Children's Custody Fight

by Liliana from Orlando, Florida, Orange County

My husband and I want to get a divorce and we have 3 children. He's saying he wants full custody of the kids and that he will take me to court for it.

I haven't been happy with him so I stopped performing my duties as a wife for a long time now, but I do take care of my children.

My children are not neglected in any way. I'm not working at the moment he's the one that works - however - I am looking for a job.

What are the grounds in which a court will give the father custody of the children and take them away from their mother? Please help!

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Liliana,

Florida courts have a strong bias towards shared parental responsibility.

There is almost no such thing as one parent being awarded full or sole custody these days, unless there has been some extreme behavior by a parent.

Judges are very reluctant to deny custody and/or time-sharing.

By extreme behavior I mean things like child abuse, drug addiction, etc.

However, there is also no longer a strong bias towards the children staying with the mother. The fact that he is the breadwinner should not matter.

Both parents are expected to support the children. If you were a stay at home Mom during your marriage, you may be able to seek spousal support as well.

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Answer Child Custody Modification
by: Deborah from East Amherst, New York

I relocated out of the state of Florida to New York with permission from the court in my final divorce papers. My ex husband deployed with the military for 9 months and now has come back from deployment to Florida and is filing to get the children for the next year because he could not see them during his deployment. I was awarded primary parent and he was secondary parent. Is there anything I can do?

--Yes, just answer the paperwork within the 20 day response period and state in your answer, what you would like to happen with respect to custody and visitation with your children. See our Divorce Answer page for more information. --Staff

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Parent Moved Back Wants Custody

by Maria from Palm Bay, Florida, Brevard County

I have custody of my children from a previous marriage. My ex did not show up for court, has a history of alcohol and drug abuse that was reported in court by DCF, and has court ordered supervised visitation, but then moved out of the state of Florida.

Now the non custodial parent is moving back and is threatening to petition the court for custody. They have not seen the children in 2 years, nor have they paid court ordered child support.

They have been in trouble with the law in the state that they moved to. Does this parent stand any chance of getting custody or even regular over night visits?

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Maria,

It doesn't sound to me like your ex is going to get very far with his petition for custody.

I also doubt that a judge would order overnight visits with the father, given his history of substance abuse.

That said, there are some pro-active measures you can take.

Since he has not paid child support, my suggestion is to contact the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement office as soon as you know your ex's Florida address.

Ask them to enforce the child support order. Also, if he files any sort of petition for custody, file a Supervised Safety-Focused Parenting Plan with the clerk of the court stating his history of substance abuse.

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Troubled Parents & Child Custody Fight

by Worried from Florida

My brother met a girl with an expired visa, fell in love got pregnant, married, had a baby, lost his job. She doesn't work, fell on really bad times and now she abandoned him and his son, took all her clothes, and left the key.

Days later she returned with police after an email he sent explaining that he filed a police report because he was worried.

He explained that she was not stable when she first left, he first filed as a missing person and then after she came back to get her clothes and leave the key he went back and updated the report to child abandonment.

Things are getting ugly, police, child services, after ordeal the baby is still with my brother. He now has to take drug test to prove her lies and she has to be evaluated. Question is what happens now if the state takes the child, who will have rights to him?

She is not supposed to be in this country and at this time the father is having a hard time taking care of himself, who will take care of the baby? Neither one of them at this time as much as they love the baby are able to support the baby?

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Worried,

The first priority is that the baby's basic needs are met -- food, clothing, shelter.

Generally, if a family member is ready, willing, and able to take custody of a child the family member will be given preference as a placement option over and above a regular adoption or a foster family.

Sometimes DCF will facilitate or grant temporary custody to a family member while parents are trying to organize their lives so that they can take care of their child at a later date.

As far as the mother being an illegal alien, it is an old technique for illegal aliens to have babies by U.S. citizens in hopes of remaining here.

I am not sure whether that technique works very well anymore considering the public outcry about illegal immigration. However, this is a completely separate issue. The needs of the child are paramount.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Get Custody Back from State
by: Maria from Orlando

A child's custody was taken by the courts because of allegations of the father being a drug and firearm dealer. What can he do to gain custody back.?

--If the custody of his child was taken by the state, that would lead me to believe his parental rights were terminated. If that is the case, perhaps the only option he will have is to appeal the court's decision and to have his parental rights re-instated, and I don't know if that is at all possible. This is not something I've ever heard of a Pro Se doing successfully. He needs a competent lawyer that has experience with a case like this. --Staff

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Child Custody Fight & Domestic Violence Allegations

by Terry from Florida

My wife and I went to court yesterday in Florida. I filed for dissolution of marriage, Uniform child custody jurisdiction enforcement act and a verified emergency motion for ex parte temporary injunction compelling return of minor child to the jurisdiction of the state of Florida.

