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Tampa Court Publishes Requirements for Divorce

In an effort to make the process for divorce clearer to litigants in Hillsborough County, the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has published the following Requirements for Dissolution of Marriage:

1.  PROOF OF RESIDENCY. 6 months prior to filing Petition. May be proved by drivers license, voter I.D., Affidavit of Corroborating Witness; or testimony of witness. Section 61.052(2), Fla. Stat.

2.  U.C.C.J.E.A. If any minor child or children born as a result of the marriage. Section 61.501 -61.542, Fla. Stat. (2002)

3.  FINANCIAL AFFIDAVITS for each spouse, Rule 12.285(d)(1), Family Law Rules. (This requirement may not be waived if there are financial issues.) Under $50K/Yr. – Over $50K/Yr.

4.  COMPLETED CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES WORKSHEET, if there are minor children. Family Law Rules Form 12.902(e).

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Do Fathers Ordered to Pay Child Support Have Custody Rights?

I see it all the time.  A mother requests state welfare benefits, and the Florida Department of Revenue inquires as to whether the mother is receiving child support from her child’s father.  The answer is no, and the Department of Revenue then initiates an administrative action to get the father to financially support his child.

Sometimes, the father admits that he is the child’s parent, and other times paternity is established through genetic testing, but the ultimate result is that the father is ordered to pay child support.

So, then, since he is paying support, does the father automatically get custody rights?

Though a mother should encourage a loving and continuing relationship between her child and the child’s father, the father does not automatically get custody rights.

However, the father can establish those rights.

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TMH v. DMT: Florida Appellate Court Recognizes Parental Rights of Both Lesbian Mothers in Case of Fertilized Egg Transplant

Here’s the story:  Two women are in a committed lesbian relationship when they decide to have a child together using reproductive technologies.  One woman (the “Genetic Mother”) supplies the egg and has it fertilized.  That egg is then implanted into her partner (the “Birth Mother”) who gives birth in 2004.

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

[Related:  In A Florida Child Custody Case, Does It Matter That I Am Gay?]

[Related:  In Which County Should I File My Florida Adoption Case?]

The child is given a hyphenated last name, combining the names of the Birth Mother and Genetic Mother.  Birth announcements are sent out, proclaiming both partners to be mothers of the child.  The partners reside with one another and the child in Florida, and they all live happily ever after.

Until 2006, when the Birth Mother and Genetic Mother break up.

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Factors in Relocating with a Child

If you are or have been involved in a child custody case and you wish to move with your child, you must make sure to follow the procedures of section 61.13001, Florida Statutes (the “Relocation Statute”).

Often times, parents are able to come to an agreement on relocation.  The Relocation Statute has specific requirements for the agreement, and the agreement must be filed with the court and ratified by a judge.

But what if you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement?  What specific factors does a judge look at to determine if relocation is in a child’s best interests?

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Pew Report Observes Non-Resident Fathers

A recent report conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographics Trends project makes some interesting findings:

  • “Absent” or “non-resident” fathers are defined as those that do no live with their children;
  • The number of children not living with their father has doubled from 1960 to 2010;
  • Four in ten non-resident fathers communicate with their children several times a week, while one in five spend time with their children more than once a week;
  • One in three non-resident fathers report that they talk or exchange e-mail with their children less than once a month; and
  • Twenty-seven percent of absent fathers say they have not seen the children at all in the past year.

In Florida, generally speaking, each parent has a right to spend time with his or her children, and each parent has a responsibility to contribute financially to the child’s support.  If there is a court order pertaining to child custody, these rights and responsibilities can usually be enforced by contempt.

If you have questions regarding paternity or child custody and you wish to speak with a Florida family law lawyer, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., by calling us at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our online form.

Updated Parenting Education and Stabilization Course Provider List

Pursuant to section 61.21, Florida Statutes, all parties in a divorce or paternity matter in which custody is an issue are required to attend a 4-hour Parenting Education and Stabilization Course.  Periodically, the Department of Children and Family Services publish an updated list of approved parenting course providers.

You can find the latest list of approved parenting course providers (updated November 4, 2011) here.

If you have questions regarding child custody and you wish to schedule a consultation with a Tampa Bay custody lawyer, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at 813-443-0615 or fill out our online form.

Is Florida the Correct State for My Child Custody Issue?

Under chapter 61, Florida Statutes, a Florida court generally has jurisdiction for a new custody case (such as (i) divorce involving children’s issues/parenting plan, (ii) paternity/ establishment of time-sharing schedule, or (iii) temporary or concurrent custody of a child by a relative) only if one of the following is true:

  • The child has lived in Florida for at least six months immediately prior to the case being filed (even if the child is or has been temporarily absent from Florida);
  • The child has moved from Florida within the past six months, but prior to that lived in Florida for at least six months; or
  • No other state or country has jurisdiction over the child (or the court of the child’s home state or country has declined jurisdiction) and the child has significant connections to Florida.

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Hillsborough County – New Child Custody Proceedings Administrative Order

Chief Judge Manuel Menendez, Jr., of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County) recently entered a new administrative order that pertains to child custody proceedings.  Below is a summary of AO S-2011-014:

  1. For Chapter 751 Proceedings (Temporary Custody of Minor Children by Extended Family):
    1. Uncontested and Contested Proceedings:  Petitions for temporary custody of a minor child by an extended family member (i.e., grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.) must be written and signed under oath, and filed with the clerk of the court.  The case will be assigned to the Family Law/Domestic Relations Division.  An executed Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement (“UCCJEA”) Affidavit must be included with the petition.  If the petition is being filed with the parents’ permission, written, signed, and notarized consents must be provided, unless the parents provide their consents in open court.  If a petitioner is alleging that a parent has abandoned a child, the petitioner must have evidence of abandonment.
    2. Pending Dependency Proceedings:  If a dependency case is pending when a petition for temporary custody has been filed, the Family Law judge may transfer the petition to the Juvenile Dependency Division. Read more

What is a Parenting Plan?

According to Section 61.046 of the Florida Statutes:

“Parenting plan” means a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. In creating the plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration.

(a) The parenting plan must be:

1. Developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by a court; or

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Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (known as the “UCCJEA”) is the body of law that provides Florida courts with authority to rule on issues of child custody.  In virtually every family law proceeding that involves child custody–including divorce, paternity, and relocation–each party is required to file an affidavit that contains certain information and demonstrates to the court that it has jurisdiction over the child. This UCCJEA affidavit must include the following information:

  • The current address of the child;
  • Each address at which the child has lived during the past five years;

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