A reverse mortgage is a loan available to homeowners age 62 years or older, that allows a homeowner to borrow against the equity they have in their house in the form of a lump sum, fixed monthly payment, or line of credit.
Unlike a typical mortgage, with a reverse mortgage, the bank pays the owner of the house monthly mortgage payments, and when the owner of the house dies or sells the home, the entire reverse mortgage balance becomes due and payable.
As long as the borrower is 62 or older and lives in the home, he or she is not required to make any monthly payments towards the loan balance. The concept of the reverse mortgage came about as a way to help retirees with limited income use the equity they have built up in their house without having to sell the property.
With these types of mortgages, the owner of the property is responsible for the property taxes and homeowners insurance premium, utilities, fuel, maintenance, and other home-related expenses. If only one spouse signed the loan paperwork, in certain situations, your spouse may continue to live in the home even after you die if he or she continues paying the above-noted bills and maintains the property. However, since they were not a part of the loan, all payments under the reverse mortgage will cease.
Most reverse mortgages have a “non-recourse” clause which means that the value of the reverse mortgage cannot exceed the value of the home when the loan becomes due. This is beneficial upon the death of the homeowner because there will not be any bills related to the reverse mortgage outside of the equity in the house.
No other assets in the Estate of the deceased are affected. There are three different types of reverse mortgages. As with any type of transaction, it is important to shop around before locking yourself into a long term loan.
Single-Purpose Reverse Mortgage
Homeowners can use single-purpose reverse mortgage proceeds only to pay for specific items that are approved by the lender. This single-purpose may be for necessary repair and maintenance, or payment of property taxes. The lender on this type of file is a state, local, or non-profit agencies, and is considered the least expensive type of reverse mortgage. This option is beneficial to many people because it offers fewer expenses and fees than other types of reverse mortgages.
Home Equity Conversion Mortgage
This type of mortgage is likely to be more expensive and is the most widely used version of the reverse mortgage. This is because there are not any income requirements, and the proceeds from the loan can be used for any purpose. This loan does not carry the same single-purpose limit detailed above.
Counseling is typically required before applying for this loan due to the higher expenses, interest rates, and payback requirements of this loan. Because this is a federally insured mortgage, there are usually high up-front or monthly ongoing insurance payments. These payments are usually taken out of the loan itself, and actually reduces the amount you are able to borrow.
Proprietary Reverse Mortgages
A proprietary reverse mortgage is not available to the average homeowner. As of 2018, in order to qualify for this type of reverse mortgage, your home must have a value of $679,650.00. This is not a federally insured mortgage and often has less stringent insurance requirements.
If you are considering this type of loan, you should also apply for the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. This way you can compare fees to find out which loan fits better for your situation.
Wrapping it up
Using this type of mortgage can eat up the equity in your home, meaning there is less value to your estate that is left for your heirs. If your goal is to leave the house for your heirs to live in, a reverse mortgage may not be the right type of loan for you. If you would like to discuss how a reverse mortgage may benefit your situation, please contact give The Orlando Law Group, P.L. a call.
In Florida, courts adhere to public policy when shaping a time-sharing schedule. This policy states that each minor child should have frequent and continuing contact with both parents during a separation and after a marriage is dissolved. The court adheres to the notion that parental responsibility is shared by both parents unless the court finds that it would be detrimental to the child.
It is important to note that divorce often results in a rollercoaster of emotions and situations may arise that lead to conflict between parents. If such distress leads one parent to begin restricting or altering the time-sharing of the other, Florida Statute 61.13(4)(c) states that the Court may:
1. Reimburse the denied-parent, as soon as possible, for the time-sharing missed. This is done at the convenience of the denied-parent and at the expense of the noncompliant parent; or
2. Order the noncompliant parent to pay reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees to the denied parent for the expenses incurred from bringing an action to enforce the time-sharing schedule; or
3. Order the noncompliant parent to attend a parenting course; or
4. Order the noncompliant parent to perform community service; or
5. Order the noncompliant parent to have the financial burden of promoting continuous contact, if the child resides more than 60 miles away from the compliant parent; or
6. Modify the parenting plan if it is in the best interest of the child; or
7. Impose any other reasonable sanction as a result of the parent’s noncompliance.
In addition to the possibilities listed above, if a parent refuses to honor the time-sharing schedule, they may be punished by contempt of court or another remedy that the is deemed appropriate. A contempt order may be criminal or civil. The determination of which type of contempt applies depends on the action of the party. Criminal contempt is often used to punish a party whose conduct rises to the level of embarrassing, hindering, or obstructing the administration of justice. Civil contempt is often used to persuade a party to comply with a court order after they have already failed to abide by it. To avoid being held in contempt, the parties must follow the time-sharing schedule set out by the court or properly modify it.
HOW DO YOU PROPERLY MODIFY A TIME-SHARING SCHEDULE?
Florida Statute 61.13 states that in order to modify a time-sharing schedule, a two-prong standard must be satisfied: (1) that there be a showing of substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances; and (2) a determination that the modification is in “the best interests of the child.” In order to allow for a modification of the time-sharing schedule, the change in circumstances must be significant and involuntary. Additionally, as discussed in previous blogs regarding time-sharing, the “best interest of the child” is the primary standard that the court adheres to when constructing a time-sharing schedule for a minor child and his/her parents. There are numerous factors that must be considered when determining what is best for the child, some of which are:
· The ability of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent;
· The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment; and
· The moral fitness of the parents;
Therefore, if a party meets its burden of proving that there is a substantial change in circumstances and the modification is in the best interest of the child, the court may allow for the time-sharing schedule to be altered.
