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West Palm Beach Florida Family Law Blog

Dealing with the thorny issue of stepparents and discipline

When divorced parents with primary custody of their kids remarry, their new spouses are a big part of their kids' lives. These stepparents often assume many parenting responsibilities -- particularly if the other biological/legal parent lives far away or has little regular contact with the kids.

However, things can get tricky when it comes to discipline. Stepparents may not feel comfortable disciplining a stepchild. Further, non-custodial parents may try to take legal action if they believe their children's stepparents have too much control over their kids.

What kind of expenses should child support cover?

If you're a divorcing (or soon-to-be divorcing) parent, whether you'll be the one receiving or paying child support, it's essential to understand what kind of expenses it's intended to cover. Many people think that child support is only supposed to take care of a child's minimum necessities, such as clothing, food, housing and perhaps medical care and school supplies. However, it's much broader than that.

Child support is meant to help cover all of the expenses involved in raising a child. This includes basic entertainment needs. That doesn't mean that a parent should be required to spring for a big-screen TV for a child's bedroom or buy every new incarnation of the iPhone. However, it usually includes things like movies, trips to the local theme park, video games and Internet access.

How much input should your kids have in your parenting plan?

Working out a custody agreement and parenting plan can be one of the most difficult and conflict-ridden parts of a divorce. Both parents sincerely believe that they have their children's best interests at heart. However, they may have very different views about what those are.

Should children's wishes be considered in this process? That's a tricky question. They should never be placed in a position of choosing which parent they want to live with or how they want to divide their time. However, if your kids are old enough and/or mature enough, it's wise to take their views into consideration.

How can you prevent your co-parent from taking your child abroad?

If you're a separated or divorced parent who has concerns that your co-parent will take your children outside the country without your permission (and possibly not return them), there are steps that you can take to help prevent that.

The U.S. State Department has something called the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). If you enroll your child in that program, the State Department's Office of Children's Issues will notify you if your co-parent requests a passport application for your child, as long as your child is under 18 and qualifies for U.S. citizenship.

Protecting yourself against the threat of domestic violence

The threat of domestic violence of any kind is stressful and emotionally challenging for every member of your family. If you are dealing with this issue and want to take steps to protect yourself against this threat, there are legal options available to you.

Domestic violence is a very serious legal issue, and there are various types of legal protections available to the men and women who want to prevent others from stealing their peace of mind and safety. Through a restraining order or other types of orders of protection, you can take a definitive step to shield yourself from continued stalking, harassment and other types of threats.

Addressing kids' college expenses in child support agreements

When divorcing parents negotiate child support agreements, their primary focus is often how much money is needed to care for kids while they're still living at home (generally until they graduate from high school or turn 18).

In most states, including Florida, the law doesn't require parents to financially support children  after they turn 18. However, parents often take the opportunity while they're drawing up their child support agreement to designate how college expenses will be covered.

Palm Beach properties will be divided in Giuliani divorce

The impending divorce of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife Judith will reach all the way here to Palm Beach. Mrs. Giuliani has filed for divorce from her husband of 15 years.

The couple began making news back home in New York before they got married 15 years ago. The two were reportedly already romantically involved when he announced in a press conference in 2000 that he and his second wife were divorcing. His remarks to the media were the first that the second Mrs. Giuliani, Donna Hanover, heard of the divorce. Hanover left her job as a local Miami anchorperson in the early 1980s to join Giuliani in New York.

Why weight-loss surgery could lead to divorce

Recently, we discussed a Swedish study that indicated that women who gained considerable success after marrying were more likely to divorce than other women. Now another Swedish study has found that people (both men and women) who lost a substantial amount of weight after weight-loss surgery are more likely to divorce or have their relationships end than those who don't undergo surgery.

It should be noted that Sweden has large national databases that contain a good deal of information about its citizens. That information helps make these studies possible.

Bird nesting: Is it the best co-parenting option for you?

When you told your children you were getting divorced, you likely encountered various reactions. Maybe one of your kids stomped off to his or her room, and then approached you in the middle of the night, wanting to know more about the situation. Another child may have wanted to hold a family meeting then and there to discuss upcoming changes and other divorce details. Like most good parents in Florida and beyond, you want what's best for your kids at all times, including (and especially) during divorce proceedings. 

If you're concerned about the transition and want to minimize changes in your children's customs and routines as much as possible, you might want to try a bird nesting arrangement when you and your spouse separate. It's not a new idea although it has recently experienced a resurgence. As with most co-parenting plans, there are potential benefits and downsides to bird nesting. If you research it ahead of time, you can determine if it's a good fit for your family.  

Kids deal with divorce differently depending on their age

For divorcing parents, the battle over child custody and visitation may be even more contentious than their disputes over property and asset division. It's essential for parents to keep these battles away from their children. Whatever happens in your attorneys' offices or court needs to stay there. Don't bring it home to your kids.

It's not uncommon for kids whose parents are going through a divorce to have difficulty handling it. How their feelings manifest themselves depends in large part on their age.

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Fax: 561-253-6353