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Tallahassee Florida Legal Blog

What is 'malicious parent syndrome'?

Florida divorce and custody proceedings are often contentious and emotionally trying processes that can cause one or both parties to act out in harmful manners. In studying the ways in which parents act out, one psychologist noticed a pattern in which one parent seeks to punish the other by acting purposefully or vengefully toward the other during or following the court proceedings. The psychologist noted that some parents sometimes go so far as to deprive or harm the child in order to make the other parent look bad. This psychologist dubbed the phenomenon as "malicious mother syndrome," but mental health care professionals now refer to it as "malicious parent syndrome."

According to FindLaw, Dr. Ira Turkat, the psychologist who first recognized this syndrome, sought to identify and describe the phenomenon that is malicious parent syndrome. In doing so, he summarized that the condition is characterized by four major criteria. Those who exhibit the syndrome display the following symptoms:

  •       An attempt to punish the other parent by alienating the child or children from him or her and using others, including the courts, to separate the other parent from the child or children
  •       An attempt to deny the other parent visitation or communication with the child or children, which he or she does by involving the child's school and other organizations
  •       Lying to the child or children and others
  •       No other signs of any other mental disorder that may explain these actions

Are your parenting time rights protected?

As a parent sharing custody of your child, you understand that the time you spend together is one of the most valuable and irreplaceable things you have. Unfortunately, this is also true for your child's other parent, even if the two of you are not on good terms. This tension between parents often creates conflicts around respecting each other's court-ordered parenting time, which can result in significant punishment from a court if one parent violates the other's parenting time rights.

Some parents seem to think that their custody order is merely a suggestion, not a legally binding agreement that a court may enforce. While most of us experience complications beyond our control, it is generally wise to obey the custody schedule. This ensures that you stay out of conflict with your child's other parent as much as possible, while protecting your rights.

What a buyer should know about the real estate closing process

Whether individuals are buying their first home in Florida or their fifth, in order to finalize the purchase of the property they must go through a closing process. The key to a successful closing is preparation. It is important to familiarize yourself with all of the necessary steps this entails so everything goes as smoothly as possible. 

First, you must choose a reputable, experienced attorney to guide and represent you at the closing. Forbes notes that it is important to work with a solid professional since there are many important factors at the settlement table that will contribute to a flawless execution. Using a checklist can help in collecting and organizing all of the necessary documentation. 

Can you take the kids if you leave before finalizing custody?

Floridian parents like you who feel you have good reason to get out of your house as soon as possible are put in a tricky situation. Do you take the kids with you? Do you leave them and move out yourself? Or do you sit through the divorce process, sharing a home with a potentially harmful or abusive person?

Each of these scenarios has different pros and cons, as shown by FindLaw. They examine what you should do if you want to leave your home before a custody arrangement has been made official. In the case of leaving the home without the children, this would allow you to escape the situation. However, it could also leave the judge of your case with certain opinions about your suitability for being the primary carer, as you "left" the children behind.

What is personal goodwill in relation to divorce?

Floridian residents like you will undoubtedly have a lot on your plate when it comes to divorce. Not only do you have to worry about the mental and emotional impact it could have on you, but you will also have to worry about the division of assets. In some cases, intangible assets may be involved, making the situation even more complicated.

One type of intangible asset is known as "personal goodwill". Divorce Magazine defines this as the money or earning potential that is directly tied to a public figure. While celebrities are most often thought of when it comes to the discussion of personal goodwill, it can apply to plenty of other people as well. Business moguls, social media stars, retired politicians and more have personal goodwill.

What is virtual visitation?

Undeniably, technology has changed the way that people communicate. Thanks to lawmakers working in cooperation with the courts, technology can now afford you the ability to fulfill the visitation terms as outlined in your parenting agreement even if you live far away, without requiring you to seek a modification of the existing order. According to FindLaw, Florida is one of a handful of states that has virtual visitation laws on the books, allowing courts to order visitation via electronic or online means in addition to in-person visits between you and your child. 

Virtual visitation can take place via a range of electronic communication, including more recent technologies such as social media or photo-sharing sites, webcams or video conferencing, private document sites or more standard electronic communication tools, such as instant messaging or e-mail. Telephone calls may also facilitate virtual visitation. 

Divorce and your home: 4 different options

What should you do with your home? Your spouse just asked you for a divorce, and that's the first question that pops into your mind.

When it does, you can see two things. First, your marriage has been over for a long time, even if your spouse has just asked for a divorce now. You're not even that sad to see that marriage technically end. You both need a chance to move on and you understand that.

How do new tax laws affect alimony?

Until recently, the rule was that if you paid alimony payments in Florida to an ex-spouse, you had the ability to deduct the payments from your taxes, while the alimony recipient paid taxes on it. Though alimony laws varied from state to state, that was a universal constant. However, federal legislation that goes into effect in the new year will turn the old rules on their heads. 

CNBC reports that the tax rules governing alimony payments will reverse when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act takes effect on January 1st. Alimony recipients will no longer pay taxes on the payments they receive, and alimony payees will no longer be able to deduct alimony payments from their taxable income. The new rule only affects divorces that become finalized after Jan. 1st, 2019. Financial and legal experts are still unclear at this point how or if the new rules will apply to alimony settlements finalized prior to Dec. 31, 2018. 

Who gets custody when the parents are unmarried?

If you have a child outside of wedlock in Florida, you may wonder what happens when you are the other parent separate. Who gets custody of your child? How do you develop a visitation schedule? If you were getting a divorce, then these things are pretty straightforward and handled through that legal process. When there is no legal separation in your relationship, what happens?

Under the law, according to WUSF, you have the right to go through a formal process of setting up a parenting plan as of 2018. Ideally, you and the other parent will agree to the terms of the plan and work together to create it. If you cannot agree, then a circuit court judge handles your case. Either way, this is a legal process that creates a legal document or agreement.

Getting remarried? Check your estate plan

If you are one of the many residents in Florida who is looking to get remarried, you will want to take smart steps to set you and your new family up for success. If your prior marriage ended in divorce, you know that marriage is far from easy and so now is the time for you to proactively do what you can to avoid problems down the road. One thing you can do to this end is to create a solid estate plan.

As explained by Fidelity Investments, a robust estate plan can act as something of a prenuptial agreement and may even be a useful addition to a prenup, especially if your new marriage will be blending children from one or more previous families. 

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