Tag: Equal Timesharing

Make Your Holiday a Happy Holiday

The family law offices of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. will close at 12 PM on Tuesday, December 24 for the Christmas holiday and will have limited office hours until January 2, 2020. We wish you and your family a Happy Chanukah, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! Below are some tips to help make your family holiday a happy holiday this year.

Happy Holiday2

Before the arrival of the holidays is the time to resolve child custody and timesharing problems so you can enjoy your family on the holidays with minimum stress. Here are suggestions to make your holiday timesharing issues a little easier:

  • Alternate. Some families alternate the holiday every other year. If you get the kids this year, next year will be the other parent’s turn. Having a regular plan to fall back on can eliminate the potential for what is fair.
  • Be flexible. An easy holiday schedule for everyone may require some changes from the normal visitation schedule.
  • Be respectful. You may not want to be friends anymore, but you need to figure out how to communicate with your ex without all the emotional baggage.
  • Don’t mix issues. Do not bring up unrelated issues which could make a problem free Christmas dinner impossible. Set aside your differences until after the holiday season.
  • Pick your battles. Christmas may even be more important to you than Easter is to your ex-spouse. Don’t fight just for the sake of fighting.
  • Protect the children. Your children’s memories of Christmas morning should be about family, food and fun. They should not be forced to witness you and another parent arguing.
  • Plan. Start talking about the holiday visitation schedule sooner rather than later, the longer you wait the harder it can be.

Going through separation, divorce and family law issues during the holidays is always stressful. But, the weather has cooled and the kids are on vacation. Try to make the holidays the best time of year.

 

Merry Christmas

The divorce and family law offices of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. will close at 2 PM on Monday, December 24 for the Christmas holiday. We will re-open at 9AM on Wednesday December 26. We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

divorce holidays

Before the arrival of Christmas is the time to resolve child custody and timesharing problems so you can enjoy your family on the holidays with minimum stress.

Below are suggestions to make your holiday timesharing issues a little easier:

  • Alternate. Some families alternate the holiday every other year. If you get the kids this year, next year will be the other parent’s turn. Having a regular plan to fall back on can eliminate the potential for what is fair.
  • Be flexible. An easy holiday schedule for everyone may require some changes from the normal visitation schedule.
  • Be respectful. You may not want to be friends anymore, but you need to figure out how to communicate with your ex without all the emotional baggage.
  • Don’t mix issues. Do not bring up unrelated issues which could make a problem free Christmas dinner impossible. Set aside your differences until after the holiday season.
  • Pick your battles. Christmas may even be more important to you than Easter is to your ex-spouse. Don’t fight just for the sake of fighting.
  • Protect the children. Your children’s memories of Christmas morning should be about family, food and fun. They should not be forced to witness you and another parent arguing.
  • Plan. Start talking about the holiday visitation schedule sooner rather than later, the longer you wait the harder it can be.

Going through a divorce during the holidays is always stressful. But the weather has cooled and the kids are on vacation. Try to make the holidays the best time of year.

 

Custody Parenting Plans Go Global

A bill winding through the Italian legislature will make any couple seeking divorce with minor children go through mandatory mediation to create a child custody parenting plan to decide all custody and time-sharing issues – from the child’s residence to schooling.

Child Custody

That’s Not Amore

The bill also would require that any parenting plan must stick to prescriptive shared custody measures that require children to spend at least 12 days a month with each parent and class them as resident at both parents’ addresses, rather than one as is currently the case.

“Shared custody already exists,” Assunta Confente, a lawyer and representative of the Camera Minorile children’s rights group, told the protest in Turin. If the law passes, she added, “children will be forced to live two lives.”

The bill would also take away monthly child support and replace it with directly paid maintenance, whereby parents pay for children’s needs as and when they arise instead of handing over a fixed sum in advance.

Florida Parenting Plans

I’ve written on Florida’s attempts to legislate the parenting plan concept before, including equal timesharing and other issues.

In Florida, a Parenting Plan is required in all cases involving time-sharing with minor children, even when timesharing is not in dispute.

A “Parenting plan” is a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and the child.

The issues concerning the minor child include the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. In creating the plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors are taken into consideration.

The Parenting Plan must be developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by the court. If the parties cannot agree to a Parenting Plan or if the parents agreed to a plan that is not approved by the court, a Parenting Plan will be established by the court with or without the use of parenting plan recommendations.

‘Avere un diavolo per capello!’

Women from Milan to Naples, women’s associations, trade unions and more joined together to request that the bill be withdrawn amidst fears that it risks turning the clock back 50 years for women, children and survivors of domestic abuse

The bill has attracted criticism from the United Nations. Last month its special rapporteurs on violence and discrimination against women wrote to the Italian government to express concerns that the bill was one of several signs in Italy of a “backlash against the rights of women and attempts to reinstate a social order based on gender stereotypes and unequal power relations”.

