• St. Petersburg Florida celebrity couple seeks an annulment after a strange wedding

    An annulment is a rare procedure in family law, but there are some situations where a spouse or couple may have legal grounds to say the marriage never really existed.

    Local news for Florida had previously reported on the divorce of actress Stacey Dash, and now it seems that her husband wants an annulment.

    Husband of well known actress claims he was hypnotized during their wedding

    Jeffrey Marty claims that he was initially tricked into marrying dash, which would give legal grounds for the marriage to be annulled. The filings in Florida family court in New Port Richey say that in April of 2018, the priest who married the couple used some kind of hypnotic prayer technique. It is uncontested that the couple had only known each other for 10 days before their wedding ceremony took place. Marty’s lawyer alleges in the pleadings that the pastor believed that the marriage was due to “God’s will,” and not the couple’s choice. He said he felt pressured into finalizing their vows, rather than making a free choice to do so. This would essentially eliminate his ability to consent to being married at the time if it is true.

    Approximately two months before Marty asked for the annulment, Dash had filed a dissolution of marriage petition for a standard divroce. It appears that Dash would agree to the annulment if the judge will grant the motion. Her attorneys do not think Marty’s version of the facts are true, but they will agree for the purposes of ending the marriage quickly. She had also been previously arrested for domestic battery during a dispute with her former husband at the beginning of 2020. The body camera footage from law enforcement showed the coupe’s home on Avana Way, and police handcuffed the 53 year old actress to be taken away. Dash appeared to be calm and collected at the time. No acts of domestic violence were captured on the footage.

    The couple settled their differences for a few months after this alteration, but they ended up starting the divorce process in June. Dash had already been married and divorced three other times before her marriage to Marty. She had been spending most of her time in Los Angeles, California to work on a remake of the popular 1990s movie Clueless, which featured her as one of the main characters.

    New Port Richey is north of St. Petersburg in Pasco County.

    What is an annulment?

    An annulment is only granted under very specific circumstances. The procedure will dissolve the marriage and treat the two parties as if they had never married. It is similar to a divorce, but there needs to be reason to believe that the marriage was not valid or the couple should not have been married. From a legal standpoint, the couple is treated as if the wedding and the marriage never took place.

    Some annulments are granted for religious reasons, while other situations like the news story above will argue that one party or both never actually consented to the marriage or they were forced into the union. Other grounds for annulments include one or both spouses already being married without ending their prior marriage, at least one party being younger than legal age of adulthood in the state, and mental illness.

    How is this procedure different from a divorce?

    In most cases, it is usually not necessary to seek an annulment because no fault divorces are convenient. At least one of the parties merely has to say that they think the marriage has broken down and cannot be fixed for a divorce to be granted. However, from a legal standpoint a divorce is different because the courts will say that the marriage was valid, and then it was dissolved at a later time.

    If the couple meets some basic residency requirements, a judge can start the process to end the marriage quickly. Because of the relative convenience of this process when compared to proving grounds for an annulment, it is fairly rare that most couples would bother to try for an annulment rather than a standard divorce. Other issues related to property division, alimony, and child custody may still have to be sorted out in a similar fashion even if the marriage is annulled.

    Because there are generally very few situations that would lead to an annulment rather than a divorce, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney before choosing whether an annulment or a divorce is best in your situation. For most couples, the divorce is likely to be the more efficient option, although there are exceptions.

    Get assistance from a local lawyer

    There are family law attorneys in the St. Petersburg area who can assist you with divorces, child support payments, alimony payments, domestic violence issues, and other family law procedures. To learn more, get in touch with The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.

  • St. Petersburg Florida couples should know that busy schedules are often a factor in many divorces

    Local news for the St. Petersburg, Florida area reported on the divorce of Donald Trump Jr. from his wife, Vanessa. The couple apparently decided to split due to busy schedules and spending large amounts of time apart.

