Saturday, September 1, 2012

Parenting a Child under Two During and After a Divorce

Although they are probably unable to articulate their feelings, children under the age of two are often distressed by the experience of separating from a parent. Early childhood is a crucial stage in the process of forming secure emotional attachments with parents or other caregivers, and those attachments must be nurtured through a parenting plan emphasizing consistent responsiveness and attention.

One of the basic rules that all parenting plans, particularly one applying to a young child, should include is an agreement between the parents to avoid speaking negatively about each other. Similarly, parents should avoid arguing about the parenting schedule in front of the child. Even a young baby becomes distressed, anxious, and frightened when he or she is present for a fight or senses tension between parents. As such, parents must bear in mind their common goal of successfully transitioning their young child to a new family arrangement. If you are unable to speak with your former spouse without a confrontation developing, you may ask your Pensacola family law attorney to handle the task of communicating your position regarding the parenting plan.

In light of the centrality of the infancy stage to forming attachments, parents should develop a parenting plan that allows both parents regular contact with the child. Both parents should have frequent opportunities to be involved in the baby’s feeding and sleeping schedules and to participate in everyday activities such as bathing and playing.

Babies begin to develop attachments to preferred caregivers as early as two months of age, and once those preferences develop, they actively seek preferred caregivers and become agitated when separated from them. To ensure stable attachment to both parents, the parenting plan must include an ordered and consistent schedule that always keeps the baby in a secure and calm environment.
If you need legal assistance with a divorce proceeding, please contact Pensacola family law attorney Brad Fisher for a free initial consultation.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


If you cannot live with the results of your Divorce or your Family Law Case, you can appeal the court’s decision to a higher court. However, as a lawyer will warn you, the process can be very slow and expensive; but ultimately, if making an effort to overturn an injustice is important to you, you can and should move forward with your appeal- after speaking with an attorney about your options and grounds for filing.

It’s important to understand what a court of appeals can and cannot do. It cannot reverse the trial court’s decision just because you think the judge was wrong. It can reverse the decision only if the judge made an error in applying case or statutory law or refused to allow testimony or evidence from being admitted when it would have changed the court’s decision. An appeal may be granted if you have discovered significant new information that you couldn’t have discovered at the time of trial.
If you are appealing the settlement of a divorce decree, you may be required to show fraud, misconduct, or mistake in the negotiation, or a showing of fundamental inequity or unfairness in the agreement.

As one could imagine, appeals are extremely complex.   When you speak to your attorney about your appeal, be sure to ask whether or not you have solid grounds for an appeal.  Your counsel should be able to tell you their opinion of your Final Judgment, and whether or not the Trial Court erred in making its ruling.   Trial Court Judges have broad discretion in many areas- its important to understand the basis for your appeal prior to incurring the expense and stress of reopening the case and waiting on a ruling.

The following is a brief overview of the appeal process:

Generally, you have from 30 days from the date of the entry of the final divorce decree or judgment to file a notice of appeal. The notice of appeal informs the court, the opposing party, and the court reporter that you will be filing an appeal and on what grounds.

Pay Filing Fees
Currently, you should be prepared to make a cost deposit in the amount of $400.00.

Order Transcripts
If available, the transcripts should be filed with the appellate court.  Transcripts are the verbatim record of all of the testimony from the trial court. You must pay the court reporter to transcribe the trial proceedings. The cost to produce the transcripts may range from $1,500 to $3,000 for an average divorce case.  A lack of transcripts-if there was not a court reporter present at the Hearing, does not prohibit you from filing an appeal in a family law matter.

Prepare Briefs
A brief is a document containing a legal argument, supported by references to applicable case law and statutes. The appealing party will argue that the trial judge incorrectly applied the law in making a decision. The opposing party will argue that the trial court’s decision was correct. The briefs are usually due within a period of time (often 45 days) after the court reporter submits the trial transcripts.

