Divorce Time Sharing

Can a Grandparent Obtain Custody of a Grandchild in Florida?

Written July 30th, 2014
Categories: Divorce, Divorce Time Sharing

Divorce GrandparentAlthough Florida has statutes dealing with grandparent custody and grandparent visitation, those statutes have been declared to be unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.  Consequently, many grandparents in Florida are often discouraged from attempting to obtain custody of their grandchildren, even when their grandchildren are suffering under dire circumstances.  However, experienced attorneys from Jupiter to Wellington and throughout Palm Beach County know that there are – under limited circumstances – grandparents in Florida who can obtain custody and/or timesharing/visitation with their grandchildren.

The court is ultimately tasked with determining an arrangement that is in the best interest of the children, while also taking into consideration the rights of a parent to raise their children. With a case-by-case determination, it is important to understand the necessary steps to take for your particular situation as well as all the factors that go into the judge’s decision.

 

Situation #1: The parents are deceased or unavailable because of incarceration or hospitalization.

In this situation, the grandparents need only show that they are fit to care for the child in order to qualify for custody.

 

Situation #2: The children are taken away from the parents.

When children are removed from a home by social services or law enforcement, the law requires that adult relatives of the children be contacted and be considered to have temporary custody and given an opportunity to participate in care decisions made for the children. In this situation, grandparents may be given the chance to care for the children, either through or independent of the foster care system.

 

Situation #3: Suing for custody.

Grandparents who have reason to believe that their grandchildren should be removed from the custody of their parents and wish to obtain custody through the court system must establish certain criteria including

That they have standing (they have the right to seek court action in the first place). This may be proven if:

  • The grandparents have been responsible for the care of the grandchildren for an extended time, particularly if parents fail to remain involved with their children or provide financial support for them.
  • They can establish abuse or that the parent is unfit. They must show that some behavior of the parent(s), including violence, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental or physical inability to care for the child, or sexual conduct that directly impacts the child, present a physical or psychological danger or threat to the child’s well being.

That grandparent custody is in the best interest of the child. Criteria the court uses includes:

  • the grandparent’s willingness to allow the child continued contact with parents
  • the emotional relationship between the child and grandparents
  • the ability of the grandparents to care for the child’s daily needs
  • the effect of change on the child
  • the permanency and stability of the proposed home
  • the moral fitness of the grandparents
  • their mental and physical health
  • the child’s school and other records
  • the reasonable preference of the child
  • any history of child abuse or violence

 

With a child’s future at risk, it is important that grandparents engage a lawyer with extensive expertise in the area of custody before moving forward with legal action. We at The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. are experienced in consulting and representing grandparents in obtaining timesharing and/or custody of their grandchildren.  Even though Florida provides limited circumstances, creative litigation can oftentimes provide grandchildren their best opportunity for growing up in a safe, nurturing environment – in the homes of their grandparents.  Please contact us for a consultation at our office or over the telephone.

Can a Grandparent Obtain Custody of a Grandchild in Florida?

Co-parenting for the Holidays: Tips for Handling Children’s Needs

Written December 11th, 2013
Categories: Divorce, Divorce Behavior, Divorce Time Sharing

ID-10067249Home for the holidays can be challenging for a family who is separated, is going through a divorce or has recently finalized one. The hardest part for parents can be finding a balance for their children.

In an article from Springfield Collaborative Divorce, “Donna Moore, a licensed clinical social worker in Raleigh, North Carolina shares tips to make it easier for divorced and separated parents to navigate through the holiday season”.  Last week we shared information on handling the complicated emotions, and today we are discussing legal measures to make the holiday time less complicated.

Moore begins by saying, “Legally, it is important to put a parenting schedule in place for the holidays long before the season begins. If you can, sit down with the other parent to work out and agree upon the details.”

To assist them in this process, parents may wish to use a parenting coordinator to aid them in coming to agreement on what works best for their children.

She advocates starting with these five areas:

  • Celebration Meals: Make a reasonable schedule for where and when children will eat holiday meals. It may not be comfortable for them to take on two big meals in one day. So consider how best to accomplish family celebrations.
  • Transportation: Arrange who will transport children when it’s time to move locations.
  • Gifts: Exchanging gifts is a part of many holiday traditions. Decide how and when this will take place. Make a plan if both parents will attend or if there will be separate exchanges. The budget may shape the plan.
  • Childcare: Vacation from school is fabulous for kids but complicated for parents. If both work, simplify the process by having one parent arrange all the childcare.
  • Trips: If one parent plans a trip, the basics should be agreed upon by both parents and details of travel plans should be shared so that the parent that remains home is aware of the status of travel.

“Once you have the details worked out, put them in writing immediately to confirm that you are on the same page and to avoid future conflict over what was agreed upon,” says Moore. These written details are not binding but can be changed as needed to fit circumstances. Just remember they are the “default” if new agreements can’t be reached.

The holidays are meant to be a joyful, restful time for family. Having an adult conversation, making some personal sacrifices as parents can make it the best for children. Making the decisions early will give children a framework for vacation. It will show them they are a priority and that each of you love them and care for them which is worth all the work you do with your spouse or former spouse.

 

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/ David Castillo Dominici

Survey Says, “Who Gets the Kids?”

Written February 15th, 2012
Categories: Divorce Time Sharing, Uncategorized

A mother’s love is eternal, nurturing, encouraging.
A father’s love is abiding, instructing and motivating
.
But occasionally mom and dad have a hard time loving each other. They get divorced. Sometimes when reasonable people divorce, accusations fly as to how allegedly unfit, unlovable and irresponsible a soon to be “Ex” is in regards to children. Some might go so far as to accuse the spouse of child abuse. Whether the allegations are true or not, there prevails an attitude of “guilty until proven innocent” surrounding this issue. Child abuse laws, as they should be, are in place to protect children. But a false allegation impacts the accused the rest of his or her life. Take this study as an example:

A child custody survey was conducted; the group was evenly divided between males and females. A scenario was presented in which a divorcing couple was contesting custody of the children. It was stated that both parents were fit and proper. The question posed regarded what custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. An overwhelming 94% of respondents indicated that joint legal and physical custody, shared between parents, would be in the child’s best interest, with 78% of respondents indicating that a 50/50 time sharing agreement was appropriate. Another scenario was presented. In the second scenario the father has been accused by the mother of sexually molesting their child. The Department of Social Services and the police conducted an investigation and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not the father committed sexual abuse. The question of custody is again asked. As a result of the unsubstantiated accusation against the father, 79% of the same respondents stated that sole legal and physical custody should be granted to the mother. Only 15% of respondents felt that the father should be permitted a minimum of 50% visitation with the children. source

As seen in this example, an accused spouse has little chance of returning to any semblance of a normal life after an accusation. The process of defending oneself, with the help of a qualified attorney, is costly, not just in monetary values but in terms of time, reputation and, of course, the children. For more details and other startling facts of false accusation of child abuse, check out this article here