April 29, 2008
April 27, 2008
April 23, 2008
Guardians ad litem are sometimes appointed in contested custody cases. With all the news coverage of the Texas polygamists, guardians ad litem have been in the news alot of the past few weeks. Just what is a guardian ad litem?
GALs are appointed by the court to represent the best interest of the child. GALs are required in child abuse cases in Florida. Each judicial circuit has a GAL program that trains volunteers to serve in the program.
In divorces, a GAL is appointed when one of the parties requests it by filing a motion and the court enters an order of appointment. GALs in divorce cases are usually attorneys in Florida.
Judges typically give the GAL recommendations great weight. You need to think about whether a GAL appointment would be helpful in your case. You should also speak with the proposed GALs prior to appointment because you and your child will be working with the GAL throughout the case.
April 19, 2008
The National Center for Health Statistics also follows marriage and divorce statistics. Their latest national numbers (2005) show that there were over 2.2 million marriages and a national divorce rate of 3.6 per 1,000 people - the lowest rate since 1970. Nevada had the highest divorce rate at 6.4.
The overall Florida divorce rate continues to fall from its high of 6.9 in 1990. Strangely, the highest divorce rates in Florida seem centered in Broward County. Pompano, Lauderhill, Hallandale, Hollywood, Davie, Ft. Lauderdale and Deerfield Beach all have divorce rates over 12%.
April 16, 2008
Parenting Plan/Primary Residence, Parental Responsibility
Equitable Distribution/Property Division
Everything Else/Name Change, Life Insurance, Court costs
April 13, 2008
Last week, the Fifth District Court of Appeal decided a case from Ocala that involved possible co-mingling. The wife had looked at 5 acres prior to the wedding, but the sale closed after the wedding.
During the divorce, the husband claimed that the land was marital because it was purchased during the marriage. The evidence showed that the down payment was made with money from the wife's mother. The payments were made with non-marital accounts of the wife and her mother and son. Later, the wife's mother sold her house and that money also went toward the 5 acres.
Even though the wife's pleadings failed to identify the land as non-marital, the judge found that the 5 acres were, in fact, non-marital. The lack of pleading did not matter to the court since the spouses argued the issue during the trial.
Take away two lessons from this case. First, if you have a non-marital asset be sure you do NOT use marital money to pay for it. Second, keep your pleadings accurate so you don't buy yourself an appeal in your Florida divorce case.
April 9, 2008
April 6, 2008
Another year later, the husband filed to modify custody and visitation. There was a trial and the court denied the modification. The husband appealed. At that point, someone looked at the whole court file and realized that the judge did not have authority to enter any orders after the wife dismissed the case.
Granted, this case was unusual because the final hearing was held in front of a Magistrate. The case actually involves the issue of when a case is "submitted to the court for decision," as it relates to the ability to dismiss a case without a court order. Esoteric issue maybe, but I hope that none of you will allow a year to pass without a hearing in your Florida divorce case.