Oral Argument
If a party to an appeal wants to present oral arguments, then he or she must file a request for oral argument. Each party is allowed a certain amount of time to argue and answer the judges’ questions, usually 20 or 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Personal Insight: How do Divorce Lawyers feel about Divorce?

click here for an easy to read, reliable chart from the CDC on marriage/divorce rates from 2000-2010

What do you think about the marriage/divorce rates?  They are staggering.  As a family law attorney, I see divorce, and other family law matters, all day-nearly every day.  Should there be fewer marriages and therefore, fewer divorces or should there just be fewer divorces granted by the Court?  Maybe, there should be a requirement for more preparation before marriage-but then again, that gets into the whole"the government is controlling my life" argument. Of course, I won't be addressing nor proposing any sort of governmental policy in this blog.   I'm already discussing divorce- I wouldn't dare delve into politics.  I may be a lawyer, but I'm not crazy.

My opinion with regard to the whole divorce question is that there is no good answer, unfortunately.  I don't think we'll be convincing two young love birds that, if they don't slow down and better prepare for their marriage, they may end up right back  in the same Courthouse- only next time it will be to fight for custody of their child, or child support, or domestic violence, etc.    I also wouldn't venture to say that just because someone in their twenties-or at any age honestly- took a vow of  marriage, if it turns out to be a mistake in their eyes, that they shouldn't ever divorce.  The circumstances are individual to each couple.

Which leads me to a question that crosses my mind often, especially at functions with families and children:  Because I'm a divorce attorney, do people think I promote divorce?  Do they think I like divorce because that's how I make a living or that because I constantly handle divorces- maybe I, and other divorce lawyers, don't value marriage?

My answer is simple.  I do not like divorce.  Divorce is ugly and difficult and, under the very best circumstances, can still be emotionally draining.  But, what I do like and what I do promote is ensuring that despite this divorce, this rough patch in your life- you're going to be protected.   I like doing everything in my power to ensure that the financial outcome is what it should be for my client.    I like working to present a thorough case for my client and my client's children.  I enjoy applying the law to my client's advantage.  When my client retains me-I think of myself as their advocate during a taxing and difficult time.  I intend to represent them to the fullest and in the manner which makes them the most comfortable. Divorce and custody. Alimony and child support. These things are, unfortunately, inevitable.   They can feel very cut-throat and dirty- particularly in the midst of court hearings and depositions.  I don't like these type of cases.  I like counseling my client through them.  For this reason, I enjoy practicing family law.  It feels very important to me-and to my client.  It's very personal,  and should you ever be faced with this issue-there won't be much that matters more than the outcome of a custody dispute or related issue.  

Of course, I can't speak for all attorneys.  But this is something I desire to help people know and understand about family law attorneys.  We're really not as bad as you think!

If you have an issue that you need help with in Pensacola or the surrounding areas, please feel free to contact my office.  If we aren't able to help you, we'll try to refer you to an attorney that can.  Good luck to you in whatever issue you're facing!

Brad G. Fisher, Esq.
The Law Firm of Brad G. Fisher, P.A.
214 E. Church Street
Pensacola, Florida 32502
Telephone: 850.470.0100
Facsimile: 850.470.0100
email:  brad@bradgfisher.com
facebook: facebook.com/bradgfisher
twitter: twitter.com/bradgfisheresq

Monday, March 12, 2012

Things you should never say to your divorce attorney (article attached) & dealing with anger during your divorce

I'm seriously considering passing this article out as part of the general information package at the consultation-  Don't prejudge the article- it's not a pompous attorney complaining about all they have to listen to...it's advice that benefits the client in the end- and in the present-even if they can't see it right now!

Source:  Huffington Post

Henry Gornbein has specialized in family law for over 40 years. He has seen almost every possible scenario, and he would like to share some things clients have said to him that often are better left unsaid. Here are some things you should never say to your divorce lawyer. In no particular order, they are as follows:

“1. I don’t care what it costs, I would rather give you everything than give anything to my wife/husband. The reality is that no matter what you pay, you are going to give something to your spouse. Things said in anger or in the heat of passion will be taken back later. This is especially true when a client receives my final bill. You may want revenge, but that rarely happens in a divorce. It is better to spend your hard-earned money on your family, for your children’s college education, or a vacation. Divorces are expensive enough, both economically and emotionally, without adding revenge to the equation.

2. I would like to bring my “friend” with me to the interview. We have attorney/client privilege, and once you bring a third party in, whether it’s a relative, a lover or whoever, the attorney/client privilege is gone. Unless a third party is officially associated with your case, there is no attorney/client privilege. If a friend or lover is in a meeting, and the case gets nasty, in the event a deposition or trial ever occurs, there is no privilege and all these secrets can spill out in a deposition or in court.

