IF MY SPOUSE RELOCATES, WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS?

If the Court orders relocation either through agreement of the parties or during a hearing, one of the factors the Court looks into is what the transportation costs are going to be for the non-custodial parent.

 What does this mean in plain English?

 If my spouse is the one that relocates the kids, how much is it going to cost me to see my kids?

One thing that we know is that long distance travel and transportation costs can be extremely expensive in certain situations.  We’ve seen various costs associated with transportation ranging from a small amount of gas money for a trip, to extensive airfare associated with overseas and international travel. 

 The factors for costs of the transportation differ on where the parents live, depending on if it’s a flight situation, whether there is an airport hub or multiple connecting flights and depending on the age of the child if they can fly without an adult. These different factors will all affect the transportation costs associated with the relocation. 

 So when making my long distance agreement, what do I need to take into consideration for the costs?

 Let’s use an example that your child is 2 years old when you agree to a relocation of the other party with the child, that would equal at least 16 years of transportation expenses associated with your time-sharing with the minor child.  Multiple that by each child if you have more than 1 child.

 To start to get an idea of the costs involved, let’s say in the example above the long distance timesharing was limited to:

                - one full month  (30 days) during the summer for the       

                 noncustodial parent, and

                - then some time at Christmas (how about 10 days?), and

                - let’s also include every other thanksgiving and spring break.

             * this is not necessarily a normal schedule, it’s just an example.

Christmas is one of the most expensive times to fly as children are normally out of school at that time and it is a peak travel time; this is usually true for Christmas, Thanksgiving, spring break, and summer break. These breaks all turn into good periods of time to make up time for the noncustodial parent if you live 2,000 miles away from each other; as every other weekend is not likely going to occur.  The transportation costs are going to be higher than a weekend in September, as these periods are the most regularly traveled periods. This has to be factored into the analysis of payment of transportation costs.

So if in the example the noncustodial parent is flying in to pick up the child that would be a roundtrip ticket home and then to bring the child back and then fly back would be another roundtrip ticket plus the child’s roundtrip ticket.  So just for one timesharing break if you bring the child back to the noncustodial’s home that could be a number of roundtrip tickets and if you multiply that over two to four times per year and then multiple that by 16 years, the costs associated with the timesharing could be substantial while the child is a minor. Keep in mind there are a lot of other variables for timesharing, which could necessitate additional costs associated with transportation.  So again this is a very important factor to remember to remember that this may not just be someone paying for a tank of gas for a 3-hour round-trip drive from city to city. 

How do people figure the payment of the transportation costs out?

 Of course we have to give the normal legal answer that every situation is usually different.

 Why is this so? Why can’t it be one size fits all?

Well, there are different situations that necessitate different results:

  • Sometimes parties will split the costs pursuant to a percentage either 50/50, 75/25, 90/10 – dependent on a whole host of factors, or
  • Sometimes one party bears all the costs, again this is based on each parties’ set of unique circumstances
  •  and then again it can be taken into consideration for child support and the Courts can take into consideration for a deviation from the child support guidelines based upon the expenses associated with the noncustodial parent’s timesharing.  Again, we stress the word “can”, the Court is free to Order what they feel is in the best interest of the child and what is fair and just for each situation. The parties can settle out of Court for payment that they deem to be fair as well if the Court will approve it.

What if I want more time?

 In some situations the parties are able to fly in for weekend timesharing or if they lived close they can drive if the financial circumstances allow for this type of timesharing.  Again, flights to and from distant locations for a short weekend are less prevalent. Sometimes we will see flights in to a locale and staying in a hotel or apartment near the other party’s residence for weekend timesharing, but again, the most frequent long distance time-sharing does not include more than about 5-8 weekends out of the year. This is an option to use floating weekends that can occur during the year at the request of the noncustodial parent, so it won’t be 26 every other weekends during the year, but it will be almost monthly contact with the minor child.

