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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34665
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Good evening. Below isa quick rundown of my current situaiton

Customer Question

Good evening. Below isa quick rundown of my current situaiton followed by an upcoming opportunity/situation for our family.

I am the father of three children. One lives with me and my wife (the childs biological mother.) The other two live with my ex wife (their biological mother)
My son is 16
My Daughter is 15 (in a week)
We all live in Florida (8 miles apart from each other)
I pay $880 per month Child Support (never missed any payments)
My ex wife is remarried as well. Her husband brought in two children to the family one of which has joindthe military and moved out.
My ex wife is on SSI at $1800 per month (Not that it matters, but I feel she is playing the system)

Here is the situation/opportunity. My ex wife and daughter have been going through a rough period in their relationship. My daughter is an honor roll student (always has been) my ex has had her placed on medication to control her mood (narcotics like ritalin and other mood altering drugs) I do not agree with this drastic measure. My daughter has been in a downward spiral for months now. She has gone through a period of cutting herself (scratching mostly with a knifeblade or razor) possible alcohol use, the use of marajouana, (I know I misspelled that sorry), and major rebellious attitude. She was just suspended for 10 days with a possible Expulsion from school this past week. She had a small pocket knife in her backpack and got caught. Also a lighter. Keep in mind, the dmeographic ofher school I would assume 80% of the kids carry a pocket knife. This is a red neck school to be blunt.

My daughter is about to tell her mother she wants to move to our house. My wife and I have talked extensively about this and have agreed that we feel we would provide abetter home life for my daughter. We are in a different school district with a better school in a different class of people. Still only 8miles from her mother. My daughter has been informed of the types of life changes to expect here. We are a different type of family than she has lived with for the past 15 years.

Currently we have JOINT CUSTODY with the mother having the actual possesion of the children. They have always lived with her since the divorce.

Do I have to FIGHT for custody, or leave it as joint and simply modify the location of the childs home. My daughter has stated that she is willing to tell the judge her reasons for wanting to move. Neither home is a "bad" place to live. She simply feels her relationship with her mother is unrepairable with the two of them in the same house. She also feels we can provide her a better opportunity through high school and into her future.

Also do I have to change child support....

PS I would love to have an attorney but we already live check to check and an attorney will simply take a monthly payment out of our budget that would make it harder to care for the kids in our home. I am most likely on my own with this one. Besides every court dealing with Child Support I end up paying her attorney too or at least part of it.

Thank you for being here and helping this evening.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

If your current custody and parenting orders specify that the child shall reside with your ex-wife, then you would have to petition for a change in custody orders.

Where a child is 16 years of age, courts lean heavily towards permitting the child to live with the parent of their choice, because, as a practical matter, if the child refuses to live with the custodial parent, the court is not going to order the child arrested and dragged back to the custodial parent's home, whenever she relocates to the noncustodial parent's home.

So, while most custody actions are typically a waste of time and money, given the court's preference for maintaining the existing parent arrangements, if the child is 16, you can probably win this modification action.

Once custody is decided, the court will also modify child support to reflect the new parenting arrangement.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Im not really sure that helps much. We already have JOINT CUSTODY. I would not be looking to change that just simply change the living arrangements (of ONE of the children) I still have no Idea what I should do about child support. This is not an overnight decision by the court and I have a child support order. I know I have to pay child support but if she starts living with me in the mean time I need to support her as well. I have done the child support modificaiton that took over a year.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
I don't understand why my answer doesn't help.

You file a supplemental petition to modify parental responsibility, and the show the court why the child should be ordered to reside with you. If the court agrees, it will also modify child support, which will reduce your support obligation.

That's really all there is to it -- except that the court will probably want you to try to settle the matter with the help of a parenting coordinator, rather than via an evidentiary hearing.

If there is some other means of accomplishing your goal that you have in mind, feel free to clarify, and I'll be happy to comment further.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I did not mean to imply rudeness on my part... You mentioned the age of 16. I have a 15 year old daughter. With your statement I would assume that you are saying she has to be 16 in order for this work work for her. That being said You also mentioned that I should file for the change and that would be it.

The age is what is throwing me. I read that 18 is the limit is some documents, I hear 16 form you and I have seen 12.

At what point can I actually do this and it be worth filing for the change. I do not want to put her mother through this or myself and because she is only 15 this not happen.

I hope this helps. Again please understand I did not mean to imply anyhting negative on your part.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.

I did not mean to imply rudeness on my part... You mentioned the age of 16. I have a 15 year old daughter. With your statement I would assume that you are saying she has to be 16 in order for this work for her.


A: My apologies. You said your son was 16, and that's the number that stuck in my head. There is no bright-line rule about a child's age. However, the older and more mature the child, and especially, where a child has a drivers license, the court knows that it becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to require that the child live in a particular household -- because, the child can just get in a car or take a bus to the other parent's house and thereby force a parenting change.

 

So, while a 16 year old child would be better -- 15 is still a fair bet -- especially if there is clear evidence of socialization problems in the current family environment.

 

That being said You also mentioned that I should file for the change and that would be it. The age is what is throwing me. I read that 18 is the limit is some documents, I hear 16 form you and I have seen 12.


At what point can I actually do this and it be worth filing for the change. I do not want to put her mother through this or myself and because she is only 15 this not happen.


I hope this helps. Again please understand I did not mean to imply anything negative on your part.

 

A: I think my comments above should serve to help you understand how the judge thinks about the issue. It's all about the child's maturity and mobility. If the other parent lives in Orlando, and you live in Miami, then a 15-year old is less likely to pick up and leave on her own. But, if you both live in the same general area, and your houses are only a city bus ride away, then that can make a difference -- especially if the child is sufficiently motivated.

 

If you file the petition, then you can ask the court to assign a parenting coordinator and maybe you can reach a settlement with your ex, so that you don't have to fight. Seems to me that, since your child is in some distress, you don't have much to lose at this point.

 

There is another alternative, which is to contact child protective services and ask them for an investigation. Ph.(NNN) NNN-NNNN If CPS thinks that the child is in distress because of the other parent, then CPS will petition the court to place the child into the juvenile court system, and the juvenile court judge may then grant your parenting orders without you having to do much of anything at all. Obviously it would be better to settle all of this with your ex, but sometimes, this sort of "strong-arm" tactic is the only way to get things moving -- once again, if the child is in extreme distress.

 

Hope this helps.

socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34665
Experience: Retired (mostly)
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socrateaser
Family Lawyer
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Retired (mostly)