It is important to remember that the focus of both parents must remain on the well-being of the minor child/children, particularly in developing a safe and healthy environment for them. Additionally, if a time-sharing schedule is modified, then child-support payments may need to be adjusted as well. If you are planning on obtaining a divorce or modifying a time-sharing schedule, it is imperative that you understand the process, as well as the rules that the court must adhere to.
The attorneys at The Orlando Law Group are equipped with the knowledge and experience to assist you with such a process. Call 407.512.4394 to schedule a consultation today.
Divorce can be an overwhelming process, especially if a parent doesn’t understand the reasoning and methodology behind the court’s decisions. One decision that many people must deal with is the courts’ decision on the custody arrangement.
When the amount of time you spend with your child is at issue, it often helps to understand the rules that the court must abide by when constructing a time-sharing schedule. In Florida, courts adhere to Florida Statute 61.13, which may be a little overwhelming to read at first glance. This is why the professionals who focus on family law with The Orlando Law Group are here to help.
Florida Statute 61.046(23) defines time-sharing as a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that specifies the amount of time that a minor child will spend with each parent, which includes overnights and holidays. A time-sharing schedule can either be 1) developed and agreed upon by the parents, then approved by the court; or 2) established by the court, if the parents can’t agree or if the time-sharing schedule they have already developed is not approved.
61.13 (2)(c) further states that the court must make a decision regarding a minor child’s time-sharing based on the best interest of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This means that the court takes into account all factors that affect the welfare and interest of the minor child, as well as the circumstances of the family. For example, some of the factors that the court looks to when determining the best interest of the child are:
a. The capacity of each parent to encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required;
b. The ability of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent;
c. The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment;
d. The moral fitness of the parents;
e. The mental and physical health of the parents;
f. The home, school, and community record of the child;
g. The reasonable preference of the child;
h. The knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of circumstances that involve the child;
i. The ability of each parent to provide a routine for the child, such as discipline and daily schedules for homework, dinner, or bedtime;
j. The capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities involving the child;
k. Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
l. Evidence that either parent knowingly provided false information to the court regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
m. The ability of each parent to participate and be involved with the child’s school and extracurricular activities;
n. The ability of each parent to maintain an environment free from substance abuse;
o. The ability of each parent to protect the child from ongoing litigation, which includes: no talking about the litigation, no sharing documents with the child, and refraining from speaking badly about the other parent;
p. And any other factor that is relevant to the determination of time-sharing.
In addition to the best interest of the child, the court makes its decision in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or otherwise known as the “UCCJEA”. The purpose of the UCCJEA is to avoid competition and conflict between courts of another state, where matters of custody may have been previously handled.
The UCCJEA Affidavit requires the parent to fill out the child’s name, place of birth, birth date, sex, present address, the period of residence, and places where the child has lived within the past 5 years. It also requires the name, present address, and the relationship to the child for each person with whom the child has lived during that 5-year period.
Statute 61.13 further states that it is the public policy of the state that each minor has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or after the marriage is officially dissolved. It encourages both parents to share the rights and responsibilities that come with raising their child. It also emphasizes that there is no presumption against the father or mother of the child regarding their time-sharing, which essentially means that there is no predetermination made by the court regarding which parent the child will spend more time with. After the court weighs all of the factors outlined above, it will make its determination based on whatever time-sharing schedule is best suited for the child’s individual needs.
If you are currently struggling with determining a suitable time-sharing schedule in a divorce child custody situation, finding an attorney who can effectively help you during its construction is vital. The attorneys at The Orlando Law Group are ready, willing, and able to assist you with such a process. We have countless hours of experience in family court helping our clients navigate divorce cases and understand the type of custody that has been arranged.
Call 407.512.4394 to schedule a consultation today.
By Attorney Marsha Summersill
What is a narcissist?
A narcissist is someone characterized as having a narcissistic personality disorder. This disorder is defined by psychologists as a mental condition in which an individual has an inflated sense of self-importance, an insatiable need for outside attention has difficulty in relationships, and has a clearly defined lack of empathy for others.
One of the lesser-known defining elements of a narcissist is that despite the outward impression of self-confidence, they possess delicate self-esteem and are easily hurt by even small amounts of criticism.
Someone with a narcissistic personality disorder will often have problems in many areas of their life. Narcissists have difficult times in relationships, at work or school, and those difficulties can find their way into other important parts of their life.
Because of the narcissist’s need for constant outside admiration, they will often be disappointed in normal relationships and will find them unfulfilling. Because of this, the narcissist will typically seem unhappy, dissatisfied, and disappointed.
What does narcissistic mean?
To be narcissistic means to possess the characteristics of a narcissist. This means they have a constant and unrealistic need for affirmation and lack empathy for others, even those closest to them.
It can be difficult to identify someone’s personality as narcissistic. It’s important to understand that narcissism is a scientifically defined mental condition. While it might be easy or convenient to anecdotally classify someone as being a narcissist, for this article, we advise our clients to refrain from using that term unless there has been a clinical diagnosis.
Signs you are in a narcissistic relationship
While it is important to have someone diagnosed as a narcissist to best understand the situation, there are some signs you can look for if you believe you are in a narcissistic relationship. Here are some of the most common.
- Your partner or ex has to dominate the conversation. This is because the narcissist wants all of the focus and attention to be on them, with little regard for how others feel.
- Your partner or ex continually interrupts without consideration for your feelings. Remember, a narcissist lacks empathy and understanding of other’s feelings so they will barge in on the conversation without care.
