Separation and divorce are a stressful time for all parties involved, and the complexities of family law in Florida can exacerbate an already tense situation. Parental rights and obligations, particularly those of fathers as they pertain to custody issues, requesting visitation rights and child support, are often mired in popular myths.
Myth 1 - Mother gets primary custody, every time.
Perhaps the most prevalent myth is that the mother always gets primary custody. There was a time when mom stayed home while dad worked and these traditional roles were mirrored in legal rulings. However, times have certainly changed, and as fathers take on primary caregiver roles, and moms work outside the home, the forgone assumption that mom gets primary custody is no more.
Myth 2 - No payment, no visitation.
The father fails to pay alimony, so the mother has the right to withhold visitation has been the plot of countless Hollywood movies. The reality is that no parent has the right to restrict access that might contravene court ordered visitation.
Myth 3 - All divorce judgments are set in stone.
Certain aspects of a divorce settlement can be modified as circumstances change such as provisions for alimony or parenting schedules. The court can recalculate money paid in support as conditions on both sides evolve over time. The parent's ability to pay child support can certainly change as their financial situation changes.
Myth 4 - We agree on everything, so a lawyer is not required.
Navigating the waters of Florida's divorce laws is a perilous journey, especially when there are issues of paternity involved. While many divorces don't go to court and are settled through mediation, you do still require the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in family law. It's important that you know what your rights are as well as your responsibilities in the eyes of the law.