Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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. 

4 Things Divorced Parents Can Do to Reduce Holiday Stress

The holidays are just around the corner, and this year is bound to be harder than others. Typically, 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. Remember the children come 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.

2. Plan, plan, plan – 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.

3. Go above and beyond with communication – 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.

4. Co-parent and celebrate together when possible – 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, contact Russell Spatz today to see how he can assist you and help keep your families best interest a priority. Give him a call at (305) 442-0200 to schedule a consultation today.

4 Signs It Could Be Time for a Divorce

couple

No one gets married with the intention of ever having to file for divorce. We all want to believe in happily ever after, but unfortunately, life happens and people grow apart or circumstances happen that make it difficult to continue being married. If you and your partner are starting to grow restless and no longer feel happy with one another or any of the following appear to be hindering your relationship, then maybe it’s time to consider filing for divorce.

Cheating – When getting married you vow to stay loyal, but that doesn’t always happen. Infidelity, whether physical or emotional, in a marriage can cause unrepairable damage. While it‘s something that can be overcome, many marriages do not survive when a spouse cheats. This is the cause of 27% of divorces.

Lack of communication – Being married is all about compromise. In order to have a healthy marriage you have to be able to talk things out with your partner and find a resolution to issues that make both parties happy and comfortable. If you and your partner aren’t communicating and working with each other there’s a large chance your marriage won’t survive.

Loss of own identity – Your relationship with yourself is just as important as the one you build with your partner. Over the years, it’s easy to “lose yourself” and this feeling can lead to depression or anger that can consume ones marriage and lead to major problems and resentment.

Abuse – Abuse can come in many forms. Physical and emotional abuse from one spouse to another is a major factor in causes of divorce. Drug abuse also plays a factor in the ending of a marriage. If you are being abused or your spouse is abusing drugs or alcohol, and counseling isn’t able to help, then divorce may be the best option.

If any of these any of these resonate with you in terms of your marriage, it may be time to consider a divorce. When looking for legal counsel, you’ll want an attorney with experience and compassion. Russell Spatz is a dedicated family law attorney who always puts the needs and feelings of his clients first.

 

Can I Adopt My Spouse’s Child?

adoption

Marrying someone with a child can be a blessing, as well as a large responsibility. Sometimes step parents are willing to go the extra mile and want to take on the huge task of becoming a legal parent to their spouse’s child. This isn’t a simple process, but with some determination and a bit of guidance it can be done.

How To Adopt Your Spouse’s Child

In order to adopt your stepchild, a petition must first be filed with the court. Once this petition is accepted, it then most be proven that you are eligible to adopt the child and that both your spouse and the child (if the child is 14 years old or older in the state of Florida) consent to the adoption. Of course, the second parent must be taken into consideration. If they are in the picture, then they also much consent as well as sign away their own parental rights. If the second parent isn’t around due to unestablished paternity, being an unfit parent, being a danger to the child, or has been in prison for a significant amount of time – then their consent may not be needed.

What Happens When You Adopt Your Step Child?

Once the adoption is finalized, you’re no longer a step parent, but a true legal guardian to the child. This means you accept all legal and financial responsibility. If there are any child support orders in place from a biological parent, these orders will end. Alternatively, if there is a future divorce, the adoptive parent may be held responsible for future child support payments. It’s a big step to take, but creating a new blended family can be a wonderful thing.

Adopting a stepchild can take roughly three months, but with the help an of experience family law attorney like Russell Spatz, the entire process can be made seamless and easy to understand. Those who are willing to take on the legal and financial responsibility of a child who is not biologically theirs are very special people and Russell Spatz takes great pride in working with them to help make their family complete.

 

Establishing Paternity in Florida

establishing paternity

According to Florida Law, when a mother gives birth and is married, it is assumed that the husband is the father of the child. If this isn’t the case, or if the mother is unmarried at the time of the birth, then paternity must be established. Establishing paternity when the parents of a newborn aren’t married is done either voluntarily or by court order.

What is Voluntary Paternity v. Court Ordered Paternity?

Voluntary paternity is established when both the mother and father or the child agree on who the father is and sign a “voluntary acknowledgment of paternity” form. This form simply means that both parents are acknowledging that the child belongs to them. The father who signs the form is agreeing that they are the child’s father and will take all legal responsibilities as such. The form is then file and becomes final 60 days after it has been signed. No changes to this form can be made without proving that fraud or force was used in the signing.

Court ordered paternity is when either parent takes the situation to court to establish the paternity. This may be brought to the courts by the child’s mother, the alleged father, the child themselves via legal representation, or Florida Department of Child Supportive Services. This process can begin before the child is born, but can not be finalized until after the birth.

What Happens Once Paternity is Established?

To prove paternity, genetic tests will be done for the mother, child, and possible father. Once paternity is proven child support, visitation, health insurance, and authority over the child’s rights are determined.

If you or a loved one are currently in the process of establishing paternity or believe that you have the right to be granted paternity of a child you think is yours, the assistance of a someone who is knowledgeable in the field of family law could make the process smoother. Consider giving Russell Spatz a call today at (305) 442-0200 to help make your family whole.

 

Mediation in Family Law Cases

closed up photo of man in black blazer facing tablet

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Anytime there is a dispute within a family, whether it has to do with a divorce or child custody issues, emotions can be high, and it can be difficult to come to an agreement that works for each party. Many times, this is when the courts get involved. Family members may have to present to a judge, and in some cases, may be subject to the decision of a judge or jury.

