can be required.

Enforcement of Child Support

Child support is determined based on the income of both parents in the state of Florida. If the parent who is required to pay child support fails to pay, there can be severe consequences. In the state of Florida, you can be considered in contempt of court for failing to pay court-mandated child support.

In order for one parent to report a failure to pay, he or she should contact the local child support office through the Department of Revenue and report the failure to pay by the other parent. A case for hearing will be filed, and a hearing officer will hear the case. The hearing officer is not a judge but can offer recommendations to a judge based on the evidence in the case. If the hearing officer deems that the neglectful parent has the means to pay the child support but willfully failed to pay, the Department of Revenue can file a “motion for contempt.”

Moving Out of State

A parent who moves out of the original state where the child support was ordered is still obligated to pay, and it is still possible to enforce the child support order in the new state. There is a Federal law called the “Uniform Interstate Family Support Act” that has been adopted in all 50 states to protect the child support orders of other states. If a parent moves to another state, that state cannot change the child support order of the previous state if the other parent or child still resides in the original state.

Penalties of Failure to Pay Child Support

If you are found in contempt of court for failing to pay child support, these are some of the penalties you may receive.

  • Suspension of Driver’s License or vehicle registration
  • Suspension of business
  • Fine
  • Bank accounts may be seized
  • Income tax return may be seized
  • Passport denial
  • Jail or prison time

Any time there are issues arising with child support, you should contact a qualified family law attorney who has specialized knowledge and experience related to child support cases. The well-being and financial resources of your children should always be most important, and a family law attorney can help you determine the best course of action.

References:

Child Support Enforcement in Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/child-support-enforcement-in-florida.html

Child Support. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.miamisao.com/services/child-support/

Wolf, J. (n.d.). Here’s How to File for Child Support in Florida. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-file-for-child-support-in-florida-2998005

Vohwinkle, J. (n.d.). What Single Parents Should Know About Child Support. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-collect-child-support-1289811

 

 

Tips To Keep In Mind When First Meeting Your Family Attorney

The decision to get a divorce is extremely difficult. When two people decide that their marriage is no longer working, it can signal the beginning of a long and stressful process of separating two lives that have lived as one. If there are children involved in the marriage, this process can be even more difficult and emotionally draining as the family navigates a life that will be very different from what they are used to. When the decision is made to get a divorce, each spouse should meet with a family attorney to assist them through the process. Here are a few things to keep in mind about your first meeting with your divorce attorney.

Before the Meeting

Before you meet with an attorney, it’s important to do your research. Take some time to find an attorney that is competent in family law, and who has a track record of success for his or her client. Read reviews or ask for a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member. It’s essential that you pick a credible and experienced attorney to assist you through the most challenging time in your life.

You should also make sure that you are prepared before your meeting. Write out questions you want to ask, and have all documentation ready to show your attorney. Your first meeting will contain many questions on both sides as your attorney gets to know you and your marital situation, so it’s crucial that you come prepared to give him or her as much information as you can about your marriage. You must be prepared and focused for this important meeting.

During the Meeting

Your attorney should make you feel comfortable and at ease. If he or she does not, then maybe it is not a good match. It’s important that you trust the person advising you through the divorce proceedings, because you don’t want to make the process any longer or main painful than it already will be.

Make sure you take notes during the meeting and ask for a recap or next steps. Your lawyer will charge by the hour, so you want to make sure that you are using your time wisely. Having as much information ready to go and asking for specific instructions on how to proceed will save you time and money moving forward.

The circumstances of your marriage will determine how the meeting will go. If you and your spouse have agreed to an amicable divorce, the meeting may be very different than if the divorce will be contentious. It’s important that you tell your attorney everything that you and your spouse have discussed and agreed upon prior to the meeting. Your attorney should also ask a lot of questions about the state of your marriage and your finances. Don’t be alarmed. This is normal and important when decided alimony and child support or any other separation of assets.

During the meeting, you should be prepared to discuss alimony, child support, and any division of property, assets, or debts. These issues will all be determined over the course of the divorce proceedings, so it’s important that you have an understanding of what should be expected.

Documents to Bring to Your First Meeting with Your Divorce Attorney

Make sure that you bring all financial documents to your first meeting with your divorce attorney.  Any documentation that describes the current status of assets owned by you and your spouse should be brought with you. Your financial situation and the status of your marital finances will all be used to determine alimony and child support and other asset and liability distribution following the dissolution of the marriage.

These documents include:

•    Tax Returns- at least three years worth

•    Pension Plans/401(k)s/IRAs

•    Bank & Investment Statements

•    Pay Stubs from the last three paychecks

•    Real Estate documentation such as deeds or mortgages

•    Any other documents that you think would be essential and necessary related to your marital finances

At the end of the meeting, you should feel confident in your attorney’s ability to support your best interests through the divorce proceedings. If this is not the case, it may be a good idea to find a different attorney before you are too far along.

If you are in the process of considering a divorce, it’s important that you contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.