3. My friend or neighbor has told me to do this … There is nothing worse than having all your friends and relatives — who mean well — give you advice. Every divorce is different. Every divorce is unique. What makes sense for your friend and relative may make no sense for you. In addition, people often tell you only part of the story. You often get a lot of misinformation from well-meaning friends and relatives. Think about this: There are at least five variables in every divorce. The first is you — your personality, your reasons for wanting to save or end the marriage. The second variable is your spouse — his/her personality and motivations. The third is your attorney — the attorney’s personality, motivations and experience. Fourth is your spouse’s attorney. And last but not least, the fifth variable is the judge. Change any of these people and variables, and you may get a different result. For these reasons, sideline quarter backing is often very detrimental to your divorce.

4. I’m in a hurry to get this over with. Saying this immediately puts you at a disadvantage. Compromise is critical in any divorce. It is also necessary to come to a resolution. If you let your spouse know how desperate you are, and the other attorney knows that as well, then the divorce is going to cost you a lot more and you will regret it in the future. I was in court this past week on a case where my client had been in a hurry to end the marriage because of a new relationship. I have seen these scenarios time and again. In this case, the relationship is lasting, but my client has a lot of regrets and remorse over the fact that she sold herself out for far less than she might have been entitled to if she had not been so desperate to end the marriage. Don’t rush. A divorce is one of the most critical events in your life, and while it is important get it over with, hurrying can be very costly. You do not want to have regrets once the divorce is final.

5. I’ve been promised that I will see the children more and pay less. I just have to sign the papers. Be careful. There is often a hidden motive behind a promise, and if someone told you this — especially if this is a hotly litigated case — there is often a hidden agenda. Remember, there is no Easter Bunny, and someone who is pushing you to sign the papers too quickly has something up his or her sleeve. This is where it is important to make sure that your attorney fully understands all the aspects of the case and is there to protect you and advocate for you where necessary.

6. Showing your biases and prejudices. I’ve had clients who will come to me and start using racial, religious or ethnic slurs. I think it’s wrong. I think it also shows something about the person that is highly unattractive.

7. Never say never. Never say that you will not pay any spousal support. Never say that your spouse can have everything. Never say that your spouse is going to get nothing. Never say that you are going to leave your children. Every case has an upside and downside, but saying “never” is the worst thing that you can do. There are exceptions to every rule, especially in a divorce situation. Keep an open mind. Remember that your attorney is there to counsel and advise you and help you go forward as you try to rebuild your life.”


On another, somewhat related, note:

Most clients feel alone when they feel overwhelmed and angry; ashamed when they want revenge for the wrongs of their spouse. What's important to remember-  you shouldn't feel ashamed or embarrassed that you have those thoughts- that's completely natural.  In fact, if you were going through a contested divorce and didn't have a desire for revenge, it would be unique.  With that being said, after you recognize the anger and hostility, take the opportunity to do something about it.  Distract yourself with a healthy new hobby, take a college course, volunteer, join a support group or seek counseling if you become too overwhelmed.   You may think- "take up a hobby?  right now?  I don't think so.. I've never been more depressed in my life!"  and you'd have a good reason to feel that way.   The emotional ramifications of a divorce,  or any family law matter, are tough to handle.  Very tough.  But, you will not begin feeling better until you get out of that house and begin walking into the future. 

All of the above mentioned activities can have a tremendously positive affect on your life and usually begin to make people feel better within a few weeks.  Life is not over if you are getting a divorce.  Life didn't begin when you were married, and it's not ending now.   Getting involved in other activities can reinvigorate your zest for life and desire for happiness- when you're feeling happy, there isn't a lot of room for anger and revenge.  Give it a shot.  Drag yourself through the motions if you have to.  Like they say- "fake it 'till you make it"  Just for a few weeks.  If I'm wrong and you don't feel at least a little better- call me and tell me I'm clueless.  At least then, if you're still full of anger, you'll feel better taking it out on a divorce lawyer, because, let's face it, there isn't much, that chewing out an attorney, won't make at least a little better.

