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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Pope Benedict XVI Calls for Christian Names

Pope Benedict XVI Calls for Christian Names (Photo from EPA via The Daily Telegraph)

As celebrities have gotten much attention for giving their children names such as Apple, Brooklyn, and Princess, Pope Benedict XVI called for parents to give their children traditional Christian names, The Daily Telegraph reports.

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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.

Name Change Statute (Section 68.07, Florida Statutes)

Change of name.—

(1)Chancery courts have jurisdiction to change the name of any person residing in this state on petition of the person filed in the county in which he or she resides.

(2)

(a)Before the court hearing on a petition for a name change, the petitioner must have fingerprints submitted for a state and national criminal history records check, except if a former name is being restored. Fingerprints for the petitioner shall be taken in a manner approved by the Department of Law Enforcement and shall be submitted electronically to the department for state processing for a criminal history records check. The department shall submit the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for national processing. The department shall submit the results of the state and national records check to the clerk of the court. The court shall consider the results in reviewing the information contained in the petition and evaluating whether to grant the petition.

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Section 61.1354, Florida Statutes

Sharing of information between consumer reporting agencies and the IV-D agency.—

(1)Upon receipt of a request from a consumer reporting agency as defined in s. 603(f) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the IV-D agency or the depository in non-Title IV-D cases shall make available information relating to the amount of current and overdue support owed by an obligor. The IV-D agency or the depository in non-Title IV-D cases shall give the obligor written notice, at least 15 days prior to the release of information, of the IV-D agency’s or depository’s authority to release information to consumer reporting agencies relating to the amount of current and overdue support owed by the obligor. The obligor shall be informed of his or her right to request a hearing with the IV-D agency or the court in non-Title IV-D cases to contest the accuracy of the information.

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Section 61.13016, Florida Statutes

Suspension of driver’s licenses and motor vehicle registrations.—

(1)The driver’s license and motor vehicle registration of a support obligor who is delinquent in payment or who has failed to comply with subpoenas or a similar order to appear or show cause relating to paternity or support proceedings may be suspended. When an obligor is 15 days delinquent making a payment in support or failure to comply with a subpoena, order to appear, order to show cause, or similar order in IV-D cases, the Title IV-D agency may provide notice to the obligor of the delinquency or failure to comply with a subpoena, order to appear, order to show cause, or similar order and the intent to suspend by regular United States mail that is posted to the obligor’s last address of record with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. When an obligor is 15 days delinquent in making a payment in support in non-IV-D cases, and upon the request of the obligee, the depository or the clerk of the court must provide notice to the obligor of the delinquency and the intent to suspend by regular United States mail that is posted to the obligor’s last address of record with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. In either case, the notice must state:

(a)The terms of the order creating the support obligation;

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Section 61.45, Florida Statutes

For the latest version of this statute, go to http://www.leg.state.fl.us.

Court-ordered parenting plan; risk of violation; bond.—

(1)In any proceeding in which the court enters a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, including in a modification proceeding, upon the presentation of competent substantial evidence that there is a risk that one party may violate the court’s parenting plan by removing a child from this state or country or by concealing the whereabouts of a child, upon stipulation of the parties, upon the motion of another individual or entity having a right under the law of this state, or if the court finds evidence that establishes credible risk of removal of the child, the court may:

(a)Order that a parent may not remove the child from this state without the notarized written permission of both parents or further court order; Read more

Section 61.405, Florida Statutes

For the latest version of this statute, visit http://www.leg.state.fl.us.

Guardians ad litem; immunity.—Any person participating in a judicial proceeding as a guardian ad litem shall be presumed prima facie to be acting in good faith and in so doing shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that otherwise might be incurred or imposed.