- Your partner or ex feels that boundaries or rules don’t apply to them. A narcissist believes they live outside of the rules of appropriate behavior. This means that they will go beyond the boundaries of what is appropriate and feel that they are justified in breaking any rules that govern basic human-to-human relationships.
- The projection of a false, exaggerated appearance. The narcissist so badly wants to impress those around them that they will often exaggerate many things about their lives. What’s happening here is that they want to convey the message that they are better than everyone else.
- The narcissist is manipulative. They will use situations and other people to their advantage and strengthen their belief that they are better than those around them. Even under pretense, someone with narcissistic tendencies will “use” people and environments to elevate their position and draw out the attention and admiration of others.
- Your partner or ex is grandiose. The narcissist has a false sense of self-importance and will portray themselves in kind. Their behaviors will be exaggerated. They will imply that they are heroic and others simply could not survive without them.
- Your partner or ex isolates you from your friends and is highly controlling. Remember, to the narcissist, it is all about them, and they do not want you to share your attention or affection with others.
- Your partner or ex likes to spread negative emotions. One of the most potent ways to get attention is to spread negative emotions. These negative emotions could be caused by the smallest of circumstances, real or perceived. This behavior will often throw-off people around them and direct attention to the narcissist.
Can a narcissist change?
There is much debate between psychologists about whether a narcissist can change. The root of the argument is that narcissism is a personality disorder and typically these types of disorders have more permanence. They are increasingly resistant to change over time.
One position is that if a person is diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and desires to change strongly enough, they can change.
However, we are dealing with the complexities and variances of the human mind, and each person and situation is different. The short answer is that it is not clear if a narcissist can change.
How to deal with a narcissistic husband, wife, or ex.
Dealing with a narcissist is another complicated question. There are many experts who believe that, especially in the case of an ex, you should completely avoid dealing with a narcissist at all. Especially if you feel that you can change their behavior. The experts suggest keeping the narcissist at arms-length and deal with them as little as possible or as is necessary, in the case of co-parenting.
The key to dealing with a narcissistic husband, wife or ex is to understand what you are dealing with. Your partner or ex lives in a world that is all about them, and your feelings or existence have little meaning unless you are paying attention to them, giving them accolades, or giving them affection. If you are comfortable living in that condition, you can then deal with it accordingly.
How to handle a narcissist in court during a divorce
Dealing with a person with narcissistic issues or traits during the divorce process or in an adversarial setting is difficult but doable. The following suggestions are helpful methods as the divorce process alone is daunting, and adding the narcissist as an opposing party escalates the level of difficulty to extremely high.
- Be prepared to receive several motions and pleadings that will be inaccurate, inflammatory in nature, and in abundance. The first reaction is to respond in anger and try to counter the accusations with your own flurry of emotional responses; however, this type of response may be counterproductive to your goal for the divorce. The best method is to maintain a calm, cool, and collective stance. Meet with your attorney and formulate a game plan to tackle the motions and filings in a manner that places you in a better position when you do need to be in front of a judge.
- Make certain to choose an attorney with a good skill level to deal with a narcissist. Your lawyer that is drafting your responses, motions and pleadings must be knowledgeable on how to deal with an opposing party that has narcissistic traits. The narcissistic party believes they know more than a lawyer and will attempt to manipulate your attorney. Your lawyer should have the ability to identify the narcissist’s tactics and respond accordingly that will benefit you and get you closer to your desired outcome in the case.
- Keep your attorney INFORMED. This cannot be stressed enough. Do not doubt your knowledge of your partner or spouse.
- Because of the increased problems and high emotional stress involved in a divorce with the added issue of divorcing a narcissist, it is suggested that you participate in therapy with a licensed mental health professional that has advanced working knowledge on addressing the ramifications of dealing with a narcissistic partner or spouse. Really try to use the methods and strategies recommended by the therapist to help get through the process.
- Only use documented or written forms of communication. This is advised for all contentious divorces, but more so in a divorce with a narcissist. You will receive hostile, inaccurate, and harassing communications from the narcissistic party. Don’t respond while you are reeling in anger. WAIT! Consult your lawyer and keep that calm and collective stance that was previously suggested. Remember, every communication has a possibility of being used in court. Communicate in a manner where you think a judge or third-party decision maker is watching and listening.
- Gather your support together! Your support is your legal team, your mental/emotional support team, and your friends, family and other reliable and trustworthy sources or groups.
- Meet with your attorney before any hearings or trial. Review methods with your attorney on how to address any triggers that the narcissist may attempt to use to rattle you and impact your ability to get your testimony heard.
Co-parenting with a narcissist
Unfortunately, co-parenting with a narcissist will require ongoing diligence on your part to ensure the children are insulated as much as possible from the self-serving goals of the narcissist. You will need support. It is strongly suggested to have a mental health professional involved. The therapist or counselor also should be skilled in dealing with narcissistic tendencies or traits from the other parent.
Make certain to keep the therapist informed of the issues regarding the narcissistic parent. Ask for help on how to address the problems associated with the narcissistic parent.
You will receive information from the children on what the other parent is discussing with them or saying about you. The narcissist will most likely engage in a smear campaign against you and inappropriately share litigation information or adult topics or issues with the children. It is critically important not to respond in a “correction” mode or tell your children the real facts. I know it is hard, but do not involve your children in the parenting aspect of your case.
Document what the children are saying to you and discuss it with your therapist and your attorney. Remember, keep your lawyer informed. Encourage your children to be open, honest, and to share. Also, let them know that those conversations are adult problems and the children should not be involved at all. The therapist will have insight on how to address the parenting side of the problems the narcissist will create, and your lawyer will guide you on what to do legally. Use the resources of your support teams.
