Adverse Childhood Experiences Linked to Adult Health Conditions

tricycle-691587_960_720

New studies released by Kaiser Permanente and the CDC have confirmed that those who suffered from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are more susceptible to both physical and emotional health issues later in life.

It’s no surprise that there is a link between early childhood trauma and adult health conditions. When children experience stressors at a young age, their bodies are being hardwired to respond differently to stress for the rest of their lives. “Toxic stress,” or abuse or adversity experienced by children at a young age can heighten levels of stress in their developing bodies, and prime their system to be hyper-sensitive to stress as they age.

There are ways that families and communities can work together to prevent and intervene if a child is experiencing ACEs, and potentially lower the risk of developing dangerous health conditions that he or she may have much later in life.

What are ACEs?

ACEs are fairly common. About 60% of the general population has reported experiencing one or more before the age of 18, and eight percent of the population has experienced four or more.

  • These experiences can include:
  • Family Substance Abuse—such as an alcoholic or drug-dependent parent
  • Parental Separation or Divorce
  • Mental Illness in the household
  • Physical Abuse Against the Mother
  • Criminal Behavior—such as a parent becoming incarcerated
  • Psychological, physical, or sexual abuse

Unfortunately, the more incidences of these traumas experienced by children under 18, the higher the risk of developing an adverse health condition later in life.

Link Between ACE and Disease

The studies done by Kaiser and the CDC show that as ACEs go up, so did the onset of conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, COPD, and liver disease.  Those with higher ACEs also have a higher risk of mental illnesses such as depression or are more likely to attempt suicide. In fact, those with four or more ACEs were 12 times more likely to commit suicide than those without any.

There is also an unfortunate correlation between ACEs and opioid addiction. 80% of those seeking treatment for opioid addiction had at least one form of childhood trauma. Additionally, as the number of traumatic childhood events increased, so did a person’s likelihood to abuse prescription drugs.

Why the link?

When someone experiences a trauma early in life, they are essentially rewiring their system to receive stress differently. It is the Central Nervous System that controls stress in our bodies, and it closely interacts with our immune, hormone, metabolic, and clotting systems. The traumatic experiences become embedded in the bodies of children, altering their physiology across all of these systems, which changes cellular and systemic function as they age. Fundamentally, ACEs are changing the way that the body processes stress, causing it to function differently than a body that has not experienced an ACE.

Resilience can Combat Stress

The best way to ensure that children do not experience ACEs is to provide a safe and nurturing home environment. Families can also triumph over these experiences by understanding how children can be impacted by these events and considering counseling if there have been traumatic events in the child’s life.

Additionally, seeking out community support and resources for parenting and abuse are crucial for families who want to rebuild after traumatic events.

Make sure that your children do not grow up with a higher risk of adult diseases by being a consistent support to your family.  If emotional or physical abuse has already occurred or has been a part of the home environment, make sure that your children have support from extended family, friends, teachers, and mentors. By building a culture that is compassionate toward each other, we can do a lot to combat the negative effects of ACEs.

If you, or someone you know, is going through a family matter such as a separation or divorce, it’s essential to seek the advice of an experienced family attorney. Your attorney can help guide you through the legal process and point you toward resources for your family.

 

 

References:

 

Study shows childhood trauma related to chronic health conditions. (2018, April 04). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://www.nrtoday.com/news/health/study-shows-childhood-trauma-related-to-chronic-health-conditions/article_667a7b06-0653-5961-8eac-68fb4f0f2b7a.html

Got Your ACE Score? (2017, June 02). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/

 

Madigan, S. (2018, April 05). How compassion can triumph over toxic childhood trauma. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-04-compassion-triumph-toxic-childhood-trauma.html

 

Paull, S. (2016, October 25). HOMEBLOGACES-INFORMED INTERVENTIONS THAT WORK IN EARLY CHILDHOOD ACEs-informed Interventions that work in early childhood. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from http://www.acesconnection.com/blog/aces-informed-interventions-that-work-in-early-childhood

 

Advertisements

Tips for Vacation Travel with the Kids For Separated Families

photo-1470161328612-764ea08a512d

There are many hardships involved in separation or a divorce in a family. Kids and parents will have less time with each other on a regular basis, and many times there is conflict over the times that each parent can have with the children. Coming to an agreement on a custody schedule and parenting plan can be difficult for some families, but it’s an important part of ensuring that children have an appropriate amount of time with each parent.

