Custody & Education

As a former teacher, I saw many different family structures. The best students were the students who had active parents who were concerned with their child’s education. Sometimes these parents were not “together” but put the child’s education goals FIRST. If you are going through a custody issue with the other parent, it is best to make sure the questions and concerns you have are for your children and not for what best fits your needs. I always tell clients that you have to make sure the child’s interests are being put first because children may be young now, but they will always remember when mommy and daddy are fighting about their school.

Domestic Violence and Divorce

DV PSA  ( Video Click on the Link )

My spouse has been physical with me

More than often I hear potential clients or my clients make the statement, “ my spouse has been physical with me but I never reported it.” As an attorney who practices family law, the incidents of domestic violence are not a rare occurrences; domestic violence is a form of abuse that is pervasive and unpredictable. If your spouse hits you, you need to report it. Sounds simple, but people always come up with reasons not to report the abuse. If your spouse hits you, statistically it will not be the last time. People who commit physical abuse towards their spouse need help.

Divorce and Kids

Sometimes people with kids are hesitant to call the cops because of the kids the couple may have together. However, this reasoning may not work well if there is a dissolution of marriage action filed. Under the best interest standard, the court will look at incidents of domestic violence when determining time-sharing and parental responsibility. Florida Statute 61.13 states

“Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.”

It is important not only to contact the police if there is an issue of domestic violence but also, to document (take pictures, videotape, etc.). Remember that taking those steps are not just for your safety but for the safety and well being of your children.

Raising a Child: It Takes a Village

As the old saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” For many couples, expecting a child can be a nerve racking experience, but it ultimately ends joyous. Prior to and after having a child, many new parents look to their parents, family, friends, other new parents and books to figure out how to raise their new bundle of joy. They even have a phone app to assist you in raising your child. (see: No matter what you read or the advice you get nothing can prepare you for being a parent until your bundle of joy arrives; however, preplanning for the new addition to your family can help you limit needless stress and conflict. Before Your New Bundle Comes

Before your new bundle of joy arrives, it may be beneficial to consider the following potential issues and reach agreements so that transitions over the first few years of your child’s life are smooth:

1.     Who will come over and assist you in the first few months with your newborn? For how long?

2.     What religious path will you show your child?

3.     How will you discipline your child? Are both of you on the same page?

4.     Will someone stay home and raise your child? Should you look at daycare or a relative to assist? (see the latest cost of raising a child:

5.     What type of school will your child attend? Religious, public, home school?

6.     Should you start a college fund right away?

Both Parents

Remember as parents that your child is an individual and he/she will have his/her own personality.  Your child will have likes and dislikes and some of those characteristics will be like you and your spouse and others may not. One of the things new parents should realize is that raising a child is a learning experience, and you will not get everything the first time around but being there and trying your best will pay dividends in the end.

Not only is it important to have the lines of communication open between you and your spouse, but it is just as important to have a game plan on issues like the above. Your child will need both of you in his/her life and the law in the state of Florida expects and promotes such equal involvement.

Finances and Marriage: How A Little Planning Can Avoid Unwanted Stress!

The Newly Married Couple Getting married is one of the biggest commitments two individuals can make. The funny part is there is no real handbook or guide to marriage except the advice from loved ones, spiritual advisors, and a few authors.  No one ever thinks about getting a divorce before they actually get married. A couple approaches the alter full of love and with a sense of adventure. They are usually surrounded by family and friends and pledge to each other their undying devotion and a life long commitment to one another.  As the new married couple begins “their new life” they will face good times and they will face tough times. Not only are they starting a new life together, but as a part of this new life together they are also starting a financial life together.


The Good Times and the Bad Times

Although you enter a marriage looking forward to the good times, the tough times can sometimes push a relationship to the breaking point. Unfortunately, the tough times in many instances will involve money. As a person who has seen his share of marriages, some good and some bad, the key factor in both types of marriages is communication. Communication about money is vital to a successful marriage. When two individuals are on the same page both parties should have some idea on how each one feels. For a couple getting married one of the most stressful items a new couple can face deals with finances.  This is why I believe it is important for a couple to sit down and have a honest and frank conversation about their financial situation.

Let’s Make a Plan

Making a plan can sometimes help you see any potential problems and give you a roadmap of where you are and where you are going. Smart decisions today can alleviate any potential stress and heartache a couple may face in the future. Money can put a great strain on any relationship and for many couples this strain can lead to devastating consequences. Here are some questions a couple should ask each other before they get married: (you should write these answers down and have some sort of written plan)

1.   How is our current financial situation?

a.    How much credit card debt do we owe?

b.   How much student loan debt do we owe, and will there be more?

c.    What is our current monthly car payment, and for how long will this continue?

d.   How much do we have in savings?

e.    How much are we going to spend on a wedding?

2.   Should we rent or should we buy a home?

a.    Can we stand living with your parents or my parents if times got tough?

3.   Where do we see ourselves financially in 1 year , 5 years, 10 years, etc?

a.    Do we have a financial planner?

b.   Do we have a Roth Ira, 401K, Pension fund?

4.   Do we plan on having kids? ( This will be the next blog topic.)

a.    How many would we like to have?

b.   Should we adopt?

c.    Is someone staying home or are we sending them to daycare?

d.   Should we start a college fund as soon as they are born?

e.    How will kids affect our long-term financial goals?

5.   How do we plan on establishing our bank accounts?

a.    Will we establish a joint bank account?

b.   Will we keep our own individual accounts?

c.    Will we have a combination of both?

Each of these questions and subparts if answered honestly can be scary for many new couples and even for some who have been married for years. However, I feel these are questions that MUST BE discussed before or shortly after marriage. No matter if you are a couple thinking about getting married, a newly married couple or a veteran of marriage these questions, if answered honestly and free from pressure from one spouse or family, can assist in a long and healthy marriage.