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Florida Family Lawyer Blog

The posts in this blog focus on Florida family law issues including divorce , child custody/time-sharing, child support, mediation, domestic violence, parenting coordination, parenting rights of same-sex couples, and other family law topics. The posts discuss these topics under Florida law, and also focus on the family law local rules in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

I hope the information here is helpful for you.

Computing Florida Child Support

Most Broward County Child Support attorneys, as well as mediators and Judges at the courthouse, use family law financial software to calculate child support, and there are some child support calculators on-line. If you’re attempting to determine child support though for yourself, it’s going to be a good idea for you to make the calculations by hand, using Florida’s Child Support Guidelines Worksheet – to be sure you get the figures right, including any adjustment for the number of “overnights” each parent spends with the child(ren) (more below on this), and to be sure you’ll understand the issues and items that go into determining child support under Florida law. The first step is to determine each parent’s net-income. The income and deductions that are considered in determining net income for child support are set forth in detail in Florida’s child support statute, but the easiest way to arrive at the

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Important Change to the Rules for Permanent Alimony in Florida

Florida’s alimony statute, F.S. § 61.08, has gone through some significant changes over the past two years. There are rules now which help spell out what are “long-term”, “short-term” and “moderate-term” marriages – see F.S. 61.08(4). The Florida legislature defined a new kind of alimony – “durational alimony”, which is something in between permanent and “bridge-the-gap” alimony, and can have a duration up to the length of the marriage – e.g. a maximum term for durational alimony of 10 years, following a 10 year marriage. One of the most significant changes in the statute is an addition to the permanent alimony section, F.S. 61.08(8): “In awarding permanent alimony, the court shall include a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties.” Before the changes to the alimony statute, and before the recent change adding this sentence, a conventional wisdom was that

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Broward County Domestic Violence Agency – No More Tears

In this post, I wanted to draw attention to an organization in Broward County that provides services for victims of domestic violence. The organization, No More Tears was founded by Somy Ali, who continues to provide the large bulk of support and assistance for clients of the agency herself. The agency is staffed entirely by volunteers, and has worked out partnerships with Dade and Broward County Divorce Attorneys, Immigration Attorneys, Counselors, Optometrists, Dentists and other providers in the area to provide a broad range of services to clients in Broward county as well as other parts of the state. It’s hard to do better justice to the work done by the organization than visiting the agency’s website, or listening to some of the interviews there of the organization’s founder, and I encourage you to do that – if you are looking to support No More Tears, or are in need

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Florida Parenting Coordinator Rules — Sotero v. Sullivan (Part III)

Parts I and II of this post went over some of the rules for parenting coordination, in particular some of the points of contention raised in the brief Sotero opinion, and that come up frequently in cases in Broward and Palm Beach counties also. Now the issue is how important are the rules, or rather how important is it if for the focus to not be on the legal rules once parenting coordination sessions start. I don’t think there is much disagreement with the idea that it is good to make the ground rules for parenting coordination clear at the beginning, in a Court order if there is one, and in a Parenting Coordination agreement between the parents and the parenting coordinator, so that everyone is clear regarding confidentiality, how the process works, fees, the goals, etc. However, instead of or perhaps in between the worries and concerns regarding the

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Florida Parenting Coordinator Rules — Sotero v. Sullivan (Part II)

The primary issues raised by the Sotero case – the confidentiality of parenting coordination, and the authority the court can give to the parenting coordinator, are two issue often relevent to a Broward County divorce attorney or client, when they evaluate the possible use of a parenting coordinator in a contested divorce or other family law case. Even in contested cases, I believe parents in parenting coordination make efforts to address children’s issues for the sake of their children, but the parenting coordination happens within the context of an adversarial case, where the parents are often also going be concerned about how the parenting coordination may affect their case. So, issues parents may be concerned about are what information the parenting coordinator can bring back to the Judge regarding communications in the sessions or the parenting coordinator’s recommendations, and also the authority of the parenting coordinator. There are some significant

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Florida Parenting Coordinator Rules — Sotero v. Sullivan

A Florida appellate court, for the appeals district covering Miami-Dade County, recently entered a decision dealing with the authority of Parenting Coordinators in family law cases, and the confidentiality of communications in Parenting Coordination — Sotero v. Sullivan. In this case, the Mother appealed the decision of the trial court based on the trial court without the consent of the Mother: giving the parenting coordinator the authority to make binding decisions regarding the minor child in the case; giving the parenting coordinator the authority to impose monetary sanctions upon the parents; and waiving the confidentiality of communications with the parenting coordinator. The appeal also dealt with the confidentiality of the Mother’s communication with her own individual therapist. The Father, through his attorney, consented to the trial court’s order being overturned. The appeals court treated that as a “confession of error” and based on that “vacated” the trial court’s order and

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Video-Conferences, and Florida Time-Sharing (Part II)

In Part I of this post, I discussed some tech developments that may end up making video-calling with children a more common form of communication during Florida time-sharing, and some potential disadvantages. If the issue is the best interests of the child – what is best for children here? Is it better for children to have more contact and connection with the other parent and a sense of their relationship with their other parent being very much present during time-sharing, or better for time-sharing with each parent to be more separate time, and for the child to experience it as separate time with more of a boundary, for lack of a better term? There’s been a focus recently on “empirically based” parenting plans – i.e. making time-sharing decisions based on what psychologists and research indicate is best for children. This is probably an area where input from experts will help,

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Video-Conferences, and Florida Time-Sharing

There were some tech announcements recently that I think eventually may lead to changes in parents’ contact with their children during time-sharing time with the other parent. You may have heard that Google announced it’s new service, Google+. One of the key features is easy to use webcam conferencing built into Google. Not to long after Google’s announcement, Facebook announced that it had purchased Skype and was offering video conferencing as well. There is an interesting “podcast” here about Google+ with some of the Google developers on the show, via a Google+ video conference to illustrate the technology. Video-calls aren’t anything new. Parents have already been using video to stay in touch with children during time-sharing, and it’s not a new topic in family law commentary, blogs etc. Also, references to parents communicating with their children via video/webcams are already in Florida time-sharing statutes (e.g. F.S. § 61.046(5) and F.S.

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Is “Alternate” Dispute Resolution in a Florida Divorce Possible, When You Don’t Like Each Other? (Part II)

Another process, which I don’t think is quite as well known at this point as mediation, is Collaborative Family Law. It’s basically a process where both sides and their attorneys agree and commit to resolving the case outside of court. Everyone signs an agreement that if the case ends up contested in court, neither of the attorneys who participated in the collaborative family process is permitted to represent a party in court.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_1qOpk2GRACollaborative Family Law is usually thought of as a approach where everyone tries to get along, and usually happens as a series of meeting with all the parties, attorneys and any experts present, where the parties “collaborate” and try to resolve the case. I believe it’s possible for it to work also in situations where there is high conflict, it the parties make some basic commitments, at least in their own minds. Even if the parties hate each other,

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