One of the issues that parents must agree on is a vacation schedule, where each parent has time during the year to spend with the child either traveling or relaxing during one of the school breaks such as spring break or summer vacation. Family law courts ultimately decide parenting time, but if parents can both agree on a schedule, the court will usually accept the parenting plan.

If you are going through a divorce, and you have children, it’s important to determine a vacation schedule with your former spouse before any traveling takes place. Here are some tips to guide you through the process.

Does Vacation Time Have Priority?

One of the things to consider is if vacation time or regularly scheduled visitation time will have priority. Making this determination and having it in writing will help with future conflicts. For example, if one parent is supposed to have the child for a regularly scheduled visitation the same week that spring break occurs, and the other parent is scheduled to have the child for spring break, which one of these situations supersedes the other? Make sure to include instructions for these conflicts in your parenting plan.

Include Specific Language in Agreement

You may think that you and your former spouse agree to something, but it’s best to have every detail of the plan spelled out specifically. If you want to include travel restrictions such as no overseas travel, make sure that your wishes are spelled out and accepted by the court. Set clear rules for travel and include those in your plan. You can never be too specific when it comes to outlining how you agree to parent your children. The last thing you want is confusion later on when the child is ready to leave for a trip.

Always Sign and Notarize Travel Consent Forms

It’s important that both parents are aware when travel is happening, and it’s also important that both parents sign travel consent forms. If one parent is questioned about travel with the child, it’s best to have documentation that both parents have agreed to the travel, especially if there is international travel involved. Always better to err on the side of caution and protect yourself by having in writing that both parents have agreed to the travel plans.

Require/Provide Detailed Travel Information

If you are the parent taking the child on a trip, be sure to provide the other parent with detailed contact and travel documentation. This can include hotel and flight information, as well as the contact information of each adult on the trip. Likewise, if you are not the parent traveling, you should require that the other parent provide this information prior to the trip. It’s always best to be transparent with any plans that involve your children in order to avoid any unnecessary court battles in the future.

Divorce can create issues in many areas of your child’s life, which is why it’s important to have an appropriate parenting plan in place before the divorce is final in order to provide as smooth a transition as possible. Your child’s needs such be a priority throughout this process, especially when planning a vacation schedule, which can oftentimes provide relaxation and relief during a tough transition time.

If you are in the process of going through a divorce, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the process of establishing a parenting plan.

References:

Brandt, J. (2016, May 12). Traveling with kids: 5 tips for divorced co-parents. Retrieved March 07, 2018, from http://stories.avvo.com/relationships/divorce/traveling-with-kids-5-tips-for-divorced-co-parents.html

Spengler, T., & Group, L. (n.d.). Family Law & Restrictions Regarding Vacation. Retrieved March 07, 2018, from http://traveltips.usatoday.com/family-law-restrictions-regarding-vacation-52321.html

 

 

 

 

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.

 

References:

Nowinski, J. (2011, October 09). Helping Children Survive Divorce: Three Critical Factors. Retrieved February 15, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-grief/201110/helping-children-survive-divorce-three-critical-factors

Baer, M. (2013, July 08). Divorce and the Grieving Process. Retrieved February 15, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-baer/divorce-and-the-grieving-_b_3554969.html

5 Stages Of Grief : The Effect Of Divorce On Children. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018, from https://childhoodtraumarecovery.com/2015/08/13/5-stages-of-grief-the-effect-of-divorce-on-children/

 

New Parenting Time Share and Child Support Law in Florida

New Parenting Time Share and Child Support Law in Florida

A new Florida law recently went into effect to help streamline how unmarried and divorced parents agree to time-sharing and child support arrangements for their minor children. SB 590 gives the Department of Revenue authorization to establish parenting time share plans that are agreed upon by both parents, and if they cannot be agreed upon, parents will be referred to the circuit court for the establishment of a plan.

