Paternity: Is that my child?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

He may look just like you…he may have your last name on his birth certificate…he may be supported by you as your son, BUT he may not be your child.  Fathers everywhere are paying child support for children that are not their biological children. 

Just because the mother says the child is yours, does not mean it is true.  The mother may not even know herself.  There is something legally you can do to determine with certainty whether or not a child is your biological child.  In Palm Beach County, Florida, we attorneys file what’s called a Petition To Determine Paternity, Custody, Child Support, Visitation and Shared Parental Responsibility.  Through the process, we go to court to get the judge to order a paternity test.  This is the DNA test you read about.  Both you and the child need to be matched through DNA.  If there is no match, you are not the biological father.  If you are not the father, and NOT MARRIED to the mother when the child was born, then you will be off the hook for child support.  There is a glich in the law that says a child born of an intact marriage is presumed to be a child of that marriage.  However, in divorce situations, with DNA testing, oftentimes the father is not the father and he is relieved of child support obligations.  For more information go to the website of Robin Roshkind, P.A. at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of the attorneys at the Firm by calling 561-835-9091.

Relocation with Children: Where are my kids?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

With the economy in trouble and husbands and wives fighting over money, a common wifely threat is “I am going just leave you and take the children to my mother’s house!”  Ladies, unless you are under a threat of domestic violence, this is potentially grounds for losing your children, according to Florida law.  

So, if you just can’t take it anymore, and wish to relocate with children out of state, you must petition the local court for the move IF your husband does not agree to the move.   A judge will enter an order allowing the move only if it is proven to be in the best interests of the children.

What hurdles do you need to jump to prove best interests of the children?  First, the move can’t be for the purpose of removing the children from the parent.  Even if your opinion of your spouse is less than flattering, the children still have rights to a relationship with that parent, unless the parent is a drunk, drug addict, in some other way harms the child, or is generally an unfit parent.  Secondly, the move must improve the condition of the children, i.e. better schools, closer to grandparents or other relatives, a better job for the mother, a better home environment, a remarriage, new siblings.

So be forewarned that to remove children from a Florida jurisdiction, you either need permission from the other parent (get it in writing), or a court order.  To get a court order, you need to file a case, and litigate to prove that the move is in the best interests of the children.   If you don’t do either and just pack up and go, you stand to lose custody down the road in the proceedings.  Another important note:  you must inform the other parent of where the children are.  Non custodial parents are entitled to know the whereabouts of their children and to have unfettered telephone or internet access to communicate with them.  For more information, visit the Firm website at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of our experienced family law attorneys at Robin Roshkind, P.A. by calling 561-835-9091.

DOMESTIC PARTNER AGREEMENTS…What they mean to you.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

There are many reasons to legally marry.  But there are also many legal reasons to live together under one roof and not marry.

One reason to not marry is if one partner is getting alimony payments.  Generally, by operation of law, alimony ceases upon remarriage of the recipient.   Another reason not to marry is to be able to continue to collect social security benefits.  A third reason is that marriage is prohibited among gay and lesbian couples in the state of Florida.  They can’t marry, at least not yet and until the laws change.

Whether the relationship is heterosexual or homosexual, in addition to the emotional bonds between unmarrieds, this segment of the population CAN still protect their legal rights by executing a domestic partnership agreement.

These legal documents are contracts that set forth in legal terms, the close relationship that takes place under one roof.  They are used as proof for health insurance coverage and other company benefits of one partner to the other.  They allow for beneficiary designations, visits in the hospital, property rights, and also responsibilities of one partner to the other and the household.  They are wholly recognized and enforcable in a court of law.  They are for life partners who are in a long term relationship but choose not to marry or cannot marry. 

Issues that need to be addressed by this segment of society also include power of attorney, which allows one partner to legally stand in the shoes of the other, to sign contracts, collect rent, write checks and pay bills, open and close bank accounts, credit card accounts, purchase insurance, buy or sell property, etc.

Health care surrogacy agreements provide for health care decision making should one partner be incapacitated, unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for themselves. 

Pre need guardianship agreements are legal documents that establish one partner as legal guardian over the other and his or her property, in advance.  These agreements go into effect when and if the need arises.

Living wills are legal documents that designate who should make the decision and when to “pull the plug” should one partner become in a vegitative state.   Oftentimes a partner designates the other partner and the treating physician/s to make this decision jointly.

Cohabitation agreements set forth in a legal contract, who pays for what in the household, and how the assets and debts are to be split should the relationship fail.  There can be no divorce if there is no marriage, so cohabitation agreements serve the purpose of the prenuptial agreements for unmarrieds.

The BIG POINT is this:  IF YOU ARE LIVING WITH A PARTNER IN A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP AND ARE NOT GOING TO MARRY, THERE ARE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE AND SHOULD TAKE TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER UNDER THE LAW.  For more information go to the web site of Robin Roshkind, P.A. at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of our attorneys by calling for an appointment today.  561-835-9091.

DIVORCE: I want to be single again!

