Tips for Peaceful Co-Parenting

No two individuals get married and start a family, thinking they will someday separate. Unfortunately, sometimes marriages and partnerships simply fail, and when children are involved, it is up to the adults in the room to the step up to the plate. Adults, not children, have the responsibility of ensuring that parenting remains a seamless effort between two individuals to ensure that the best interests of the children, both mental and physical, are met. Here are some helpful tips on how to co-parenting successfully with your partner.

Ensure Both Parents Adhere to a Custody/Parenting Plan

Custody agreements, or parenting plans, help set an established timeframe for the children to spend with each individual parent. When this is ignored or misused to favor one, there is a proper and improper way to act. If one parent is not adhering to the deal, the other can file for contempt in a court of law with evidence of the plan's misuse. Regardless of the avenue, it is important for parents to work it out together without involving the children into a family fight. Psychology Today points out many Do's and Don'ts of Co-Parenting, and among them is avoiding burdening your child and accusing the other parent of wrongdoing. Settle disputes amicably amongst yourselves, without involving the kids.

Change Plans when Required

For one reason or another, custody and child support can change as time goes by. If time sharing between the two parents change, it may be time to re-evaluate child support, changing hands to ensure that it is financially fair to the individual paying out those funds. To keep track, consider how much time each parent needs and how much they have available to give to the children. If things change with time, be sure to go back and reassess that situation to ensure that child support payments remain balanced and fair. Remember, child support is not a punishment for the parent paying, but rather a means of ensuring both parents have the ability to meet the financial needs involved with supporting children.

Don't Ignore the Holidays

One of the most difficult time of year for separated parents coping with custody issues, is over the holiday season. Individual parents come from different backgrounds with different traditions, and while these may have meshed during a marriage, finding a way of equitably splitting time for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other celebrations can be tough.

Discussions surrounding child custody at the holiday season eclipses any parenting plan or time-sharing plan already in place. It is the responsibility of the parents to discuss in advance how the holidays should be split. Some opt to have a set schedule every year, such as Thanksgiving with dad and Christmas with mom. Others will choose to alternate each year, so that dad gets Thanksgiving this year and Christmas next year, and vice versa for mom. Whatever you choose, it is important to remain consistent in the application of child custody during the holiday season.

These tips are meant to help you get a head-start on co-parenting successfully with your child/children's other parent. Remember to always remain respectful and polite in conversation with the other parent as this helps to facilitate a more businesslike, successful partnership.

Coming Up with a Parenting Plan

Whether parents have recently gone through a divorce, or were never married to begin with, when children enter the picture adults need to grow up fast and make sure the needs of the kids are met between both households. A parenting plan is a good idea for couples who have gotten a divorce or had children without ever getting married. A parenting plan can help avoid hurt feelings and arguments between parents, and protect children against witnessing these petty arguments. Here is some helpful information to keep in mind when developing a parenting plan.

Parenting Plan Defined

A parenting plan is an agreement between two parents regarding the amount of parenting time each will have, how decision-making regarding the children will be handled, and sets guidelines for other aspects impacting a child's well-being. These other aspects include items such as schooling, health care, childcare, religion, and overnight guests.

Consider All Aspects of a Child's Life

As alluded to above, coming up with a parenting plan requires a focus on all aspects of a child's life; among the most important to keep in mind are holidays and visitation. It is important, and respectful, to keep the schedule of each parent in mind when determining a visitation arrangement; then focus on how the holidays will work. Does one parent get first shot at each holiday? Will certain holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas) be spent at the same house each year, or will these rotate?

Of course, there are also financial considerations to keep in mind. Both parents cannot claim the children for the purposes of tax reimbursements in the same year. Will one parent get to claim the children every year, or will the ability to claim switch back and forth each year? Then there is also the aspect of child support. Does the parent making less money have primary custody? If so, child support needs to be taken into consideration.

Do You Need to have a Plan?

Having a parenting plan varies by state. In the state of Florida, for example, the courts have decided that all couples are required to have a parenting plan in place. Though not a separate statute on its own, a parenting plan in Florida is often used in place of a traditional custody agreement as it covers custody, along with many other factors.

How is a Parenting Plan Decided?

A parenting plan is decided in states such as Florida by the courts and is based upon the child's best interests. The parent receiving the most time with the child/children under the parenting plan is often the one deemed to have the best interests of the kids. Parents can, and should, work together to decide upon a final parenting plan to help avoid stress for the child.

Is there a Preference for the Mother over the Father?

The modern-day belief that mothers receive preference over fathers is little more than a myth. Beginning in the pre-industrial age in the United States, children were often cared for primarily by the mother and did chores around the home. This eventually resulted in the common law practice of the Tender Years doctrine, which dictated that children in a divorce (or unmarried) scenario were better off remaining with their mother until the "tender years" of life had passed. Today there is no preference for one parent over the other, with decisions based solely upon the best interests of the child and the parent capable of meeting those needs.

