The Marks Law Firm Blog and New Updates

The Marks Law Firm, P.A. returns to support Nathaniel’s Hope

In the spirit of summer, The Marks Law Firm has big plans to get outside and enjoy the weather with our community. This year is the third year that our team will be participating in the Nathaniel’s Hope- Make M’ Smile Celebration! Make M’ Smile is an annual community festival dedicated to celebrating VIP Kids, children with all types of special needs/disabilities, and their families.  VIP kids, families, volunteers, exhibitors and sponsors enjoy free entertainment, food, activities, and many vendors with giveaways.   

Every year the Marks Law Firm has been an active sponsor in the midst of all the fun and entertainment giving away free drinks and helping bring a smile to every child’s face!  The event will be held on Saturday, June 4th from 7:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando.  We would love for you to come out to help support the VIP kids, their families, and this wonderful organization. 

If you are interested in participating please visit the Nathaniel’s Hope website at www.NathanielsHope.org.  One way to participate is by becoming a “buddy” to one of the VIP kids. As a “buddy” you will walk with a child and guide them during the “friendship stroll” around the park and throughout the event.  You can also sign up to be a volunteer or make a donation on the website.  Stay tuned to our website and Facebook to find out updates regarding this event and other ways that you can help.

Coaching Your Kids from the Sidelines

The Marks Law Firm, P.A. wants to encourage parents to get their children involved in sports.  Especially when a family is going through dynamic changes such as a separation or Divorce of the parents, the children often need the positive benefits that come from team activities and physical action.

Participating in sports helps children develop a number of qualities that will have lifelong benefits. Studies suggest that participation in sports can help children learn responsible social behavior and gain an appreciation of personal health and fitness.

Along with the appreciation of personal health and fitness, sports will give children the right amount of exercise to keep their bodies healthy, happy and in good physical shape. Regular physical activity also helps the body manage stress, which can result in better school performance and improve your child’s ability to respond appropriately to daily challenges.

In addition to these benefits, team sports give children a sense of belonging.  Below are some tips to help parents build confidence and good character in their children through sporting activities.

Setting an Example for Your Child

* Teach good sportsmanship.  Be a role model to your child and other parents. Offer words of encouragement to your child, his or her teammates and their opponents.

* Be respectful of everyone.  Show respect for the other team, the coaches and the officials.  Avoid criticizing a child’s athletic ability, a coach’s decision or an official’s call on a play.  Keep this in mind when attending athletic events and watching sports on TV with your child as well.  If you have a concern about a coach’s particular style of coaching, politely bring your concern to the coach’s attention after the game.  You may want to volunteer to help coach during the next practice.

Building you Child’s Confidence and Motivation

* Focus on effort, not results.  The message to “win at all costs” can put a lot of pressure on a child.  Regardless of the final score, your child should feel proud that he or she played their best.  Let children know when they had the right idea or made the right decision in the game even if it didn’t result in a score. Let your children know they always winners in your eyes.

* Extra Practice. If the coach brings up an area your child needs to work on, help them practice at home and offer lots of specific encouragement.  Occasionally plan to stay after practice for an extra 10 or 15 minutes so your child can get a little extra time with their teammates.  This encourages social development and team building.  If your child is having trouble, also make sure to communicate with them and make sure no other teammate is bullying your child or making fun of them.  This could also be a result of your child not playing well.  If this is the case, make sure to contact the coach in a private setting so they can handle the problem.

–Excerpt taken from the Pinwheels for Prevention- 2011 Parent Resource Booklet

There are so many different outlets for you and your child to choose just the right sports activity for them.  From soccer to karate to gymnastics and beyond, the possibilities are seemingly endless.  The Marks Law Firm, P.A. wants to be a resource for all things that build a healthy foundation for families.  Below are some links to local and national establishments that offer different sporting activities to the public.

Central Florida YMCA
http://www.ymcacentralflorida.com/

Orlando Kids Directory
http://www.orlandokidsdirectory.com/home.php

National Alliance for Youth Sports
http://www.nays.org/

Parents Connect
http://gocitykids.parentsconnect.com/Orlando

Protecting Individuals with Mental and Physical Disabilities in the Family Court System

In the family law arena, we often encounter individuals with physical or mental disabilities. The Court has implemented various safeguards for these persons in order to assure that they have fair and equal access to the justice system.

 

For children whose best interest may be unclear due to the current dissolution proceedings of their parents or if the parents disagree as to the child’s best interest, a Court may appoint, or the parties may hire, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).

The GAL’s primary duty is to advocate for the best interest of the child. This is particularly helpful in high conflict scenarios or situations where the child has a mental, developmental, or physical disability. If an adult has a mental or physical disability that impairs their judgment as it relates to their particular case, a GAL may also be hired to advocate for this individual’s best interest.

Children and adults with mental and physical disabilities can seek help and treatment from the State of Florida. Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is the state agency that provides an array of services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Some of APD’s services include occupational and physical therapy, mental health services, and behavior therapy. APD’s goal is to make the individual with the disability as independent as possible. There are particular steps necessary to quality for APD’s services. For more information please visit the following website: www.apdcares.org.

It is important to remember that persons with mental or physical disabilities deserve the same opportunities within our court system as do those without such hindrances. Please contact our office for more information on how you can protect those who are limited in their ability to protect themselves.