Again, this article does NOT suggest that relocations are always granted, but merely that IF the relocation is agreed to or Ordered by the Court, everyone needs to look at the transportation costs as this is a big issue in most cases. The Courts look at many factors in deciding a relocation, but this is not the topic of this article.

In conclusion it’s very important to keep this very potentially expensive factor in mind when you’re agreeing to or formulating a long-distance timesharing schedule, or an agreement based upon a proposed relocation. 

Our office deals with relocations on a regular basis and you can give us a call at (813) 272-2345 to set up a consultation relating to your proposed relocation or if you are the noncustodial parent and you are objecting to a relocation.  Sometimes it’s also helpful to speak to an attorney if either party is thinking about agreeing to the relocation and wishes to have more information or have an attorney assist in the process of negotiating the long distance timesharing and payment of transportation costs

By: William S. Foley, Esq.

Jurisdiction: Florida

What is Mediation?

Mediation is an opportunity to get things done. 

What we mean by that is that litigation is time consuming, costly and many times results in an outcome that would be more advantageous if the parties were able to come to a settlement as it costs money to get to the judge. 

Mediation is that option to get the case moving in the right direction to come to a settlement. 

It takes a meeting of the minds. 

It takes restraint. 

It takes compromise. 

It also takes reason and sometimes what would seem like a little bit of luck but attorneys know that a lot of times through hard work, preparation and consistent contact with their clients prior to the mediation helps prepare them to better informed and more able to make a decision at the mediation. 

Mediation itself in Florida is confidential and privileged.  In family law and divorce cases, which is the subject of this article, the relevant rules provide for confidentiality of mediation and settlement negotiations that take place at mediation.  So if the parties do not enter into a settlement agreement, offers and counteroffers made in compromise should not be used against them later. 

Confidentiality is very helpful as sometimes parties may be more willing to offer more than they would be willing to offer when they go to court, so then they want to make sure that these offers of compromise and settlement are not used against them later if the mediation does not work out, so it gives a forum for parties to feel comfortable to make their best offer.

A mediator is neutral and works for the agreement. The mediator is NOT the Judge. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties; the mediator helps facilitate an agreement. If you can’t agree, that’s when you turn it over to the Judge for the Judge to decide.

If you are interested in mediation in Tampa, Florida, Saint Petersburg, Florida, Clearwater, Dade City, New Port Richie, Plant City, Sarasota, Bradenton, Bartow, Lakeland, Spring Hill, Hernando, please give our office a call at (813) 272-2345 to speak with a divorce and family law lawyer that deals with mediation and is experienced in settling and litigating divorce and family law issues.

By: William S. Foley, Esq.

Jurisdiction: Florida

 http://www.wfoleylaw.com

Is Florida a ‘No Fault Divorce’ State?

The concept of no fault divorce is one that has evolved over time as state legislatures attempted to redefine the legal rules surrounding the dissolution of marriages. Historically, states required parties to a divorce to prove ‘fault’ regarding the demise of the marriage. For example, New York required that a party prove cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, confinement, or abandonment, in order to successfully dissolve a marriage. The policy reason behind this was that states wanted to protect the institution of marriage and encourage reconciliation amongst the parties.

So, what happened?

The simple answer is that state legislatures came to the realization that divorces often do not involve ‘fault’ in the traditional statutory sense. Instead, couples may often be incompatible, unhappy, and simply feel that their marriage is broken beyond repair. For this reason, states opted to introduce the concept of ‘no fault divorce.’

What is no fault divorce?

No fault divorce essentially means that the parties to a divorce only have to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken or there are irreconcilable differences between the parties.

How do I file for a no fault divorce in Florida?

In Florida, the process for filing for a no fault divorce is simple. First, a legal marriage must exist. Second, one of the parties must have been a permanent resident of the State of Florida for a minimum of 6 months prior to the initiation of divorce proceedings. Third, the parties must properly allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that irreconcilable differences exist within the marriage.