What is a Parenting Time Share Plan?

These plans are documents that set the time a child, or children, will spend with the custodial and non-custodial parents. These plans are required in all cases involving time-sharing with minor children, even if the issue is not in dispute between the divorced or unmarried parents. Time-sharing plans must be developed and agreed upon by both parents and approved by the court.

At a minimum, these plans cover the following issues:

  • The standard plan provides the non-custodial parent who is paying child support with a minimum amount of time parenting the child.
  • How each parent will be responsible for the daily tasks involved in the upbringing of minor children.
  • The time-sharing schedule, which includes exact times that each child will spend with each parent.
  • The designation of which parent is responsible for any and all forms of health care, school-related matters, and other activities pertaining to the lives of each child.
  • Any and all communication methods with the children and each other.

Needs of the Child First

The number one priority when creating a parenting time share plan is to make sure the needs of the children are met in their entirety; the best interest of the child is always considered before the interests of the parents. The capacity of each parent to provide for the child is also taken into consideration, and all circumstantial evidence that proves the capabilities of each parent physically, emotionally, and mentally are also considered.

When putting together a formal parenting time-share plan, it’s important to seek the advice of an experienced family attorney. Your attorney can help you create a plan that covers the needs of the children first, and ultimately formulate a plan that works in the best interest of the family.

References:

Jim Turner, News Service of Florida. (2018, January 02). 2018 brings new laws to Florida. Retrieved January 23, 2018, from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/florida-politics-blog/fl-reg-2018-florida-laws-20180102-story.html

The Florida Senate. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2018, from http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/billsummaries/2017/html/1659

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FLORIDA SUPREME COURT APPROVED FAMILY LAW FORM 12.995(a), PARENTING PLAN (11/15)(Working paper). (2015, November). Retrieved January 23, 2018, from https://www.flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/533/urlt/995a.pdf

Preparing for January Divorce Season

divorce season

It’s unfortunate to note that after the holiday season ends January first, there seems to be a trend in couples interested in filling for divorce. January is known as divorce season, although in many areas, the actual spike in filing for divorce hits a few months later in February or March.

Perhaps it’s the after-holiday, back-to-reality slump that causes couples to reexamine their marriages. Many people may try to keep it together over the holidays to help children and families enjoy their time together, but by January, couples are ready to split.

There are many different reasons why someone may want a divorce, and each couple is very different in their needs and expectations in a marriage, but there are a few things to keep in mind as we enter divorce season at the beginning of the year.

Divorce is expensive.

A divorce can cost around $20,000 in legal fees. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the tangible and intangible costs of divorce. Many people end up losing more money throughout the process due to mandated payments such as child support and alimony, which may become a burden on one spouse or the other.

Additionally, the emotional costs of divorce are high, especially if there are children involved. The separation of the family can be a dramatic event for all members of a family, but children tend to suffer the most when losing a parent in the home.

Consider Other Options Before Divorce

Counseling might be a great place to start for a couple considering divorce. It can be way less expensive than attorneys fees, and may even help a couple work through their issues before making a final decision on divorcing or not.

Ensure Finances are Straight

If you plan on divorcing, there are several things you should do in order to make sure that you have your own finances are in order. Take inventory of all financial documents. Make sure that they are organized, and you are familiar with the location of all accounts and investments that may be under both names. Think about saving for legal fees and other costs associated with divorce. If either person has not had his or her own credit established outside of the marriage, it might be a good time to open an account on your own in order to begin to establish your credit separately from your spouse.

Regardless of the reasons why a couple decides to split, any time there is a divorce in a family, it can be disruptive for everyone close to the couple. Divorce is a big decision to make, and should not be taken lightly. If you are considering filling for divorce, a family law attorney can help advise you on the best course of action to take.

