Few issues in life are more stressful and contentious than child custody issues and concerns. We can help you through the tough times as you seek to reach an agreement or to petition enforcement of an existing agreement.
Where Do I File?
Florida's Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) reduce disputes between states when child related issues may be brought in more than one state. The proper state is determined by evaluating:
• Where the Order was originally entered, or
• Where the child or the child’s family has the most significant contacts.
Each determination is factually specific. We will work with you to determine which state is the proper state for your actions. Each state may need to exchange information or have multi-state hearings to determine or enforce orders.
The Hague Convention determines the means to request the return of a child that has been removed from the United States. If the country is a member of the Hague Convention a central agency will assist in the return of the child to the United States.
Parents may apply to member countries provided:
• The parent seeking the return of the child had custody, either by practice or the actions of the parents
• The child is under 16 years old and a resident of the United States
• At the time the child was removed from the United States, the petitioning parent seeking return of the child was exercising custodial rights
Member countries have limited defenses to the application for the return of the child:
• If the petitioning parent knew where the child was located but failed to seek the return of the child for more than one year; or
• The petitioning parent was voluntarily exercising custodial rights; or
• If the return of the child would place the child in emotional or physical danger
• It is the burden of the abducting parent to prove the asserted defense
Florida law provides that a parent must obtain court approval or the other parent’s written consent to move a child more than 50 miles from his or her current locale for a period exceeding 60 days. If the other parent attempts to relocate your child, contact an attorney immediately. Parents who are or who were married are able to obtain an order preventing the immediate removal of the child until a hearing can be held to evaluate if the children’s best interests are served by the proposed relocation.
Putative Father Registry
An unmarried man must register with the Putative Father Registry if he seeks to assert paternity. Unmarried men are not required to register and presumed to be the biological father if:
• They were married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth; or
• The mother was not married at the time of the birth and the man acknowledged paternity at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth; or
• The mother was not married at the time of the birth and the man acknowledged paternity after the child’s birth by filing the Consenting Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity (Form DH 432) with the Office of Vital Statistics; or
• An order of paternity was issued by the court
All information provided to the Putative Father Registry is confidential and only released to:
• An adoption agency is searching for fathers in anticipation of the adoption of the minor child; or
• The registering unmarried biological father; or
• The court, by court order
Paternity must be established to ensure the parent child relationship is legally recognized. Unmarried fathers do not have rights to custody, parenting contact, parenting decisions or the rights to prevent relocation of the child without an order of paternity. Mothers require an order of paternity to establish child support obligations. If the father has any doubts about paternity, the issue must be immediately raised. DNA testing may be requested if paternity is at issue.