Interviewer: Hi. So, I’m just going to go ahead and begin then I’ll chime in by saying “Hello.” Okay, thank you for joining us. This message is being brought to you by LegalYogi.com. If you would like a free legal consultation you can call 1-800-397-1755 from any state in the U.S. as this is the main attorney consultation line for the service. In today’s discussion we will be talking about divorce help for men, child support, and the rights and responsibilities for custody. My name is Christy O’Connor, and I’m here with attorney Jennifer Milne of South Florida Legal Rescue out of Palm Beach County. Jennifer graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manila, William S. Richardson School of Law. Her internship was with the Domestic Violence Clearing House which is a state agency in Honolulu, Hawaii. From ’01-’05 she headed up the ethics committee as the vice chancellor for research at the University of California-Irvine. Being licensed in both Florida and Hawaii, Jennifer Milne is a member of the Marital and Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Association as well as a member of the Hawaii Bar Association. She has now opened her own practice in Palm Beach, Florida focusing on father’s rights and child custody and divorce help for men. Jennifer, hello, thank you for being here.
Jennifer: I’m so happy you invited me, Christy. How are you today?
Interviewer: Oh, good, good. We’re going to have a little discussion today. I wanted to ask you first off as a West Palm Beach, Florida attorney, what is the most common question dads in your area are asking about child custody?
Jennifer: I get a lot of questions about access to your child, about visitation, and whether it is tied to payment of child support actually, and there’s a lot of dads—the economy is really, really tough right now, and there’s a lot of dads that have child support payments they are obligated to pay, and they just can’t find jobs.
Interviewer: Yeah, I wanted to ask you, is there a difference between time sharing and custody? Are there different legal terms?
Jennifer: Well, some states use the term “custody”, but in Florida where I practice they use the term “time sharing”, and Florida moved away from the term custody because it encompasses other terms like visitation and you know, custodial parent, and Florida really wanted to emphasize that it’s a shared responsibility, that one parent isn’t visiting their child which, when you think about it is a horrible way to put a child’s relationship with their parent.
Interviewer: So they play and larger and more equal role in the child’s life.
Jennifer: Well, yeah, and Florida is one of the really good states about recognizing the rights of dads and the rights of moms because in a lot of states there isn’t that presumption of a 50/50 time share split, but in Florida there is that presumption of a 50/50 time share split. If one of the parents is seeking to significantly deviate from that, they are going to have to prove the other parent is unfit. This is significantly different than in other states.
Interviewer: I’m sorry, I was going to ask—so they call it a 50/50 time sharing, and I didn’t hear that last part.
Jennifer: The burden is on them to show why the other parent is unfit and shouldn’t be allowed to have a 50/50 time share.
Interviewer: It seems based on your previous comment it should not be connected to child support. If I don’t have a job, I’m unable to pay my support payments, that does not mean I should not share time or be part of the parenting plan.
Jennifer: Well, states like Florida have really moved away from the gender preferences. There are some cultural biases you can come across, but thee used to be something called the tender years doctrine, and it was based on the presumption that a child in the younger years was better off with the mother, but the roles of women have changed as have the roles of men, so most states have abandoned the tender years doctrine. They’re not supposed to do it, but it’s really, really hard to hold a judge’s feet to the fire because judges have such broad discretion.
Interviewer: Well, I do want to thank you very much for your time today.
Jennifer: You’re welcome, Christy. It’s always a pleasure.
Interviewer: That will conclude our show. Please check out our next segment that talks about the use of child support. We have a new tool which is a child support calculator and the division of child support. It is important for men to understand even if they cannot afford child support or are behind on their child support payments, they still have the right to see their children and develop a visitation schedule. If you would like a free legal consultation sponsored by Legal-Yogi.com, call 1-800-397-1755 from anywhere in the United States.