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How to Relocate with a Shared-Custody Child

When a couple with minor children gets a divorce in Florida, and custody is shared between the parties, they form a written time-sharing agreement. The particulars of the agreement – number of custody days per year, number of days at a stretch, procedures for handing off, etc. – depend largely on the locations of the parties’ homes.

When an ex-spouse with shared custody wishes to move a significant distance, therefore, he or she must obtain proper permission in order not to violate the custody agreement. Florida statutes refer to such a move as a “relocation.” A relocation is a change of one’s principal residence to a new location at least 50 miles from the current location for a period not less than 60 consecutive days.

The first step is for the ex-spouses to try to come to a relocation agreement. If they are able to do so, they sign a written agreement that states consent to the relocation, establishes a new time-sharing schedule, and describes any necessary transportation arrangements. After signing the agreement, the couple request a court order ratifying the agreement. The court will usually presume the relocation to be in the best interests of the child and ratify the agreement without a hearing of evidence.

If the couple cannot come to an agreement, the parent wishing to relocate must petition the court. The petition must include the location of the proposed new residence, the intended date of relocation, a statement detailing the reasons for the relocation, a proposal for a revised custody sharing schedule, and specific legal language indicating that if the counterparty objects, he or she must notify the court within 20 days. The relocating parent must serve the other party with a copy of the petition.

If the other party objects to the move, then permission for the relocation must be determined in court at a hearing or trial. There is no presumption for or against the relocation. The court must evaluate the following factors:

  • The nature, quality, and duration of the child’s relationship with each parent and with other family members and significant persons.
  • The anticipated impact of the relocation on the child’s development.
  • The child’s preference, within the context of his or her age and maturity.
  • Whether the relocation will benefit the relocating parent and/or the child, especially with regard to the parent’s employment circumstances.
  • Whether the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her obligations to the relocating parent.
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.
  • Any other factor affecting the child’s best interest.

After considering all these factors, the court will grant or deny the petition to relocate.

Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 at 5:00 am under Divorce and Family Law, News and Press.

Federal Agents Raid Bankrupt Florida Health Insurer

The news keeps getting worse for Universal Health Care Group, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based Medicare insurer accused of financial impropriety and mismanagement. State regulators began investigating the company in August, 2012, and it filed for bankruptcy in February, 2013.

More recently, authorities placed the company into receivership under the control of the Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation at the Florida Department of Financial Services.

Then, on March 28, 2013, Federal agents raided Universal’s St. Petersburg headquarters, ordering hundreds of employees out of the building.

The raid came shortly after the trustee in the company’s bankruptcy case alleged a “pattern of dishonesty or gross mismanagement.” Examples cited included a transfer of $18.3 million to a company controlled by Universal’s founder, Dr. Akshay Desai, and over $2 million is bonuses paid to executives in 2012.

Following Universal’s bankruptcy filing, state insurance regulators had already begun liquidating the company’s assets when the federal raid happened.

Desia founded Universal Health Care in 2005. It quickly grew to be the fourth-largest Medicare HMO in Florida. Companies like Universal combine Medicare payments and membership fees to provide coverage that expands upon that offered by Medicare. It eventually expanded its services to 23 states and boasted 140,000 members.

The first public news indicating the extent of Universal’s troubles came when Georgia’s insurance commissioner requested that it halt sales of new policies there, citing the company’s $22.1 net loss in the first half of 2012.

Over 800 former employees are now without a job. In a recent filing in Universal’s bankruptcy case, the company sought to eliminate employment agreements in place for seven executives. Universal’s motion said it no longer required the executives’ services, five of whom were hired less than one year ago.

Employees said they had not received 60 days’ notice before losing their jobs, as is often required before large numbers of layoffs.

Thousands of Universal customers were also left in the lurch, forced to search for new Medicare plans. Members who did not select their new coverage before the April will have to wait until the first of May for the switch to take effect.

The biggest losers, though, will likely be Universal’s investors, including Desai’s fellow doctors, who contributed capital in the company’s early years. Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah, who chairs the Florida Board of Medicine, invested some $6 million. Zachariah, who was removed from Universal’s board in 2009, has a lawsuit pending against Desai.

Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 at 10:55 am under Bankruptcy, News and Press.
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Tips for Managing Your Financial Life After Divorce

Divorce means starting a new life, and that includes building financial responsibility and independence. Many new divorcees will have to deal extensively with finances for the first time in years or perhaps their entire lives. These steps will help ensure a smooth transition in your financial life.

Speak with your lawyer.

This assumes you hired a divorce attorney – which is highly recommended. Although a divorce lawyer’s primary job is to assist with the divorce itself, they have an interest in seeing their clients succeed post-divorce as well. Your family law attorney is likely to have a number of good suggestions, from expanding on the tips in this article to referring you to professionals, organizations, or support groups to help you along. Even if your divorce is already finalized, your lawyer will probably be happy to spend a few minutes giving you some advice.

Make a budget.

Your divorce probably caused significant changes to your cash flow and responsibilities. Now is the time to remake a proper budget from the ground up. Evaluate your income sources and try to anticipate an entire month’s living expenses. Then maintain a record of all income and expenses and re-evaluate your budget periodically. Is your financial path sustainable? If you are going into debt, what expenses are you able to trim? If you are able to save, are you setting aside that money in order to avoid the temptation to overspend?

Depending on your asset levels, you may wish to speak with a financial planner or accountant for help protecting your wealth.

Update estate plans.

Your spouse was likely named as the beneficiary for your insurance and investment accounts. Make a list of all accounts that need to be checked and change them as necessary. If you have a will, make an appointment with your attorney to review it and any other legal documents involving your ex.

Reassess your insurance coverage.

If your health insurance came from your spouse’s employer, you will need to find your own coverage soon. If you are unemployed or your employer does not offer health insurance, look into purchasing COBRA insurance through your ex-spouse’s insurer. COBRA provides for temporary continuation of group benefits.

You may have a greater need for long-term care insurance following your divorce. If you anticipated your spouse being able to care for you in the event that you needed long-term care, you may have to reevaluate.

In all your dealings with money, exercise caution and seek expert advice when you need it. With a little effort and planning, your post-divorce financial life can be secure and rewarding.

Joshua Law is a Tampa divorce lawyer and Brandon family law attorney with the Olivero Law To learn more, visit http://www.brandonlawoffice.com/

Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 at 10:56 pm under Divorce and Family Law, News and Press.
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