Law Offices Of Andrew Merlo, P.A.


(561) 893-9993

Law Offices Of Andrew Merlo, P.A.

Family Law FAQs

Every case is different and will require a unique approach. Some instances of relocation which might prevent you from taking your child could include imprisonment or a change to active duty military status. Other issues might be a little more flexible, like moving out of state because you are offered a better paying job. You need to be able to support yourself and your family financially so you decide that the move is the best option for you. Your attorney will be able to help you come up with the best arrangement for you and one that protects the best interest of your children. This is why an attorney who is experienced in complex matters is crucial, as they know what works and what doesn’t in these situations.
Moving when you have children can be very difficult. There are many factors that need to be addressed, such as a local support system, school, daycare centers, extra-curricular activities like clubs and sports teams. The best way to amend a parenting agreement is to get consent from the other parent before the move and work out a plan. If you can’t agree on a plan, the court will take all of the information about your specific situation and come up with a plan for you. This isn’t always ideal as the agreement might not be what either parent wants. Often, alternative dispute resolution is used to come to an agreement before taking your case in front of a judge. This would occur at a mediation where a mediator assists negotiations between the parties to come up with the best solution for both parties. Your attorney will accompany you to mediation to protect your rights as a parent during the negotiations.

When a judge is making decisions for modifying a parenting agreement, Florida law says they can look at the following factors in making their determination:

  1. the nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent proposing the relocation and the other parent not relocating
  2. the age and developmental stage of the child, their needs, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s overall development
  3. the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child through a substitute arrangement taking into account the difficulty the distance will create
  4. If appropriate, the child’s preferences
  5. Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the parent
  6. Both parent’s reasons for relocating or opposing the relocation
  7. The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent and if the relocation will improve the circumstances
  8. The relocation is sought in good faith
  9. The available opportunities to the objecting parent if the relocation occurs
  10. If there is a history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in Florida Statute 741.28
  11. Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in Florida Child Custody Law 61.13.
As you can see there are a lot of factors that come into play. Each case is evaluated individually, so there is no chart of one size fits all time-sharing plan that will automatically be applied to your situation.
When you find out that you may have to move or if the other parent has decided to move, you need to call right away. The courts do not look favorably on parents who abandon their prior agreement and move without making a solid plan for their children. You need help right away, before you move, to make sure that you are protected and your kids are protected.
Mediation is essentially a meeting where both parties sit down with a mediator, who is a neutral third party. The goal of mediation is to resolve the dispute, so the best outcome of a mediation would be to reach an agreement that both parties are comfortable with and agree to a settlement. Usually, this process includes determining the goals of each party and coming up with the best solution to give each party what they want.
Typically no. The family law court usually requires that you go to mediation prior to appearing before the court and at the very least, before setting a date for a final trial. This is particularly true in Palm Beach County. The good news is that you don’t have to try to work through your issues on your own. The mediator is there to help negotiate and you can bring your attorney who is there to help you!
You can schedule a mediation before filing a petition if you choose, although most people file first and then use mediation as a secondary step to avoid trial. Mediation at an early stage can help save a lot of money in legal fees.
Mediation is typically scheduled by your attorney, who has useful contacts with mediators that they have used in the past and know are helpful in pursuing peaceful negotiations. However you can find a mediator on your own, but it is best to be represented by your attorney whenever you are deciding on a legally binding agreement.
If you reach a settlement agreement at your mediation, that is a final contract between you and the other party. It is filed with the courts and is enforceable. You must adhere to this agreement, just as the other party must adhere to this agreement. You can, however, seek to modify your agreement in the future, just as you might after a settlement at trial. This type of modification would be appropriate if you have a change of circumstances, like a significant, permanent change in salary, or if a parent is relocating in the case of child custody agreement.
Family law mediators must be certified through the Supreme Court of Florida. Most mediators are experienced attorneys or have advanced degrees in psychology. To become a certified mediator, a qualified individual takes a certification course approved by the court system and then completes an application and mentoring hours. It is not the same as sitting down with a friend and coming up with a plan. This person knows what they’re doing and they have helped others like you before. They also have more time to individually get to hear both sides of the story and to understand your case, a luxury that most judges don’t have.
Andrew Merlo, Esq.

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(561) 893-9993

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