• St. Petersburg area woman loses custody of her children after being charged with drug crimes

    A woman who was arrested in Pinellas County in the city of Gulfport was charged with several felonies related to marijuana use and endangering her children.

    Abandoned children found in bus near area where mother planned to get high

    An officer with the Gulfport police was patrolling the area of a parking lot near the local beach just before 5 am. He saw an old, worn school bus that was sitting in the lot and looked out of place in the area. When the officer looked inside, he saw that three children had been left inside. They were aged three, six, and nine years old. After a short time, they were able to tell the officer that their mother had left the area on a boat, and that they were not able to contact her until she returned. The 33 year old female had apparently spent the entire prior night smoking marijuana while out on the boat.

    Shortly after finding the children, the officer called others to help and they spent hours looking for boats docked in the area and out at sea nearby. They eventually came across the mother of the children on a vessel that was owned by a 46 year old male. When police and marine patrol units found her, she appeared to be under the influence of narcotics.

    A further investigation of the school bus revealed that the suspect likely intended to keep her children there for an extended period of time. The dilapidated vehicle had food in a small unrefrigerated bin, a propane tank, and a five gallon bucket that had been used as a toilet. The three kids were not given any spare clothing.

    The suspect was eventually booked into Pinellas County jail after being transported out of the area. Three counts of felony child neglect were pending against her. The Department of Children and Families had taken custody of the children immediately after they were found. The mother’s custody rights will likely be terminated.

    Determining if a parent is fit to maintain custody of children

    As a general rule, custody issues are all about proving to a judge and the government that you are fit as a parent and can raise a child in a safe, stable environment. The legal standard that is used to make this determination is called “the best interests of the child” under Florida law.

    In most child custody hearings, this is why a parent with a good history of employment and a clean record that is devoid of crime and mental health issues will normally get primary custody. Regardless of your background, it is always recommended to get help from an attorney who will help present you to the court in the most favorable manner possible.

    Speak with experienced local family lawyers

    Attorneys who serve St. Petersburg and other parts of the Tampa metro area are available to assist you with child custody, divorces, support payments, and related family law matters. To get immediate help, contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.

  • Tampa area parents can be forced to pay child support through various means once they are behind on payments

    Child support obligations cannot be avoided, and many who owed money on their child support payments did not receive stimulus payments from the government during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Anyone who is named in a child support should realize that this is one of the most important and long lasting financial obligations that they will ever have, and the government will do whatever is necessary to make sure proper payments are made. People have lost professional licenses and even ended up in jail over child support payments that are delinquent for extended periods of time.

    Pandemic stimulus checks were intercepted for past due child support payments

    National news reported on various reasons why these stimulus checks may be intercepted or garnished before certain individuals could claim them. One of the most common reasons that certain people did not receive the money was because of past due child support. While many states do not take formal action to suspend someone’s driver’s license or garnish wages to collect back child support until several thousand dollars are owed, the stimulus check was a simple way for governments to collect money that was supposed to be paid into the child support system. As long as the person was entered in the Treasury Offset Program as having past due payments, the money was taken. This was done despite the fact that people who are behind on other obligations such as taxes and student loans still received the payment without issue.

    Despite these points, collections efforts are imperfect in some areas. This is due to a significant backlog where the administrative process is weeks or months behind.

    How child support payments are determined in Florida

    The government uses a formula based on a person’s income to determine their exact payment amount. There are a number of calculators online that can help give an estimate of payments, although the specific amount will always be unknown until after the support case is resolved. This amount cannot be modified or changed without a hearing in front of a family law judge and a new legally binding order.

    The state law provides an income table that is adjusted based on factors such as the number of children, earnings, and custody time. The parent that is providing the support is normally allowed to deduct certain expenses such as taxes, health insurance, and daycare. However, other general expenses that are not specifically allowed by law cannot be deducted. In other words, parents cannot make deductions for things like travel and household costs related to child care and shared custody. In some cases, a custodial parent can petition the court for additional support if the child has special needs related to healthcare, education, and other essentials.

    Contact a Tampa area lawyer about child support payments

    There are local attorneys who routinely deal with the family law courts and judges. If you need assistance, get help from a lawyer at The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet