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THE COMPETING INTEREST OF PRESERVING MARRIAGE, CHILDREN, AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS The Florida Supreme Court Case of Simmonds v. Perkins
Navigating the complexities of family law inevitably brings challenges to one’s notions of societal roles. These cases generate a web of emotional battles that require stamina and uncompromising fortitude to obtain the best results possible.The deeper we delve into these cases, the more convoluted the issues become. One recent case has redefined how Florida law views the parental rights of a father to a child he conceived with a married woman who is not his wife. Many years ago, a client of mine reached out to me for help establishing his parental rights for a child he conceived with a woman who, unbeknownst to him, was married to someone else.The common law presumption at the time stated that the custody of a child born into an intact marriage from a father outside of said marriage would remain with the married couple. So when my client approached the woman and her husband, they objected, deciding they were going to raise the child on their own.This meant that the only true father of this child would not have standing to establish his parental rights.The judge determined that Florida’s common law “presumption of legitimacy” applied and my client reluctantly accepted the trial court’s decision. Fortunately, as a result of the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Simmonds v. Perkins, putative fathers who find themselves in this situation will no longer be automatically denied the opportunity to pursue their parental rights.The facts of the Simmonds case are that Treneka Simmonds and Connor Perkins had been involved in a three-year relationship together, and Perkins had been under the impression that Simmonds was not married for anything other than immigration
Perkins appealed the trial court’s dismissal of his petition, and the Fourth District Court reversed the trial court’s decision; then the case went to the Florida Supreme Court for the high court to resolve conflict between the state’s District Court of Appeals.The Florida Supreme Court held that a biological father is entitled to rebut the common law presumption that the mother’s husband is the legal father of a child born to an intact marriage where the mother and her husband object so long as the biological father has manifested a substantial and continuing concern for the welfare of the child. So what does this mean? “Manifesting a concern for the welfare of the child” could be a concern that the mother’s marriage to her husband is not intact, or the child has developed a relationship with the biological father.A substantial concern for the welfare of the child could also be present when the biological father feels it is necessary for him to contribute toward the financial support of the child. I recently heard from my former client, who informed me that his daughter, who is now an adult, had been living with him since she turned 4 years old.This came to be after her mother ended her marriage and the husband never tried to contact his daughter, who remains bitter toward her mother.With the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Simmonds v. Perkins, this child’s life could have been different had my client been entitled to pursue his paternal rights when he originally sought to do so.
purposes and that she intended to get a divorce. Simmonds had a child with Perkins while she was married. Simmonds’ marriage with Ferguson remained intact throughout her affair.When the child was born, the hospital explained Perkins’ husband would be listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate in accordance with state law.A DNA test confirmed that Perkins was the father, and he elected to file a petition seeking to be legally identified as the child’s father. After the child was born, Perkins and Simmonds lived together for a period of time with the child. Perkins took the child to doctor’s visits, enrolled the child in day care, and paid child support to Simmonds.The child even refered to Perkins as “Daddy.” But when Perkins filed a petition to establish paternity, Simmonds moved to dismiss the action, and the trial court granted reasoning that “a putative father has no right to establish paternity of a child who was born into an intact marriage when the married woman and her husband object.” Even though the trial judge commented that it would be in the child’s best interest for Perkins to have some involvement, the court dismissed his petition because it felt it legally was required to do so.