But what if fault exists?

Often divorces are precipitated through the fault of one of the parties. For example, adultery is a common catalyst for divorces.

So, what role does adultery or other types of fault play in divorce proceedings?

Surprisingly to most clients, adultery is not considered in the decision to grant a dissolution of marriage. However, adultery or other types of fault may play a critical role in the allocation of marital assets through equitable distribution. For example, if your spouse is engaged in an adulterous relationship, and makes expenditures on that relationship, than you may be entitled to receive a share of what your spouse spent on their adulterous relationship. While, adultery may not play a pivotal role in the decision on whether or not to grant a divorce, it can become a crucial factor in determining proper distribution of marital assets.

In Conclusion, Florida is a ‘No Fault’ State and William S. Foley, PA can help you in your divorce. Please call today at (813) 272-2345 to speak to an attorney about your divorce and family law questions.

 Click here to visit the William S. Foley, PA website for more information

Why Should I Retain a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer?

Some people think that a collaborative divorce is appropriate for 
their situation, when it may actually not be appropriate. But the 
greater percentage have never even heard of collaborative 
divorce, or if they have don’t know the benefits. So this is an 
article to go over some of the benefits of Collaborative Divorce:

Some benefits of Collaborative Divorce —-

A.        
Humane Divorce —- Some people feel that the normal 
way of litigation is a very impersonal stress-inducing, sometimes 
pretty traumatizing event that occurs in their life.  Collaborative 
divorce is not the easy thing to do and is still challenging, but is a 
much more humane way of dealing with such an emotional time 
in someone’s life.  

B.        Team Approach —- In a collaborative divorce everybody 
in the team, which would be the two attorneys, the two parties 
and two experts, one financial and one mental health expert, work 
together as a team to get to an agreement.  So, during team 
meetings where all six of the team members will sit around the 
table and try to make sure they can figure out what it is the 
parties and their children and their lives best interest.  

C.        No posturing  —- What makes this so much different 
than a normal divorce proceeding is that the aspect of attorneys 
posturing back and forth and other litigation tactics are not 
necessary and are not used as they are working towards a final 
resolution.  

D.        Carrot at the end of the stick —- The carrot at the 
end of the stick the parties to follow through to conclusion is that 
if the parties do not settle during the collaborative process, they 
must fire their attorneys and the experts and start all over to file 
for divorce.  So, this is much different than a normal divorce 
proceeding and it entices people to try to find a way, if at all 
possible, to settle.  There’s different statistics that we’ve seen, but 
it appears that somewhere between 90 to 95 percent of 
collaborative divorce cases ultimately settle and are successful.

http://www.wfoleylaw.com

The Gray Divorce: Divorce in the Golden Years of Life

            Coping with and managing a divorce at any stage of life is a difficult concept for most people to master. For some people, this may be the first time that they have had to get a job in order to support themselves. For others, it may mean that they are now single parents. The simple fact is that post marriage life can be extremely difficult to adapt to and can bring a whole list of financial and emotional worries. This is particularly true for those people who are at least 50 years old.

             According to a study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, the divorce rate for those aged 50 and over doubled in the United States from 1990 to 2010, and today, divorces of the 50 and older group account for approximately 25% of all divorces in the United States.[1]

            Handling and managing a “gray divorce” is something that must be done with extraordinary care. Often couples may have accumulated significant wealth at this stage in life which may have resulted in vast investment portfolios and property investments. In other cases, couples may be living on a fixed income. Whatever the individual facts of the particular case, divorces in the later stages of life involve factors that are not traditionally involved in divorces and special care must be afforded to them.

            These types of divorces can result in new, unforeseen obstacles and can cause great financial worry. As so, it is especially important that when considering an attorney, that you choose one who recognizes and has the ability to deal with the unique circumstances accompanying a divorce in a later stage of life.

