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Paternity: fathers play a critical role in children's development

Across Florida there are many children that are born out of wedlock. This can and often does present a number of issues. For example, a custodial parent, which in this case would be the child's mother, may struggle to carry the financial burden of raising that child to the age of majority. On the other hand, fathers may have trouble developing a relationship with their child, especially considering the fact that they are not automatically bestowed with legal rights to the child.

Yet, studies have shown the importance of father participation in the raising of a child. To start, children who have fathers involved in their lives tend to develop higher IQs compared to those children whose fathers are uninvolved in their lives. Additionally, toddlers who have playful and communicative fathers usually develop better cognitive abilities and language skills. When fathers are supportive and caring of their children, then their children are typically better equipped to handle the stresses of school. In fact, studies show that these children are more likely to receive A's on their schoolwork compared to those children whose fathers are uninvolved.

What counts as income for child support purposes?

The cost of raising a child to the age of majority is staggering. While parents who live together through marriage or partnership can share the expenses associated with bringing a kid to age, those parents who don't live together can find themselves amidst a dispute about who should pay for what with regard to child rearing. In Florida, raising a child is the legal responsibility of both parents, which is why child support orders are issued and are legally enforceable.

Of course, the exact amount of child support owed depends on a number of factors. Although the state looks to child support guidelines as a starting point, court-ordered support may deviate from those recommendations if the facts warrant it. Therefore, it behooves Floridians to familiarize themselves with the child support calculation process so that they can create legal arrangements that are in the child's best interests.

We help people of all economic classes with estate planning

Media stories about estate planning usually involve the ultra-wealthy and the famous. Oftentimes these individuals have neglected to utilize the appropriate legal documents to ensure that their assets are passed down without conflict. As a result, disputes sometimes arise which can leave an estate's assets diminished and deceased loved ones unable to recover the assets to which they feel entitled.

Although estate planning issues often arise with those individuals who are wealthy and have complex estates, the estate planning process isn't solely reserved for them. Instead, everyone can benefit from estate planning. By creating a thorough estate plan, an individual can ensure that his or her financial assets and health care preferences are protected in the event of incapacity, and that assets are distributed in accordance with his or her wishes. This can save time, money and familial strife. It can also leave an individual with peace of mind knowing that his or her estate is adequately addressed.

Setting up a parenting plan that encourages unified parenting

Nearly every parent here in Orlando, or anywhere else for that matter, knows that many kids rival the best psychologists, interrogators and con artists in the world. If they can find a weakness in their parents' solidarity, they will exploit it. Even though this is meant to be a lighthearted take on how children attempt to manipulate their parents into getting what they want, it has enough of a bite to keep parents on their guard.

Presenting a united front challenges even happily married parents, so if you are in the midst of a divorce, you may already understand that you and the other parent need to find a way to remain a team even though your marriage is ending.

The benefits of a special needs trust

Estate planning is about much more than determining who will inherit a painting, piece of jewelry or a house after an individual's death. It can also be about giving to charity, taking care of one's pets, and planning for a disabled individual's health care. This latter category is significant for many reasons, including the fact that health care costs can quickly eat into the value of an estate.

This is why many Floridians choose to utilize special needs trusts. These trusts allow an individual to put assets, oftentimes cash, away for a named beneficiary's future use to pay for medical care and other expenses. The biggest benefit of this type of trust is that it can allow an individual to retain government benefits that have strict income and asset requirements. For example, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income may be unavailable to those with large estates, but assets placed into a special needs trust can reduce countable assets for these government programs' qualification purposes.

Millennials turning to prenuptial agreements more frequently

The end of a marriage can have serious financial ramifications. An individual may lose property that he or she owned prior to marriage due to commingling those assets with marital property, and he or she may be concerned that he or she may even lose out on a fair share of those marital assets. Long-term obligations, such as alimony, may be ordered, too. In the end, one's financial position post-divorce is dependent upon the facts of the marriage and the arguments presented during negotiations and litigation. This uncertainty can cause an enormous amount of stress.

Fortunately, Floridians can avoid this situation by choosing to enter into a prenuptial agreement, referred to as a premarital agreement in Florida. These marital "contracts" can delineate how certain divorce legal issues like property division will play out should the parties' marriage not last. While many see this step as unromantic, Millennials are turning to them with renewed interest, as evidenced by one study.

Wills and trusts are important even for those without children

The estate planning process is often seen as being reserved for those who have families. After all, assets are usually left via will or trusts to spouses and children. Yet, the truth of the matter is that estate planning can be beneficial for everyone in Florida, even those who are single and without children. We hope this blog will help shed some light on the estate planning tactics that can prove helpful to those who may think that they can forego this important process.

There are many estate planning tools that should be utilized. To start, a power of attorney and a health care directive allow an individual to endow another with the power to make financial and health care decisions in the event of incapacitation. Through these documents, an individual can clearly spell out how he or she wants to be cared for under these circumstances. This gives many people peace of mind.

How to disestablish paternity in Florida

The establishment of paternity has significant legal ramifications. It allows a custodial mother to seek child support, a noncustodial father to seek visitation and child custody, and a child to develop a relationship with his or her father. While the law generally favors the establishment of paternity for these reasons, there are instances where the disestablishment of paternity may be justified. Doing so, of course, relieves a man of his obligation to pay child support and his right to seek further contact with the child in question.

Under Florida law, there are a number of steps that must be taken before a court will grant a petition for the disestablishment of paternity. To start, the petition must be filed. Then, the man must file an affidavit indicating that newly discovered evidence, obtained after paternity was established, has been uncovered demonstrating that he is not the child's biological father. The man must then submit the results of genetic testing that demonstrates that he is not the child's biological father, or an affidavit indicating that he did not have access to the child for testing purposes. Lastly, the man must submit a sworn affidavit indicating that he is current on all child support obligations for the child.

How to avoid confrontation in divorce

When you decided to file a petition for divorce in a Florida court, you understood that it would prompt many changes in your life, especially concerning your children. No matter what issues have led you to this point, you no doubt want to achieve a fair and agreeable settlement as swiftly and inexpensively as possible. When spouses are locked in contentious court battles, it takes months or even years to achieve a settlement.

To avoid this, you'll want to keep several helpful tips in mind. In a perfect world, you and your spouse would merely sign whatever papers are necessary, peacefully part ways and move on in life. In reality, divorcing couples often have to discuss highly emotionally charged topics involving their children, as well as other complex issues, such as property division or finances. If you and your spouse agree to treat each other with respect and fairness, it is possible to accomplish your goals with minimal stress.

We know how to fight for child custody modification

Recently on the blog we discussed the effects that parental substance abuse can have on children. Sadly, many kids in Florida are subjected to abuse or neglect, or are forced to take on responsibility beyond their years because their parents are battling an addiction. Fortunately, parents can take certain legal steps to better ensure that their children are protected.

Chief amongst these steps is modifying any existing child custody and visitation order. To successfully do so, a parent must show that a change in circumstances justify the modification. In the substance abuse context, this may mean putting forth evidence showing that the other parent is in fact abusing drugs or alcohol and how that abuse poses a threat to the child's best interests. This can be a challenging thing to do, especially when one is operating on a gut feeling.

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