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Try These 3 Tips Instead
In our technology-driven era, texting has taken over the more traditional methods of communication and plays an interesting role in divorce cases across the nation. Many people assume that their personal messages are secret and confidential, but when spouses uncover the truth about extramarital affairs, phone and SMS conversations can be used as evidence. Ever since Tiger Woods’ very public scandal in 2009, over 90 percent of divorce attorneys have seen an increase in clients submitting text messages in an attempt to sway a judge or jury in their favor. Texting has since been dubbed “the digital lipstick on your collar.” Even though text messages, emails, and other forms of electronic communication are now acceptable forms of evidence in the courtroom, they should only be used when absolutely necessary. For example, if you have received messages containing threats of physical violence, verbal abuse, admissions of wrongdoing, texts to children with hurtful comments about the other parent, texts denying a parent from seeing the children, or messages proving infidelity, you should catalog the conversations and give them to your attorney to strengthen your case. On the other hand, you should remember that if you are fighting for custody of your children and you send your former spouse a text about one of the contentious issues, the message could be used as evidence in court to catalog your residual anger. While one heated text may not be a very strong piece of evidence, it could be used in conjunction with other exhibits to prove a point against you. School has started. Youth sports are in full swing. Work is crazy. Food has become more about necessity than enjoyment. All of this can only mean one thing: Fall has begun. The crazy schedules this time of year can make it tough for parents to keep their heads on straight; making it through the insanity sometimes feels more like survival than life. But there are tactics you can employ to turn the tide and find more time for yourself. Tag Team There’s no reason to try to do everything on your own. The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” exists because managing the stressors of life requires help. A great place to start is by establishing car pools with a parent group you trust. You can alternate drivers weekly, which provides the opportunity for you to focus your attention on other priorities — or if you’re lucky, have some freedom. The Right Tool for the Job Technology makes organization easier and more accessible than ever. By using a tool like a shared calendar, you can coordinate the entire family’s schedule so you never miss a beat. And apps like Mealime and MealBoard give you the ability to whip up food that is cost-effective and delicious.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work While you’re busy trying to rally the troops at soccer practice, the scene at home resembles a horror movie. Laundry is piling up, food is spoiling in the fridge, and the dust bunnies around the house now have names. Housecleaning is a part- time job in its own right. The only way to stay on top of duties around the house is to work together. A chore chart with clear responsibilities is a great place to start. Whether you have one child or eight, everyone is capable of pitching in. You can have all the organizational abilities in the world, but the best way to manage life’s madness isn’t by directing day-to-day tasks; it’s by managing stress. Instead of using these tools to control life, look at them as a way to free up time so you can decompress and enjoy the things you love.
CAN TEXT MESSAGES BE USED IN THE COURTROOM? The Digital Lipstick on Your Collar
While collecting messages can help with a case, be sure to only share relevant messages so to help maximize efficiency in the handling of your matter. Additionally, remember that the laws of each state differ, meaning that some states do not require the spouse seeking a divorce to provide justification (proof of wrongdoing or infidelity). The state of Florida is a no-fault state, and so communications seeking to impute fault or guilt to one party over the other may not be relevant.
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“JACKSONVILLE’S ATTORNEY AT LAW.”
3 TV LAWYERS I’D WANT ON OUR TEAM
Practicing law is nothing like how it plays out on the silver screen or at home in front of the TV. The reality is significantly different than a perfectly staged scene from Hollywood. But while scripts may portray a slightly skewed view of how we work, some TV and movie lawyers do possess traits and talents a real attorney can respect. Here are three fictional lawyers I’d want on our team. Perry Mason When it comes to a lawyer’s passionate idealism and a never-say-die attitude, there’s no one more recognizable than Perry Mason. The financial status or dire need of a client won’t deter Mason from striving to achieve justice. When push comes to shove, a lawyer needs to have a strong ethical backbone to represent their clients’ best interests. Both Mason’s tenacious grit and his knowledge of the law are unparalleled. Lt. Daniel Kaffee In some cases, the law requires you to fight, and that can get ugly. You’ll have your good name attacked and your judgment questioned. When that happens, it becomes clear to most that the law requires resolve and passion. “A Few Good Men” demonstrates this well because it displays Lt. Kaffee’s emotional journey. The highs, the lows, and the bitter arguments are representative of what can happen over the course of a trial. Sometimes it means having calm resolve. Other times, it means fighting back. Lt. Kaffee can do both. Harvey Specter When push comes to shove, a lawyer is paid to do one thing: win. Harvey Specter is a winner. It seems that no set of circumstances can hold this “Suits” attorney back from winning. His charisma and bravado make him a force to be reckoned with, and he often
relies on these characteristics to secure a victory. Sometimes a case hinges more on a person than it does the facts. When that’s the case, we want Harvey.
