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Sarasota Family Law Blog

Parental child abduction: Is your child at risk?

When you picture a kidnapper, you may imagine a stranger lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on an unattended child. In actuality, many of today’s child abductors are, in fact, people the child knows. According to the Polly Klaas Foundation, family members kidnap more than 200,000 children every year in the United States, which is a higher figure than the number of children abducted by strangers.

There are several different reasons parents abduct their own children. While every situation is different, many familial abductions share certain elements in common.

Why financial education before divorce matters

Have you and your spouse in Florida been at odds for some time? Have you finally decided that your marriage is over? If so, this decision may find you unsure of what steps to take to prepare for your divorce. You might also be a bit afraid of how the experience will impact you financially. The best way to prepare yourself for a solid financial life after a divorce is to learn as much as you can about your financial situation before your divorce.

Spouses who have not been involved in the daily financial management of their marital household should hold off making any major agreements in their divorce settlement until they have collected information about all debts and assets. If you own a home, you should have access to your mortgage account so you know the balance due, monthly payments and interest rates. You should also assess your property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repair costs.

Detailing Florida’s default custody schedule

A great deal of emotion can be involved in divorce cases in Sarasota. Couples who once held each other in high regard can often find that those feelings remain equally strong (they now simply have a negative connotation). This contention can make coming to mutual agreements on important issues such as child custody difficult.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 22.1 million children in the U.S. live in households where one parent is not present. The hope is that when the parents of these kids need to create a custody schedule, they can work together to come up with an agreement that is suitable to both. Yet what happens if they cannot? 

What to consider before adopting stepchildren

When Florida residents marry a person with children, they may consider adopting their new stepchildren. Before families take this step, however, there are a few things it is important for them to consider.

As families consider stepparent adoption, it is a good idea for them to examine their particular situation. According to Adoption.org, some families may not be ready for this step immediately after a parent remarries. Additionally, the children likely have a biological father or mother. If the kids have a good relationship with this parent, stepparents may not want to pursue adoption. This is because the children's other parent typically has to give his or her permission before the adoption can take place. Adoption generally ends a person's parental rights and some fathers or mothers may not agree to give these up. 

Can you modify a Florida alimony agreement after divorce?

When Florida courts make alimony decisions, they typically do so after considering a broad number of factors, such as each party in the marriage’s earnings, future earning potential and standard of living. In many cases, though, situations change after a divorce becomes final. In some cases, certain circumstances arise that may warrant a modification of an existing alimony or spousal support order.

If you are an alimony-paying divorcee who has recently experienced a substantial change in circumstances, or conversely, if you are an alimony-receiving divorcee, and your ex has experienced a circumstantial change, your alimony agreement may undergo modification.

Divorced? Don't forget to update your estate plan

Have you and your spouse recently separated or finalized a divorce in Florida? If so, you know the magnitude of these events on your life. It is all too easy to get overly focused on the things that require your immediate attention during a divorce. These include identifying how you and your partner will split assets, how you will assign responsibility for joint debts, how you will share time with your kids and more.

In the midst of taking care of these things and many more, it is understandable that you may not yet have turned your attention to your estate plan. Few people get excited about the thought of updating a will or a trust but it is important for you to do this as you re-establish your single life. As Forbes explains, a will or a trust are not the only things that you need to review at this time either.

Relocating with a child after divorce? Consider this

Parental time with children is critical for several reasons. Not only does it help to maintain a strong bond between a parent and child, but it also proves to be beneficial to the child's mental and emotional growth.

For those parents navigating co-parenting after a divorce, it is important to be aware of the different aspects of the relationship. Particularly with regard to relocation, there are a few important things to consider.

How can I coparent well during the school year?

If you are one of the many parents in Florida who has gotten separated or divorced since the last school year ended, the beginning of a new school year might have you wondering how in the world you can or should manage your children's schedules once school gets under way again. Working with a former partner is rarely easy and the extra concern you have about the impact on your of moving between two homes during school can only add to that.

Lifehacker recommends that you and your children's other parent make it a point to at least know the rules and routines established at each other’s homes. Ideally, you can agree on some common routines and rules, such as a consistent time to go to bed. However, you cannot dictate what the other person does but if you are aware of their behaviors and expectations, you can avoid being put in the middle by your kids if they try to assert that something happens a particular way at the other home just in an effort to get their way at yours.

Are there requirements to adopt a child?

Adoption is an intensive process for parents. Adoption agencies want to ensure that a prospective parent meets certain requirements, which ensures that children are placed into loving and supportive homes. While these requirements tend to vary based on the type of adoption and the agency you're working with, there are general rules that apply in most cases.

Many people wonder whether they need to be married in order to bring a child into the home. The fact is that many agencies prefer that children are accepted into a home with two parents in a loving, committed marriage. Additionally, some agencies specify a certain duration that a couple must have been married, which can range from two to three years. It is possible to gain an exception in some cases, but ultimately you'll be beholden to any state laws. 

Post-divorce health insurance coverage under COBRA

Most in Sarasota may expect that a divorce will have a financial impact on their lives, yet few may truly comprehend just how extensive that impact may be. One area that many fail to consider when previewing their post-divorce life is healthcare. While the number of single-income families has been on the decline in recent years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that as of 2018, 4.3 million American households have only one family member that works. In such situations, a divorce could leave the non-working spouse concerned about how they will be able to afford their own healthcare once their marriages end. 

Thankfully, people in these scenarios may qualify for COBRA coverage. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which amended earlier federal legislation in order to provide people with continuing coverage after their associations with the sponsors of their group health plan coverage ended. Its primary purpose is to help those who have left their jobs continue to have health insurance until they can secure new coverage. Yet its guidelines also offer assistance to group health plan beneficiaries (such as those covered under the spouse's insurance). 

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Schipani and Norman, P.A.
1605 Main Street, Suite 1110
Sarasota, FL 34236

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