The Role a Guardian ad Litem in Broward County
A Guardian ad Litem (GAL)is appointed by the court to protect the rights and advocate the best interests of a child involved in a court proceeding. The Guardian ad Litem makes independent recommendations to the court by focusing on the needs of each child.
A Guardian ad Litem is an individual who is appointed by the court to advocate for children who come into the court system primarily as a result of alleged abuse or neglect.
The Guardian ad Litem’s role is to carry out the following activities:
The Guardian ad Litem is responsible for visiting the child and keeping the child informed about the court proceedings; gathering and assessing independent information on a consistent basis about the child in order to recommend a resolution that is in the child’s best interest; reviewing records; interviewing appropriate parties involved in the case, including the child; determining whether a permanent plan has been created for the child in accordance with federal and state laws and whether appropriate services are being provided to the child and family.
Under Florida law, time sharing is determined based on what is in the “best interests of the child.” In contested cases, both parents often believe that having primary time sharing is in the children’s best interests. Accordingly, the Guardian ad Litem is appointed to speak to the children and parents to get a third party view of what is in the best interests of the children. Judges will appoint a Guardian ad Litem to act as the Court’s eyes and ears. Specifically, the court looks to factors including, but not limited to:
The GAL may ultimately be called to testify to the court to deliver an “honest and sincere evaluation of the situation” based on whatever facts the GAL observes during the course of their investigation.
In contentious child custody cases, it often becomes necessary to appoint a Guardian ad Litem to help give the judge a more complete picture of the situation between the parents and minor children. The experienced Pembroke Pines custody attorney at Akilah Harris, PLLC can help you understand the role of the GAL in your custody case. Contact us today for a consultation.
Florida Family Law Rule 12.285 requires all parties involved in Florida divorce, paternity, modification and child support cases to comply with Mandatory Disclosure. Mandatory Disclosure can be an overwhelming process but is a huge part of the discovery process of a case. Petitioners have 45 days from the date the Respondent is served to provide the other party with their Mandatory Disclosure. Your attorney will provide you with a checklist of required documents at the beginning of your case and a date that the documents are due to their office. Examples of documents on the checklist include three months of paycheck stubs, three months of checking account statements and one year of savings account statements for all accounts you own, three months of credit card statements, mortgages statements, deeds to home and other property, day care receipts, Financial Affidavit and retirement statements.
Your attorney will review all the documents you provided and will likely have additional questions or request more documents. Only you know the ins and outs of your finances so cooperating with your attorney is essential in portraying an accurate picture of your financial situation. This is important when issues such as child support, alimony and equitable distribution are components in your case. Equitable distribution refers to each parties’ share of marital assets such as the martial home, retirement accounts, bank accounts and personal property and liabilities including mortgages, credit card payments, auto loans and medical bills. Additionally, your attorney will analyze the other party’s Mandatory Disclosure and will discuss with you the full financial scope of the case.
All financial situations are different just as each case is different. It is crucial to provide all of your financial documents and accounts to your attorney. Voice any concerns you have about your Mandatory Disclosure with your attorney. Your attorney can only represent your side of the case with the information you provide so honesty is the best policy!
Akilah Harris, Esq., is an honest and compassionate family law attorney in Pembroke Pines and can assist in your legal matter. Explore our site to learn more about Akilah Harris, Esq.’s practice areas.
Successfully Representing Clients in South Florida Including: Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Sunrise , Plantation, Deerfield Beach, Lauderhill, Weston
Aiming for a successful outcome is probably what anyone undergoing a divorce has in mind. Unfortunately, there are no classes you can take to ensure that your divorce will end successfully. The good news is you can hire a family law attorney who can navigate with you through your divorce process and also coach you along the way. You will get legal advice and all the information you need to have a successful divorce. The following 6 simple tips will allow your family divorce attorney to better represent you and pave the way to a smoother and successful divorce. Aside from that, these tips will be useful in hastening the preparations and the actual divorce process.
Be transparent to your family law attorney regarding the details of your relationship
Sharing the details of your relationship with your lawyer may sound mortifying and it could be the last thing on your mind. If you are undergoing a divorce, the details of your relationship might not be pretty. However, you need to reveal important details to your divorce attorney for a successful dissolution of marriage. It will help your attorney prepare better for your case. For instance, if infidelity was involved in your divorce, if you’ve been struggling with a non-traditional relationship, addiction, infertility, issues with child-rearing and financial problems within your marriage, this can impact your divorce case in a big way. Make sure to let your attorney know about such issues so that you can prepare together for your successful divorce.
Don’t keep your finances a secret
You might think that concealing your assets will help in achieving a successful divorce, but it’s just a huge mistake. In fact, it could be the worst mistake you could ever do during your divorce. If you want your attorney to make sure that your future is financially stable, give them the essential information they need about your finances. If you reveal your financial information and assets only selectively, you and your attorney are entering a battle without any shield or ammunition. You need to hire a divorce attorney you trust and feel comfortable with. Withholding information from your lawyer is never a good idea.
Try to be organized as much as possible
If you do some work for your divorce case, it would help not only your attorney but you as well. Get the paperwork organized and collect as many pertinent documents as possible. This will make your attorney’s job easier and it would cost you less in terms of legal fees too. Making sure that your divorce documents are organized could be the key to a successful divorce.
