Child Custody on Halloween

Want to take the kids trick or treating?  Many times, a Standard Possession Order does not include a provision specifically for Halloween.  This can make Halloween extra scary for divorced parents who both want to spend time with their costumed boys and ghouls.

If Halloween doesn’t fall during your possession this year, you there are still alot of ways you can still share in the holiday fun. Setting up a Skype session or Facetime with your child in costume, surprising them with lunch at your child’s school if they dress up, or sending a Halloween balloon or cookie delivery. You can also celebrating before Halloween by making a trip to the pumpkin patch, carving jack-o-lanterns, or watching age-appropriate scary movies.  You can even through a neighborhood or family party before Halloween.

Some divorced families even put their differences aside for one night and go trick or treating together, although (depending upon your circumstances) this may not work for everyone.

If Halloween does fall during your possession time, make sure to take and send  lots of pictures of your child in costume to your ex.  They will want to see their children dressed up as much as you do.  Hopefully they will repay the gesture on a year when they have Halloween or another important holiday or event.  These small gestures can be huge in establishing and maintaining effective co-parenting and encouraging a healthy relationship with your child’s other parent.

For people who have not yet finalized their divorce, speak with your divorce lawyer as provisions can be included in your decree for special holidays that are not addressed by the Standard Possession Order, like Halloween, Easter, and the Fourth of July.

No matter what your relationship is like with your ex or what your decree says about Halloween, keep in mind that Halloween should be a fun holiday for your child and know that you, whether it is your day for possession or not, should have the ability to make that happen.  Happy Halloween and enjoy the candy!!


Florida and Equitable Property Division

Tampa Property DivisionGoing through a divorce is a difficult, chaotic, and sometimes painful process.  All you have to do is ask anyone who has been through one, and they’ll tell you just how tumultuous it can be. While it’s true that no couple ever embarks on the journey of marriage expecting things it to fall apart in the future, the reality is that, for many couples, it just doesn’t work out and they realize they would be better off alone.

Of all the points that can bring contention into the divorce process, the division of assets and property is usually the biggest one.

When couples get married, and as they grow through life together, they acquire assets.  The longer a couple has been together, the more complicated the division of assets can be. These can be physical items, such as property, stocks, bank accounts, 401ks, etc.  In high asset divorces, especially in Florida, dividing these assets can be very difficult.

Florida law dictates that assets are to be divided using “equitable distribution,” meaning that assets are not split straight down the middle, but rather are divided proportionately to each person.

This means that the division of assets is a more involved process, and can take a lot longer.  However, it also gives couples the ability to be flexible and work out deals that are more beneficial to both parties. For example, some couples will want to simply split the assets as close to 50/50 as possible, some couples will work out deals where one individual will receive most of the assets if they agree to monthly spousal support payments.

Depending on your personal needs and your situation, it should be possible to work out a deal that will benefit you as much as possible. Make sure that you discuss all of your needs and all of your finances and assets with your family law attorney, as they will need to have all the information if they are to help you properly divide assets.

Scott P. Davis, Family Law Attorney

Interstate Jurisdiction in Child Custody

Child custody issues can be difficult for all parties involved in any scenario, but when multiple states are involved, child custody laws become especially complicated. They can involve state, federal and even international law.

There are multiple laws that have been created to deter interstate parental kidnapping. The most relevant and comprehensive law that prevents “seize-and-run” situations in the United States is the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The UCCJEA compiles a set of rules regarding child custody and visitation, however it does not regulate child support.

Prior to UCCJEA, a parent could take their child to another state, get granted sole custody, and the original state would have to abide by the ruling. This changed after UCCJEA passed. Before making a custody determination in any interstate case the court must have jurisdiction over the parties by giving notice to the other parent in the form of a “notice to appear” or a “summons.” There are four options and  criteria that will be looked at when determining which state has jurisdiction under UCCJEA. They appear in order from most ideal to least ideal:

•     The “home state” is where the child is living with a parent for 6 months or immediately prior to the filing of the proceeding, and extending for another 6 months as long as a parent remains in the home state
•     If there is no home state, the state with a “significant connection” would be the next court in line for jurisdiction. This will generally be the state in which the child is attending school.
•     “More appropriate jurisdiction” will be relevant when there is no home state, no significant connection or either of the previous mentioned have declined jurisdiction. This situation can arise in cases where one or both parents is a migrant worker.
•    vacuum jurisdiction” – no other state can or will take jurisdiction.

It is important to note that a court can decline jurisdiction if the location, since determined, has become inconvenient for both parties, or if there has been misconduct on the part of either parent. Once a court has made a custody determination under any of the above jurisdiction requirements, that court will be awarded exclusive jurisdiction. This means that that court will have sole jurisdiction over any further custody issues. The UCCJEA, however, allows a court to issue temporary orders in emergency situations when the child is present in the state as long as the order is made to protect the child from abuse or threatened abuse from a family member.

Many child custody attorneys practice in a single state. If you are involved with an interstate child custody case it is imperative that you consult an attorney who is aware of all interstate laws and can help you understand your rights.