References:

Here’s why January is Known as Divorce Month. (2017, January 26). Retrieved December 13, 2017, from https://thespatzlawfirm.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/heres-why-january-is-known-as-divorce-month/

Landers, J. (2012, January 07). Six Must-Do Financial Steps for Women Facing Divorce. Retrieved December 13, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefflanders/2011/07/19/six-must-do-financial-steps-for-women-facing-divorce/2/#123bd1025e14

Martin, E. (2017, January 25). January is ‘divorce month’ – a lawyer breaks down the top signs a marriage is about to dissolve. Retrieved December 13, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/january-is-divorce-month-are-you-next-2017-1

5 Tips for Separated or Divorced Parents During the Holidays

Tips for Separated or Divorced Parents During the Holidays

The typical stress that accompanies the holidays can be magnified for families that are either going through a separation, or who are experiencing this time of year for the first time since a divorce or separation. There are certain things that parents can do to mitigate this stress on children and the rest of the family, but it really should be a collaboration between the separated adults. The biggest priority should be ensuring that children have the opportunity to enjoy the season as much as possible without additional negative impacts from the divorce.

Here are five tips for separated or divorced parents to consider in order to make the crazy holiday season a little easier for children of separation.

1. Make New Holiday Traditions

It may be difficult for your kids to come to terms with the fact that the family will not be all together for certain activities, but take this as an opportunity to branch out and try new experiences without the pain of family memories. Explain to your kids that each parent will have the chance to begin a new tradition with them, and that means fun new activities and special time with each parent.

2. Enlist the Village

It’s ok to ask for help this time of year. Friends and family who understand the position you are in are valuable sources of support. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and the needs of your family, but don’t be afraid to ask others if they can pitch in to assist with the kids if the stress becomes overwhelming.

3. Be Flexible

Try not to be too rigid with regards to the timing of certain events and holiday celebrations. Just because a holiday falls on a certain day of the week, does not mean that it has to be celebrated on that exact day. Being flexible means that you can decide to celebrate a holiday before or after the actual date, and if there are events surrounding the holiday that you want to share with you kids, be flexible about picking and choosing the ones that are most important for you, and ensuring that your former spouse also has time to share with the kids.

4. Discuss the Importance of Family Over Things

Because finances are usually tight following a divorce, this may be a good time to talk to your kids about the importance of spending time as a family and having experiences over exchanging many gifts. Use this as a teaching moment to have a dialogue with your children about how you and your spouse love them regardless of the separation.

5. Be Realistic and Honest

Keep a realistic mindset about how the holidays will go following a divorce. It will be different, and there will likely be a broad spectrum of emotions displayed by yourself and your children. Manage expectations with friends and family by being honest about your situation, capabilities, and commitments.

Divorce is never easy on a family, especially during the holidays, but there are ways that you can make it a little more bearable for everyone involved. Always keep in mind that despite how well your kids seem to be taking to the new arrangement, their well-being should always be at the center of any decisions made that may affect them.

References:

(2013, November 11). 21 Tips To Survive Divorce And The Holidays. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from https://drkarenfinn.com/divorce-blog/life-after-divorce/180-21-tips-to-survive-divorce-and-the-holidays

Divorce Involving Children with Special Needs in Florida

family-65679_960_720

Divorce is difficult on any family, especially when there are kids involved. It can be hard enough when there is a permanent separation of parents from children, but the issues can be compounded when the children have special needs, whether that is physical, developmental, or emotional.

Divorcing parents need to be more aware of their responsibilities beyond legal requirements in a divorce with children who have special needs. Whatever arrangement works for both parents should always focus on the best interests of the child as a top priority.

What to consider for special needs children during a divorce

If you have children with special needs, it’s important to minimize changes that will occur as a result of your divorce. It’s critical that you and your spouse come up with a comprehensive parenting plan with essential information about the specific needs of your child. There are certain things that are vital to agree upon prior to the finalization of the divorce.

Custody, Visitation, and Education

Ensure that you and your spouse can agree to a custody arrangement and visitation schedule that is suitable for both of you, but that considers the needs of the child first. Many children who have special needs require a strict routine, and it’s important to maintain that routine through the changes of the divorce. If you agree to a certain custody and visitation schedule, make sure that you can easily incorporate your child’s already existing routine into the plan you create.

Education decisions for your child are extremely important, especially if your child is required to attend a special school or program. As much as possible, it’s best to keep things the same with regards to schooling. You should also include a timeline of your child’s educational requirements, and explicitly note who will make the major decisions throughout your child’s educational career.

