General information on dissolution of marriage

Facebook and Family Law: Be Careful What You Post

An article from Time Magazine recounts some horror stories and tales of caution emanating from the use of Facebook and other social networking sites.

A good general rule:  don’t post anything that you would be embarrassed to have your grandmother see.  This includes the following:

  • Don’t harass the other party;
  • Ensure that your friends are not harassing the other party;
  • Don’t post negative comments about the other party on your profile page, and ask others to avoid the same;

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Am I Required to Attend a Parenting Course?

Section 61.21 of the Florida Statutes requires each party in a case that involves children and custody/time-sharing issues to attend a four-hour parenting course.  This “Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course” gives parents the opportunity to learn about, among other topics, how their court action may affect the emotional well-being of their children.

You should note that, except in very limited circumstances, a judge will not enter a final judgment until both parties have (i) attended the course and (ii) filed a certificate of completion with the clerk of the court.

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Courtroom Civility

It is always a good rule of thumb to be respectful when entering a courtroom.  I often find myself taken aback by the appearance and behavior of people as they are asking a judge to make a major decision on serious issues–such as divorce, child support, alimony, or time-sharing–in their lives.  Many people come in shorts, chew gum, and treat the courtroom like their living room.  Such behavior leaves a poor impression on the judge and may impact the outcome of their matter.

The Family Law Division of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), like many courts around Florida, has a code of conduct: The Twelve Rules of Courtroom Civility.  Most of these rules are simply about common courtesy, and include the following instructions:

  • Other than to make appropriate objections, do not interrupt anyone when he or she is speaking;
  • Do not make faces or gestures at the opposing party or his or her attorney;
  • Dress appropriately and wear clean clothes.  Specifically, you should not enter a courtroom in shorts, jeans, a t-shirt, or sneakers; and
  • Do not bring any food or beverages in the courtroom, and do not chew gum.

To maximize the chances of a successful outcome in your matter, become familiar with the rules and procedures of both your circuit and your specific judge.

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