The imposed mediation process would be “very damaging if applied in cases of domestic abuse”, they wrote. If the bill becomes law, “the child, even if they are a victim of violence, will be obliged to meet the violent parent”.

As well as scrapping child support, the bill redefines allocation of the family home. Where the house is in both names, the parent who remains in it will be required to pay a fee to the one who moves out. The bill also reverses the current right of the child and primary caregiver (usually the mother) to continue living in the family home unless they own or rent it.

The Local it article is here.

 

Child Custody: Do Criminal Minds Nest?

Thomas Gibson, former “Criminal Minds” star, can celebrate Valentine’s Day with a new love interest. He and his former wife seem to be very involved parents though, because they have agreed to share child custody in an amazing way called “nesting.”

According to legal documents obtained by TMZ, actor Thomas Gibson, and his ex-wife Cristina Parker, reached an agreement in their divorce after a 21-year marriage. They are involved parents:

Being a dad is the greatest experience of my life.

According to TMZ, Thomas is paying $3,000 per month in child support for their three children, in addition to paying for their private school and extracurricular activities.

Interestingly, the couple agreed that Thomas to stays in the family’s San Antonio home every other weekend when he has the kids, and when he is not timesharing with them, Thomas stay’s in the guest house.

Nesting

The actor appears to have agreed to a ‘Bird’s Nest’ custody agreement. Nesting is a child custody arrangement where the children live in one house, and the parents take turns living in that house with the children – but never at the same time.

I’ve written about child custody issues before. Nesting is not common to agree to, and is not mandated by a family court.  Generally, both parents have to agree to nesting.

Simply put, nesting is when the mother leaves when the father comes home, and the father leaves when it’s the mother’s turn to come home.  The children remain in the house.

Florida Child Custody

Many people are surprised to learn that the term “custody” (whether joint or sole) are concepts no longer recognized in Florida. Florida replaced the “custody” term for the “parenting plan” concept in order to avoid labeling parents as “visiting parent” or “primary parent”. The ‘new hope’ of the change in law was to try and make child custody issues less controversial.

Under Florida’s parenting plan concept, both parents enjoy shared parental responsibility and a time-sharing schedule.

“Shared parental responsibility” means both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities, and have to confer with each other so that major decisions affecting their child are made jointly.

A time-sharing schedule, as the name suggests, is simply a timetable that is included in the parenting plan that specifies the times, including overnights and holidays, that your child spends with each parent. However, “nesting” is not specifically defined in the statute.

The benefits of nesting are that the Gibson children don’t have to move from one home to another during custody exchanges because the parents will take turns living in the home where the children live full-time. The children have a much more stability.

Detractors argue that nesting is expensive because the parents need other places to live. This could mean that three homes are needed: one for mom, one for dad, and the children’s nest which is shared.

The TMZ article is here.

 

Equal Custody Presumption

A Kansas legislative committee heard passionate testimony this week from people both for and against a bill that would require courts to order shared custody and parenting of children in divorce cases. What is the status of equal custody?

Kansas Equal Parenting Bill

Kansas Senate Bill 257 would create a presumption in divorce cases that children of the couple would spend roughly equal time with each parent, unless the parties have agreed to another parenting plan in advance.

If the parties have not entered into a parenting plan, it shall be presumed that a court determination of legal custody, residency and parenting time providing for a child’s equal or approximately equal time with each parent is in the best interests of the child.

Under the bill, this presumption may be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence, a high burden to prove in court.

The equal parenting bill also allows courts to make a different determination if they make specific findings of fact stating why equal or approximately equal time with each parent is not in the best interests of the child.

Florida Timesharing

I’ve written about Florida’s attempt to create a presumption of equal timesharing before. People are sometimes surprised to find out that Florida does not have an equal custody law.

Instead, Florida has a parenting plan concept which includes parental responsibility and timesharing. In Florida, courts order shared parental responsibility for a child unless shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.

The best interest of the child is the first consideration, and there are several factors judges evaluate to determine, under Florida law, what is in the child’s best interest.

Is a 50-50 Rule Good Policy?

Fifty-fifty timesharing between parents sounds like a great idea, and there are strong arguments for and against a presumption of equal timesharing.

On the one hand, an equal timesharing presumption promotes Florida’s existing policy of frequent contact after divorce, and puts the burden on the parent opposing equal timesharing, changing the dynamics of custody litigation.

However, requiring every family to have equal timesharing is like requiring every family to wear a size 4 shoe. Not every family fits. The equal timesharing presumption creates a uniform rule where the flexibility of ‘the best interest of the child’ is needed.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Under current Kansas law, custody cases are governed by what judges determine to be in the best interest of the child, rather than equal custody. Changing that law is a heated debate.