To make a long story wife and I had a dispute on a Saturday in Florida where she called the police "alleging" I hit her. I never raised one finger to hit her. + The responding officer came to our house to find NO evidence what so ever.

He took both our statements and recommend i stay with my parents that night..He gave me that option..I wasn't forced in any way to leave the residence but I did...I came back to house that next day (which was Sunday)..we were arguing or fighting.. so the next day (Monday afternoon Oct 4)

I came home from work and she was gone...taken herself and our children to Ohio (I assumed)..not telling me anything..the only way I knew was because most of the kids clothing were Tuesday morning she filed a Order of Protection against me in Ohio (that's where she's from but had been staying in Florida for the past four years).

I immediately hired an attorney here in Florida to try and get my kids back in forward to yesterday, Oct 21 we had a court date to try and get my children back in Florida. After all was said, the judge said she couldn't make a ruling on the case until she knows what happens with the order of protection in Ohio.

I was told she could have still ordered the children back to Florida. My lawyer and I was ####... I haven't seen or heard from my kids (5 and 1) since Oct 4 and I don't go to court on the Order of protection till Nov 4 in Ohio.

I just hired an attorney in Ohio to try and get this order dismissed because it's playing a major role in my being able to see my children even though all the research of Florida statues clearly states that the children are FLORIDA residents. Any advice or comments will be appreciated!

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Terry,

Your attorney has his work cut out for him, I hope he’s up to it.

The federal law that governs interstate child custody and visitation is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJEA).

In general, a child is a resident of the state where the child has resided for the previous six months.

It generally takes six months to establish residency in another state, just as it takes that same period of time in Florida. However, the moment your wife alleged domestic violence, everything changed.

Until the issue of domestic violence is dismissed, not prosecuted, or the Order of Protection is denied, jurisdiction is correctly in Ohio. The theory is that a victim of domestic violence has a right, and even an obligation, to flee to safety and take her children with her.

In your case, since there was no arrest, and the officer made no finding that there was domestic violence, it might be simple. However, there are a lot of ifs involved. If your wife is adamant that you hit her, and just didn’t leave a mark; if your wife testifies that she is afraid of you, that you might kill her; if the judge believes your wife and not you; then you have a battle on your hands.

That’s why I said your attorney has his work cut out for him. My suggestion is that your goal should be to get that Order of Protection dismissed. Then follow through on your efforts to have the judge order the children back to Florida.

If the judge believes that your wife vindictively took the children away, she could be in a lot of trouble. That is the argument your attorney will likely make.

Florida family law always puts the best interests of the children before all other considerations. Your attorney needs to convince the judge, that not only are you not a wife beater, but that your wife is vindictive and your children are much better off having frequent contact with you.

Your wife can move to Ohio if she wants, but she cannot take the children with her in an underhanded manner. What she has done amounts to parental abduction.

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Protection For My Son
by: Concerned Father from Florida

Hi, My ex and I were never married and had a son, he is 12 now. We had a simple order she came up with when we separated when he was 5.

The order was so basic it did not specify visitation at all but paternity was established and she got residential custody and we have shared parental responsibility (which took me too long to understand I had more rights than she allowed me to have).

I have spent the last several years going without seeing my son months at a time. I have finally had enough, and I filed a modification to the current order so we could get everything broken down in writing.

Well her answer was to respond with a petition to relocate my son to Colorado. Of course I disagree with an answer, and then suddenly a turn of events just recent 3 days ago. I was at the school in a counseling session with my son. I mentioned an incident my son had told me about where the boyfriend of my ex (whom I have never even been introduced to) put his hands around my sons neck. She in turn reported this to DCF. This was not my intention but she said she had no choice. So as i left the school, not even 30 minutes later my ex texted my wife's phone saying you all win you can have him and will be at your house with him after school.

Well she did just that stating she was giving us temporary residential custody but she would not put anything in writing, and at the same time saying if his behavior was bad at school or his grades went down she would come take him back.

How can we keep her from doing that? We are told there are no emergency hearings. He told us of another choking incident with the boyfriend but yet are told she can come get him anytime she wants. She even had us fill out the form at school putting our address down as where he lives. We have had to go buy him everything. is there papers to file to keep her from just getting him any time she wants and he is scared of the boyfriend.

--This is getting too complicated for a Pro Se. My first suggestion is to get an attorney. If you cannot get afford a lawyer, my second suggestion is to ask the court to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem for your child. A Guardian Ad Litem is a court appointed advocate for your child's best interest. I suggest you file a Motion for Appointment of Guardian ad Litem, Form 12.942(a) and ask for a hearing as soon as possible. --Staff

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