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Orlando Custody & Visitation Law Blog

State tightens restrictions for fathers' rights

Lawmakers in Florida are watching as the governor of Utah has signed a measure that offers a partial correction to loopholes in the state's existing adoption law that lets birth mothers come to the state and give up their children for adoption without the permission of the biological father. The state senator who backed the amendment indicated that Utah needs to acquire a reputation as a state that respect fathers' rights.

The amendment requires birth mothers to reside in the state for a minimum of three months or provide contact information for the biological father. The mother could be court-ordered to contact the father before she gives up the infant for adoption.

Grandmother backs bill for rights of grandparents

A Florida mother disappeared more than two years ago, and a grandmother has been trying to contact her grandchildren with no success since Nov. 2011. The father took two of the three children out of state and reportedly won't cooperate when they attempt to set up visitation. The grandmother has taken action and is working to enact grandparents' rights legislation. She went to Tallahassee to plead her case at a state hearing. The legislation would give grandparents and great-grandparents the right to seek visitation if a parent is dead, missing or in a vegetative state. Similar legislation didn't pass in 2013, but she hopes that the law passes this year. It has already been through hearings in the senate and state house, but the final status of the bill remains to be seen.

She explained that the children lived with her up until her daughter vanished. Now she feels as though she lost them as well. She stated that the connection to them means more than anything now that her daughter is gone. She wants the opportunity to participate in their lives.

Father suspected of homicide as mother fights for custody

A 7-year-old girl from Florida is the focus of a custody case and her mother is fighting for full parental rights. Her father, who was taken into custody of police as a suspect for the death of his 59-year-old mother, had been awarded full guardianship of the girl prior to the incident. The girl is currently under the care of a family friend.

The girl's mother and her attorney are scheduled for a series of hearings to determine custody, one of which was conducted on Mar. 20. According to the attorney, the mother must undergo several processes before the court rules on the child custody matter. She must pass a criminal background check and home inspection. She currently resides in Maryland, where she hopes to continue to live with her child, and has had two supervised visits with her daughter since returning to Florida.

Child support payments may increase for Citigroup executive

Divorced Florida parents may note that the ex-wife of a top Citigroup executive has recently made a request to the court to have the amount of child support payments that he pays to increase. She states that the man's income has increased since the time their divorce was finalized in 2006 and is requesting that the amount of support increase to $25,000 per month.

The couple married in 1997 and had two children by the time of their 2006 divorce. Their child support agreement was altered in 2008, and the ex-wife has requested another alteration to the agreement. The man originally requested that the court keep his financial records private, but the request was declined. His financial records indicate that he holds significant liquid assets. Furthermore, they also reveal that he earned $3.1 million in income from Citigroup last year and may earn nearly $4 million or more this year.

Judge lowers Matthew Knowles' child support payment by $9500

Noncustodial parents in Florida should be aware of options for modifying support when their personal finances change. In a recent case involving Matthew Knowles, the father of singer and actress Beyonce Knowles, a Los Angeles court granted a sizeable reduction in child support. In the past, Knowles worked as his daughter's manager. He was reportedly fired in 2011 and claims his income dropped significantly after that.

Knowles was previously ordered to pay a monthly amount of $12,000 to an actress, whom he was involved with while still legally married to his wife of almost 30 years. The other woman filed a paternity case against the celebrity manager in late 2009, which may have led to his divorce from Beyonce's mother soon after that. Now, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has agreed to a $9,500 agreement modification, reducing Knowles' payment to $2,500 a month. He is also being held liable for the $15,000 in legal fees incurred by the woman.

Maternal grandmother seeks review of custody case

Orlando parents may be particularly interested in a case involving a 6-year-old foster child whose reunification with her biological father in Mexico may be delayed after three Oregon lawmakers took an interest in the case. The young girl was removed from her biological mother's custody due to a methamphetamine addiction and was not reunited with her because the mother failed to comply with orders to submit to urinalysis or take part in drug rehabilitation services.

According to reports, the biological father has had legal problems of his own. He served time in the Oregon State Penitentiary on assault charges and was deported to Mexico after he was released. The girl's grandmother has insisted that her father is also unfit and sending the child to Mexico would mean removing her from the only country and family that she knows.

Number of single father households increasing

Florida families may have noticed a societal change that has been trending towards an increase in single father households. According to a Pew Research Center study, more than 2.6 million households with minors were headed by single fathers in 2011, a dramatic increase from 1960 when only 300,000 such households had fathers as sole caregivers.

The increase is at least partially attributable to shifting standards for child custody cases. In the past, courts would generally rule in favor of the mother, deeming it to be in the best interest of the child. During the past several years, however, states have been adopting joint parenting or joint physical custody laws, favoring an equal distribution of time between the parents.

New app helps parents organize child support payments

Florida parents may be interested in a new app that helps divorced parents efficiently manage child support and other expenses related to their children. The app is the brainchild of a divorced woman who found the process of financially supporting a child after divorce to be a logistical nightmare. She developed the app, which is called SupportPay, after wondering if child support couldn't be more like her company's expense reporting system.

The app developer said that she and her husband had an amicable split despite the fact that they had significant assets to divide. She said child support is often the most complicated part of many divorces. While one spouse generally has to pay the other spouse a fixed amount each month, there are other expenses above and beyond support. Parents often want to see verification for items like health care expenses, clothing and childcare before forking over additional money.

The impact of moving away on child custody arrangements

When a person seeking to move away from Florida is a divorced parent, this might create some difficulty for the current child custody arrangement. If a custodial parent needs to relocate for greater familial support, remarriage or job prospects, a family court may have to determine if the child will be accompanying that parent or change primary child custody to the other parent.

The most prevalent standard that the courts use when making such decisions is determining what is in the best interests of the child. While some states require the non-custodial parent to prove that the move would not serve the child's best interest, others place the burden of showing that the move is in the child's best interest on the custodial parent. Family courts would examine the reason for the move and whether past behaviors could indicate an attempt to inhibit the child's relationship with the non-custodial parent. The courts may also closely examine the impact of the move on the child's current relationships with each parent.

Will Florida sperm donor laws stay the same?

Florida families who have utilized sperm donors may be interested in the outcome of an order issued by a judge in a Kansas artificial insemination case. In that case, the donor was ordered to pay child support because the mother fertilized herself at home instead of using the services of a medical clinic. The question is, could such a thing happen in Florida?

Experts say such an outcome is unlikely. Some states do require that fertilization occur in a medical setting for the donor to be excluded from parental rights and the responsibility of child support. However, Florida law isn't applied that way. The only way for a donor to have rights is for him or her to sign paperwork ahead of time to establish parental rights.

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