Here in Florida, the term Domestic Relations encompasses several chapters in the Florida Statutes, Title XLIII.
These include Marriage, Domestic Violence, Determination of Parentage, Disability of Nonage of Minors Removed, Guardianship, Conservatorship, Temporary Custody of Minor Children by Extended Family, Grandparental Visitation Rights and Supervised Visitation.
In order to help everyone better understand these different facets to domestic relations, we’re going to break each one of them down in summary form.
This chapter includes provisions for issuance of marriage licenses and covers fees, any children the applicants may have, as well as payment options. There are also options for reducing the marriage fee by completing a premarital preparation course.
Family law handbooks are available to explain sections of Florida law pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of marital partners in Florida to each other and their children during marriage and through any series of unfortunate events leading as far as a dissolution process for divorce.
Also included in this chapter are provisions for issuing marriage licenses to anyone under 18 years of age.
Marriage license applications are valid for 60 days in Florida and all regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion with a church or any other ordained clergy, all judicial officers including those who are retired, clerks of the circuit courts and notaries public of Florida are all authorized to solemnize the rights of the matrimonial contract.
Marriages are also valid when solemnized by “Quakers” or “Friends” in the manner and form used or practiced in their societies. Marriage cannot be solemnized without a license.
As of 2013, Same-sex marriages were not recognized for any purpose in Florida, however, a new 2015 Supreme Court ruling states that state prohibitions on same-sex marriage violate the Constitution.
Generally speaking, Domestic violence is used to refer to any type of assault or aggravated assault, battery or aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any criminal offense relating in physical injury or death of a family or household member by another family or household member.
Anyone found guilty of a domestic violence crime in Florida is ordered by the court to a minimum term of 1 year of probation while also ordering a condition requiring them to attend a batterers’ intervention program. When bodily harm is caused, a minimum term of 5 days in jail can be imposed, along with additional penalties or incarceration.
Officers investigating alleged incidents of domestic violence are to assist the victim in obtaining medical treatment if any is required as well as informing the victim as to where the nearest domestic violence center is located and advising them of their rights and remedies available. Written statements shall also be obtained by the officer responding whenever possible.
For protection against domestic violence, any victim may submit a petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence. The petitioner may present a need for exclusive use and possession of a shared dwelling, and note why they are unable to obtain safe alternative housing. Parenting plans and time-sharing schedules are also covered if necessary and the hearings are typically held at the soonest possible time.
Petitioners may contact the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the violation is alleged to have occurred if there is an occurrence of a violation of any injunctions where no arrest is made.
This section of the Florida Statutes covers the process for any woman who is pregnant or who has a child and for any man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child, or for any child who wishes to bring proceedings in the circuit court to determine the paternity of the child when paternity has not been established by law or otherwise.
Florida circuit courts have jurisdiction to remove the disabilities of nonage of a minor who is aged 16 or older and who resides within the State of Florida upon receiving a petition filed by the minor’s natural or legal guardian, or if there is none, through a guardian ad litem.
Guardianship encompasses several different parts in the Florida Statutes, including General Provisions, Venue, Types of Guardianship, Guardians, Adjudication of Incapacity and Appointment of Guardians, Powers and Duties, Termination, Veteran’s Guardianship, and Public Guardianship.
The Legislature has found that adjudicating a person who is completely incapacitated and therefore in need of a guardian will deprive that person of his or her civil and legal rights and that such deprivation is unnecessary. The preferred remedy is to make available in the least restrictive form, a guardianship in order to assist any person who is only partially incapable of caring for their needs.
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Upon showing that an absentee has no interest in any form of property in Florida –
- and the absentee is a legal resident of the state or the spouse
- or next of kin of the absentee is a legal resident of the state,
– …and the absentee has not provided an adequate power of attorney authorizing another to act on his or her behalf with regard to such property or interest or the term of any such power of attorney has expired and:
A necessity exists for providing care for the property or estate of the absentee or care for or judgments concerning the absentee’s spouse and children or, if he or she has no spouse and children, the absentee’s mother or father.
An absentee under Florida law is defined as any person serving in or with the Armed Forces of the United States, in or with the Red Cross, in or with the Merchant Marine or otherwise, during ay period of time when a state of hostilities exists between the United States and any other power and for 1 year thereafter, who has been reported listing as missing in action, interned in a neutral country, beleaguered, besieged or captured by the enemy shall be an “absentee” within meaning of this law.
This also includes any resident of Florida or any person owning property in Florida who disappears under circumstances indicating that he or she may have died, either naturally, accidentally or at the hand of another, or may have disappeared as the result of a mental derangement, amnesia or other mental cause.
To begin the process and invoke the jurisdiction of the court, any person who would have an interest in the property or estate of the absentee may file a petition. Next, a notice of the hearing to appoint a conservator will be provided to all parties named in the petition by registered or certified mail.
A termination of the conservatorship may occur at any time upon petition signed by the absentee or by an attorney in fact representing the absentee. If an absentee has died, and an executor or administrator has been appointed for his or her estate, the conservatorship is terminated and all property is transferred to the executor or administrator.
Florida recognizes that many minor children live with and are cared for by members of their extended families, and often these children have been placed by their parents with another family member who is better able to care for them. The intent is to provide for the welfare of a minor child and assist these caregivers by providing the legal documentation they need in order to effectively consent to the care of the child by third parties. In order to effectuate the legal aspects, temporary or concurrent custody may be awarded to the custodial caregiver.
Florida has provisions in place which make it possible for a grandparent of a minor child to be awarded reasonable rights of visitation to the grandparent with respect to the child when it is in the best interest of the minor child.
Typically, the following criteria usually come into play:
- The marriage of the parents of the child has been dissolved;
- A parent of the child has deserted the child; or
- The minor child was born out of wedlock and not later determined to be a child born within wedlock.
The court takes the following into consideration in determining the best interest of a child:
- The willingness of the grandparent or grandparents to encourage a close relationship between the child and the parent or parents.
- The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent(s)
- The preference of the child if the child is determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference
- The mental and physical health of the child
- The mental and physical health of the grandparent(s)
- Such other factors as are necessary in the particular circumstances.
Children placed for adoption under Chapter 63 except as provided in s. 752.07 with respect to adoption by a stepparent exclude provisions for grandparental visitation rights.
In order to offer structured contact between a parent or caregiver and one or more children, the presence of a third person responsible for observing and ensuring the safety of those involved is provided under supervised visitation programs. These programs may also include exchange monitoring of children who are participating in court-ordered visitation programs or where there has been mutual consent between parties for the purposes of facilitating a visitation.
To ensure the safety and quality of each program, the clearinghouse shall develop standards for supervised visitation programs and must address the purposes, policies, standards of practice, program content, security measures, qualifications of providers, training standards, credentials and background screening requirements of staff, information to be provided to the court and data collection for supervised visitation programs – all funded by the use of existing funds from within the department.
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Content authored by Frank Fernandez