Moving on from a marriage with a narcissist
Moving on from a relationship with a narcissist can be difficult, even more so if you’ve spent years in the narcissistic environment. You might have feelings of low self-worth, you might doubt your ability to make others happy, you might unfairly judge yourself.
First, realize that it’s not your fault. You were in a situation that actively contributed to making you feel this way about yourself. You’ve gotten out. Now it’s time to move on.
You should take time for yourself. It’s time to reconnect with yourself and find the value that you bring to your own life and that of others. Engage in activities that help you regain balance in your life and help build your self-esteem. Sign up for a class that you’ve always wanted, increase physical activity, spend time with family and friends. Reintroduce yourself to the beautiful things life has to offer.
In some cases, you might want to consider getting help through therapy. Sometimes just having someone to speak with about the situation can help ease the process of moving on. A professional who can specifically address the situation can be a valuable resource.
No matter what, you must move on. You will find “yourself” again and realize that you are the beautiful, miraculous person you were meant to be.
When selling a firearm, there is a lot of regulation; however, most of it is designed for transactions between Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers (FFL) and private citizens. The good news is that when selling a firearm is conducted between two private citizens, the rules are simple and there is no wait time, but there are still a few legal requirements. In Florida, both persons (seller and buyer) would need to be residents of the State of Florida (or of the same state otherwise); be at least 18 years of age, and must not have any legal disabilities. For a complete list of legal disabilities, see the federal statute at 18 USC 922(g). This is true even for handguns, as opposed to the federal age requirement of 21 years of age for an individual to be able to purchase a handgun from an FFL dealer. The private seller is not required to ask if the buyer has any legal disabilities, but if the buyer tells you or you suspect the buyer may have a disability, you cannot legally sell to them. It would also be prudent to either copy or given technology today, take a picture of the person’s identification evidencing their Florida or same state residence in case any residency issues come up in the future.
What should I know if I want to sell to someone out of state? A private resident of Florida (or any state for that matter) may not legally purchase or sell any firearm directly from or to any private individual that is a resident of another state, period. However, there is a legal exception to get around this prohibition on private firearm sales to persons that are not residents of the same state as the seller.
Federally speaking, a firearm is not transferred until “delivery”. The steps that need to be taken to sell or purchase firearms from private individuals residing in different states are: 1) The firearm must be delivered and picked up at an FFL, for a small fee, in the buyer’s state. 2) The buyer will need to fill out the Form 4473 and obtain the criminal record check and approval in their resident state. 3) The sale must be lawful in the buyer’s resident state. With these steps, you will have a lawful delivery and sale according to federal regulations. Please note again that you cannot legally, directly deliver the firearm to the resident in the other state. Also, be wary of “strawman” transactions. It is a felony for a person to purchase a firearm for a non-resident or for someone with any legal disqualification. If you have reasonable cause to suspect the purchaser is a “strawman”, do not make the sale to that person. F.S. 790.065
What if I’m trying to sell a firearm to someone under the age of 18? Short answer, don’t do it. However, for those of you who enjoy tangling with the intricacies of the law, when the other party is under 18 years of age, it gets rather complicated. It is a felony to sell, give, or lend any person under 18 any weapon, UNLESS you receive prior written permission from one of the minor’s parents or legal guardians. Failure to obtain the parent’s or legal guardians prior written permission is a violation of F.S. 790.17 and a felony if the weapon is a firearm. Florida law forbids the possession of handguns, but not shotguns or rifles, for persons under the age of 18. (even though the Federal law requires you to be at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun from an FFL dealer.) There are a few exceptions to a minor’s legal use and possession of handguns, such as for target practice or handgun instruction courses. You will also still need prior written permission from the minor’s parent or legal guardian to engage in those activities as well. If the minor is 16 years or younger, it’s a felony for them to use the firearm, unless they are supervised by an adult legally permitted to have the firearm. If you were involved in their possession of a firearm, you could also be held civilly liable for damages caused by the minor. As earlier stated, this is a situation best entirely avoided.
Author: Jeffrey W. Smith, The Orlando Law Group
Jeffrey W. Smith is an attorney for The Orlando Law Group. His practice focuses on veteran appeals, family law, and civil litigation. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, serving in Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. Jeffrey lives in Oviedo with his family.
Obtaining a U.S. passport for your child will require slightly more work than it will take to get one for yourself. To start, both parents or guardians must be present when applying for the passport, except in certain circumstances that will be explained below. Every U.S. citizen needs a passport to enter and leave foreign countries, so even your infant will need to complete the following steps, which cannot be done by mail for first time applicants.
The first step is completing application form DS-11, which may be done either in writing or online. The requested personal information includes your child’s full name, date and place of birth, gender, phone number, travel plans and an emergency contact. Next, you must gather supporting documents to be presented at the time you submit the application at a passport office. You will be required to show: evidence of your child’s U.S. citizenship; proof of the parents’ or guardians’ relationship to the child; a photo ID of the parents/guardians or the child; a photocopy of identification documents; and one passport photo of your child.
Evidence of U.S. citizenship may be demonstrated by: a previously issued, undamaged passport; a certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state; a consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth; a naturalization certificate; or a certificate of citizenship. To obtain certified copies, contact the registrar’s office of the state where your child was born, and be sure to get the “long form”. Evidence of parental relationship may be demonstrated by: the child’s U.S. birth certificate; foreign birth certificate; adoption decree; divorce/custody decree; or consular report of birth abroad of a U.S. citizen. The parent(s) or guardian(s) applying for the child’s passport must submit photo ID if the child does not have one, an undamaged passport or valid driver’s license will suffice.