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

There are two primary reasons why marriages fail.  Sex or money or both.  In today’s troubled economy, both are cause for marital trauma.  This article is about the psychology of divorce and its legal implications; obviously both are very much intertwined.

It’s no secret that relationships are stressed.  With couples of all income levels having money problems, from Wall Street to Main Street, there is much to argue about.  And when the relationship is stressed, oftentimes spouses look outside the marriage for comfort.  In divorce cases, where a paramour is involved, this brings forth a whole host of legal issues including:

 1.  detriment to the children 

 2.  dissipation of marital assets 

 3.  jealousy and vindictiveness, and the desire to “get even”.

This causes more acrimony and less chance for an amicable legal settlement.

With retirement accounts dwindling by the minute, investment income faltering, taxes and daily living expenses on the rise, home prices at bargain basement values with huge mortgages, and still not selling, couples are concerned about how they are going to make it through.  Many jump ship before it sinks.  The big point here is that in certain cases, THAT IS JUSTIFIABLE. 

For example, if a spouse is a bad money manager and argues every step of the way, you ask yourself, WHO NEEDS IT?   Or in the case of a shopaholic, who “just can’t help it”, in today’s times, who needs to support that?   Especially if the love has died.  Or the sex.  How many of you out there in cyberland have not had sex with your spouse in years?  I see this often in my practice and it is more common that you might think.

Divorce is never a pleasant experience even under the best of circumstances.  But in today’s economy, it might be better to be single again.  Only you can decide that for yourself.  For more information go to the Robin Roshkind, P.A. web site at www.familylawwpb.com or call for a consultation with one of our attorneys at 561-835-9091.

DIVORCE AND THIS ECONOMY

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

It is common knowledge that everyone everywhere is now affected by what is happening on Wall Street.  The problem is enormous and worldwide.  It is also common knowledge the two main reasons marriages fail is because of sex and money.  This article will speak to the latter.  Disagreements over managing money in this economy, and high lifestyle expectations (dashed) are more than ever causing marriages to fall apart. 

If you are the major breadwinner of your family,  now is a good time to get a divorce.   You will be able to buy your spouse out of the marital home for a bargain basement price.  That is, if you can get financing. As far as division of marital assets and debts is concerned, if your retirement plan took a recent hit on Wall Street, that is that much less you will need to split with your spouse.  If your spouse is irresponsible with money, a shopaholic, or high maintenance, now is the time to get rid of him or her. 

If your job is at risk, or bonuses are not forthcoming, your alimony obligation may also be lower.  Make it unmodifiable or a lump sum in the negotiations!  Child support may be lower too, if your passive investment income is down.  

If you are the dependent spouse, a divorce may be just the thing to protect your good credit!  You may need it to buy a condo or townhouse when the credit freeze eases.  As to credit card debt, try to pay at least the minimums each month for the same reason.   Credit can be ruined by an irresponsible spouse.

With divorcing parents, the spouse who maintains custody of the children gets a child support check tax free from the other spouse.  This custodial parent also gets the head of household tax deduction every year and may also keep the child deductions in settlement negotiations.

So if you are thinking about divorce, there are many favorable economic reasons to start divorce proceedings in this bad economy.  For more information, go the Robin Roshkind, P.A. web site at www.familylawwpb.com or call one of our attorneys at 561-835-9091 for a consultation sooner rather than later.

How To Tell The Kids We Are Getting Divorced

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

You have met with a divorce lawyer.  You have photocopied boxes of documents…everything from tax returns to bank statements to credit card receipts.  You discussed divorce with your spouse.  Now, what about the kids?

Ideally, if the divorce is going to be a collaborative one – that is, an amicable or uncontested divorce – then spouses should share this responsibility of breaking the news to the family.  However, in cases where one spouse has moved out and on, or the divorce is acrimonious, often the task belongs to the custodial parent. 

Below is a check list of what to do and what not to do when telling your school age children about the divorce:

1.  It is important to sit the children down and make it very clear that they are not the problem.  The divorce is not their fault.  Children sometimes think they are the cause and feel terribly responsible for the situation.  Make sure they know it is not their fault.

2.  Tell the children that you are not divorcing them.  Children need to feel secure and loved by both parents.  Especially at this traumatic time.

3.  Don’t disparage the other spouse.  Children identify themselves with both parents.  If something is wrong with one according to the other, they think something is wrong with them.  This causes low self esteem, nightmares and school problems.

4.  Explain what divorce is, and if you can, why the divorce is occurring.  Be sure to explain it is between mommy and daddy.  Also stress that they will always have a mommy and a daddy no matter what.

5.  Children need assurance that they will be safe and that everything is going to be ok.  Explain to them about having two homes and two places to stay, two sets of friends, two beds, two rooms, two birthday parties, etc.  Put the situation in a positive light that youngsters can understand. 

What if one spouse has another newer family and has moved on?  Get your children to counseling.  This may have to be court ordered, but so be it. 

There is a web site to read more about this subject at www.howdoitellthekids.com. For more information about the legalities, consult with the attorneys at ROBIN ROSHKIND, PA at 561-835-9091 or visit our web site at www.familylawwpb.com.