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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.

Relocation With A Child Outside of Florida

If your child has ever been subject to a custody proceeding (such as divorce, paternity, or temporary custody), then you are likely restricted in where you can move with the child under section 61.13001, Florida Statutes.  This law, known as the “Relocation Statute,” prevents a parent from moving a child more than 50 miles except under certain circumstances.

The first circumstance allowing relocation is if both parents agree.  However, strict requirements must be followed.  The agreement must:

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Concurrent Custody vs. Temporary Custody

I recently wrote a post explaining temporary custody by an extended family member, a type of action which allows parents to temporarily transfer their custody rights to a relative.  Once a judge grants a petition for temporary custody, the relative temporarily assumes the parents’ right to make decisions concerning the child’s healthcare and education, and also assumes the right to obtain documents such as birth certificates and passports.

However, sometimes parents want to give a relative custody rights while also retaining the rights for themselves.  Chapter 751 of the Florida Statutes allows for this arrangement in what is termed “concurrent custody.”

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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.

Temporary Custody by an Extended Family Member

If you have a nephew, niece, or grandchild living with you, you may have run into a roadblock when attempting to acquire his or her birth records or passport.  Further, you may have gotten the run around when attempting to make decisions concerning the child’s education or healthcare.  Fortunately, this state has a solution in chapter 751 of the Florida Statutes.

Chapter 751 permits an extended family member to take temporary custody of a minor child, access state and other records, and make major decisions concerning a child’s upbringing.  But, keep in mind, temporary custody must be granted by a Florida court (and cannot simply be signed away by a parent), and there are strict procedural requirements that must be met.

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Child Custody and “Best Interests”

When a Florida family law judge makes a custody determination, the judge’s main concern is establishing a parenting plan that is in the best interests of a child.  The parenting plan will outline, among other things, parental responsibility (the authority to for a parent to make decisions regarding a child’s welfare) and a time-sharing (visitation) schedule.

A whole host of factors go into an analysis of where a child’s best interests lie.  The factors are laid out in section 61.13(3)(a)-(t), Florida Statutes:

(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.

Parenting Coordination: By the Numbers

Section 61.125, Florida Statutes, establishes an alternative form of dispute resolution, known as parenting coordination, for parents attempting to establish or implement a parenting plan.  This process involves a facilitator (referred to as a parenting coordinator) who is usually appointed by a judge to (i) teach techniques in co-parenting and (ii) make recommendations so that the parents are able to better work together in furthering the best interests of their children.  I find that parenting coordination is most often useful in high-conflict child custody situations.

In the most recent edition of Commentator magazine, psychologist Debra K. Carter reveals the results of a study conducted by the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family & Conciliation Court as well as the University of South Florida regarding parenting coordination:

[E]ighty-two percent of Survey respondents use a formal parenting coordination contract with their clients.  Sixty percent charge their clients by the hour with standard fees ranging from $90.00 to $220.00 per hour.  Seventy-eight percent reported that fees were always split 50/50 between the parties.

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Study Shows Good Father-Child Relationship Can Temper Negative Effects of Divorce

In a recent article in the Commentator Magazine entitled The Negative Impact of Divorce on Children, psychologists Lori Wasserman, Sheila C. Furr, and Theodore Wasserman discuss several studies which follow children before, during, and years after their parents divorce.  The article relays negative effects that divorce can bring out in children, including (i) difficulty in school, (ii) more behavioral problems, (iii) self-concepts that are negative, (iv) more problems with peers, and (v) more trouble getting along with their parents.

The article notes, however, that a close father-child relationship may help stem these negative effects:

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Who has the Right to File a Paternity Suit?

Paternity is essentially the legal recognition that a man is the father of a child.  Establishment of paternity brings with it various rights and responsibilities, including (i) the right to establish a time-sharing (visitation) schedule for the father, (ii) the responsibility of the father to provide the child with financial support, and (iii) the right of the child to inherit from the father.

As stated in section 742.011 of the Florida Statutes, the following people may bring a paternity suit in Florida:

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