           William S. Foley, P.A. has extensive experience managing and successfully resolving gray divorces. Whether you are a Fortune 500 CEO or a stay-at-home-spouse, William, S. Foley, P.A. will ensure that your rights and privileges are protected as our team helps to walk you through the divorce and settlement processes.

Florida Stalking Injunction

On October 1, 2012, Florida supplemented its list of available civil injunctions with a new independent injunction for stalking. This stand-alone injunction for victims of stalking offers a new civil protective remedy that is specifically tailored to protect those who have been affected by stalking. Stalking was already previously an offense that could allow a court to issue an injunction. So, the question that remains - is how will this injunction influence the current landscape of civil injunctions?

The short answer is that the addition of this injunction will not have an immense impact from a legal perspective; rather, there will just be another category in which to file an injunction in Florida. This is simply because - as mentioned above - other injunctions were in place that explicitly offered protection to individuals who are victims of stalking. Still, the addition of this injunction is an important legislative achievement for it shows how serious stalking has become and shows that lawmakers are taking important steps to protect the public by directly recognizing the prevalence of stalking in society. The injunction is no doubt a viable option for those who have been victimized by stalkers, but is it the best option for victims? 

Answering the question of whether seeking a stalking injunction is the best course of action really depends on the circumstances of each individual’s case. In some cases, where an individual feels that their or someone else’s life is in immediate and imminent danger, the police should be called to prevent the situation from escalating to a volatile level. Alternatively, an experienced family law attorney can lend great insight into whether or not an injunction would be appropriate in a particular case, and this can usually be done in an initial consultation to discuss all of the injunctions available in Florida.

There are some important things to keep in mind when seeking a stalking injunction against a particular individual or seeking to have one dismissed that has been filed. First, is that claims of stalking have to be supported by “competent substantial evidence.” In other words, solid proof of stalking is required before the court may issue an injunction or the court may risk being overturned by a higher court if an appeal is filed. This is extremely important and is often best supported through evidence and testimony. Documentation over a period of time allows a court to get a good grasp on the nature of a case and it gives the court an opportunity to make a better, more informed judgment. Persons in situations that may potentially result in a stalking injunction should be aware of this and should take any necessary steps to ensure that they have proper evidence to support their allegations. 

It should be noted that the process for obtaining a stalking injunction is virtually identical to the processes for injunctions concerning domestic violence, repeat violence, etc. A petition is filed, the court will either: 1)  issue a temporary order and set a return hearing, 2) not issue a temporary order and set a hearing for a within 15 days, or 3) or dismiss the injunction. After the final return hearing the court will issue its final ruling. Under this process, it is common for judges to be fairly liberal in granting temporary injunctions if the petition sufficiently alleges that stalking may have occurred. This is simply a matter of prudence as courts would rather err on the side of caution until a full hearing can be held and all of the evidence has been displayed. 

The issuance of an injunction can have very serious consequences in many areas of life. Those who have injunctions on their records are often unable to secure certain employment opportunities in careers that require background checks and security clearances. More importantly, injunctions can have a direct effect on whether or not someone can see and be with their loved ones, namely their children. Injunctions truly are a powerful remedy and should be approached under the guidance of a qualified attorney. 

Having a qualified attorney involved may mean the difference between a dismissal of an injunction and an issuance of one. Even more than that - legal proceedings involving stalking are highly emotional and can cause confusion and uncertainty. An attorney, who has been involved in injunction proceedings before, can be a tremendously stabling force through offering objective advice from an experienced perspective. It always helps to have someone there who has navigated through this process before. If you are interested in speaking with a Florida Family Law Attorney about a Stalking Injunction contact William S. Foley, Esquire at (813) 272-2345 toady. 

www.wfoleylaw.com

Florida Equitable Distribution of Property and Liabilities

Florida Statute Chapter 61.075 governs equitable distribution of property, assets and liabilities.  The courts take a stance that upon marriage, everything that is put into the marriage, including property, assets and liabilities, until the date that the parties file for divorce is all part of the marital pot.  Initially, the presumption is that the marital pot is to be distributed equally, therefore, 50‑50 equitable distribution.  However, if there are proven justifications that the marital pot should not be divided equally then it may be an unequal distribution.