Not surprisingly, the hearing drew a packed audience, who told about the difficulty they have had maintaining relationships with their children when they were allowed only limited visitation.

The Lawrence Journal World article is here.

 

Spanking and Child Custody

‘Spare the rod spoil the child’ sayeth Proverbs. Canada is still debating a bill in their parliament to outlaw spanking. Can you spank without fear of losing child custody or it impacting time-sharing in Florida?

Spanking Worldwide

A bill to criminalize spanking returned to the floor of the Canadian Senate in late February of this year, and this week is currently on its second reading. If S-206 passes, it will go to the House of Commons, where the Liberal majority has pledged its support.

According to the U.N., Slovenia is the 51st state worldwide to fully prohibit all corporal punishment of children, the 30th Council of Europe member state, and the 21st European Union state to do so.

The bill’s original sponsor believes that spanking harms children’s psyches. But those who believe disciplining children with spanking should be an option, are worried that their actions could lead to criminal charges against parents and child seizures by the government.

Spanking in Florida

In Florida you’re not supposed to hit your children. Florida has strong laws for the protection against domestic violence. Domestic violence includes any assault, battery or any other offense resulting in physical injury of a family member by another family member.

However, parents have to discipline their children, and as the good book says, he who loves his child is careful to discipline him. I’ve written about spanking and custody before. In Florida, parents have a right to discipline their child in a reasonable manner.

A parent’s right to administer reasonable corporal punishment to discipline a child is not a crime when it does not result in harm to the child.

Harm, by the way, does not mean just bruises or welts for instance. Harm also means that the discipline is likely to result in physical injury, mental injury, or emotional injury. Even if you don’t physically harm a child, your actions could be criminal.

Florida’s parental privilege to use corporal discipline does not give absolute immunity either. Your run-of-the-mill spanking may be protected from charges of child abuse, but punching your child, pushing him onto the floor and kicking him is not.

So, is it open season on kids? Hardly. Guardians and judges are analyzing you, and you don’t want to start off your custody case explaining why you beat your kids. The excuse: “this fellow does what the bible says” will not score a lot of points in a courtroom.

Besides, some studies suggest that time-outs work just as well as spanking for immediate punishment, and that for long-term effectiveness, spanking decreases compliance. Worse, spanking may increase child aggression.

While there are some limited privileges for discipline, there are major risks to your custody case, your criminal defense case, and most importantly, to your children.

Back in Canada

Some in Canada argue that the bill lumps child discipline and child abuse into the same category. Were the children of spanking parents more violent because of spanking, or did their parents spank more than others because their children were more violent?

The Lifesitenews article is here.

 

Speaking on Parenting Plans

This is another announcement for any readers who may be interested. On June 16, 2017, I will be speaking about child custody and time-sharing at the Florida Bar Family Law Section’s seminar on Process and Procedures: “Be on Top of Your Game” at the Hilton West Palm Beach.

I will be discussing the subject of parenting plans with noted psychologist, Dr. Sheila Furr, PhD. Dr. Furr is a licensed psychologist in Florida and California and is Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology.

Parenting Plans

Generally, a parenting plan is a document created by lawyers or the court to govern the relationship between parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding their minor children.

Parenting plans must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and children too. The issues concerning the minor children should also be included, and consist of issues such as the children’s education, their health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being.

When creating parenting plans, it is important to consider all of the circumstances between the parents, including the history of their relationship, whether there are any issues about domestic violence, and many other factors must be taken into consideration.

A parenting plan has to be either developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by a court; or in the alternative, a parenting plan must be established by the court – with or without the use of a court-ordered parenting plan recommendation – when the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, or the parents agreed to a plan, but the court refuses to approve the parents’ plan.

Presentation Information

The presentation is considered a rare opportunity for family law paralegals to get excellent training. The seminar is an intermediate level one, and provides excellent training for paralegals who already have basic knowledge and experience in family law.

Other topics, besides parenting plans, include communication strategies, billing and professional responsibility, technology in the family law world, equitable distribution, spousal support and child support, motion practice, and final judgments. There will also be an interactive judicial assistant panel.

To register online, log into The Florida Bar Members Portal, click on Meetings/CLE Events.

The course brochure is available here.

For more information on this and other events, visit the Florida Bar Family Law Section website.

 

Upcoming Talk on Parenting Plans

For readers who may be interested, on June 16, 2017, I will be speaking about child custody and time-sharing at the Florida Bar Family Law Section’s seminar on Process and Procedures: “Be on Top of Your Game” at the Hilton West Palm Beach.

I will be discussing the subject of parenting plans with noted psychologist, Dr. Sheila Furr, PhD. Dr. Furr is a licensed psychologist in Florida and California and is Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology.