Health and Medical

You will need to also note in your parenting plan whose medical insurance your child will be listed under, and who will be making any major health or medical decisions, and how costs will be shared. The more detailed this information is, the easier it will be on the whole family if a medical crisis arises with your child. 

Social Activities

Be sure to include a section on what types of social activities your child is involved with, and which parent is responsible for ensuring the child is dropped off and picked up in a timely fashion. As with any arrangement following a divorce, it’s also important to spell out who will be paying the bill for the social activities for your child as well.

Child Support

When deciding on child support, you will need to consider the child’s eligibility for certain public assistance depending on the disability. If too much child support is paid to one parent who has most of the custody, it may take away from the child’s assistance eligibility. Check on assistance program requirements, and ensure that your child is receiving the best care possible for their needs.

There is one last thing to consider when creating a parenting plan for your special needs child during a divorce. If you have a child who may require assistance beyond the years of being a minor child, it’s important to incorporate the plan for your child’s adult supervision and care as well.

If you are in the process of a separation and divorce, it’s important to contact an experienced family attorney. Your attorney can help you put together a comprehensive parenting plan that focuses on the needs of your child first.

References:

Divorce and Children with Special Needs. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2017, from https://www.specialneedsalliance.org/divorce-and-children-with-special-needs/

When Parents of Children with Disabilities Divorce. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2017, from https://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/parentsdivorce.html

 

 

The Link Between Natural Disasters and an Increase in Domestic Violence

shutterstock_618058565With hurricane season in full force, we are reminded of the vulnerabilities we have as a community going into and recovering from a storm. With loss of power, impassable roads, and structural damage resulting from a natural disaster, everyone in the affected areas can be stressed-out and on edge. Unfortunately for victims of domestic violence, this collective community disruption can mean that they are even more vulnerable to the abuse of their abuser.

The Link between Disasters and Domestic Abuse

When a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, or flood happens in a community, many people can be displaced, and daily life is disrupted in most ways. This disruption may be major for victims of domestic abuse who find it more challenging to seek shelter and safety from abusers. With tensions high, victims may be at a higher risk for physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from partners. If there was an evacuation order, being forced into an emergency shelter with an abuser can put victims in an unsafe situation that they are unable to escape from if needed.

The data that exists surrounding disasters and domestic abuse shows that there is an uptick in domestic and sexual abuse surrounding these types of events. A combination of potential isolation, lack in safety resources and housing, and the possibility that abuse hotlines and first responders are overwhelmed all make it harder for victims to access the support they need during a natural disaster. Following a hurricane, many people are not back at work immediately, meaning that extra stress at home can cause abusers to lash out at their victims more often.

Another reason this link exists may have to do with the fact that many victims feel that they must go back to their abusers if the abusers have resources and housing following a natural disasters. According to The Atlantic, victims are most vulnerable while they are leaving, or immediately after they leave an abuser. Studies show that 75 percent of women who are killed by an abusive partner were in the process of leaving or just left that partner. If a disaster leaves a victim with limited physical or financial resources, they may feel as though their only choice is to return to that abuser.

Examples of Disaster-related Domestic Abuse

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area in 2005, the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported that women were being assaulted by abusive partners in the emergency shelters.

When Hurricane Andrew destroyed parts of Miami-Dade in 1992, spousal abuse calls to local helplines increased by 50 percent. One-third of the 1400 surveyed residents said that someone lost verbal or physical control in the two months following the storm, according to the Gender and Disaster Network.

Child Abuse

Children are also extremely vulnerable to abuse during these stressful events. Additional issues arising from custody battles and backlogged courts can cause fractures within a family unit.

In the six months after Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina in 1999, the rate of traumatic brain injury in kids under two increased five times in the areas most affected by the storm. Surrounding areas did not see an increase in this type of injury.

During Hurricane Irma in September 2017 in Jasper, FL, a man was arrested for leaving his 19-month old toddler outside during the storm. She was picked up by a passerby on Monday morning at 11:30AM after being outside in the storm all night. Her body was purple and covered with bug bites. Police suspect that the father was high on drugs or alcohol, as he claimed he did not remember where the girl was the night before when her mother reported her missing. He now faces felony child abuse charges.