These three lawyers stand out because they have qualities our Team espouses. In the end, what we all have in common is the strong desire to achieve the best outcome for our clients.
INSIDE-OUT GRILLED HAM AND CHEESE
Inspired by Food & Wine magazine
Want to take your grilled cheese game to the next level? This recipe calls for cheese both inside and outside the sandwich, adding a crispy crunch to the grilled cheese experience. It’s a quick, delicious weekday dinner option the whole family will love.
8 slices of bread (Pullman works best) 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano)
• • • •
8 ounces ham, thinly sliced 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, sliced 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apricot preserves
Football Touchdown Quarterback
Barbecue September Harvest Apple Students Homecoming
1. Butter each slice of bread on the outsides and sprinkle with Parmesan. 2. Layer ham and cheese evenly on top of 4 slices of bread. 3. Spread apricot preserves and mustard across the other 4 slices. Press sandwiches together. 4. In a cast-iron skillet or large sauté pan over medium heat, grill sandwiches until golden, about 3 minutes per side. 5. Cut in half and serve.
Autumn Equinox LaborDay
“JACKSONVILLE’S ATTORNEY AT LAW.”
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A FATHER’S BIG WIN FOR FATHERS INSIDE THIS ISSUE 1. 2.
3 TIPS TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR CRAZY LIFE WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM TIGER WOODS’ TEXT MESSAGE SCANDAL
INSIDE-OUT GRILLED HAM AND CHEESE 3 OF THE BEST TV LAWYERS
THE 5 BEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL TAILGATES
Tailgating at Its Finest 5 TAILGATES SO GOODYOU MIGHT MISS THE GAME
4. University of Washington The Huskies have a different take on tailgating than almost any other university in the country. While most schools gather in parking lots, Washington fans are out in the water. That’s right — this “tailgate” is known for the boats that pull into Union Bay right outside the stadium. 5. University of Mississippi On game day, the Grove at Ole Miss transforms from a serene 10-acre park with mature trees to a scene unlike any other. Tens of thousands of fans gather in their red, white, and blue to prepare for the Walk of Champions, where the entire team strolls through the tailgate on their way to the stadium. It’s 35 years of tradition that contributes something special to the scene.
There’s a slight buzz in the air as you walk through the parking lot. Your ears embrace the sounds of cheering and conversation. Smells of recipes that took years to perfect fill your nostrils as you navigate through a sea of tents and pickup trucks. Friends and family wait at your destination with a cold beverage. The crowds of people all sport the colors of the home team as you finally arrive for what you’ve waited for all week: game day. Tailgating is a college football tradition unlike any other. Schools across the country will claim to have the best, but few can back it up. Here are five universities that can talk the talk and walk the walk. 1. University of Michigan Go blue! The tailgate in Ann Arbor is truly something to behold. “The Big House” parking lot opens at 7 a.m., and from then on, it’s all party, all the time.
With one of college football’s biggest stadiums, it’s only natural that the tailgate follows suit.
2. University of Wisconsin Walleye, cheese curds, and brats are just the beginning at Camp Randall. Wisconsin has great tailgating at the stadium, but the local hotspots of the surrounding area are even better places to show your Badger pride. If you can’t get into the arena to jump around in the fourth quarter, you can still join the tradition anywhere in Madison where there’s red and white. 3. Louisiana State University Geaux Tigers! LSU’s tailgate is something to be revered across the country because of its food options. While the jambalaya and barbecue are utterly fantastic, Tiger fans whip up something else when the University of Florida comes to town: alligator.
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