Sarasota Family Law And Criminal Defense Law Blog

The role of DNA testing in paternity cases

A DNA test may be able to prove to almost 100 percent accuracy that a Florida resident is the parent of a child. It could also disprove an allegation that an individual is the parent to a particular child. Establishing paternity is important because it is usually the first step in obtaining a child support order when the child's parents are not married.

It can also be used in cases where parents apply for government resources such as Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). In this scenario, the mother's partner is not automatically considered to be the father. However, it is not necessary to take a DNA test to establish paternity. In some cases, the parents can voluntarily acknowledge who the baby's father is. In the event that a DNA test is conducted, the process will remain confidential, and labs tend to have strict rules about chain of custody during the testing process.

Don't get cited for a traffic violation in your RV

While much of the country is shivering in snowfall, here on South Florida's west coast it's all sunshine and warm breezes. The balmy weather in and around Sarasota is like a siren song for winter snowbirds who live in less winter-friendly areas of the country.

That's one reason that Sarasota is so appealing to the recreational vehicle (RV) community. From covered pickup trucks to large motor homes, RV-ers flock to some of the nation's most picturesque beachside communities.

Finances and divorce

Issues related to finances can be some of the main contributors to the failure of a marriage. However, married Florida couples can take certain steps to make sure that the handling of financial issues will not lead to the demise of their marriage.

According to one expert, couples who wait to discuss their finances after getting married have waited too long. The most ideal time to talk about preferences and planning ideas for saving and spending is during the dating stage. This is so that couples will be in one accord regarding their finances, which can help prevent financial conflicts during marriage.

Parallel parenting an option for parents who don't get along

In Florida divorces where children are involved, child custody is often among the most contentious issues. Family courts make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child, and sole custody is ordered relatively infrequently as courts generally want to involve both parents if possible. Most child custody disputes end with some type of joint custody arrangement. When deciding on the specifics of joint custody, courts often weigh heavily the willingness and ability of the parents to successfully co-parent.

For co-parenting to be effective, the parents must maintain healthy lines of communication with one another, and they must have respect for the relationships between their children and the other parent. Children whose parents are divorced develop better when they have positive relationships with both of their parents. Where the parents don't get along with one another, they might consider a parallel parenting relationship.

Child custody and divorce

Every year, thousands of people file for divorce in Florida. It is common for spouses to wait until the beginning of the new year to file because they want to keep the family together until the holidays are over. In many cases, however, there is no need to wait if circumstances are especially dire.

For example, substance abuse could be grounds for an immediate breakup. However, such an issue can be difficult to prove in court if there has not been an arrest for drunk driving or possession of an illegal substance. In one 2017 case, a judge decided that there was insufficient proof that a father drank in the presence of his children even though he drank nightly.

Getting through the winter holidays after divorce

For those who are newly separated or divorced, you may be dreading the winter holidays this year. This is especially true for parents who will be spending their first holidays without their children with them.

There are may potential minefields — holiday parties where you might run into your ex with a new paramour, waking up on the big day with no kids squealing to open gifts and too many opportunities to overindulge on holiday cheer. But before you get so discouraged that you crawl under the covers to sleep through the whole thing, look at things from a different perspective.

Parents seek to preserve family togetherness after divorce

Parents in Florida who decide to divorce may be looking for custody options that allow them to support their children through the confusion that can come with a parental divorce. Many people are opting for joint or shared custody in which both parents have roughly equal time with and responsibility for the children. In general, kids will move back and forth between their parents' homes and have a room and space in both houses. However, even though joint custody protects the parent-child relationship with both parents, it can still be a major shock for children. They are leaving the family home and may feel a sense of instability, particularly at first.

As a result, some divorcing parents are considering "birdnesting" as a transitional child custody choice. Instead of each parent moving to his or her own home, the children remain in the family home while the parents rent a separate apartment. On a weekly or other regular basis, the parents rotate between the home and the apartment while the kids stay in place. This can help to ease the transition immediately following the divorce, supporting children's sense of stability in their home and parental relationships. However, birdnesting requires a very high level of communication and is best suited for couples separating amicably.

What fathers can do about child custody, support issues

Some Florida fathers who are unmarried or divorced might struggle to get access to their children or to keep up with child support payments. Although courts are supposed to treat parents equally, mothers still tend to get custody, and 80 percent of custodial parents are mothers.

In some cases, fathers struggle to keep up with child support payments. However, they should not simply stop paying. First, they should continue to pay what they can. Next, they may consider hiring legal assistance to ask the court to modify the payments. This will not change any child support debt the person owes, but future payments might be lowered.

When can you leave the scene of an accident?

Whenever a car accident occurs, it is important to wait for law enforcement to arrive before leaving the scene. Not only does remaining at the scene help ensure that you do not receive unnecessary criminal charges for fleeing, it may also help your case if the other party files a property damage or injury claim. While you may think that you are to blame for the accident, the evidence may tell a different story.

While the laws that govern leaving the scene of an accident change from state to state, it is wise to have a solid understanding of how leaving an accident scene may play out. If you already received charges after leaving and accident scene, this can help you effectively defend your rights and keep yourself protected as you resolve the matter.

Making the right financial choices during a divorce

When Florida couples get a divorce, there are a number of financial issues they need to keep in mind. If their divorce is finalized after the end of 2018, alimony will not be subject to taxes, but experts say it is likely both recipients and payers will have less money. However, they also caution that trying to rush a divorce agreement could also lead to costly mistakes.

One that couples should avoid is not taking taxes and other costs into account when dividing assets. If they are splitting a 401(k), they will need a qualified domestic relations order so that there will not be a penalty on the distribution. The distribution must be rolled into an IRA to avoid taxes. If couples are each taking certain assets, they should be sure that when assessing the value of them that they take taxes and other associated costs into account. For example, one account might be taxed on distribution while the other is not. People who want to keep the marital home should make sure they can afford it.

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