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Pasco Adoption Judge Retires

Sixth Circuit Unified Family Court Judge William R. Webb enjoyed his last day on the bench granting adoptions.  From the Tampa Tribune:

NEW PORT RICHEY – He just as easily could have spent the day romping with his 2½-year-old grandson or reading the novel he never had time to open while serving as a circuit court judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Instead, Judge William Webb, 67, spent New Year’s Eve, the first day of his retirement, at the Pasco County Courthouse — officiating at the adoption of a group of children he had shepherded through the court system.

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Collaborative Divorce Consultation: I Will Meet With Both Spouses

When prospective divorce clients call in my Tampa office and ask whether both spouses can attend a consultation, they are often relieved to learn that I am willing to meet with both spouses.  I did not always have this policy.  In fact, most Florida divorce attorneys refuse to allow both parties to attend a consultation together.

There is a strict prohibition against an attorney representing both parties to a divorce, and most lawyers want to avoid even the appearance of representing both spouses.

And I, like other attorneys, cannot represent both spouses.  But what I can do is invite divorcing spouses into my office and discuss with them the available process options.  Of course, I will talk with them about traditional litigation, which is the court battle that often comes to mind when people think about divorce.  I will bring up mediation, which is a great form of alternative dispute resolution that allows parties to come to an agreement, but which leaves open the door for their mediation attorneys to engage in detrimental litigation if a full settlement is not reached.

And I will talk about collaborative divorce, which is a voluntary, private process in which the parties and their attorneys agree from the very beginning that they do not want to engage in nasty, public court fights.  In fact, the spouses, who each will have their own individual attorney, sign a participation agreement that states that their attorneys must withdraw if the parties cannot come to an agreement.  Collaborative divorce has a success rate of nearly 90%, so this withdrawal clause hardly ever comes into play, but it allows clients to be open in negotiations without worrying that their spouse’s attorney is keeping an ear open for opposition research to use in trial later on.

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What Is A Florida Parenting Plan?

Any Florida parent who is going through a divorce with children or otherwise dealing with child custody issues will need to have a parenting plan.  A parenting plan is document that is either agreed upon by the parents or created by a judge that sets out each parents’ rights and responsibilities.  The Sixth Judicial Circuit (Pinellas and Pasco Counties) further describes a parenting plan as follows:

It is the public policy of this state to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. Florida Statutes, section 61.13(2)(c).

A parenting plan is a document developed and agreed to by the parents of a minor child, and approved by the court, or if the parents cannot agree, established by the court, which governs the relationship between the parents regarding the child (encompassing “custody”, “parental responsibility”, and “visitation”). A parenting plan may address issues such as the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being, and must include a time-sharing schedule. The parenting plan must take into account the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction when addressing jurisdictional issues.

For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parent’s relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.

Any parenting plan approved by a court must address the following issues:

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Correcting Your Birth Certificate in Florida

Since the passage of the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005, more and more Florida residents are finding that they cannot renew their Florida Driver’s License because the name printed on their birth certificate or social security card does not match the name they have been using.

It could be because they assumed the use of a name without changing any of their official  documents.  It could be because of a spelling error on the birth certificate or social security card. Or it could be because they have unknowingly been going by a name different from the name printed on their birth certificate.  These problems can usually be corrected by petitioning for a legal change of name.

Here’s an example:  I had a client whom I will refer to as “Jane Smith.”    She was born in New York, and now she lives in Pasco County, Florida.  She’s been known her whole life as Jane Smith, her parents always called her Jane Smith, and so, for good reason, she thought her name was Jane Smith.

One day, Jane helps her mother clean out her attic.  While going through some boxes, Jane finds a New York birth certificate for a “Jamie Smith.”  What is more, Jamie Smith’s date of birth is listed as one day earlier than the day Jane Smith has been celebrating her birthday.

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Pinellas County and Pasco County Post Court Holiday Schedule

The Pasco County, Florida, Clerk of the Court has posted Administrative Order 2011-032 PA/PI-CIR, which describes the holiday schedule for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pasco and Pinellas Counties:

RE: COURT HOLIDAYS – 2012

In accordance with the State Courts System Personnel Regulations, the following will be official court holidays for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in 2012.

NEW YEAR’S HOLIDAY Monday, January 2
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY Monday, January 16
GOOD FRIDAY Friday, April 6
MEMORIAL DAY Monday, May 28

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