Some of the circumstances where the parties would have an unequal distribution are if there was a depletion of marital assets for purposes of an extramarital affair, or other conduct which intentionally wasted, depleted or destroyed an asset. A few of the other factors the Court may look at is each parties’ contributions during the marriage, duration of the marriage, interruption of education or careers, or other factors to do justice between the parties.  The courts normally will take a presumptive 50‑50 stance with regard to property, assets and distribution of liabilities; however, there are circumstances where the parties might receive an unequal distribution.

By: William S. Foley

Jurisdiction: Florida

Initial Consultation Questions to ask your Florida Divorce Lawyer

What kinds of questions should you ask an attorney during your divorce initial consultation?

It is important to understand that each attorney is different and therefore each attorney will have their own specific process for each of their consultations. Some attorneys will want you to fill out information prior to the consultation and also to discuss with the attorney specific background information that the attorney will need to know. Therefore, please understand that each attorney’s initial consultation is different and most of your specific questions should be answered during the attorney’s specific questioning that they have done hundreds/thousands of times with other people.

Here are some questions to ask during your divorce initial consultation:

1) Do you an area of practice that you focus on?

               If the attorney does not focus on divorce and family law matters, you may want to follow up with - have you ever handled a divorce before?

 

2) How long is the range that a case like this could last?

              Again, the attorney is in no way a fortune-teller and cannot predict the future of how long your case will last with your specific set of circumstances, but if they can tell you a range; this may help you have a handle on the situation if you have approximate time-frame that the attorney has seen in their experience.


3) If I forget to ask you something today during the initial consultation, can I call later to ask a question, or would I have to pay for another consultation?

Generally, I do not personally charge another consultation fee if a client has another question after the consultation, but some attorneys may charge and may need to see the potential client again. A reason why could include that a great deal of time may have passed and circumstances could have changed. Overall, it can put you at ease if you know that you can call later if you forget something during the consultation. During the consultation, you will be hit with a great deal of information and as it is also a confusing and emotional time, sometimes people can forget to ask all of the questions they have during their initial consultation.

4) What is the law in the state of Florida on: Parental Responsibility, Time-sharing, Parenting Plans, Child Support, Alimony, Equitable Distribution of Assets and Liabilities and Attorney’s Fees?

             Depending on what the issues in your case are, it is very important to know what the basic boiled down approach of the law is in some of the important areas of your case. Right from the start. It may not be the appropriate time to go into the minutiae of the law and specific cases, etc. But it is helpful know the State’s view on certain areas of divorce law so you can start understanding the process you are about to undertake.

5) What about the law applied to my situation? What can I ask for? What should I ask for?

                Your attorney will begin the process of analyzing your situation as soon as you provide back the new client questionnaire. As you are speaking to him or her, they will start to formulate how they wish to approach the case. As each lawyer’s approach may differ, sometimes there is not a right and wrong way to approach it; it may just be one lawyer’s view on the issues. So, feel comfortable with the lawyer’s approach to the case. Try to determine what your own goals are and if they are reasonable from the attorney. Any attorney can promise you the world, but if it is not realistic and they are only reciting back to you what you want to hear, then that may not be helpful to you in your divorce proceeding.

6) Are there any time-frames/deadlines that I need to know about?

                  This is very important as certain situations call for certain time-frames and deadlines. Speak more with your attorney about the specifics related to your case.

7) How much is the initial retainer for my case?

                Lawyers have different retainer amounts for different cases. Some attorneys ask for a refundable retainer and some ask for a non-refundable retainer.  Some retainers can be split up into a payment plan at some offices. The amount is really an important aspect of the consultation. This attorney will let you know at the end of the consultation as they will need to know your full situation before quoting you a retainer.

