Can Children Testify In Florida Divorce Cases?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The answer to that question is, it depends.  It depends upon the age of the children;  it depends upon the nature of the judge;  it depends upon what is at issue in the case. 

Normally, judges do not like to put minors in the position of favoring one parent over another, or choosing which parent they want to live with most of the time.  Public policy and Florida Family Laws dictate that children have a strong bond with both parents.   However, in cases where there are older children, say 16 years or older, or where there are allegations of an unfit parent, or child abuse, the divorce court judge may want to dig a little deeper by speaking directly to the minors in chambers.   

Getting a minor child to present to a judge is done upon motion by one of the parents through his/her attorney.  Most often it will be contested by the other party.  The judge will evaluate the reasons for the child to appear and then make a ruling as to whether or not it would be helpful to the court to speak directly to the minor.   If a child is simply too young, the court can appoint a guardian ad litem or a “friend of the child” like a therapist to come into court to testify on behalf of the child and what would be in the child’s best interests.

For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

 

In Palm Beach County Courts, Custody Battles Are Ugly

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Divorcing couples can usually let a judge decide on an equitable split of marital assets and debts.  They can also agree in mediation to spousal support (alimony) and who will pay what household bills.  But when it comes to the parties’ children, neither the husband or the wife will admit they are “bad” parents.  So time sharing of the minor children can be a hotly contested divorce issue that a judge will have to decide.

If you are a parent who basically ignores homework, school plays, sports games, then you run the risk of less time with your children because it is what you do anyway.  If you are partying until dawn, drinking and driving, or have other personal issues, it is likely that you will have less time with your children, or even have supervised time sharing.  (No court wants a parent who has an alcohol problem to be driving children around.)

Watch out for text messages, emails, facebook and the like that can become damning evidence against you.  That is especially true if you send abusive messages to your children.  If you disparage the other parent to the children, this is another violation that is not tolerated by the divorce court judge.  Courts even have a name for it–  “parental alienation”.  Parents who are easily angered in the court room will also exhibit out of control behavior, and this, too, will not help your case.  For more information about how to initiate or defend a time sharing dispute over children, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

Children Often Caught In Middle Of Divorce

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Often when parents are divorcing, their children get caught in the middle.  They are used as pawns to negotiate settlements, they are used as messengers of bad news, they are used as meal tickets.  They are abused.

As a divorce lawyer who handles many, many cases involving children, these are the most difficult to navigate and settle.  Even where it is clear that one parent is by far the “better parent”, it is a hard case to settle and usually has to go to court.

Litigation is costly for all involved…it is also time consuming and tears at your emotions.   Add to that, the fact of extended families and half siblings, and the matter gets complex.  Add to that grandparents who wish to be helpful, but have no rights under the law.

If you are thinking about a divorce and have minor children at home, consult with one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.

What Is A Complex Divorce?

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

A complex divorce is one in which there are many issues to resolve and the Husband and Wife are anything but agreeable.  It could involve many real estate properties, tax issues, a privately held corporation or several closely held businesses, marital assets in several states, trust assets, split siblings or special needs children, assets or businesses that need valuations, and supplemental issues including vocational studies, custody battles, an unfit parent, off shore bank accounts and the like.   Complex divorces can also include bad behavior including adultery and the dissipation of marital assets due to outside relationships, gambling, drug or alcohol use or uncontrollable shopping or other mental health issues.

The more complex the marriage, the more complex the divorce.  The more a couple has to fight over, generally the more complex the divorce.  This type of divorce usually turns ugly and requires the use of a divorce team.  This team includes psychologists or psychiatrists, appraisers, private investigator, real estate agents, CPAs, estate planning attorneys, corporate attorneys, tax attorneys, and of course the divorce lawyer.   For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.

What Is A Social Evaluation And How Is It Used In Divorce Cases?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

A social evaluation is a home study conducted by a court appointed social worker to visit you in the home to see how you and the children live and relate to each other.   It is court ordered upon motion, usually filed in custody battles, where one parent wants sole custody and for the other parent, supervised time sharing and no decision making.

Social workers will visit each parent’s home with the children and write a report for the judge based upon observations, knowledge of the physical residence, interviews and expertise in such matters.  The social evaluator will make recommendations to the court as to what is in the best interests of the children.

The judge will rely upon this report. Opposing counsel will have an opportunity at the trial to cross examine.  And the best interests of the child/ren will be determined by court order.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.famlylawwpb.com for more information.

Can A Divorce Court Judge Order Counseling?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Divorce puts a strain on a family.  There are no two ways about it.  Oftentimes, things get out of hand.   An extreme example of that is domestic violence.  On the other end of the continuum are solveable mental health issues, such as accepting the divorce in the first place.

If a spouse is having mental health issues, or if children are having social issues or trouble handling what is happening around them due to divorce, the judge can order the spouse or the family to counseling.  There are many specific instances where that is done.  For example:

In custody battles to help the judge determine what is in the best interests of the children

In cases where there is a stay at home mom

Where destructive behavior is apparent such as a spouse totalling a car or trashing a spouse’ office

In cases where there is parental alienation of children

In cases where there is an outside love relationship

In cases where there is acute vindictiveness and spite

Judges can order counseling to the entire family or the spouse on an as needed basis.

If you are thinking about getting divorced in Palm Beach County call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

Custody Battles…who gets the kids?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

My client is a good parent…the opposing spouse is a good parent.   A divorce is forthcoming.  What is a judge to do about the children?

 The law in the State of Florida dictates that the judge does whatever, in his or her opinion, is in the best interests of the child based upon evidence and testimony at trial.  Another alternative is by agreement of the parties which becomes an agreed order.   BUT it can get complicated.  As in the case of Michael Jackson’s children, natural parents are not always in the best interests of the child.

The PRESUMPTION is that a natural parent will give the best care, but that is not always the case, again like the Michael Jackson custody battle.  Oftentimes my clients are the PARENTS of a mother or father where the other spouse can’t be found or  is unfit.  In this type of situation, the grandparents can become guardians of the child until the the one parent becomes rehabilitated and fit again or the other parent resurfaces. 

In cases where there are two unfit parents, the court will look to relatives of the child, or foster care.  In cases that are more clear, where one parent is fit and the other is unfit, the natural fit parent will get  sole custody, until such time as the other parent becomes rehabilitated and fit again.

Custody of children carries with it much responsibility.  It is the job of the judge to make sure the children are properly taken care of by appropriate adults.

For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the attorneys at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.