If one parent/guardian is unable to appear, the DS-11 application must be accompanied by a signed, notarized form DS-3035: statement of consent from the non-applying parent/guardian. If one parent/guardian is absent and cannot be located, the applying parent must submit form DS-5525: statement of exigent/special family circumstances. The statement must explain in detail the non-applying parent/guardian’s unavailability and the recent efforts made by the applying parent to contact the unavailable party. The applying parent may also be required to provide evidence to document his/her claim of exigent or special circumstances. Evidence may be in the form of a custody order, incarceration order, or restraining order, for example. To protect against international parental child abduction, the Passport Agency processing the application may ask for additional details if the statement is determined to be insufficient.
If the minor has only one parent/guardian, evidence of sole authority to apply for the minor must be submitted with the application. Evidence may include: a U.S. or foreign birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, or adoption decree, listing only the applying parent; a court order granting sole legal custody to the applying parent; a court order specifically permitting applying parent’s travel with the child; a judicial declaration of incompetence of the non-applying parent; or the death certificate of the non-applying parent.
If you are a parent or guardian and find yourself in need of obtaining a passport for your minor child, particularly if needed during the course of a divorce or paternity proceedings, please contact one our outstanding attorneys at The Orlando Law Group, P.L.
Author: Jeffrey W. Smith, The Orlando Law Group
Jeffrey W. Smith is an attorney for The Orlando Law Group. His practice focuses on veteran appeals, family law, and civil litigation. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, serving in Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. Jeffrey lives in Oviedo with his family.
You’ve gone through a divorce, which is never an easy thing for anyone. The emotional and time toll that these proceedings take on a person can be utterly exhausting. But once the judge bangs the final gavel, is there more to do, save fulfill your court-mandated obligations? Well, if children are involved, the answer to that is, quite possibly!
Child support determinations are not set in stone. There are factors which can lead to a case being reopened, and modification occurring as to exactly how much is owed. Modifications to an existing child support ruling are sought when a substantial change in circumstances occurs. This alteration will either increase or decrease the amount of child support which is paid or received by a party.
But what constitutes a substantial change in circumstances? The loss of a job, or a large promotion, is certainly the first which spring to mind. Any substantial increase or decrease in income could be seen by the court as cause to modify the existing ruling. However, it is more than just a change in either party’s income that merits such a modification. Rulings could be changed if expenses shift, such as an increase or decrease in the cost of daycare or health insurance for the child. Another example of an opportunity for child support modification comes when a child turns 18 and graduates from high school.
But, when it comes to divorced families, money is not the only factor that can be re-determined. Time sharing is also determined by the court, and can always be modified provided there be a substantial change in circumstance. The alleging party must prove that such a shift has occurred, and show the court that the requested change, whether it be for an increase or decrease of time, is in the best interest of the child.
Time and money are two factors that can prove daunting in the post-divorce landscape. If you are seeking to modify your existing child support or time management arrangement, it is important to have the input of an experienced and skilled attorney.
The Orlando Law Group specializes in family law, including modifications. Call us at 407.512.4394 to schedule a consultation today!
Adoption is a beautiful way to grow your family. Taking in a child in need, either domestically or abroad is one of the most noble and rewarding experiences a parent can undertake. The process for adoption can be long and arduous, and mistakes can cause major setbacks, up to and including having the adoption disrupted. The presence of an adoption attorney can help you avoid these potentially disastrous consequences and welcome your new addition in peace!
When choosing to adopt a child, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different types of adoptions available.
Domestic Child Adoption speaks of a scenario in which you and the child you wish to adopt are both residing within the United States. If the prospective parent and child reside within the same state, it is called domestic intrastate adoption. If they are in different states, it is known as domestic interstate adoption. Adoption specifics vary depending on the state or states involved and the level of cooperation from the birth parents. Domestic intrastate adoption is a far simpler process, as you only have to concern yourself with meeting the requirements of one state.
When you adopt a child from a country other than the one you reside in, that is called International Child Adoption. This process is subject to the laws and regulations of your state, the United States government, and the foreign government where the child is coming from. International Adoptions are also subject to the requirements of The Hague Convention, a treaty among member countries that sets internationally agreed-upon minimum procedures for all member country affiliated adoptions.
In both types of adoption, it is important to have a Home Study completed prior to taking custody. The Home Study is the require detailed evaluation of you, your spouse, your home and surrounding environment. This step is required for all domestic and international adoptions.
In addition to the choice between International and Domestic Adoptions, you will also be faced with several other decisions that must be made. For instance, are you using a licensed adoption agency or is this a private adoption? Will you work with a facilitator who coordinates the adoption, or through the Foster Care system? Will you have an open adoption, in which the identity of the birth parents is known, or a closed adoption where no information on the birth family is given? Understanding the importance and consequences of each choice is vital, and is yet another avenue where legal guidance comes into play.
Failure to understand the laws and rights of both the birth parents and the adopting family can cause a disruption to the process. If you are planning on adding to your family through adoption, it is important to seek legal aid before the process begins.
The attorneys of The Orlando Law Group are equipped with the knowledge and experience to aid in your quest to grow your family. Call us at 407.512.4394 and schedule a consultation today.