8) What is your hourly rate?

                 There is no set hourly rate for divorce lawyers in Florida. Each Divorce lawyer sets their own hourly rate, or it is set by their firm. Therefore, you need to know the hourly rates of the attorney and each member of the firm that may be billing on your case.

This is not an exhaustive list of questions to ask your attorney, but hopefully this will give you a basis for asking a Florida Divorce Lawyer questions during your initial consultation. 

Unique Divorce Service in the Southwest

A unique service that has been offered for two decades in San Diego is now being offered in Las Vegas as well for those seeking information about a potential or pending divorce. An event titled “Second Saturday Divorce Consultation Service” hosts events on the Second Saturday of every month at different locations. So far, the events have only taken place in the Southwest. Bordering the unconventional, the purpose of these events is to inform women that divorce does not have to be as financially draining for the parties involved as is commonly understood.

Organizer Jacqueline Thornhill takes a “glass half-full” approach in educating women on the details of divorce, focusing on “moving a woman’s life forward in as positive manner as possible.” The event showcases financial planning, family therapy, mediation, and legal counsel. The event helps women to create both short and long term financial plans and provides access to expert advice and services related to divorce.

See Phelps, Laura. View. “Monthly Events Help Couples Navigate Divorce”. http://www.lvrj.com/view/monthly-events-help-couples-navigate-divorce-186041611.html

HELP! I AM IN THE MIDDLE OF A CUSTODY FIGHT!

Article Written By William S. Foley —All rights Reserved

So what happens when you find yourself in the middle of a custody fight?

Is this something that you ever thought would happen to you?

Sometimes it is inevitable in certain cases dealing with children’s issues that they turn into a custody fight. It is usually not expected and almost never wanted. However, it does happen. Why does it happen so often? Well, both parents want the same thing. They both want the child.

The love of the child may cause people to act in ways they have never acted in their whole lives. Divorce attorneys see it every single day.

Sometimes it can also prompt some people to fight for their children to make ensure that the children’s best interests are taken into account. In these types of situations where the parent is truly looking out for the best interest of the minor child a custody battle may be warranted if it is not in the best interests for the other parent to have a majority of the time, and the other side will not agree to be reasonable and look out for the best interest of the child.

Parties can only reach an agreement when both parents are on board. This is a legal system in which agreements can be set aside and therefore such agreements must be entered into knowingly and willfully. So therefore both parties must come together in a meeting of the minds in order to form this agreement on how to handle the time-sharing of their minor children.

If the parents are unable to agree on what is in the best interests of the children then sometimes the parties feel that it is appropriate to have a third person make that decision, or assist them in making the decision.

One option is to use an expert who is trained in evaluating time-sharing, custody, parenting plans and contact with the minor children and the parent. This expert can be a social worker or psychologist but foremost has to understand the family law issues and factors that go into child custody and the time-sharing determinations. This article is written in Hillsborough County, Florida therefore it follows Florida statute 61.13, which dictates the factors the court will use to decide a time-sharing and a parenting plan.

Some factors are the facilitation of time-sharing and if one parent is more likely to facility the time-sharing with the other parent. Another factor includes making educational decisions and which parent has historically made those decisions. Other factors include domestic violence, child and sexual abuse, and related issues to the time-sharing with the minor children and the parents.

So therefore the expert may make a similar determination as the court would and sometimes they can make this the primary determination before the court even look at the issues.

Some judges are very receptive to theses evaluations and find it very helpful to the court in determining what is in the best interests of the children. However, if the evaluator does not follow the appropriate methods their recommendation is not as helpful, and the court will give little weight to the evaluation in its determination. These experts may testify at a final hearing and can be deposed, but their overall purpose and charge is to create a report and recommendation that details what the time-sharing and parenting plan should be. This recommendation can be extremely helpful to the Trier of Fact (the judge).