Honoring those in Service: Amendments to the Statute regarding Timesharing for Men and Women in the Military

Determining the appropriate time sharing when a parent is in the military has been a long- standing issue due to deployment, re-assignment to a new base and other variables.

Florida Statue 61.13002 allows a parent who is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service on orders in excess of 90 days and whose ability to comply with time-sharing is materially affected to designate a person(s) to exercise time-sharing on that parent’s behalf.  The designation is restricted to a family member, stepparent or relative of the child by marriage.

The designation must be in writing to the civilian parent at least 10 days prior to the next time-sharing.  If the parties are unable to agree on the designation, then either party can request an expedited hearing to determine the designation.  Agreements on designation may be made at time of dissolution of marriage or during other child-related proceedings.

The statute further provides that in any hearing enforcing rights under F.S. 61.13002, the court shall permit the military parent to testify by telephone, video teleconference, webcam, affidavit, or other means if the military duties have a material effect on that parent’s ability or anticipated ability to appear in person.

Who Gets to Claim our Child as Dependent During our Divorce?

Many dissolution and paternity agreements and/or orders include a provision allowing a specified parent to claim a child.  Form 8332, available on the IRS website should be filled out every year where one spouse is entitled to take the dependency exemption.

The form essentially transfers the exemption from one parent to the other as long as certain conditions are met, such as child support is current.  According to IRS chief counsel advice memo issued on June 19, 2009, for judgments or decrees after July 2, 2008, attaching a copy of the decree that transfers the exemption to a non-custodial parent will not suffice to transfer the dependency exemption.

A document that conforms to the substance of Form 8332 will suffice as long as that document’s only purpose is the release of a claim to the exemption.  Therefore, any agreements to transfer the dependency exemption should contain a requirement that Form 8332 be executed every year.

Furthermore, the party receiving the dependency exemption should notify their CPA or tax preparer every year of this requirement.  To access the 8332 form click this link, http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8332.pdf.

If you have any further questions with regard to tax implications regarding your child(ren), or other legal issues, please contact The Marks Law Firm at (407) 872-3161.

Judicial Procedures in Orlando Domestic Violence Injunctions

Domestic Violence is often a part of many Family Law cases. Each Domestic Violence situation is unique and must be individually examined by the Court.

Prior to a Court making any decisions regarding Injunctions (commonly known as “Restraining Orders”), a Judge must consider whether the Petitioner (the person seeking the Injunction), has a legal right to ask for same and whether the allegations presented meet the statutory definition of “Domestic Violence.”

The Judge must also determine whether there is an immediate and present danger of Domestic Violence, as well as various issues related to custody and/or visitation if minor children are involved.

Once a Judge has made the above preliminary findings and either a Temporary Injunction has been issued or a Hearing has been set on the initial Petition, the Court will move towards issuing or denying a Final Injunction.  At this point, the Judge will review any related cases with the same parties where provisions of other Injunctions may possibly conflict with the present circumstances.

Thereafter, the Judge will again examine the facts to determine whether the allegations are sufficient to support the immediate and present danger requirement of the Statute. If there are minor children involved, the Court may also make a determination as to appropriate visitation limitations. Finally, depending on the specific circumstances, the Judge may also order various rehabilitative programs such as Batterers’ Intervention, Anger Management, or Substance Abuse Evaluations.

The Child Abduction Prevention Act: Protecting our Children from the Dangers of Abduction by a Parent

Florida Statutes Section 61.45 was recently amended to create the “Child Abduction Prevention Act.”  This Act is beneficial when there is a concern about the risk of removal of a child from the state or country in violation of a parenting plan.

This section includes new preventative and risk factors for the court’s consideration, as well as relief that may be ordered and additional civil/criminal penalties that may result from violation of this section.

Further, if a parent is concerned that the other parent may abduct a child, a great resource is the Department of State website under child abduction.  There is a Child Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP).

The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) allows parents to register their U.S. citizen children under the age of 18 in the Department’s Passport Lookout System.  If a passport application is submitted for a child who is registered in CPIAP, the Department contacts and alerts the parent(s) or guardian(s). The system provides all U.S. passport agencies, as well as U.S. Embassies and Consulates, abroad an alert on a child’s name if a parent or guardian registers an objection to passport issuance for his or her child.  This procedure provides parents advance warning of possible plans for international travel with a child.

Go to the following website to find out more and/or sign up your child(ren) for this program: http://travel.state.gov/abduction/prevention/passportissuanc/passportissuance_554.html:

A court can also order a parent to register with this program sua sponte (on its own accord) or upon motion by a party.

Christian Legal Society National Conference Welcomes The Marks Law Firm

The Marks Law Firm, P.A., is excited to announce that we have been asked to present at the 2010 Christian Legal Society National Conference at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando! The Firm’s presentation is entitled “Pursuing a Family Law Ministry: Helping Families Survive and Thrive at a Critical Crossroads.” We will provide attendees with guidance for navigating the often stormy waters of family law practice.

It is our honor and privilege to share these Biblical principles with Christian attorneys from around the country. We appreciate the prayers of our extended Firm family (you!) as we prepare and present and look forward to reporting back after a weekend full of encouragement.