    President’s son gets national attention while going through a divorce

    Vanessa started the filing for an uncontested divorce in late 2018. The couple had been married for about 13 years since 2005, and they had five children together. The joint statement released by the couple was fairly generic, saying that they had each decided to go their own way after several years together. They expressed that they still respect each other, and that raising their children properly is still their main priority. The couple concluded by saying that they wish for privacy from the public and media until the proceedings are totally finished. No other statements were media to the media.

    There had been some speculation from the media regarding the reason for the couple’s split. Don Jr. does have a demanding travel schedule and a number of commitments related to the Trump Organization, businesses, and other matters. It seems that spending so much time apart made the couple realize that they may not need to stay married. Friends who knew the couple said that they had basically been living separately for the past couple of years even though they had not formally divorced or decided to separate for legal reasons. Another source claimed that the couple had attempted to maintain an appearance of being a happy couple during President Trump’s time in office, but they could not keep up the facade long enough to get through his term. The 40 year old son of the president had also been in India and other countries for hunting trips on his own in the months before the announcement, with no sight of his wife or family with him in the pictures he posted.

    Some of Don’s friends had been concerned about him in the months before the divorce. They claimed that he acted erratically and posted strange tweets about antidepressants, mass shootings, and gun rights. He also posted a tweet about taking away half of his daughter’s Halloween candy to teach her why socialism does not work. Don had asked his secret service security to leave him alone, as they are normally available and on duty 24 hours a day for the president’s immediate family. Vanessa was concerned about the constant attention given to her family, and fears for the safety of her children. She is apparently someone who enjoys privacy and does not crave attention. The couple had received threats in the past, likely due to Don’s political affiliations. Vanessa had to be taken to a hospital as a precaution after opening a letter containing white powder that arrived at the couple’s house. No one was harmed during the incident.

    Despite these political problems, the couple does appear to be splitting for personal reasons more than anything else. It can be difficult to maintain a relationship when barely seeing each other.

    President Trump and his family have been known to spend large amounts of time in Florida. Some of their properties include a golf course in Doral and an estate in Palm Beach County.

    Divorces in Florida and local requirements

    Because no fault divorces have been available in Florida for quite some time, it is fairly simple to start the process to separate. These requirements are set by statutes that are state law, so there are no local divorce laws for cities or counties within the state that are different.

    One or both spouses can express their desire to separate by saying that the marriage has broken down, and the reasoning behind the desire to split does not matter. The only other requirement is to establish residency in the state. Either spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months prior to filing. It is recommended that each party to the divorce retains their own attorney and begins to prepare for issues such as property division, child custody, and the possibility of alimony payments.

    Special concerns during a divorce

    A news story such as this shows how privacy and other matters that are unique to each couple need to be addressed with care during a divorce filing. Even for couples who do not have any significant level of fame or wealth, it is important that any special concerns are brought to the attention of an attorney. This will help ensure that all family members can resume their lives normally after the divorce, and there are no remaining issues that could cause problems later.

    Talk to a divorce lawyer in the St. Petersburg area

    If you need advice regarding a separation from a spouse, it is important to get legal help early in the process and prepare for any court hearings in advance. You can contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet to learn more.

  • Clearwater area couple speaks with police and prosecutors about their problems that led to a turbulent divorce

    Local news for the Clearwater area reported on a divorce struggle that resulted in accusations of criminal behavior and other serious problems.

    Couple’s episode leading to their separation is full of accusations and lies that resulted in criminal investigations

    The divorce of a Lakeland, Florida couple had led to domestic violence charges, stolen guns, and other issues that made local headlines over the course of several months.

    News stations first took notice when the wife of the couple broke into her husband’s apartment, stole multiple firearms, and then turned them over to local police. She initially said that she feared for her own safety and her children, and this was what caused her to confiscate the weapons. The husband of the couple was arrested a day early and charged with a felony when his wife claimed that he was following her in his vehicle and struck her car from behind.

    For the domestic violence case, the state attorney’s office eventually agreed to drop all charges in exchange for participation in a 12 month pre-trial diversion program. Pre-trial diversion is normally available in Florida’s criminal court system for those who have no other prior record. The state attorney assigned to the case changed his mind when he realized that the wife of the couple had burglarized her husband’s car and illegally installed a tracking device, even though she claimed innocence throughout all of their problems.

