The question of which attorney to choose is a very personal one. You want someone who will offer a warm, welcoming environment and who understands the unique legal and societal challenges that transgender family law matters often entail. You want someone who has been on the forefront of LGBTQ family law rights and will be there for you. We would be honored to represent you.
Kids are often caught in the middle of divorce. Their parents are fighting, and many times the kids’ needs get ignored.
Fortunately, not all divorce processes are the same. Collaborative divorce gives parents the opportunity to work in a non-adversarial setting and develop a parenting plan tailored to meet children’s needs.
If you are looking at your divorce options (from traditional divorce to collaborative divorce to mediation), you may have come across the term “Collaborative Facilitator.” What is a Collaborative Facilitator?
A Collaborative Facilitator is a neutral professional in a collaborative divorce. He or she is oftentimes utilized as a team leader and communication specialist within the collaborative family law process. He or she generally has a background in family dynamics, childhood development, and/or conflict management. A Collaborative Facilitator will have credentials and a license. These will be in the area of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, social work, psychology, or psychiatry. However, the Collaborative Facilitator is not engaging in therapy as part of the collaborative process.
Author, psychologist, and collaborative trainer Jeremy S. Gaies, in A Clear and Easy Guide to Collaborative Divorce, discusses the role of the Collaborative Facilitator (which he describes as “coach,” using the nomenclature of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals) in the following excerpt:
If you have children and are going through a divorce, your biggest concern is likely how your kids will be affected. When is the best time to tell your children, and how much should you share with them?
Your Children Will Know
Your children will know that something is going on, and leaving them in the dark may cause more apprehension and stress in them than just being upfront. Establish a united front early in the process, and tell your children together that you are separating. Assure them that while things will be different, everything will be okay. Alleviate their fears that your divorce is in any way their faults. Remind them often during the process that everything will fine and it is not their faults.
So, you are thinking about divorce. You, like many parents, may wonder whether your child has a say in the custody (also known as time-sharing) schedule. Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, your child might have have some input in what your timesharing schedule should look like. However, a child under the age of 18 does not have the final say in a time-sharing schedule.
How Your Child Can Have A Say In Custody
Whether your child has a say may depend on whether you choose to litigate your case, or instead, participate in alternative dispute resolution like collaboration or mediation. In most litigated cases, a judge will not allow a child to participate in the proceedings. However, if you proceed with collaborative practice or mediation, your child may be able to participate if you and your spouse agree. If so, your child may attend a portion of the mediation or collaborative meeting. The mediator or collaborative facilitator will help determine the appropriate forum for the child to express his wishes and whether you and your spouse should be present.
Florida Statute § 61.13 lists the factors that the law will consider when developing a child custody, also known as time-sharing, schedule. One major factor is whether you will encourage a close and continuing relationship between the children and the other parent. The law considers your histories and personalities. Section 61.13 examines whether you will be reasonable when changes are required. The law also considers your ability to keep each other informed regarding important matters regarding the children. Florida law frowns upon parents who disparage the other in front of the children or bring the children into their disputes.
Parental Responsibility and Child Custody
Section 61.13 also discusses parental responsibilities and whether third parties will have decision-making authority. For example, if you work eighty hours a week, it may not be realistic for you to have custody the majority of the time. Another consideration is whether you will be able to participate in the children’s school and extracurricular activities.
Another factor is whether you have demonstrated the capacity and disposition to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the children as opposed to your own needs or desires.
It is important to maintain stability as much as possible for the children. Accordingly, the law considers the length of time the children have lived in a stable, satisfactory environment. Often times, if a temporary schedule is going well, the law suggests that it may be best to keep that custody schedule in place, especially if the child is tied to that home, school, and community.
Do you ever wonder how your divorce is affecting your children? Do you sometimes think about how conflict may be affecting your own mental health, and your ability to effectively parent, or co-parent?