What can be done?

Communication and outreach by domestic abuse shelters and advocates is extremely important. By providing information and education to emergency shelter personnel, victims can have better access to places of refuge and people who are educated in how to respond when victims enter emergency facilities.

Public service announcements and awareness campaigns of the signs of abuse are also good ideas in the days leading up to a disaster such as a hurricane. If more people are aware of who may be at risk for abuse in their home and communities, it is easier to get people the assistance they may need after a disaster.

Shelters should consider partnering with churches for additional domestic abuse resources and shelter. Churches that have disaster-prepared facilities can act as special domestic violence shelters with resources and staff available to handle victims.

Family members and friends of known victims should be accommodating during these times. Do not encourage the victim to return to an abuser just because they may have shelter or financial resources. This may cause further harm to a victim of abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, it’s important that you contact an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney may be able to help you resolve issues related to your abuse and abuser.

References:

Salam, M. (2017, September 12). Amid Hurricane Chaos, Domestic Abuse Victims Risk Being Overlooked. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/12/us/domestic-violence-hurricanes.html

Dalbey, B. (2017, September 15). Toddler ‘Purple’ After Dad Left Her Outside In Hurricane Irma: Police. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://patch.com/florida/across-fl/toddler-purple-after-dad-left-her-outside-hurricane-irma-police

O’Neil, L. (2016, September 28). The Link Between Natural Disasters and Domestic Abuse. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/09/disaster-domestic-abuse/501299/

Natural Disasters and Severe Weather. (2017, September 14). Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/violence.html

 

 

 

 

Alimony in the State of Florida

shutterstock_304652984

A former Miami Dolphin was in the news recently, not for making plays on the field, but for skipping out on an alimony payment to his ex-wife. Jason Taylor was divorced from his wife of 14 years back in 2015. At the time, a judge ordered Taylor to pay his ex-wife $8.67 million in a lump sum alimony payment. This summer, his ex-wife filed a lawsuit in Broward County claiming that Taylor still owes her $3.4 million, and despite attempts to retrieve the money peacefully, she has not had any success in obtaining the funds owed to her.

Alimony Controversies

Alimony has been a hot topic lately as many argue that that statutes and conditions of traditional alimony are outdated now that women have a higher earning power. Some may say that permanent alimony keeps ex spouses tied to each other until death, and often brings children and current spouses into unnecessary legal fights.

For example, in one Florida case, a woman is suing her former husband’s current wife for legal fees stemming from her alimony case. According to her lawsuit, her ex- husband neglected to pay alimony for years, and when he was ordered by a court to pay his ex hundreds of thousands of dollars in back alimony, he transferred many of his significant financial assets to reside under his current wife’s name so that he could escape collection of his debts. Hi ex-wife claims that she is attempting to retrieve what is owed to her by the lawsuit against the current wife’s assets.

What is alimony?

In the state of Florida, alimony, or maintenance, can be granted to either party after the dissolution of a marriage. The purpose of awarding alimony can range from acting as a “bridge-the-gap” payment, which is set in place until the recipient is able to get to a better financial situation after the marriage, to a permanent alimony structure, meaning one spouse pays the other until death. Alimony can also be durational with a stop date, or rehabilitative, with a structured plan in place to get the recipient from one status to another with regards to employment or disability. A court can order that the payments are made on a monthly basis, or in a lump sum, as the Taylor case represents.

What factors are considered in awarding alimony?

A court will decide if either party needs financial maintenance and whether the other party has the ability to pay. There are many factors that are considered when determining alimony. A court may look at some or all of the following factors:

  • Standard of living established during the marriage.
  • Duration of marriage (less than seven years is considered a short-term marriage, seven-17 years is a moderate marriage, and 17+ years is long-term)
  • The age, physical, and emotional state of each party.
  • Financial resources of each party, including marital and non-marital assets.
  • Earning capacity, education, and skill level of each party.
  • Contribution to the marriage, including homemaking and childcare.
  • Responsibility of each party to minor children.
  • Sources of income and tax treatment of each party.
  • Any additional factors that account for equity and justice between parties.

