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Orlando Custody & Visitation Law Blog

Florida visitation rights for grandparents

When a couple divorces or annuls their marriage and one of the parents receives physical custody of any minor children, the parents or grandparents of the other parent may be able to obtain visitation rights from the state. Similarly, grandparents may be able to obtain these rights after a paternity hearing establishes that they are the child's grandparents.

If grandparents desire visitation rights with a child, they must first file a petition for these rights with the court. The court will examine the situation to determine if visitation is in the best interests of the child. This includes the grandparents' willingness to foster positive relationships between the child and parents. The court will also examine the mental and physical health of the child and grandparents as well as any previous relationship the child had with the grandparents.

Visitation plans and guidelines

A divorce is often traumatic for everyone involved, and this is especially true for children. As part of a divorce order, the custody rights and visitation for children is established. In most circumstances, one parent has primary physical custody and the other parent has visitation while both parents share legal custody. This means that both parents have a say in major decisions regarding the child, such as where they attend school and what medical care they will receive. Florida provides guidelines for parents and the court to set up custody and visitation agreements.

The primary goal of a visitation schedule is to minimize the loss to the child while maximizing the contact and benefits of a relationship with both parents. It is accepted that in most cases, a child benefits from having contact with both parents. It is also important for parents to understand that all visitation schedules are created with the best interests of the child in mind.

Child support is court ordered, and payments are mandatory

In Florida, child support payments are mandatory and enforceable. When a parent fails to make payments on time and in the amount ordered by the court, they may be subject to a variety of penalties and even jail time.

If a custodial parent who receives child support finds that payments are not being made, they may contact the child support office in their area. The office will refer the case to the Department of Revenue to determine why payments are not paid as directed. If circumstances are different for the paying parent, options are in place to address this problem. If the parent just decided to stop paying, this is considered a serious dereliction of their duty and is severely dealt with by the courts.

Factors weighed in deciding custody issues in Florida

In Florida, the courts have wide discretion in determining issues of child custody. Custody and visitation decisions turn on the best interests of the child, and the court will weigh a number of factors in coming to its determination, typically examining the child's home life, the parents' histories and the likelihood of cooperation by the parents. Other considerations include the child's home history, including school performance and the permanence of the home, with continuity being among the important factors as well.

The ability of the respective parents to provide for the child and the existing ties between parent and child will also bear on the analysis. Any history of domestic violence will also be important, as will the moral, mental and physical status of the parents and the parents' previous involvement in the child's life, including extracurricular activities and relationships with the child's teachers and friends.

Understanding how courts makes child support determinations

Florida parents may with to know how state law dictates that child support payments are determined. Using a set of guidelines to determine a parent's income, the monthly payment is derived by the person evaluating the case, called the "trier of fact" in the statute dealing with child support; this is another term for a judge.

When calculating child support amounts, the judge determines the non-custodial parent's gross income by looking at the money coming in from various sources, including salary, rental income and disability benefits. If the parent is not receiving income for voluntary reasons, the court may impute income on him or her equivalent to his or her earning potential. The parent's income and the number of children to be supported are then compared with a statutory chart to derive the appropriate amount of child support.

Visitation rights for adoptive mother from same-sex relationship

A Florida adoptive mother has been granted access to her son after the Florida Supreme Court ruled in her favor. The woman adopted the boy after her female partner gave birth to him more than six years ago, but after the couple split, the birth mother cut off contact.

In 2012, a judge had approved the adoption request, but later that year the birth mother had asked a different judge to reverse the adoption. She was successful, but a higher court returned rights to the adoptive mother prior to the Florida Supreme Court ruling. Because the adoptive mother has not seen the boy for a year and a half, a therapist has been appointed for both mothers and for the boy to assist in the reunion.

What is a parenting plan?

Florida parents who are planning on divorcing may wish to know some information about what a parenting plan is and what specific information is required. The Florida Supreme Court has issued a guide that may help to clear up some of the important details that must be included in such a document.

When parents share joint physical custody of a child, Florida law requires that they have an appropriate plan in place. This applies even when there are no disputes between the parents over their time-sharing or other responsibilities. In cases where one parent is going to relocate with the child or the shared parenting time is to be supervised, special forms must be used. These are available through the Florida court system. In any case, the form must be filled out and either notarized or affirmed in the presence of the county clerk.

Establishing paternity for father's rights

Biological fathers deserve to be recognized as paternal fathers, and there are several ways that they can establish paternity in Florida. Until a man is established as the paternal father, he is often called the alleged father. A man becomes the paternal parent of a child when the child is born to his wife. If the mother and father are not married at the time of birth, they can sign an acknowledgement of paternity at the hospital or update the birth record later. A judge could also order paternity in court, while an administrative order for paternity may be filed after genetic testing.

To establish paternity through a court order, a judge reviews evidence of a man's paternity and decides whether paternity is established. The mother and alleged father must appear in court, and one of them may be ordered to pay for court costs and genetic testing if the judge orders a test.

Grandmother seeking reimbursement for child support

A grandmother in Florida is seeking reimbursement for more than $3,000 in child support that has been deducted from her pay for the support of a granddaughter born to her minor son. According to the woman and her attorney, state officials have said that child support should not be collected from grandparents even when the parent of the child is a minor.

One official explained in an email that while Florida law does permit grandparents to be named as a party to court action when the parent is a minor, they are not required to provide the support. The official says that an order has never been issued to deduct such support from grandparents. However, even after the father of the child turned 18, the support was still deducted. According to the grandmother, she was required to pay 65 percent to the 35 percent required by the mother.

Florida grandmother ordered to pay child support for grandchild

A grandmother in Florida wants answers for why child support for her son's daughter was withheld from her wages. The woman received a court order in July 2013 saying that she was responsible for child support when her son was 17, but deductions from her paycheck continued after her son turned 18. There is no statute requiring child support from the grandparent of a child, and the woman wants her money back and wishes to know why she was charged.

The 41-year-old Avon Park woman had to pay $1,690 in 2013 and $1,964 in 2014 for her son's daughter. She also paid retroactive child support from when her granddaughter was born in December 2012. A Department of Revenue staff member told the woman and a community advocate that there was no legal paperwork about the withholdings from her paycheck and that the deductions would be stopped immediately.

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