Law Office of Daniel E. Forrest, P.A.

Alimony awards as parties in Florida divorce near retirement

Given Florida’s popularity as a retirement destination, the issue commonly comes up about how to structure alimony when divorcing parties are nearing retirement age. This is a multifaceted question of some complexity.


Interplay of Florida child support and Social Security benefits

Nowadays, people do not take Social Security for granted. The media is filled with stories about Congress considering whether to make cuts. Accordingly, people carry some stress around the impact of Social Security on child support awards, since every dollar can be precious to families and kids, especially when one family unit splits into two households in divorce or separation. 

What happens in Florida when Social Security benefits are part of the means of family support and the size of a child support award is under consideration? The answer is short: it depends. Specifically, it depends on which party receives the benefit and which kind of Social Security benefit it is.

What to do in Florida if you suspect you’re NOT the father

Have you been providing financial support for a child, but suspect it might not be your responsibility because the child could be someone else’s? Or, have you been served with a summons and complaint for a paternity action and don’t know how to respond? 

Do not delay! The circumstances can vary, but if you have been in an intimate relationship with a woman and she has given birth to a child that may be yours, it is smart to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible about your legal rights.

Florida divorce professionals Part 2: Guardians ad litem

In our last post, we talked about the role of the social investigator in a Florida divorce trial. The judge may order that a social investigation be conducted to help him or her make more informed decisions about custody and parenting time. The social investigation focuses on each parent’s strengths and weaknesses vis-à-vis parenting, as well as on each of their homes, in light of what would be in the child’s best interests. The judge is free to use the investigator’s study and recommendations as evidence. 

The guardian ad litem is a different professional who may become involved in a divorce trial or other court proceedings involving children. A guardian ad litem must either be certified under state law or a lawyer.

Florida divorce professionals part 1: Social investigators

Under Florida law, a judge can order a social investigation and study when the parents cannot agree to an appropriate parenting plan themselves and the court would like to see evidence about each parent to make a better-informed custody decision. 

A parenting plan is a document that divides in detail parental responsibilities in a child custody case. For example, the plan must include: 

  • How the parents will share day-to-day care of the child
  • Time-sharing schedule for daily life, school vacations, birthdays and holidays
  • How the parents will share or divide major life decision-making responsibilities for the child in matters like education, religion, and mental and physical health
  • Communication methods between the parents and child when they are apart

Part 2: Reunification therapy after parental alienation

After a parent has been wrongfully alienated by the other parent of their children, reunification therapy is the professional approach often used to try to repair the situation and support the mental health of all involved. As we wrote in Part 1 of this series, parental alienation may occur when a parent tries to alienate a child from the other parent without a reasonable basis for doing so. 

Parental behaviors that can cause alienation include badmouthing the other parent without reason, blocking communication and contact with the other parent, and in extreme cases, making unsubstantiated allegations against the other parent, including of abuse.

Part 1: What is parental alienation?

At our law firm, we see parents in divorce who have developed relationships of extremely high conflict. It is impossible for parental conflict not to affect children, but harm to kids can be minimized and addressed through therapy and professional involvement with the family. After all, the best interests of children are the primary focus of Florida child custody and divorce law. 

But sometimes conflict directly involves children and they become pawns in parental battling. When one parent actively and without justification attempts to turn a child against the other parent, it is called "parental alienation." While the professionals debate whether this is a type of syndrome or mental-health disorder, it is widely agreed that it can evolve into a type of child abuse.

Custody issues for same-sex parents in Florida

At our law firm, we are only too aware of the difficult legal issues that can face same-sex parents. Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the country, challenging situations can still arise concerning parentage, custody and visitation in same-sex relationships

In particular, legal complexity can evolve when parents used assisted reproductive technology to conceive a son or daughter, and one or both parents are not biologically or legally related to the child.

More about concern for adult children of gray divorce

In today’s post, we share more about the potential worries of adult children when their parents decide to divorce as seniors. In our last posting, we talked about: 

  • Challenging feelings that can come up for these adult kids
  • Loss of family traditions
  • Concerns about elderly parents suddenly living alone 

These worries can be immense and can hit adult children at a time when they are also raising their own offspring, who could be in challenging life stages like preschool, early adolescence or high school, facing decisions about what path to take after graduation. Adult children of divorce can face overwhelming concern about their divorcing parents at a time when their own kids might need significant support, and the adult children may also need to work, leaving little time and energy for self-care.

Supporting adult children during and after a gray divorce

The term “gray divorce” has caught on as a way to refer to the phenomenon of couples deciding to go their separate ways in their senior years. This is something we face in our Florida family law office on a regular basis due to the popularity of the Sunshine State as a top retirement destination. 

This trend affects not only the divorcing spouses, but also their families. Specifically, adult children of such unions may be blindsided by the decision or there might even be feelings of relief or guilt, depending on the circumstances.

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