Don’t keep your questions to yourself
Your attorney understands that there are many things that you might not know about or understand regarding the divorce process. The legal jargon alone is enough to send you into a tailspin. He or she should be more than willing to provide you with the information that you need. This would be an excellent way to keep all of your bases covered as you work with your attorney for a successful outcome.
Approach things logically
While a divorce can be calm and peaceful, it can also be full of heated arguments for some. Emotions are overflowing, and that can influence how you deal with things during your divorce and how you make decisions. Do not let your emotions impede a successful divorce. Even if you want to be stubborn to get back at your spouse, you need to stay logical for the sake of your children and for your future. Avoid making ridiculous demands out of anger because this could cost you more. Make choices and decisions with your brain, not with your heart. Your emotional health and financial future depends a lot on the decisions you will make during the duration of your divorce.
Determine what you really want out of the divorce
Set specific and realistic goals for yourself and the parties involved. When you consider what you want to achieve in order to consider your case a “successful” divorce, you will be more inclined to make rational decisions in order to achieve those set goals. It’s not just a matter of emotional changes. There will be financial and physical changes that will happen, so know what you want so that you can negotiate for it.
At Akilah Harris PLLC, we strive to work closely with our clients and keep them informed each step of the way. Each of our families have a different DNA. Every case, different circumstances. Divorce is not a one size fits all. We understand divorce can be an emotional roller coaster. We make it a point not to add to our clients’ angst and stress. Our goal is to set clear expectations right from the start.
CHILD CUSTODY AND SUMMER VACATIONS
Posted By Akilah Harris
Summer vacation is a time to relax, not to renew old fights with your ex over custody of your kids. You may want to take your children to the Bahamas, while he or she may only get the kids during the summer.
It's important to sort out these not-so-little details before making your summer vacation plans. With that in mind, here are a few tips to make child custody one less thing to worry about during school vacations.
1. Set Up a Vacation Schedule, And Stick to It.
With the kids off from school, there's plenty of time to plan a big Disneyland vacation, or even a cross-country road trip. However, if you don't sit down and discuss you plans with your ex, you may be back in court for visitation/custody interference.
A better way to spend your summer is to create a vacation schedule (perhaps with the help of an experienced child custody lawyer), have your ex sign off on it, and submit it to a family court judge. That way, everyone is clear on where the kids will be this summer, and it's in writing with the court.
2. Make Sure You Aren't Violating Your Custody Agreement.
Some custody or visitation agreements have geographical limits (e.g., your kids can't leave the state or country). If you're planning a summer vacation abroad, you may need need to get such an agreement modified. If you've already formed a vacation plan, it shouldn't be hard to have your ex stipulate to a custody modification that allows for travel.
3. Give Adequate Notice.
Well-laid plans are great, but don't spring them on your ex at the last minute. Give him or her at least a couple months (if possible) to be aware of you and your children's travel plans.
4. Let Kids Communicate With the Other Parent While on Vacation.
Summer vacation doesn't mean a communication embargo on your children's other parent. Skype may be a great way to allow your ex "virtual visitation," even while you're in a hotel room thousands of miles away.
Keep the legal peace with your ex and enjoy a great summer vacation with your kids.
Parenting Plans In Florida
Child Custody & Dividing Time with Children
In Florida, the court mandates that the divorced parents draw up what’s called a Parenting Plan. Divorced parents need to create and agree on a plan that equally divides the typical week and the year’s school vacations between them. In the event the parents cannot cooperate to create this plan, the court takes over and mandates one. Obviously, except in the case of irreconcilable differences of opinion, it’s in the parents’ and children’s best interests that the ex-spouses create the plan together.
One of the largest hurdles in developing a plan is working with divorced parents that live far from each other. Traveling long distances can be financially taxing on the parents and emotionally difficult for children. Because of this burden, sometimes the parent who continues living in the family home or nearby becomes the majority time-sharing parent.
Divorced parents who live near each other are expected to come up with an equal plan. A plan is more than a detailed account of time, but also of parental duties. Responsibilities such as pediatricians and healthcare, school and extracurricular activities, and family vacations are all to be considered.
Negotiating Custody Agreements Can Help
Because parents are responsible for drawing up their plan, they enjoy some flexibility to consider their own needs and wants and those of their children. For example, divorced parents who enjoy uninterrupted vacations more can switch off between vacations or even switch off years. For example, if one parent had the children during Spring Break in 2017, in 2018 the other parent would have the kids for that period of time.
Other parents may want to see their children more frequently, even if it means individual visits are shorter. They might evenly divide Winter Break into two parts, one parent taking the kids the first half and the other parent taking them the second half.
Child custody can be a challenging situation, but the focus is always on what’s best for the children. Your parenting plan should clearly define what will happen for each school vacation, and your attorney should help you negotiate terms that fit your unique situation. Akilah Harris PPLC has experience in handling even the most complicated custody cases, and we would be happy to help you create a parenting plan that both you, your parenting partner, and the court can agree with.
Akilah A. Harris, Esq.
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