Generally, a parenting plan is a document created by lawyers or the court to govern the relationship between parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding their minor children.

Parenting plans must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and children too. The issues concerning the minor children should also be included, and consist of issues such as the children’s education, their health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being.

When creating parenting plans, it is important to consider all of the circumstances between the parents, including the history of their relationship, whether there are any issues about domestic violence, and many other factors must be taken into consideration.

A parenting plan has to be either developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by a court; or in the alternative, a parenting plan must be established by the court – with or without the use of a court-ordered parenting plan recommendation – when the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, or the parents agreed to a plan, but the court refuses to approve the parents’ plan.

To register online, log into The Florida Bar Members Portal, click on Meetings/CLE Events.

The course brochure is available here.

For more information on this and other events, visit the Florida Bar Family Law Section website.

 

Equal Timesharing Law Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Timesharing/Visitation on Thursday, March 3, 2016.

Eight more days left in this legislative session, and the new alimony/equal timesharing bill is scheduled for a 3rd reading. But, some last minute changes to the language have been added.

I’ve been following the updates to Florida’s alimony and timesharing laws weekly while the legislature is in session. The alimony and timesharing bill has opposition in the House, which is why the Senate is trying to soften the language.

The amended version states:

In establishing a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule, the court shall begin with the premise that a minor child should spend approximately equal amounts of time with each parent. Using this premise as a starting point, the court shall formulate a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule taking into account the best interest of the child after considering all of the relevant factors in subsection (3)

The former version of the new bill stated:

Absent good cause, it is the public policy of this state that the best interest of each minor child is served by a time-sharing schedule that provides for substantially equal time-sharing with both parents.

A lot of people are opposing the legislation. They insist the proposed changes will hurt women and children and that the legislation could reopen already settled divorce cases, dragging people back into court.

The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar supports the alimony changes, arguing that it will bring consistency to cases where awards can vary widely from judge-to-judge. But the Section has argued in favor of dealing with custody issues separately.

The last go-around, Governor Rick Scott vetoed a 2013 bill that would have applied to divorces already granted. That retroactivity was later removed, but alimony legislation died in the acrimonious 2015 session.

After this past Tuesday’s vote, the bill is ready for a full Senate vote. Meanwhile, the House alimony legislation (HB 455) steers clear of child custody issues but matches the Senate on a range of other changes.

For example, the House alimony proposal gives judges guidelines and a formula for determining the amount and duration of alimony, along with conditions where modifying an award can be made.

It eliminates many of types of alimony that are familiar to couples. Bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational would be scrapped, along with permanent alimony. The bill also allows alimony payers to seek payment modifications if their divorced spouses get 10% increases in income.

It is an interesting time for family law in Florida. This is the eighth week of 2016 Legislative Session, and there are only 8 Days until the End of Session.

The Palm Beach Post article is here.

Florida Equal Timesharing Law: An Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Timesharing/Visitation on Thursday, February 25, 2016.

A new Senate Bill revises the law on parental timesharing with minor children by making equal timesharing a presumption. This week it cleared the Senate in a 23-15 vote.

Opening day of 2016 Florida legislative session.
Opening day of 2016 Florida legislative session.

I’ve written about Florida’s attempts to make equal timesharing of children mandatory in the past. The new bill creates a rebuttable presumption that approximately equal timesharing with a minor child by both parents is in the best interest of the child.

Under the bill, you may overcome the presumption by providing evidence based on factors that affect the welfare and interests of the child, and the circumstance of the family.

Current Florida law provides a list of factors for the court to consider in establishing or modifying a time-sharing schedule, based on the best interests of the child.

In addition to the factors presently provided in law, SB 250 adds the following:

– The amount of timesharing requested by each parent; and

– The frequency that a parent would likely leave the child in the care of a nonrelative on evenings and weekends when the other parent would be available and willing to provide care.

But the bill may be headed into trouble in the Florida House of Representatives. House leaders are pushing an alimony-reform bill that does not have the same equal time-sharing provision.

House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said the House is prepared to pass an alimony bill, but is not considering other issues that have “weighed down” past reform efforts.

“We are concentrating on alimony reform,” Workman said. “Anything to do with not alimony is not germane in the House.”

The bill’s sponsor has said the 50-50 child-sharing presumption would create “greater predictability and reliability” in custody cases, replacing the current and vaguer policy of children having “frequent and continuing contact with both parents.”

However, no state has required that courts order equal time-sharing or joint custody of minor children. The presumption creates a uniform rule where the flexibility of ‘the best interest of the child’ may be needed. It requires courts to focus on the quantity of time instead of quality of time, and changes the focus to what is best for the parents instead of what’s in the child’s best interest.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune article is here.