Is shared parenting in the best interests of the child?


Divorcing parents have to decide which parent will be the custodial parent and which will be the noncustodial parent. However, a growing number of parents are opting for a shared parenting arrangement. Shared parenting means that both parents have equal time – and equal say – in the upbringing of the children. Orlando readers may be interested to learn that state legislatures throughout the country are starting to consider the approach.

Several states, including Florida, have attempted to pass legislation that would require parents to make more equal parental arrangements. Florida legislatures passed a law in 2012 that would have included a shared parenting plan, but it was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. A similar issue also occurred in Minnesota. The legislature passed a parenting law that would have increased the minimum custody from 25 to 35 percent, but the governor vetoed the bill.

Although governors might not be willing to sign these pieces of legislature, advocates of shared parenting are undeterred and convinced the arrangement is in the best interest of children. Because there are more fathers acting as primary caregivers, the arrangement ensures that both parents will continue to have equal access to the children. They do concede that in cases where there was abuse, it is not the ideal arrangement.

Although it is true that in most cases children benefit from having equal access to both parents, those who oppose legislation making shared parenting a requirement believe judges need to have the latitude to determine how much access each parent has in deciding legal custody. For anyone who feels his or her parenting arrangement is not ideal, speaking with an experienced legal professional can help a parent determine the best course of action that will better serve everyone involved.

Source: USA Today, “Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome” Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 28, 2014

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:, “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

Clint Eastwood to deny estranged wife spousal support


When a couple divorces, it is not uncommon for one spouse to pay the other spousal support. However, in some cases, the spouse who would be requested to pay takes issue with the request and decides to fight it. That seems to be the case in the divorce between Clint Eastwood and his wife of 17 years, Dina. Orlando readers might be interested in the details of what could turn into a rather acrimonious battle.

The couple is rumored to have been separated since June of 2012, but Dina filed separation papers in September, 2013. She dismissed that case two days later, only to file formal divorce documents in October. According to the filing, irreconcilable differences was the reason for the divorce.

Dina Eastwood has requested spousal support and full physical custody of the couple’s 17-year-old daughter. However, the “Grand Torino” star and award-winning actor and director is denying the request for spousal support. He is also allegedly countering the custody request in favor of joint physical custody.

The amount of spousal support being requested was not listed, nor was a reason given for why Mr. Eastwood is fighting the request. In the case where both spouses have careers, the spouse who might be ordered to pay support might feel taken advantage of. However, until a full financial disclosure is made to the court, a determination regarding support, including whether it will be granted as well as the amount cannot be made.

Whether a spouse feels forced to pay more than is equitable or the spouse isn’t getting as much as should be received, speaking to an experienced legal representative can ensure that both spouses in the divorce walk away on as equal footing as possible.

Source: Huffington Post, “Clint Eastwood Denies Dina Eastwood’s Request For Spousal Support (REPORT)” No author given, Dec. 20, 2013

Divorce rate dropping for military couples


Marriage can be difficult even under the best of circumstances, but the military poses a special kind of challenge. Moving, deployments and long periods of time apart can put a strain on a marriage that might not be overcome. However, Orlando readers might be interested to know that the divorce rate among military couples is actually decreasing.

There are several reasons being posited for the decrease in divorces. One reason is that with the activity in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, fewer couples are dealing with deployment and having to make a long-distance relationship work. Studies have shown that enlisted men and women have a higher rate of divorce than officers, so now that more of them are home, this could contribute to the decrease.

Another reason could be that the programs that have been created to help military families are actually working. Being able to get help from those who have been there and been through marriage, deployment and the other issues military families experience can help a couple cope and work out their differences.

Another reason for the decline could be that couples who married after 2001 were more prepared for military life and deployments. Those who were married before 2001 had to adjust to the abruptness of deployments and long times apart.

A couple who is contemplating a divorce should seek the advice of an experienced legal professional who can help a spouse attain everything they deserve from the marriage. Although a divorce is never easy, utilizing an experienced legal professional can make the experience go much smoother.

Source: Military Times, “Military divorce rate ticks downward” Andrew Tilghman, Dec. 19, 2013

White Stripes founder and former wife finalize divorce


Deciding to end a marriage is not an easy decision, but it is a common occurrence. When a couple has children and is affluent, such as one with substantial business assets, it can take some time to ensure an equitable division between the spouses. Also, the issue of child custody and visitation has to be worked out. Orlando readers who might have been following one of the several high-profile divorces that have been ongoing might be interested to know one of the divorces has been finalized.

Musician and businessman Jack White and model and singer Karen Elson have finalized their divorce. The divorced was finalized in Nashville, the same place where the couple was married in 2005. Elson filed for divorce in 2012.

White will retain his business holdings, the majority of which are music-related and include The Raconteurs, the White Stripes, Dead Weather and his music label, Third Man Records. For White, this was most likely a key part of the asset division, since his career revolves around these ventures and to split them up between the couple could have been a financial setback for White. No other mention of asset distribution between the two was made.

Elson was named the primary residential parent for the couple’s two children. White will have the kids roughly 150 days a year. It wasn’t mentioned if this included school breaks, summer vacations or holidays, but for a noncustodial parent to receive that many days of visitation, it most likely does mean the couple will divide holidays and summer vacations between the children. A judge signed the decree on Nov. 26.

Dividing marital assets and deciding about the children is often a major obstacle for a divorcing couple. However, attaining advice from an experienced legal professional can ensure both parties receive an equitable settlement that is suitable for all parties involved.

Source: Huffington Post, “Jack White, Karen Elson Divorce Finalized” No author given, Dec. 12, 2013

Pregnant women may need permission to move


Florida fathers are often overlooked in the child custody proceedings that decide their kids’ future. This is particularly true when the fathers live some distance away from the mothers of their children. A new child custody case that involves Olympic skier Bode Miller could create a resolution to this type of dispute, however, as fathers may now be able to protest the movements of women who are pregnant with their children. This could improve fathers’ rights to child custody considerations, especially among those who end up living states away from their youngsters.

Miller’s romantic dealings with the mother of his child started when they went on several dates and eventually slept together. Although the pair decided to forego a long-term relationship, the woman ended up pregnant, and she chose to leave the state of California. The woman, a former Marine, departed for New York to attend Columbia University. Miller, who initially seemed ambivalent about the child custody scenario, eventually chose to file for paternity and custody, and Miller was awarded custody of the child.

Now, that ruling out of New York has been overturned by a higher court, which argued that women’s movements and decisions to relocate cannot be limited strictly because they are pregnant. In other words, women who are pregnant would have to seek the permission of the person who impregnated them before they could move to another state, or potentially even within the same region.

Understandably, the pending appeal in the case is meeting with substantial opposition from women’s groups, though fathers argue that they should not be shut out of visitation just because of a pregnant woman’s decision. Fathers’ rights deserve to be considered even when a woman is just pregnant with a child – after all, her subsequent decisions can lead to major changes in the family’s life. Fathers who are seeking assistance with their child custody cases should consider seeking the assistance of a qualified Florida attorney who can help them draft a custody agreement that serves the best interests of the child.

Source:, “Pregnant? You may need the baby’s father’s permission to move” Robin Marty, Nov. 27, 2013