• St. Petersburg area parents had to find new child care arrangements during coronavirus pandemic

    Shared parenting and child custody plans were disrupted around the state by the forced closures during the coronavirus outbreak. Many services were considered non-essential and forced to close, but there were also concerns about infections spreading through daycare centers and similar facilities which were allowed to remain open.

    Situations like this can be especially daunting for parents who require court approval to deviate from a child custody plan that is already in place. Under normal circumstances, a family court judge would need to make a finding that there should be changes in the existing custody arrangement, which requires assistance from an attorney.

    Florida allowed child care centers to operate as essential services but may have created health risks

    Florida’s government decided to suspend the operations of many services in the retail, tourism, and food service industries. This could put parents out of work and affect their ability to make child support payments. However, Governor DeSantis chose to leave daycare and child care centers open, as closing them would force even more parents out of work, including crucial healthcare workers who would be forced to stay home and watch their children instead of providing treatment. The CEO of the Early Child Learning Commission of Pinellas County also made a similar statement. She said that the services provided in this sector are essential because they allow parents to perform other needed jobs.

    A faculty member of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine was concerned that child care facilities choosing to remain open could create a situation where the coronavirus spreads rapidly. There were also concerns that large groups of children at these centers, who are often asymptomatic carriers, could return home at night and spread the virus to parents and grandparents, who are much more vulnerable especially at advanced ages. Healthcare experts had problems with diagnosing the situation, as there would be no easy way to tell if a child was infected, especially if they did not show any symptoms.

    All of the centers that responded to the local news said that they are doing everything they can to remain clean, and including regularly sanitizing all surfaces. One facility in St. Petersburg claims that they are doing a full scrub of the entire building with pure alcohol at noon and again at night after all of the children have left. All children and employees who will remain in the facility for several hours are also having their temperatures checked. Anyone with fever symptoms needed a doctor’s note to return.

    Others have decided it is better to close entirely rather than take any risks. It is estimated that approximately sixty percent of all daycare centers and after school programs in the Tampa metro area were not operating during the pandemic.

    Family attorneys are available in your area

    If you need legal assistance with family law issues such as child support and custody, there are local attorneys in St. Petersburg and Tampa who can help. Contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet for personalized information.

  • Tampa couples may experience problems in their marriage and even divorce due to new kinds of addiction

    There are a number of reasons why couples grow apart over time. People change and begin to have different priorities at different stages in life. In today’s world, the reality of technology clashing with traditional relationships has created a new type of problem that is serious enough to end marriages.

    Local news for the Tampa, Florida area reported that video game addiction may be an emerging factor in many divorces in the coming years.

    Popular video games may be causing couples to grow more distant

    The game “Fortnite” was very popular at the time of the study and mentioned as one of the primary culprits in causing addiction. While researchers had previously associated video game addiction with young people and children, they now believe it is contributing to divorces in a growing number of marriages. A community that provides services for people going through divorces reported that approximately 200 couples in their study mentioned compulsive video game playing as a significant factor in their divorce. This number amounts to about twenty percent, or one in five, of all divorces surveyed, which represents a statistically significant amount.

    Many video games now reward players for logging more hours, or those who want to remain competitive have to constantly sharpen their skills for hours each day, much like athletes and other professionals. This can get players caught in a cycle where they constantly need to invest more time in gaming, often at the expense of personal relationships, health, or other aspects of life. The World Health Organization has taken notice and classified obsessive video game playing as a legitimate mental health problem.

    The American Psychiatric Association disagreed and said that there is nothing unique about video game addiction that should be classified differently from other forms of addiction. However, the issue remains severe enough that many couples do believe that problems related to excessive game playing are causing them to separate.

    Family law and changing relationships

    Family law is complicated because it overlaps with a number of different types of human interactions and relationships. Technology has the power to change how people live and interact with each other, and add more complexity to these problems.

    As the above report related to video game addiction shows, relationships can be fragile and change for a number of different reasons, even if they are not obvious. A spouse who is distracted by any occupation or addiction can suddenly find that they are served with divorce paperwork. Because of the potential for divorces to emerge at unexpected times, it is recommended to retain legal help as soon as possible when it becomes clear that a family law issue is emerging.

    Contact a local family law attorney for assistance

    There are lawyers in the Tampa area who can tell you more about divorces, custody disputes, alimony, and other issues that go through the family court system. The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet are available to provide professional representation.

  • Tampa mother loses custody of her child when she was arrested on an outstanding warrant

    Whenever parents are going through a divorce, or even when experiencing issues with crime or substance abuse, custody may become a pressing issue. It is important to resolve these problems efficiently with the help of a lawyer. An attorney who practices family law can help show a judge that a parent can provide a good home and meet parenting standards created by the state.

    Government takes custody of missing child in Tampa

    A 1 year old child that had been reported missing for several days and was believed to be in danger was taken into protective custody by the state. Authorities now believe that the child was with his mother, who had a criminal record, for the entire nine days his whereabouts were unknown.

    Investigators in Hillsborough County received an anonymous tip that the child was being neglected over a week earlier. His 33 year old mother also had an outstanding arrest warrant related to a misdemeanor theft charge.

    When the search initially started, law enforcement had no idea where the child could possibly be located. They had already obtained an order to take protective custody, but it took several hours of searching to get some leads regarding the location of the mother and her son.

    Later, deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff did find the child. He appeared to be in good health and did not show any signs of abuse. The child’s mother was also found a couple of hours later. She was taken to the county jail and held without a bond.

    The news report did not give specifics about exactly where the child was located for security reasons.

    Child custody issues in Florida

    One of the most important factors in any custody hearing or dispute is proving to the judge assigned to the case and/or the government that the child will have a safe, stable environment to grow. Situations like the news story above, where a parent is involved in crime or has other problems, such as, substance abuse or a history of violence, may cause the assigned judge and/or state to award custody to the other parent. They may terminate the parental rights of both of the parents if neither appears to be suitable.

    The standard that the government uses in the state to determine custody in a family law proceeding is the best interests of the child. This phrase is somewhat vague, but judges are given some guidance about making this determination. A child should have enough financial resources in their home for essentials like food, clothing, and healthcare. They should also have an environment that is free from various forms of abuse and disruptions that can be psychologically damaging, amongst other factors. It is always best to consult with a lawyer to determine how you may be able to present yourself in a favorable light to a judge and maximize your custody time with your children.

    Get help from a custody lawyer in the Tampa area

    Attorneys who deal with child custody hearings, divorces, and related family law issues can assist you. The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet provide professional guidance and assistance to local clients in Florida.