Florida laws protect sperm donors from child support claims


A recent case in another state made headlines when a sperm donor was required by a court to make child support payments. Sperm donation is one way that women or couples achieve pregnancy when they cannot conceive their own. With questions of child support hanging over donors, however, sperm donation may sound like a risky business.

Luckily for Florida residents, Florida law and court precedents protect sperm donors in the state from such situations. The case in the other state involved a man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple. One of the women was then inseminated through an at-home process. According to that state’s court, insemination must be done in a medical setting for child support responsibility to be waved.

Florida law dictates otherwise. Specifically, the law says that a woman donating an egg or a man donating sperm to another couple or person waives all parental rights. This means the person does not have any parental responsibilities in the eyes of the state unless paperwork was prepared ahead of time to establish parental rights over the child.

Florida law has been upheld in court cases regarding sperm donation. In 2002, a court denied a father parental rights after the fact. The man was seeking rights to twins that were born using his sperm, but he had not established appropriate paperwork before the donation and birth. According to the Florida court, a person donating sperm is not necessarily a parent.

Florida couples can continue with insemination practices without worrying about future claims on their children from an outsider. Men and women in Florida can also donate viable sperm and eggs to assist others in having children without worrying about future financial responsibility.

Source: The Print Well, “Kansas sperm donor child support case unlikely to have Florida copycat” Meredith Rutland, Jan. 28, 2014

Movie highlights need for Florida alimony reform


It is no secret to Orlando residents that the current state alimony laws can have a seriously negative impact on those who are ordered to pay. When alimony reform was being bandied about last year, several people shared their stories of financial hardship as a result of large alimony payments. However, although the Florida legislature passed reforms, Governor Rick Scott vetoed the bill.

However, those who are pro-reform have not given up the fight. One of the latest methods being used to educate the public on the issues of alimony reform is the documentary, “Divorce Corp.” It highlights the problems with the current policies and explains why reform is necessary.

However, although the process might need an overhaul, the principle of alimony is still valid. Payments to spouses who gave up jobs or careers in order to take care of their families deserve to be compensated for the time they put into their families. Alimony ensures that a spouse will not live in poverty after a divorce. But the problem with the current laws is that the spouse who is paying alimony could find themselves in financial straits.

New attempts at legislation will avoid the pitfalls of the 2013 proposed legislation. For example, new legislation will not seek to eliminate permanent alimony, but will focus on smaller fixes such as alerting both spouses that their standard of living will decrease after a divorce. Pro-reformists will also seek “retirement” of alimony payments when the payee retires.

No one argues that alimony is a needed part of the divorce process. However, opponents of the current system want the process to be less financially prohibitive for the payee. Anyone who feels they are paying unfairly can seek the advice of an experienced legal professional who can evaluate their situation and offer solutions that can make paying alimony less of a financial burden.

Source: Bradenton.com, “Florida alimony reform supporters rally around documentary film” Kathleen McGrory, Jan. 22, 2014

Eliot Spitzer and wife file high asset divorce


When 26 years of marriage come to an end, you might expect emotional discussions and some contention in division of property. When that marriage ends after at least one incident of infidelity, most Florida residents would expect to see a bit of a courtroom fight. According to statements issued by Eliot Spitzer and his wife, there will be no celebrity drama attached to theirhigh asset divorce, which was filed recently.

The couple issued a joint statement following the filing of divorce paperwork. According to the statement, all issues have been resolved between the two and the divorce is uncontested. This is despite the fact that the divorce was marked contested by the court system.

There are facts in the marriage that would lead some spouses to attempt to get the most out of divorce proceedings. First, there is the wealth involved. Eliot Spitzer is worth a billion dollars. From 2011 through 2012, tax records indicate he made $5 million from real estate investments. He made several more million in television work and drew money from his engineering company.

Spitzer’s wife is not without her own worth, though. She is the successful head of an equity firm. Although she might not need Spitzer’s money, some might think she deserves a large cut of the pie. Six years ago, Spitzer resigned as governor of another state after a scandal involving a prostitute. Despite his public infidelity, Wall stood by him.

The divorce was filed in December, following at least six months of separation. During Spitzer’s failed run as controller, he never appeared at any function with his wife, leaving the media and public suspicious that trouble was brewing. The couple has kept their marriage as private as possible, and that includes the divorce.

According to reports, a deal was struck between the two, but no details have been released. That Spitzer and his wife can come to a civil agreement that allows both parties to move forward is a solid example for others. No matter what your level of wealth or past problems are, working together on property division or other legal issues may get you a more desirable result in the end.

Source: New York Daily News, “EXCLUSIVE: Eliot Spitzer and longtime wife Silda Wall file divorce papers” Barbara Ross, Brian Niemietz and Dareh Gregorian, Jan. 16, 2014

Wife of Florida congressman files for divorce


When a couple decides to part ways it can be a painful and often complicated experience. It can be even more difficult if the couple is in the public eye or has a high asset valuation. Orlando readers may be interested to know that a local congressman and his wife will be splitting up.

The divorce petition was filed in Orlando on Jan. 6. The reason the congressman’s wife cited was that the marriage was “irretrievably broken.” It was not known whether the couple had been separated before the wife filed for divorce.

The couple has been married for 23 years. They are the parents of five children between the ages of 18 and 8. They are requesting privacy as they go through “a very difficult transition for everyone involved.”

The congressman is currently in his second term. His first term was abruptly ended when he was defeated in 2008. However, after a new district was created, he won back a congressional seat. Financially, the congressman suffered a serious setback when it was discovered that he had been defrauded of $18 million in an investment deal.

No other information was available regarding the petition filing, so it is unknown how much in spousal and child support the congressman’s wife will be seeking. The couple will also have to find a way to equitably divide their assets and create a visitation and custody agreement for the younger children. For anyone who is experiencing the stressful process of a divorce, seeking the counsel of an experienced legal professional can make the proceedings smoother and ensure the separation is as painless as possible and fair for everyone involved.

Source: Reuters, “Florida congressman’s wife seeks divorce” Barbara Liston, Jan. 07, 2014

Man kills self, toddler in midst of child custody dispute


Parents who are embroiled in Florida custody disputes may feel tempted to take drastic measures. After all, it can be extraordinarily frustrating to manage child custody battles, especially around the holidays. Sadly, one East Coast man was so distraught about a continued child custody dispute that he killed both his child and himself on Dec. 22. The man was supposed to have met with his wife at 1 p.m. that day to return his 3-year-old son after a three-hour custody visit. Instead, however, he is seen on security cameras throwing both himself and his child from the top of a high-rise building in downtown New York City. The man had apparently known someone who lived in that building on the Upper West Side.

Law enforcement officials say that the child’s mother is suffering extreme emotional distress. She told officers that her husband had threatened to kill their son and himself during previous encounters. The child’s parents were estranged at the time of the incident.

Official reports show that the woman accused her husband of being abusive. Further, the couple had split in August over serious conflicts about money. The physical violence became so severe that the mother and her son were both protected under a restraining order, but that restriction was lifted about three months before this tragic incident.

Parents who are concerned about protecting the best interests of the child may worry about the abusive nature of their ex-spouses or estranged partners. In those cases, family attorneys in Florida can help identify potential safety concerns, drafting child custody agreements that require supervised visits, for example. No child should ever be put in danger because of visitation rights afforded to an unstable parent. A professional consultation with a qualified family lawyer may eliminate the possibility of abuse that could result from a joint custody agreement.

Source: New York Post, “Custody fight ends in father-son murder-suicide from 52nd floor” Jamie Schram, Reuven Fenton and Larry Celona, Dec. 22, 2013