If you watch any court show, you’ve surely heard the word “contempt” tossed around. But do you know what it means? Contempt of Court is a provision that allows a judge to deincentivize and even punish individuals who are hindering the administration of justice. In cases of family law, contempt is particularly relevant. Often times, ex-spouses will violate or ignore court mandates such as child support payments, alimony, or visitation time due to spite against their former spouse. When such a situation occurs, a judge could find the offending party in contempt.
Contempt should be taken seriously. Potential consequences could range from fines to sanctions or evil incarceration.
There are two types of contempt, criminal and civil. In a case of criminal contempt, a “show cause” hearing must be held, in which the involved parties present sworn testimony and evidence in an attempt to show why one party should or should not be found in contempt. Criminal contempt can be both direct and indirect. A case of direct criminal contempt occurs when a party violates a court order in the presence of the court itself. For instance, if a Judge orders a party to stop bringing up irrelevant information, and the party willfully disobeys that order, they are in direct criminal contempt. Indirect criminal contempt occurs when a party fails to comply with a court order outside of the court. If the court orders one party to stop contacting the other, and they ignore this edict, they are in indirect criminal contempt.
Civil contempt is dependent upon a court ruling, stating that the offending party had the ability to comply, but refused to do so. Civil contempt courses also carry a “purge provision” in which a judge will lay out a particular action which, once undertaken, will eliminate the contempt. One example could be an ex-spouse who owes 6 months of back child support. Paying the back-owed amount could eliminate the contempt and any consequences that come with it.
If your former spouse has violated a court order, and is refusing to pay alimony, child support, or violates visitation rights, you may be able to petition the court to find them in civil contempt. The court could then fine or sanction your former spouse, or incarcerate them until he or she complies. A petition, however, does not automatically lead to a finding of civil contempt.
The presence of experienced legal counsel is vital to this process. A family law attorney comes to the table armed with the knowledge of court proceedings and knows how to properly bring the issue before a judge. There are many procedural rules that must be followed in cases of contempt, and evidence must be presented in a specific way.
The Orlando Law Group is experienced in such matters and will help you navigate the court’s contempt system to ensure that you receive the support you are legally entitled to. If you believe your ex-spouse might be in contempt, call The Orlando Law Group at 407.512.4394 to schedule a consultation.
When the mother and alleged father are in agreement as to the child’s parentage, they can sign what is known as a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” form. When you sign this form, you are stating, under oath, that the man listed is the child’s legal father. Once signed, it takes 60 days for the acknowledgement to become final. After that initial period, neither parent can revoke it, unless they can present in court proof of fraud or extreme force used to get the signature.
When there is discrepancy or disagreement as to a child’s parentage, the mother or alleged father may petition the court to establish paternity. This process can be started by the mother, the man who has been identified as the father, the child through a legal representative, or the Florida Department of Child Services. Cases can be started before a child’s birth, but cannot be held until the child is born.
The court will order a genetic test to prove or disprove alleged paternity. Following the results of this examination, the judge may make orders as it pertains to child support, decision-making authority, parenting time, health insurance of the child, or payment of either party’s attorney fees and court costs.
If you are involved in a paternity dispute, the attorneys of The Orlando Law Group are here to help! Call us at 407.512.4394 to schedule a consultation!
This process consists of three steps.
1. The court must determine the proposed ward’s mental incapacity.
2. The guardian must be officially appointed for the purpose of carrying out the Ward’s personal and/or financial affairs.
3. Accounting must be provided to the court regarding the Ward’s affairs.
Florida law accounts for both voluntary and involuntary guardianships. Voluntary guardianships occur when the ward is mentally competent, but incapable of managing his or her own estate. They voluntarily petition for the appointment of a guardian.
Involuntary Guardianship occurs when another individual files a petition in Probate court, stating that the proposed ward lacks the mental or physical capacity to manage their own person and/or property.
Subsequent to the appointment of a guardian, the ward may lose some or all of following rights:
– The right to Vote
– The right to marry
– The right to travel at will
– The right to seek or retain employment
– The right to have a driver’s license
There are several different forms of guardianship.
Guardianship of the Person:
– The Ward has little or no assets that require guardianship, but their ability to make decisions such as medical care, housing arrangements, and personal care are in question.
– Financial accountings are avoided; however, the court still requires an annual plan summarizing the previous year and detailing proposed care strategies for the following year.
Limited Guardianships and Guardianships of the Property
– The individual in question is capable of making personal decisions, but incapable of making financial decisions.
– Guardian oversees the proper management of assets and makes an annual accounting to the court.
– Also occurs if a minor is beneficiary of an estate and inherits money.
– Also applies to scenarios in which a lawsuit settlement is payable to someone under the age of 18.
– Permission from the court would be required before these funds can be used.
– The guardian is responsible for making annual accountings to the court.
– The ward is incapable of making BOTH financial and personal care decisions.
– Guardian will oversee all decision-making areas.
– Guardian will solicit the court for permission to spend assets for the benefit of the ward.
– Guardian is responsible for accounting the ward’s assets and care.
– A developmentally disabled child turns 18 and is viewed as an adult in the eyes of the law.
– Summary form of guardianship in which the ward’s prior condition and medical reports take the place of an incapacity determination.
– Guardian Ad Litem attorney is appointed to represent the ward and their rights in court.
– Guardian Ad Litem investigates what solutions would be in the best interest of the ward.
Guardianship can be a complicated and difficult process to navigate. The Orlando Law Group specializes in guardianship, and is ready to answer your questions. Call 407.512.4394 for more information, or to schedule a free consultation.