Additional Alimony Requirements

A court may require the payer of alimony to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy as a way to secure the alimony payments. It’s important to note that any alimony payments cannot cause the one who is paying to have a significantly lower income than the recipient unless there are exceptional circumstances as noted by the court.

If you are considering a divorce, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney will explain the options available to you throughout the process of the dissolution of your marriage.

References:

LAMBIETjose@gossipextra.com, J. (n.d.). Miami Dolphins legend Jason Taylor secretly divorced in 2015. Now, he’s being sued. Retrieved August 10, 2017, from http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/ent-columns-blogs/jose-lambiet/article165207992.html

Joseph, S. (2017, July 18). Lawyer’s Ex-Wife Asks Court to Make New Wife Pay Her Legal Fees. Retrieved August 10, 2017, from http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202793290507/Lawyers-ExWife-Asks-Court-to-Make-New-Wife-Pay-Her-Legal-Fees

(2017, August 10). Retrieved August 10, 2017, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099%2F0061%2FSections%2F0061.08.html

 

Parents Pay Attention to Photographers in Public Places

child-2364849_960_720

It was recently reported that a man was kicked out and banned from the Palm Beach Zoo, not because he was causing problems with the animals, but simply for taking photos. The issue is that he was photographing a young girl as she played in the splash pad on zoo property, without the consent of the girl or her parents. The man claimed that he just wanted to record a happy moment, but the parents were not convinced. Because the parents felt uncomfortable and the zoo administration agreed that the act of taking photos of the young girl was inappropriate, the man was asked to leave.

With the easy access and availability of video recording devices and cameras on every smartphone these days, it gets harder and harder to maintain any sort of privacy for yourself or your children. Child predators have the ability to photograph your kids every time you step out of the house and take them to a public place, and that’s a scary thought.

Photography as a Right

According to the law, taking photos in a public place is protected under the constitutional right to freedom of expression. Unfortunately, your desire for a certain level of privacy does not supersede the right of a photographer, professional or amateur, to express himself. However, there are certain restrictions to this, and the right does not extend to all locations. For example, owners of private property can restrict this right as they see fit, which is what happened in the case of the Palm Beach zoo, which is private property. Whenever you leave the house, it’s important to be aware of who is around when out in public, such as at parks and on playgrounds, as there may be some people who are taking advantage of the right to photograph in public places.

Abuse of Public Photography of Kids

There have been certain cases where a child predator has been arrested while photographing kids in public places. In Broward County, a man was arrested as he took photos of a girl at a public splash pad. He was being investigated for child pornography charges, and was caught while he was at the park. Even though the charges were unrelated to the photos he had on his phone, this example still demonstrates that you never know the motives of an individual who chooses to take photos of your children.

Be Aware of Who is Around

Just as you teach your kids to be aware of strangers who may cause them harm, it’s important to also teach your kids to be aware of individuals in a public place who may make them uncomfortable, including adults taking photos of them. Some public parks have tried to mitigate adult interaction with children by requiring a child to accompany any adult who accesses the public playgrounds in a park. The City of Hollywood is a good example of this, where it is a law that any adult in a playground area must be accompanied by a child 12 years or younger.

Even with certain rules and laws in place, it’s still up to parents and kids to report any suspicious activity that makes them feel uneasy. Though it is not a crime to take photos in public, if someone does have the intention to cause harm to a child or use the photographs in an inappropriate way, it’s better to be safe and risk a misunderstanding than to put your child in danger of being exploited by a predator.

Your child’s safety is always a top priority. In matters of family law, it’s most important to protect the children in cases where they may be at risk for harm. If you are going through a divorce, separation, or a case regarding child custody or paternity, it’s vitally important to contact an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can guide you through your case and help ensure that your children are provided with the best care and safety.

References:

Chokey, A. (2017, June 22). Are your kids safe from snoops with cameras at South Florida attractions? Retrieved July 14, 2017, from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-reg-child-photography-cases-20170621-story.html

Recording in Public Places and Your First Amendment Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2017, from https://www.videomaker.com/article/15619-recording-in-public-places-and-your-first-amendment-rights