However, there is one way that disputes can be resolved that gives more decision-making power back to the people who are having the conflict. If conflicting parties are ordered to or choose to go to mediation, it is possible to settle a family dispute outside of the courtroom.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a way for people to discuss their dispute in the presence of an impartial party. In certain cases mediation is court-ordered while in other cases the two parties can choose to go to mediation. The neutral mediator is often chosen by the courts in issues of family law. He or she must be certified by the Florida Supreme Court, but is not allowed to give legal advice, or provide therapy or counseling. The mediator may help the discussion along by providing ideas of ways that the disputing parties can come to an agreement.

Whenever there are issues involving the family, it may be difficult for opposite parties to operate without being emotional, and it can often be hard for each person to see the issue any other way. A mediator’s job is to spark ideas that may lead to an ultimate agreement, or simply the agreement that a mutually satisfying resolution cannot be made.

Once there is an agreement in mediation, both parties will be asked to sign a document that explains the details of the agreement, which becomes a contract. At this point, the terms of the contract are legally binding and must be followed by all parties involved. If an agreement cannot be made, then the issue may be sent back to the courts for a judge or jury to ultimately decide.

Benefits of Mediation

Mediation is a way to keep a dispute out of the courts, and may save time and money. It is an opportunity to resolve conflict with an impartial person who can offer up suggestions that may not have been considered by either party. Additionally, the mediator can help overcome communication obstacles or emotional barriers that have stalled the issue from being resolved or moving forward. He or she can assist with listening and help each party stay focused on the real issues that need to be discussed

Perhaps the biggest benefit to mediation is that it keeps the decision-making power with the parties involved in the dispute as opposed to a judge or jury. An agreement established in mediation is one that is created by the people who will be affected the most by any terms, and therefore, it may be appealing to some to have the power to make that ultimate decision.

Mediations are also private and confidential, which is different than public hearings that wind up on the record. There are no judges or juries involved in the mediation process, and attorneys are not required, but advised.

Tips for a Successful Mediation

Any time that you will be going to mediation, you should absolutely consult the advice of a family law attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you understand what terms would be most beneficial to you.

Make sure you are prepared and arrive on time. If you are ill prepared for the mediation, you may end up agreeing to something that does not work in your favor.

It’s important to also arrange for childcare if needed. Children are often not allowed in the mediation room.

Mediation in family law cases may last an hour or several days, depending on the time it takes both parties to agree on terms to a resolution. In the event that you are going to mediation or feel that you may need to in order to resolve a legal conflict, contact an experienced family law attorney who can properly advise you through the mediation process. The Spatz Law Firm can be reached at (305) 442-0200.

References

Mediation in Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2018, from https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Alternative-Dispute-Resolution/Mediation-in-Florida

Equitable Distribution at the Dissolution of Marriage in Florida

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Divorce is always a hard topic. Even if there are not children involved in the marriage, spouses must divide their belongings and assets earned during the marriage as they part ways.

In the state of Florida, we have what is called an “Equitable Distribution” of assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. This basically means that any marital property will be equally distributed after a divorce. These include assets acquired jointly by the spouses during the marriage; enhancements of non-marital property due to the efforts of a spouse; jointly titled property, even if it was acquired as non-marital property; gifts from one spouse to another during the marriage; and joint bank accounts.

Just as assets are divided, so must liabilities.  A marriage between two people can have many benefits and successes, but also comes with risk and sometimes failures. Equitable Distribution covers both sides.

The Process of Dividing Through Divorce

During the divorce process, the first consideration is always the dependent children, if there are any. The court will handle issues of custody and child support prior to the equitable distribution of property. After the children are taken care of, the court will award each party their non-marital property, or items that were acquired before the spouses were legally married. However, it’s important to note that non-marital property can become marital property, as in the example of a spouse’s name being added to the title of a property owned by the other spouse before the marriage.

An example of non-marital property could be a personal bank account that is only in one spouse’s name that was opened prior to the marriage and not used for marital expenses.

The equitable distribution of properties acquired during the marriage will follow the non-marital assets. After the equitable distribution of property, the court will determine alimony, if any is awarded.

What Does the Court Consider?

According to Chapter 61 of Florida Statutes, which discusses equitable distribution. The following items are considered by the court when dividing the marital assets and liabilities. Some items may be awarded in a larger percentage to one spouse over another depending on “competent and substantial evidence” of the lawyer of that spouse.

(a)       The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.

(b)      The economic circumstances of the parties.

(c)       The duration of the marriage.

(d)      Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.

(e)       The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.

(f)       The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.

(g)       The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.

(h)      The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.

(i)        The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition.

(j)        Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

In an amicable divorce, both parties will sign a “Marriage Settlement Agreement” (MSA), which will lay out exactly how everything will be divided after the dissolution of the marriage. However, in many cases, this process will be handled in mediation or by a judge.

Courts will be as equal as possible when dividing assets and liabilities at the end of a marriage, but a competent family attorney may be able to help a spouse recover exactly what he or she is owed. If you are facing a divorce, contact a family attorney as soon as possible in order to assist you through the distribution of property earned over the course of your marriage. The Spatz Law Firm is here to answer your questions. Please give us a call at 305-442-0200.

References:

A Seven-Step Analysis of Equitable Distribution in Florida Part 2: Distributing Marital Property. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.floridabar.org/news/tfb-journal/?durl=/DIVCOM/JN/jnjournal01.nsf/Articles/8323D0F2AB6652FB85256ADB005D627A

Equitable Distribution in Florida Dissolution of Marriage – Florida Divorce Source. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.divorcesource.com/ds/florida/equitable-distribution-in-florida-dissolution-of-marriage-3703.shtml