Overview of Family Law

Family law is a specialty here at Vagovic law. We’re devoted to your family and doing right by whoever is involved.  Family law can invoke stress, remorse and sometimes celebration, but here we’re going to into specifics of what constitutes family law. 

The Basics

Family law is basically any legal procedure involving the family. This could be anything from divorce to custody to alimony to adoption. Family law is often associated with a dramatic change in lifestyle or daily routine, but that isn’t always the case. Whatever your situation, it is always important to make decisions based on the good of the family. It is vital to understand the responsibilities and consequences that come with your specific family law case.

When Should You Involve a Lawyer?

Sometimes family law cases are solved without the help of lawyers. Some people view involving lawyers, especially in a divorce case, as an antagonistic move. This shouldn’t be the case.

A lawyer's role is to help you understand the complexities of your case and to look out for your best interest. Lawyers are trained to understand the law, and there will always be something that a lawyer can contribute to a legal case.

We at Vagovic Law suggest you consult a lawyer before taking ANY legal action, even if your legal matter is amicable. It just helps the process go more smoothly, and you can rest assured that you were informed and counselled before making any major decisions that involve your loved ones.       

A Lawyer's’ Role in Family Law  

Anything that concerns child custody, the family, and marriage is basically covered under family law, and there are always multiple outcomes in dealing with any family law case.

For instance, if a grandparent believes that a parent is a danger to their child, maybe due to drug use or abuse, the grandparent may petition the court for custody. Here, the lawyer’s place is to ask the grandparent to consider the best interest of the child and to write and submit the petition, a process that may be complicated for someone not trained in the law.

In divorce cases, there will be many considerations from division of assets, alimony and child custody matters that will need to be addressed. Having a good legal team behind you will give you confidence in matters you are not familiar with and guide you through all the details that can easily overwhelm you. Call Vagovic Law and let us help you and your family move forward with your dignity and integrity intact.

If you would like more information on family law, please contact Vagovic Law at kevin@vagoviclaw.com

Tips for Entering a Divorce

If you’re heading into a divorce proceeding, know it’s easy to get caught up in some of the emotional trappings of family law. People in your life are going to be affected, for their sake, civility is key.

Protect the Children

When you have minors or children involved in your divorce, our strongest advice is to keep the kids out of it. Of course, let your kids know you're getting a divorce, let them know that you love them, depending on their age let them know what you’re planning on doing with concern from them. However, you don’t want to involve your children in your divorce dynamic.

We’ve seen it plenty of times, one parent will use the children as weapons or pawns against the other. Often kids are younger than ten, and they find themselves thrown into the middle of an ugly battle. Their whole life is changing. Their parents getting a divorce. They need empathy and a safe place to explore the feelings THEY have about this, and shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of choosing between the two most trusted people in their lives. Protecting and safeguarding children is the one of the most important things in a divorce or separation. Peaceful co-parenting is not only possible, is it paramount to the well-being of the children.

Keep it Classy

You may have a lot of negative experiences and thoughts associated with your ex-spouse. Please, don’t use Facebook rants or any other social media to disparage, bully or harass the other party. Don’t complain about them to their family members, don’t let your family members start fights with theirs. The last thing you want is your parent’s in-law publicly fighting or embarrassing each other.

This matter is between the two of you. Yes, divorce proceedings are deeply personal and stressful. Ranting in the name of self-care may help you, or it may just be something you can’t avoid, but please, keep it to a minimum and with trusted counsel. You can get through this without publicly embarrassing each other.

Verbal attacks will just make the situation worse, and set you back emotionally and possibly legally. You may heighten the animosity, break off valuable relationships, spoil support networks or alienate your children. If your situation is already dire, there’s no point in exacerbating it. If it’s fairly amicable, work hard to keep it that way.

Divorce is complicated and deeply personal, but it is imperative that you protect your other relationships and safeguard your children and family members so that everyone can move on in a positive manner. You don’t have to go through this alone. Call our office and let us help you through this with your dignity and integrity intact.

For more information on family law, feel free to contact Vagovic Law at kevin@vagoviclaw.com

Know Your Police Search and Miranda Rights

TV and Movies have pounded the Miranda warnings into our head:

You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you, you have the right to have an attorney, if you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you.

All that’s missing is a bad pun and a soundtrack by The Who.

Knowing your in rights within situations with police is essential to interacting with them. Let’s focus on the two most common aspects of police interactions: The Miranda Warnings and Vehicle searches.

 

Miranda Warnings

When do Miranda Warnings apply?

Miranda Warnings apply whenever someone finds his or herself under what's known as custodial interrogation.