1. Your Needs Are Not Being Met:
We all have needs, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Both partners must do their part and fulfill the needs of the other. When one-half of this equation drops off, the marriage becomes one-sided. No one should be forced to give their all and receive nothing back in return. If you feel unfulfilled in every aspect of your relationship, then you owe it to yourself to find happiness elsewhere, once a divorce has been finalized.
2. Staying Together For The Kids:
The presence of children always hurts the divorce process, and in many cases, an abusive relationship will carry on for years because one or both parents do not wish to put their children through the stress. Often times, you’ll hear someone say, “we’re staying together until the kids are out of school,” and meanwhile they’re wasting away the best years of their lives.
Children are impressionable, and they see everything. Many of the values that a child carries into adulthood are learned from the examples set forth by their parents or guardians. Seeing an unhealthy relationship degenerate before their eyes will teach kids the wrong lessons about love. Seeing abuse on a daily basis normalizes that behavior, and they may adopt such a demeanor as they grow. Sometimes, it is healthier for children to experience the divorce process than it is to grow up in an unhappy home.
3. Trust is Gone:
Trust is the most important element of a relationship. If you cannot trust your spouse, then every element of your marriage will be tainted. No one likes to worry about who their husband or wife might be speaking with, who they’re seeing, and what they’re hiding. Having to snoop around your significant other’s phone, drawers, or social media profiles is not something anyone should ever have to do.
Many times, repentance is possible, and through time and effort, the bond of trust can be mended. But, if you have been burned multiple times, ask yourself if you can ever truly trust this person again. If the answer is no, then it’s time the begin thinking about moving on.
Abuse can come in many forms. Physical abuse is the most commonly known, but there are also mental, verbal, and emotional abuses, all of which are unacceptable in a relationship. By accepting abuse and continuing to give your spouse what they want, you are feeding into that behavior and reinforcing it. Abuse cannot be tolerated, and if you are being abused in any way, you owe it to yourself to get out of that relationship as fast as possible.
If you are a victim of physical abuse, consider calling the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Whether you’ve cheated or been cheated on, unfaithfulness is a huge sign that something in your relationship is broken. Many times, a partner can overlook unfaithfulness, but it often looms above the marriage like a dark cloud. If you are trying to forgive a cheating spouse, make sure that you have it in your heart to fully forgive them, or you will have a tainted relationship forever.
Also, if you are thinking about being unfaithful, that is another sign that something in the relationship is broken. Either attend counseling and try to cut off the issue before anything happens or consider filing for a divorce.
Divorce is not fun, but it can be manageable. The Orlando Law Group specializes in Family Law, and will stand beside you during this difficult time. But, before that’s possible, you must decide what’s best for you, and make this important decision. If any of these five examples of a broken relationship can be applied to yours, then it might be time to schedule a consultation.
Call 407.512.4394 to speak with an attorney today.
As with most financial accounts, retirement accounts afford the participant (person contributing to the account/account holder) the opportunity to place beneficiaries on the account in the event the participant becomes deceased prior to extinguishing the funds in the account. A common question often in the mind of the participant is, “What will happen to my retirement account if I get divorced?” In Florida, the income of the husband and wife is considered to be marital property, as well as the benefits received therefrom. Funding a retirement account using funds from your income (paycheck or individual deposit) could designate all, or at least a portion of your retirement account as marital property. The problem with dividing up a retirement account as part of a divorce proceeding is that both the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the IRS prohibit retirement plan participants from assigning their interests in their plan to anyone absent a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).
QDRO is a court order that creates a right in the “alternate payee” (former spouse) to receive a portion of the benefits that would be payable to the participant (other former spouse) in accordance with that specific retirement plan’s rules. In reality the way this works is either by agreement between the parties or by order of the court, the alternate payee will be designated a portion of the other spouse’s retirement plan expressed either as a specific dollar amount or as a percentage of the marital portion of the account balance as of a valuation date. If the participant began contributing to the plan after the parties were married, the valuation date is usually the date of the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage or any other date as agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court. If the participant was contributing to the plan before the parties were married then the valuation of the account is usually determined as the value of the plan on the valuation date minus the value of the plan on the date of marriage. After the dollar amount or percentage is determined and final judgment has been entered by the court a proposed QDRO will need to be drafted. The first step in drafting a QDRO is for the attorney or draftsperson to contact the Plan Administrator (PA) for a sample QDRO specific to your plan. Depending on the response time from the PA your order could be draft in a little as a day or two or in as much as two to three weeks. After the proposed QDRO has been drafted the attorney will then send the proposed QDRO to the PA for review. This process usually takes about 30 days. Upon receipt from the PA that the proposed QDRO complies with the plan rules it is sent to a Judge for signature to become a valid and binding court order. The attorney will send the signed QDRO back to the PA who will then begin administering the plan according to the order.
QDRO’s are very specific in nature to each retirement plan and may vary greatly depending on the outcome of each individual divorce. If you think you may be involved in a divorce and would like some more in depth information about how your retirement account could be affected please contact one of our outstanding attorneys here at The Orlando Law Group PL at 407-512-4394. Offices Waterford Lakes, Lake Nona and Dr. Phillips.
Developmental disabilities include cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, Prader-Willi Syndrome, or other conditions that that manifest before the age of 18 and that constitute a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely. The focus is on the decision-making ability of the person needing the Guardian.
How do YOU become a Guardian Advocate? First, you must be over the age of 18 and be a resident of the state of Florida. You must also submit to a level 2 background check under and provide a live fingerprint scan, and lastly, you MUST have an attorney if you are seeking to be the guardian of the property other than Social Security or other governmental benefits.