However, sometimes even with the assistance of an expert the parties are still unable to come to an agreement. That is when the judge makes the decision. In theses circumstance the expert may come to the court to testify or in other circumstances the parties will not use an expert to look at the child custody situation and the court must make the determination on their own with the assistance of the presented witnesses and the evidence.

The parties have to understand that just as they are human so is the Judge. Judges are human and therefore the only thing the judges can rely on is what is in front of them during that final hearing. The cannot read minds, they cannot tell the future and they cannot decide on evidence that is not presented to them.

If the final hearing only lasts a few hours it is very clear the parties will be in their Sunday best, acting their best, bringing in witnesses that will say they are the best parent possible, and generally in a normal child custody battle, they will be stating that it is not in the best interest of the minor child for the other parent to have primary residence or the majority of the time-sharing. So the courts, who are learned in this regard and understand this “best image” process, want to determine in light of the evidence and witnesses that are presented at the final hearing what is in the best interests of the minor children and not solely what one party has said about the other.

Because many of these hearings come down to a “he said-she said” argument where one side said something and the other side said the complete opposite, the court has to make a determination on who is correct and who is incorrect or untruthful. The court will normally be able to do this by weighing third party testimony or evidence the evidence presented to them. This is why it is very important in a child custody battle or fight which occurs through litigation to present witnesses and evidence that supports your case.

Your Judge cannot see into your home.

Your Judge does not know how you act with your child.

Your Judge will most likely not speak to your child (unless appropriate motions are filed and granted, under certain circumstances) and therefore does not have the same view point on the situation that either: (1) the parents could if they were able come to an agreement on their own, or (2) that an expert could see since the expert is able to speak to the child, to other family members, to both parties and review all types of evidence that the court may not be able to in this legal context.

So this author feels that while there may be some cases where there is no other option but trial and a custody battle in which the judge ultimately decides, the vast majority of cases are ready and able to be settled.

When both parties take a good long hard look in the mirror at themselves, the situation, and especially at their children, most times they are able to come to the realization that they can settle this issue; without the court as a third party judge, who will most likely never see them again but will have to dictate how the next eighteen years or however many years until the child reaches the age of majority to them. So it is always suggested that the parties do everything in their power to mediate and attempt to cooperatively settle these issues for the children, even if it is with the use of a neutral child custody expert.

There are studies that suggest, as would seem to be painfully clear, that divorce litigation, custody litigation, custody fights, and just the overall litigious nature that many couples exhibit towards each other are not conducive for the child’s development, for their upbringing, in their relationships with their parents, with friends, or in their future relationships. So therefore it is of the utmost importance for parents to at all times during custody litigation and during custody “fights” to take into extreme care the children’s best interests. That means keeping the children out of it.

The children in this regard, especially young children, feel that the divorce is their fault. Often, as they get older they seem to want to blame it on someone and later in life feel they want to blame it on both parents. There are many different stages that the child may go through during a divorce and it is always a trying and emotional time for them.

In conclusion, custody fights are not easy. They are extremely complicated. Everyone is emotional and there is no easy answer or recipe for success. Every single party is different, every single child is different, and every single judge is different so therefore what works in one situation is not necessarily what will work the next time. Therefore, the very first thing the parents must do is try to settle through mediation and negotiation without putting the issue before the judge. Then if the parents are unable to settle on their own they may choose to have an expert come in and evaluate their specific situation and recommend a custody arrangement prior to bringing the issue up before the judge. If neither option is appropriate for the parties’ situation then the case must go to trial and a stranger, the judge, will do their job and apply the law to the facts presented to them. The parties must be prepared, must be ready, and must understand that the judge’s review and determination may be a painful experience, but that the parties have exhausted every other option before requesting this and felt that going forward to trial was in the best interests of the minor child.

 

Jurisdiction: Hillsborough County, FL

Copyright 2009- 2013 William S. Foley, P.A.. All rights reserved.