Gary Direnfeld is an internationally known social worker, speaker, and parenting expert based out of Ontario. He has been an expert witness in many high conflict divorce trials, and yet he is a strong believer that the courtroom is a terrible forum for resolving divorce and parenting disputes. In the following radio interview, Gary discusses why he believes parenting and divorce-related issues should be resolved outside of court:
You can find a partial transcript, slightly edited for clarity, below:
Roughly 80% of folks going through a separation or divorce are going to settle things between themselves. They may have some 3rd party assistance. Twenty percent are going to turn to the courts. Less than 5%, even if turning to the courts, are going to go to trial. Most matter settle ahead of a trial. And then there is that small percentage, that 1, 2, or 3% that really tie up the courts’ time. And I, for whatever reason, find myself heavily involved with those folks.
High conflict parents turn to the court searching for release only to find that in many, many cases, litigation only exacerbates the problems. It doesn’t resolve them. And the reason for that is, in turning to the courts, it is often a race to the bottom. I will prove my case by making you look worse than me, and no one wants to be on the receiving end of that. So the other parent reciprocates in kind. And then the “he said she said” escalates to such a pitch that it is hard to know one from the other.
AMC’s The Walking Dead recently premiered its season 8 debut. For the uninitiated, The Walking Dead follows former deputy sheriff Rick Grimes and others as they navigate a post-apocalyptic world of zombies (which they call “walkers”).
The Human Element of The Walking Dead
Even more interesting than interactions with the walkers, the show focuses in on the interaction between people. Rick and the gang have fought off a host of bad guys. A one-eyed psychotic governor. Bar-B-Que loving cannibals. Most recently, a baseball bat-wielding sadist with a sophomoric sense of humor.
But the most fascinating part of the show may just be its human drama surrounding relationships between Rick and his family. Last season, Rick made a startling admission to Michone. Michone is a samurai sword brandishing badass and Rick’s current love interest. The admission concerned Rick’s daughter, Judith.
When the apocalypse started, Rick had been separated from his wife, Lori. Lori escaped the initial chaos with Rick’s best friend, Shane. Shane and Lori thought Rick had died with the initial wave of walkers, and Shane and Lori became romantically involved.
Lori and Shane’s relationship ended when they learned Rick was still alive. Inevitably, tensions rose between Shane and Rick, which lead to Rick killing Shane. Eventually, Lori gave birth to a child, Judith, though Lori did not survive the birth.
Which brings us back to Rick’s admission to Michone. Rick tells Michone he knows that Shane is Judith’s biological father.
So who is Judith’s legal father?
When determining which attorney to hire for your divorce, you may be tempted to believe that your best option is to hire an overly-aggressive lawyer. But is that truly going to benefit you and your family? Do you want to make your spouse “the enemy” and make your children collateral damage? Well, there is another option. Instead, you can hire a family-focused divorce lawyer.
In the video below, Minnesota collaborative attorney Ron Ousky, former president of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, discusses, among other things, why you should consider hiring a family-focused divorce lawyer.
On June 15, 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 590 (“SB 590”) into law. SB 590 directs the Department of Revenue to provide parents with a proposed Standard Parenting Time Plan in Title IV-D child support cases. The bill also authorizes the Department of Revenue to establish agreed-upon parenting plans. Further, SB 590 waives court costs for families in a Title IV-D case who cannot agree on a parenting plan and are asking the courts to establish a plan.
Title IV-D Cases
Title IV-D of the Social Security Act requires each state to set up an administrative mechanism for establishing and enforcing child support orders. Florida tasks the Department of Revenue with these administrative duties.
The Department of Revenue oftentimes steps in to establish child support when a parent seeks welfare or other government benefits. The idea is that it is the duty of both parents to financially support a child. Further, a parent should utilize child support from the other parent before the government provides state benefits.
The Department of Revenue may also administratively enforce a child support order created by the courts.
SB 590 Standard Parenting Time Plans
Prior to SB 590, the Department of Revenue did not have authority to establish parenting plans. However, when the law goes into effect, the Department will be required in most cases to send a proposed Standard Parenting Time Plan to the parents.