  • The custody in “custodial interrogations” means you must be detained -- not free to leave -- in the custody of police, be that the back of a police car, a holding cell, or an interrogation room.
  • Interrogation means you must be in the process of being actively interrogated by the police. If the police aren’t asking questions that would reasonably elicit a response from you, and you make a spontaneous statement, that statement is not covered by your Miranda Rights.

If these conditions are met, police are required to give you your Miranda Warnings.

 

Requesting a Lawyer

If you choose to exercise your right to an attorney, or your right to stay silent, the Supreme Court holds you must expressly and explicitly declare your intention. The police aren’t required to interpret vague or ambiguous language when asking for your rights.

Don’t: “Maybe I should get a lawyer.”

“It’s probably not a good idea for me to talk.”

Do:  "I want to have an attorney with me during questioning.”

“I'm not answering any more questions.”

“I do not waive my Miranda Rights.”

 “I'm going to invoke my right to remain silent."

 

Cooperate but don’t waive your rights

It's important to remember to never waive your Miranda Warnings, never freely agree to speak to the police or volunteer any information that can be used against you, especially when you're being considered a suspect.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help or cooperate with an ongoing investigation if you feel it’s your civic duty. However, under no circumstance when you are a suspect should you ever volunteer any information or speak to the police without having an attorney present.

 

Vehicle Searches

Never allow the police to search your vehicle, or your person, or your house.

The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 12 of the Florida Constitution grants us rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. This generally means that the police must obtain a search warrant, or an arrest warrant supported by probable cause, oath or affirmation before they can search you, your vehicle, or your home.

Vehicle searches can provide a grey area for these protections. Vehicles are private property on public roads, so courts must balance your expectation to privacy. For instance, police can search your car without a warrant if they have probable cause.

Police may ask to search your car without having probable cause, but you do not have to allow them. Often a driver will consent to a search without protest, not realizing they don’t have to. It is not uncommon for people carrying drugs, paraphernalia or some other kind of contraband in the car to consent to a search and then get in trouble, when they never should have consented to the search in the first place.

You have rights as a citizen and they are for your own protection. Always cooperate in an investigation unless you are being considered a suspect. Clearly request your lawyer be present if at any time an investigation focuses on you and you are taken into custody by police. If the police ask to search your vehicle, person, or house always refuse. Request that they get a search warrant and never give your consent.

For more information on your rights with police, or to schedule a consultation, visit us on the web, at VagovicLaw.com or give us a call at (386) 265-0900.

 

Types of Police Interactions

Interactions with the police, for many people, are unavoidable. It’s important for us all to understand the types of police interactions, what we should do during them, and our rights when dealing with them.

In general, there are three types of interactions with the police: (1) a consensual encounter, (2) an investigatory stop and (3) a full arrest or seizure.

  1. Consensual Encounters

A consensual encounter is pretty intuitive. It can be any day-to-day interaction with a police officer. Perhaps you are a witness to a crime, or could help find a subject. Either way you’re allowed to leave and terminate the interaction at any time. You are not detained, and you have no obligation to stay or speak to the officer in question.

That being said, you may find it your civic duty to stay and offer the information you have to help the police. Unless, of course what you have to say could make you a suspect -- then you should never talk.

    2. Investigatory Stop

An investigatory stop occurs when the police have a reasonable articulable suspicion to stop you.  

For example, the police may see you walking in a suspicious manner around a bank and suspect you of trying to rob it. They have the right to stop you and ask you questions. If you tell the officer that you just couldn’t find the ATM and then point out that you notice it on the other side of the building, the officer now has no reason to suspect you and should let you go. At that point the officer has dispelled the underlying suspicion that gave him the reason to stop you in the first place.

    3. Full Arrest or Seizures

In the case of an arrest, the police detain you, and most likely haul you into some kind of interrogation room or a holding cell, to be booked into jail. For the police to arrest you they need probable cause.

Generally, to arrest you, the police have to have an arrest warrant supported by a probable cause and signed by an attached magistrate or judge. There are exceptions, for instance if the police officer sees you commit a crime or they have sufficient probable cause they can make an arrest then and there.

If you are unfortunate enough to be arrested, it is important to keep the Miranda warnings in mind. Also remember that you should never talk to the police under any circumstances if you’re ever suspected of a crime.

The Miranda warnings only apply if you’re in custody and the police are interrogating you. If you are in the back seat of a police car and make a statement without being interrogated, that can be used against you, regardless if they read you your Miranda rights.

If you are suspected of a crime, always, always, ALWAYS, keep your mouth shut. Under no circumstances should you talk to anyone except your attorney.

For more information on police interactions or criminal law, visit Kevin Vagovic on the web, at VagovicLaw.com or give us a call at (386) 265-0900.