    Data from the tracking device and her cell phone showed that she was actually at her husband’s apartment during many crucial events of the days prior, and that she may have been lying about a number of these incidents. The assistant state attorney assigned to the case also believes that she lied about her location in sworn testimony and misrepresented her husband’s criminal history to the Lakeland Police. She fabricated a story about hiding in her bedroom in fear with a gun under her pillow for protection. Location data showed that she was not in the place she claimed to be.

    In the notes for the case disposition which dropped the charges, the investigation concluded that the wife had made a number of false allegations and misrepresentations that made their marital problems seem much more absurd and riddled with criminal activity than was actually the case. They specifically mentioned that the wife had gone to great lengths to create stories about domestic violence that turned out to be untrue. Investigators believe that this was mostly done to create an advantage in their pending civil divorce case. The final words of the disposition were related to the highly emotional nature of both spouses at certain points in time, and the fact that their better judgment was clouded.

    The State Attorney’s Office gave the local family courts the green light to proceed with their civil divorce case, as the criminal matters had all been resolved. It remains to be seen how the family courts will look at the criminal cases and factor them into the divorce proceedings.

    Divorces and a spouse’s history and character

    An unfortunate reality of going through a divorce is that couples are incentivized to portray each other in an unfavorable light. This is most common during child custody disputes, where the parent who is found to be most suitable by a judge will be given more custody time. However, as this news story shows, couples find all kinds of reasons to argue and damage the other spouse’s reputation. There is often a belief that making the other spouse look like a bad person through any means possible will create favoritism for the wronged party. However, there are limits to a judge’s discretion and they do have to follow certain procedures and rules for issues like property division and child support payments. If a judge’s findings are improper, rulings may be overturned on appeal by a higher court.

    Domestic violence issues and protective orders

    It is also common for couples who are experiencing a tense situation to engage in physical conflicts. This is a serious problem and legitimate domestic violence issues should be reported to the police immediately. An attorney should also be contacted to get a protective order from the local courts, which prevents an abusive spouse from coming into contact with their husband or wife. The person responsible may have to resolve their criminal charges before the civil divorce case can proceed, and their record will be factored into decisions related to child custody, as courts do not like to place children with parents who have a history of violence or crime.

    Divorce lawyers in Clearwater Florida

    There are local attorneys who can assist you with any problems related to divorces, domestic violence, property division, and child custody issues. The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet will provide you with more information.

  • Tampa Florida parents may be getting federal help with various child care and custody issues

    President Trump was in the process of signing an executive order that would make various improvements to the nation’s child welfare system. These measures were needed at least partially due to difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, although some of the areas that were reformed had dealt with longstanding problems.

    Child protection agencies will get federal help and have more options for working with families

    The Secretary of Health and Human Services said that this move is the first part of a series of bold reforms that will ultimately help protect children around the country. Some of the goals of this action include targeting and limiting any mistreatment of children quickly and effectively, helping children find new families through better adoption programs, and more resources to work with families who are at risk so that they do not lose custody of their children. This should decrease the total number of children who end up separated from their families and in various welfare programs, which can be traumatic.

    A law professor who was interviewed by the news source said that most of these proposals sound good in theory, but it will take time to see how much of an actual difference the new reforms make in practice. He added that families should be optimistic about the current secretary for human services, as he has been working hard on these issues for over three years, and he does seem to have a legitimate desire for change rather than playing political games.

    These reforms can essentially be divided into three categories, which include new kinds of partnerships, more resources for care, and additional federal oversight related performance and following regulations.

    The partnerships will be strengthened at the state and local level as communities will have access to new ways of improving family relationships. Some of these programs will include abuse prevention, support services for families in need, and oversight of states to ensure that they have enough families available to adopt or provide foster services as needed. This should help children by limiting the time they spend waiting for administrative and bureaucratic decisions to be made.