If you meet all the qualifications to become a Guardian Advocate, you can begin the process of becoming appointed as one. This process begins with a Petition that is filed with the Court along with the Oath of Guardian Advocate and a Designation and Acceptance of Resident Agent.
The next step will be to schedule a hearing with the Court. Upon successful completion of the documentation process, you should receive a letter or call from the Clerk of Court providing you with your case number, the name of your Judge, and the name of the attorney appointed to represent the person with the disability. (Tip: You will have to coordinate this hearing with the attorney appointed to represent the disabled person.) Prior to the hearing, you should draft a proposed order and Letters of Guardian Advocacy and bring them with you to the hearing.
After the hearing, but within 60 days of being appointed as the Guardian Advocate, you will need to submit what is called the Initial Plan. The Initial Plan provides information to the Court as to how you plan to care for the Ward. Additionally, within 90 days of the date of the anniversary of your appointment as a Guardian Advocate, each year you are required to file an Annual Plan.
If you are interested in becoming a Guardian Advocate or know someone who may need one, please contact our office at (407)-512-4394 and ask to speak to one of our knowledgeable and experienced Guardianship attorneys, Pamela Martini or Maytel Bonham. CLICK HERE to download our Guardian Advocacy Bootcamp Presentation.
The holidays are often synonymous with the idea of traditions. Traditions are those little rituals that are passed down from generation to generation. For many people, traditions give a sense of unity, warmth and closeness. Oftentimes their consistency represents security.
That can be a little disconcerting if you’re in the midst of or have recently been through a family breakup. The traditions that you made the effort to cultivate in years past, might be turned upside down by the new realities of shared custody. For example, it may be that the children have always spent Christmas Eve with you at your parents’ house. Or maybe you always made cinnamon rolls on Thanksgiving while you all watched the Macy’s parade together. Perhaps the children have never been away from you on the holidays.
These rituals that once provided comfort can easily become a sticking point for divorced (or divorcing) parents. The reality is that your traditions will probably have to change in order to incorporate both parents and their extended families. Here are a few tips to make the coming months a little easier for everyone:
1. Don’t be afraid to start new traditions with your children based on your custody agreement. For example, if you don’t have custody of your children on Thanksgiving, create a new day-after-Thanksgiving meal, followed by a game night. Invite your family and make it into a fun event that your children will look forward to every year.
2. Take the time to explain some of the new plans to your children so that there are no surprises. Children are more adaptable than we often assume. Sure, they might miss some of the old traditions but they don’t need things to stay exactly the same. What really matters most is that they sense that they are loved and that they feel secure in the midst of this time of transition.
3. Be sure to review your custody order ahead of time. If you have a custody agreement, check it now. It is very common for holidays to be rotated annually. Be prepared to stick to the plan, right down to the drop off time and place. If your custody order is ambiguous or you can’t remember who had which holiday last year, communicate with the other parent and see if you can reach an agreement so there is no confusion on the actual holiday.
4. If you would like to request a change because of special circumstances, make your request early on. One of the keys to insuring that custody arrangements are tension-free is for parents to communicate with each other and plan the holiday well in advance.
5. Never put your children in the middle of any holiday disputes. If you and your ex cannot reach an agreement as to who will have the children on Christmas, don’t put the children in the awkward position of asking them where they want to be or letting them know how distraught you feel about the situation.
The best gift you might give your kids this holiday season, might just be the peace you convey and the tone you set during this time of turbulence and change in your family traditions.
Divorce is not the most fun thing in the world. There’s usually hurt and sometimes anger, which is to be expected. The divorce process can either go easily with mutual respect, or it can create bitter feelings and hurt everyone who is involved. Divorce does not have to be, nor should it be a destructive process. If it is, you can alienate the children.
During a divorce that involves child custody disputes, one or both parents can attempt to distance the child from the other parent. It can be a indirect attempt by a parent, such as making subtle negative comments about the other parent in front of the child. One parent will often criticize the other parent, trying to instill anger and extinguish the child’s bond with the other parent.
At times, one parent will inform the child about the divorce process and the struggle between both parents. One may roll her eyes at something the other parent said, or blame the other for not trying to make the marriage work. Children should not have to deal with these adult emotional topics or ever be forced to pick sides. When parents invoke these emotions of resentment toward the other parent, it can have lasting effects on a child. The child may develop separation anxiety or use the same techniques for dealing with relationships as an adult.
Signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome
Not all children show the same signs of parent alienation; however, many children do develop some type of resentment, hostility or desire to stay away from the other parent. A young child may cling to one parent and avoid the other parent. An older child may develop sleep disorders or have anger issues.
Other signs of alienation syndrome include:
- Having trouble forming close relationships
- Feelings of vulnerability
- Conflicts with authority
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Developing psychological dependency
- The Difference Between Alienation and Preference
Though parental alienation syndrome does occur in some divorce cases, there’s a difference between a child feeling alienated from a parent and preferring to live with the other parent. Some children may feel closer to one parent because of similar interests or because that parent is the primary care provider in the home. Though children may have a parental preference, they still want to spend some time with the other parent.
Parental conflict takes its toll on the child, resulting in the child choosing one parent over the other just to end the conflict. When children are caught in the middle between conflicting parents, they may align with one to remove themselves from the situation, even if they have no problems with either parent. An alienated child aligns with a parent because of deliberate parental involvement.
Children sometimes suffer the most during the divorce, but parents can decrease their children’s anxiety and make the process easier for them. The children are losing a unified home and must deal with the stresses that come with having divorced parents. Understand the signs of parental alienation, and keep the children’s best interests in mind to avoid any further hurt that comes with the divorce.