Best of luck to all who are dealing with these issues. 

If you should need the help of an attorney- please feel free to contact my office.

Brad G. Fisher, Esq.
The Law Firm of Brad G. Fisher, P.A.
214 E. Church Street
Pensacola, Florida 32502
Telephone 850.470.0100
Facsimile 850.470.0106
Website: www.bradgfisher.com
Email: brad@bradgfisher.com
Twitter: twitter.com/bradgfisheresq

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Parenting Children 6-8 Post-Divorce

A divorce is extremely challenging, especially for children aged 6-8 years old. Parents can do a lot to ease their children through the process. For the best divorce advice for your individual situation, contact experienced an experience divorce attorney.

Parents must allow the children to love both parents without guilt or embarrassment,  should not force children to choose between the parents and should not tell the children about the other parent’s wrongdoings. Instead, parents must put their own egos and hurt feelings aside and give the children the freedom to spend time with and connect emotionally with both parents.

Around the ages of 6-8, a child is learning expertise in the world. To deal with the divorce, children may begin telling each parent what the child believes the parent wants to hear, rather than expressing their own true feelings. They may become the parents’ protectors, acting too good in order to avoid any conflict.

Children going through a divorce may become distracted and emotionally distant or develop behavior problems at school. They may pretend they are sick in order to avoid school because they feel helpless about the family’s problems. Be sure to alert the school personnel about the divorce.
Children at this age will feel significantly depressed about the divorce and grieve when a parent moves out, even if they were not particularly connected to that parent. Children often fantasize that their parents will get back together.

When developing a parenting plan, keep in mind that children this age are in a period of growth and self-discovery, choosing their own friends and learning to separate from their parents. Children can generally stay with each parent for four to five days at a time, depending on the child’s maturity and separation abilities. However, both parents should remain involved with school and after-school activities, even if the children are staying with the other parent. The children’s routines should be as consistent as possible at both parents’ homes.

Substantial conflict between the parents or destructive behavior by the children may require the help of a therapist or mediator.  If you should notice signs of depression or anxiety in the children-to an extent that it begins affecting their day-to-day life, contact a specialist right away.  If possible, both parents should participate in the counseling.

I am experienced in dealing with these type of issues and can assist you in seeking the Court's relief if your spouse is acting in a way that would harm the children. If should you need assistance with a dissolution of marriage or other family law issue, please contact the office for a free initial consultation.

Brad G. Fisher, Esq.
214 E. Church Street
Pensacola, Florida 32502
Telephone 850.470.0100
Facsimile 850.470.0106

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shielding Your Children from the Effects of Divorce

In many divorces, the couples’ children end up the real victims. The courts tend to treat them as just another item in the long list of assets that need to be divvied up during the divorce proceedings, and as a result the children often have their needs neglected.

This is a sad state of affairs; our children are the single most valuable part of our lives, and it is truly unfortunate how little time and resources the divorce procedure affords to their well-being.
However, there are a number of ways that conscientious parents can shield their children from lasting harm, even amidst the chaos of a divorce. For example it is extremely important for the parents to remember that the children are not party to divorce.

Indeed, parents should never involve children in their divorce. No matter how stressed and upset they get because of their divorce, parents should never use their children as confidants. This changes the relationship between parent and child in a way that can severely confuse the child. Some parents are even tempted to use their children as spies or as pawns in their conflict with the other parent. This can be incredibly damaging, as it places the child in a position where he is pressured to betray one of his parents.  Parents should never try to gain favoritism over the other parent by speaking negatively of the other parent, or by purchasing excessive gifts or giving extra rewards.  This may work in the short term, but in the end both parents and the children will be hurt- and as adults the children can become bitter and resentful upon realizing that their relationship with a parent was intentionally strained by their other parent.

Experienced Pensacola divorce attorney Brad Fisher is mindful of these dangers and the many others that can crop up during a divorce. If should you need assistance with a dissolution of marriage or other family law issue, please contact the office for a free initial consultation.

Brad G. Fisher, Esq.
214 E. Church Street
Pensacola, Florida 32502
Telephone 850.470.0100
Facsimile 850.470.0106
Website:  www.bradgfisher.com
Email:  brad@bradgfisher.com