    Caregivers now have access to new sources of funding through grants and other programs that were authorized under the order. Health and Human Services will set aside funding for training related to domestic violence and family trauma as well. The guardianship programs for children will be revamped, and there will be more services available to young people who become adults and age out of foster care. These young people will get assistance with finding employment, higher education, or other issues that become crucial as they enter adulthood.

    The third main area of reform is related to more federal oversight to make sure programs actually comply with rules and spend their funding appropriately. There are various federal statutes that have regulations related to child care and custody issues. However, it is difficult at times to make sure programs and foster families that are governed by these rules actually follow them. The Department of Health and Human Services will ensure compliance through funding oversight and controls. Some federal money will also be used towards legal services if attorneys are required to sort out problems in the courtroom.

    A legal professional who deals with children’s rights and related issues was pleased to see the inclusion of funding for legal representation. His research has consistently shown over the years that families have much better outcomes when parents have access to adequate legal representation. This can help families make appropriate decisions in various situations, rather than being deterred by the fact that legal services can be expensive at times. However, some of the details regarding how the government will intervene and pay for these services still needed to be sorted out.

    Recent data shows that over 400,000 children in the U.S. are in some kind of foster care placement, with about 120,000 eligible for adoption at any given time. Politicians who worked on these reforms are optimistic that the total number of children entering the system should decrease with new measures in place.

    Child custody issues and the government

    There are multiple layers to each state’s child custody system. Parents may have to battle each other for custody in the local family courts, while the state can get involved when parents have issues with crime and substance abuse. In any of these situations, legal representation is crucial to secure the best possible outcome for the family.

    Learn more about family law issues

    An attorney who focuses on divorces, child support, custody, alimony, and all other issues that fall under the umbrella of family law can speak with you. To get help in the Tampa Florida area, contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.

  • Young Florida couples may be less likely to divorce than their parents’ generation

    Divorces can be life changing events that consume lots of time and money. Due to these issues, it seems that some young people are being more careful about getting married at all, or waiting until a later age to do so.

    Local news for the Clearwater and Tampa Bay area reported on a trend where younger people are marrying later, but may actually end up happier and less likely to divorce.

    People are marrying later, divorcing less, and feel better in their marriages

    The study that came out of a census office in Las Vegas said that millennials and Generation X may have actually lowered the divorce rate. Recent U.S. Census Bureau data confirms that the under age 45 group of married couples is the least likely to get divorced out of any age range.

    The report featured a couple that went to a small chapel to renew their vows on their tenth wedding anniversary. Their ages put them in the same category as other millennials that seem to be content with their marriages, and they have no signs of displeasure or feelings that they need to separate after a decade. The husband of the couple said that they have spent less time traveling or going out than many of their peers, but they are still pleased with their situation. He said many of his friends and peers have a strong interest in commitment. He personally values settling down and starting a family more than anything else in life.

    In addition to the trend of younger people marrying later and divorcing less, census data also showed that the baby boomer generation got married at young ages, yet they were very likely to divorce and remarry multiple times over the next several decades. There is speculation that this trend caused members of Generation X and millennials to be more cautious and not want to turn to divorce as a solution for their problems. This may have actually led to younger generations ultimately ending up in better relationships. Some people interviewed have said that advice from their parents and other elders was a crucial factor in their own relationship success. They were able to learn a lot from the prior generation’s failures.

    A divorce mediator who was interviewed said that she thinks part of the trend can be attributed to younger people just being savvier and taking the process of starting relationships and getting married more seriously. She also believes that they are planning their finances much more carefully. Many young couples that she has spoken to already have finished school, saved money, taken out a mortgage, and completed several other life milestones before deciding to get married and have children.

    The realities of a divorce

    Most states in the U.S., including Florida, have made changes over the years to make getting a divorce easier, but the process can still be expensive and stressful at times. A no fault divorce is one of the most common and simple ways to get divorced in each state, as the couple usually just needs to meet residency requirements, and file in the local court with paperwork that says that the marriage has broken down and cannot be salvaged. Some states require the couple to live apart for a certain length of time before the divorce can be finalized.

