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Tampa Family Law Blog

Same-sex couples and adoption

Florida same-sex couples who have children may want to consider second-parent adoption. This is a way of ensuring that a child who is biologically related to one but not both parents will legally be considered the child of both parents. According to the Supreme Court, every state must recognize second-parent adoptions from any other state, so this process will protect the parent-child relationship anywhere in the country.

Despite the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that granted marriage rights to same-sex couples, there is not yet a consistent law in place regarding parents and children. As a result, if the biological parent dies or if same-sex parents divorce, the non-biological parent may not have any legal claim to custody.

Millennials are wise to think about estate planning

If you are in your 20s or 30s, you may not give much thought to estate planning. For one thing, you may think your assets are not sufficient to make up the framework of an "estate." For another, old age -- even middle age -- probably seems like forever into the future, so there is plenty of time to consider planning for your retirement years.

Divorce rates are higher for certain occupations

People in Florida who are actuaries, scientists, physicians or software developers might be less likely to get a divorce than those who work irregular hours. These were among the findings presented by FlowingData based on data from the American Community Survey in 2015. The data also showed that there was a strong correlation between income and divorce rate.

Flight attendants, casino workers and bartenders were among the occupations that had the highest divorce rates. While the national divorce rate average is just above 35 percent, the rate for gaming managers is higher than 50 percent. For some professions, such as clergy, the divorce rate is considerably lower.

Consistent coparenting after divorce

After Florida parents divorce and their children are moving back and forth between their homes, they may find that their household rules are inconsistent. This can be damaging for children who need stability and consistency at this time. Parents should sit down with a focus on the children to work out how they will make these rules consistent. If children are 6 or older, they may be able to participate in the process as well. These negotiations may go more smoothly if parents decide ahead of time which points they can compromise on and which ones they cannot.

Parents who are struggling to compromise may be able to get outside help. A mediator is a disinterested third party who can work with parents to reach an agreement. Another option may be parenting classes. Attorneys, therapists and family law courts may have recommendations for a class. Some classes may be particularly useful if one parent is resisting compromise because the classes will spend time discussing how harmful it is for children when parents' rules are inconsistent. Some classes also discuss parenting norms.

Why moms should push for shared parenting

Many Florida mothers consider obtaining sole custody of children to be a primary goal in a divorce. Generally, the courts strongly favor mothers when it comes to awarding custody. However, modern research shows that mothers may want to reconsider their fights for sole custody and think about the advantages of a shared parenting arrangement.

Sole custody enforces antiquated family dynamics, according to some analysts. Mothers remain in the homemaker role and fathers in the breadwinner role. A mother with sole custody must take on all the responsibilities of childcare and housekeeping. Fathers maintain the breadwinner role by providing only money through child support. This often places mothers in a disadvantageous position.

Testing for paternity

If Florida parents are unmarried when a child is born, the father might not be on the birth certificate. It might be necessary to have a DNA test to prove paternity if the father does not voluntarily acknowledge it or if it is unclear.

A paternity test can be key in collecting child support. The father can also seek visitation or custody orders once he has established legal paternity.

How does someone become a guardian for a disabled adult?

Imagine this scenario: You have a close cousin. The two of you went through high school together, but in your junior year, she became disabled after suffering severe injuries in an auto accident. Her parents have approached you about becoming her successor legal guardian after they pass away.

You are not opposed to the idea, but you're unsure about the responsibilities or how to go about taking on a guardianship role.

Here is a basic overview of a guardian's role and the law in the State of Florida.

Family members with Alzheimer's: Is it time to plan ahead?

Perhaps your parent just received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and you are wondering about what the future holds. If the two of you have not yet discussed subjects like health care directives and powers of attorney, now would be a good time.

Legal documents to consider

When your goal is to prepare for what might happen as your parent ages and Alzheimer's symptoms become more pronounced, having important legal documents in place will help ease the worry and stress for you both.

Are you ready to adopt your stepchild?


Stepchild adoption is often the next step in forming a merging family unit. However, in many cases, it is not a decision made lightly. Succeeding in the role of a stepparent is the first step. Then, certain conditions must be met before the adoption will be officially approved.

How divorce may affect home ownership

Florida couples who are getting a divorce might own a home together. One person might want to keep the home or may want to buy a new home, but doing either of these could be more complicated than the person initially realizes.

The person who wants to keep the home should make certain that the decision is a sound financial one and not an emotional one. A number of factors should be considered. The person should think about the appraised value of the home, income, whether or not it is possible to refinance the home, and whether there are alimony and child support obligations or payments, among other issues. Consulting a mortgage specialist may be helpful.

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