    Florida allows for a no fault divorce when at least one spouse has stated that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and waits for a required period of time. After that, the parties can move to formally dissolve the marriage with their own attorneys. They can have formal hearings in a local family court, or it may be possible to agree to some kind of mediation plan where the parties agree after a negotiation session to the terms of their separation. The family court will honor the terms of these agreements after the mediator finalizes the documents.

    Learning about the formalities of divorce before committing to a decision

    Before moving forward with any of these issues, it is best to get legal advice from a family law attorney in a formal setting. They can explain the process more thoroughly and advise you regarding the best course of action. A divorce should be seriously considered in situations that involve domestic violence, drug abuse, or other problems that can put a couple in criminal court as well. However, other marriages may be salvaged with some help and guidance.

    Speak with an attorney about divorce and family law issues

    There are lawyers in Clearwater who spend their time helping people who are going through a divorce, and may have related legal problems such as custody disputes or late support payments. To speak with an attorney in your area, contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.

  • St. Petersburg area foster care workers made an extra effort to protect children from the coronavirus

    As child custody hearings were delayed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, many foster children in the state depended on the services of various government and non-profit agencies to survive and have a place to live. Local news for the St. Petersburg area reported on the important role that the state’s child care system played during this difficult time.

    Florida’s foster care system addresses challenged created by the pandemic

    The state’s foster care system essentially functions as a form of shared responsibility until certain children can be returned to their families or adopted. Approximately 50,000 families in Florida receive some kind of assistance from the child welfare system. About 24,000 children stay in residences operated by the government outside of their homes until they are placed elsewhere or cleared to return to a parent’s care.

    Thousands of employees, foster families, and others dedicate time and resources to help make this system work. Many of them take on a high degree of responsibility. Their jobs are not easy either, as many children who end up in foster care or state custody have already experienced trauma due to things like neglect, crime, drug addiction, and domestic violence. For some children in the system, foster care is the first time that they have experienced a stable environment without these kinds of issues. Many of these workers and families are recognized around the country during the month of May, which is National Foster Care Month.

    The coronavirus pandemic put all of these workers and the children they care for in a unique and difficult situation. Many communities came together to find new ways to ensure the safety of these kids while addressing the large public health issues created by the virus. There were obvious concerns that the virus could add more trauma to the lives of children who are already very vulnerable. There were several hundred homes in the state of Florida that rose to the challenge and provided family settings and therapy to the foster children as needed during the pandemic. Technology was used as well to create virtual settings for kids to communicate and learn as needed.

    The Florida Coalition for Children is the main governing body that helps other non-profit agencies in the state with recruiting, training, education, and other forms of support. This process creates thousands of jobs as well.

    While the pandemic was ongoing at the time of the news report, many people were dedicating long hours to assist improve the quality of life for all of these children in various ways. The workers were also engaged in the process to place some of these children with permanent families as soon as it is safe to do so. The report concluded by saying that workers in these fields should be commended for their dedication and hard work, especially considering the fact that many of these children would otherwise be forgotten.

    Child custody in Florida

    If a parent loses custody of a child to the state in Florida, it is often due to serious problems with abuse, crime, neglect, drugs or alcohol, domestic violence, or other issues that reflect poorly on the biological parents. This is how many children end up in the foster care system for extended periods of time. If a judge thinks that the parents have not reformed or made changes after being given a second chance, they may lose their custody rights permanently. When this happens, the child is often put up for adoption or stays in the foster care system long term.

    A parent may be able to regain custody by proving their ability to make good choices that reflect on their ability to raise a child without further issues.

    The best interests of the child

    The most important terminology to learn about in Florida for child custody issues is the “best interests of the child.” This is not an exact standard with hard and fast rules, but judges are given discretion to determine what is best based on a child’s situation. This can include stability and ties to the community, the parents’ history with work, finances, and money problems, and anything that might reflect poorly on either parent’s ability to properly raise a child.

    Because there is no exact way to know how a judge will utilize this standard in advance of a hearing, it is always recommended to help legal help from an experienced local family law attorney. They may be familiar with the family court judges in your area and assist with outlining a plan that will present you in the most favorable light to the judge assigned to your case.

    Get help from a local attorney on Florida’s Gulf Coast

    To learn more about child custody, child support, divorces, alimony, and related family law issues, contact a lawyer at The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.

  • Tampa couple that owns the Lightning is about to divorce and divide millions of dollars worth of assets

    Even couples who are well off financially and have a long history together without any serious problems can eventually grow apart and decide to separate. The owner of the NHL franchise The Tampa Bay Lightning is getting divorced from his wife after over thirty years of marriage.

    Owner of the city’s hockey team is separating from his wife

    The documents filed in the Hillsborough County Circuit Court simply say that the marriage is irretrievably broken without giving any specific detail. This means that the couple is likely going to file for a no fault divorce and attempting to keep the specifics private and out of the public eye. A spokesperson for the couple also emphasized a need for privacy as well.

    The couple had been well known as philanthropists in the Tampa area, and they have supported numerous charitable causes over the years. They had initially met decades ago while Jeff Vinik was studying at Harvard University as a graduate student. One night both of them were eating at the same restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and their relationship began. A few years later in 1987 they were married. Jeff had made a significant amount of his fortune while working for Fidelity Investments throughout his thirties. The couple had four children together, and all of them are adults now aged between their late teens and twenties.

    Vinik purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise in 2010 for about $110 million, and the couple relocated to Florida to the Tampa area afterward. The divorce documents say that Vinik’s wife made a significant financial contribution to the couple’s wealth and assets over approximately 33 years of marriage. Vinik’s net worth was estimated to be about $500 million several years ago, but his wealth may have increased significantly. Much of this wealth is tied up in various corporations and partnerships, which can make it difficult to trace. As part of the divorce case, all of these holdings will likely have to be disclosed if they provide Jeff with any income.

    The court filings say that most of these assets are in Jeff’s name, but his wife should receive an equitable distribution of the estate that will be substantial. She is also asking for temporary alimony, in order to maintain her high standard of living that she is accustomed to after over 30 years of sharing in her husband’s wealth.

    One of the couple’s most significant financial ventures in recent years was an act of donating over $2 million to various local causes in Tampa and St. Petersburg for coronavirus relief during the 2020 pandemic. This included funds for food and rent assistance that went to Lightning employees, University of South Florida students, and the Metropolitan Ministries. Some other significant gifts included $5 million to USF’s business college, which was renamed for the Vinik couple, and another $5 million to the Tampa Museum of Art. A $2.5 million gift to a local Boys and Girls Club in the Tampa area from the Vinik couple was the largest single donation to the organization in its 90 year history. They also gave $1 million to a historic house that was important to the area’s civil rights movement. There is an acre of land that the couple bought which will be used for the USF College of Health and Medicine to expand with new buildings.

    Vinik’s wife is asking for a family court judge to grant temporary, exclusive use of two of their homes through her divorce attorney. One is in the southern part of Tampa, while the other is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The filings further state that there are Porsche sport utility vehicles at both homes that she needs to access as well. In return, she is conceding exclusive use of a home in Sarasota, Florida to Jeff. The documents conclude by stating that she should have access to, and continued use of the couple’s private aircraft and charters in a manner consistent with their prior arrangements. At the time of the news report, the case was still pending and a judge had not yet ruled on any of these demands.

    Property division and wealthy couples

    When a couple in this situation divorces, property and assets are likely to be contested. It may take a significant amount of time for a court to go through all of their finances and property and determine what should be considered marital or separate before it is divided. A family court judge also has discretion to distribute this property in an equitable manner, which does not necessarily mean equal. Because of this uncertainty, legal representation from an experienced attorney is important.

    Talk to an attorney in your city today

    There are family law attorneys in the Tampa area who can assist you with divorces, child support, child custody, or any other related issues. To get immediate help from a licensed professional in Florida, contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.

  • 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

  • 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.