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An adoption creates a legal parent-child relationship between the adoptee and the adoptive parent(s). Florida law allows adoptions for all persons, minors and adults. Once the adoption is complete the adoptee and adoptive parent share in all rights and responsibilities as if the relationship is biological.Adoption is one of the happier experiences in the family law division that our office completes. There are four types of adoptions in Florida:
- The entity adoption (an agency or intermediary facilitated adoption),
- The step-parent adoption
- The close relative
- The adult adoption.
We happily serve every single one of these except agency or intermediary facilitated adoptions. We do not find a child for adoption and serve in this manner. However, all other adoption cases we take and enjoy.
The court must receive proof that facts exist to terminate the biological relationship forever. A biological parent may properly execute a consent for adoption and surrender his/her rights to their child. Alternatively, a court must hear proof that the parent has abused, abandoned or neglected the child or otherwise failed to protect their parental rights under Florida law and terminate the rights between parent and child in order for an adoption to take place. Adult adoption is exempt from this rule however; the petitioner must provide notice to the biological or legal parents.
Parental consent for adoption is only valid and binding when executed pursuant to the specific requirements of Florida Law.Step-parent adoptions are usually when one biological parent is willing to give up their parental rights to that step-parent. After the adoption, the step-parent has all rights and responsibilities given to a biological parent.
The adoption process generally takes between three to six months to complete, depending on each individual case and circumstances. We pride ourselves in assisting with the adoption process. Call us to schedule an appointment concerning your adoption!
Domestic abuse can manifest itself in many forms. Isolation, intimidation, physical abuse, emotional abuse, insults and economic abuse are examples of those forms. A batterer often becomes dependent on the victim for confidence or improved self image. The batterer's sense of power increases as the relationship becomes unbalanced and the batterer depends on the ability to maintain absolute control. The batterer may attempt to convince the victim that they are either at fault or insane. Substance abuse can sometimes cause the batterer to become even more violent and agitated.
Victims engage in a constant analyzing process of which rules to obey and which rules to resist. The decisions of victims rely on a number of factors:
- Cultural/Religious beliefs Legal, financial, social and other options and resources
- Opportunity to reflect and develop a safety plan
- Risks vs. benefits for themselves or their children
- Support and connections that make resistance feasible
- How Does a Victim Reduce the Risk of Violence?
First, separate from the abuser. Use a shelter or other safe housing. Get a restraining order a.k.a. injunction for protection against violence. Remember that you cannot save the perpetrator and come to their rescue. Often, abusers use the sympathy and kindness of their victims as another control tactic. Treatment, criminal sanctions, and the involvement of social services may be necessary.
Undoubtedly, children's issues such as child support, child custody, and visitation (now called timesharing) are the most important issues in family law cases. Florida law designates that parents design a parenting plan through either an agreement or court order. Recently Florida law changed the “custody” statute and dissipated the term custody to time sharing. However, the term custody is used through out this site for ease of use.
Child Support is based on Florida Statute called guidelines. Generally, child support is based on BOTH parents” monthly net incomes and several other factors. The guidelines set up how much is to be paid monthly when looking at the number of children born of the parties and their net income levels. There may be reasons to deduct or increase from the guidelines, but they are not varied more than 5% without special reason.
Child custody and visitation (preferably called time sharing) is a fundamental right afforded to parents under the Constitution of the United States. Many factors are considered in awarding residential status to parents in Florida. Florida statute provides that the best interests of the children is considered as follows :
- The parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent.
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child as to custody, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and
experience to express a preference.
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuous parent-child relationship between the child
and the other parent.
- Evidence that any party has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding a domestic violence proceeding.
- Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
- Any other fact not specifically expressed in these laws that the court considers to be relevant.
There is rarely a situation where a court will award sole custody or time sharing to one parent, therefore most parents will have shared parental responsibility which means they will have joint decisions over the children. However, usually a time sharing schedule will designate which parent will spend the majority of overnight time with one of the parents. Some parents may decide to rotate or share equal time with their children.
Courts prefer to designate a time sharing schedule that maximizes the time children spend with each parent. There is no one size fits all and should be based on the schedule of the parents and the children.
Florida’s Probate code and courts and Chapter 744 govern guardianship proceedings. A guardian is a decision-maker appointed by the court to make either personal and/or financial decisions for a minor or for an adult with mental or physical disabilities.
A guardianship over a minor may be appointed when the parents of a child die or become incapacitated. Also, even of the parents are alive and well the court needs to appoint a guardian when a child receives large amounts of money.
Guardianship over an adult is necessary when a person’s capacity to make decisions is impaired and there is a need for someone else to make decisions for them.
Guardianships may be voluntary or involuntary. Obviously, an involuntary guardianship may result in a contested hearing or set of hearings in which the judge will decide whether the guardianship is necessary and the least restrictive means over the person in need.
At the Law Offices of Amy L. Cosentino, our practice focuses on divorce and child custody. Your divorce and child custody needs will be treated with the highest level of sensitivity, dignity, and respect. Family law cases are very delicate because the most important things in your life become legal issues.
With our firm, your family will be treated like our own, with sensitivity and honesty. When you meet with Ms. Cosentino you will be greeted with a smile and warmth. However, you will be given a truthful opinion as to the legal ramifications and risks involved in litigating the specific facts of your case.
Amy Cosentino and her team are highly experienced in all areas of family law to include, but not limited to: marriage, divorce, custody, alimony, child and spousal support, modifications, paternity, adoptions, domestic violence, timesharing, guardianship, and military related cases.
AMY L. COSENTINO, ESQ
Attorney Amy Cosentino was born in Elk Grove, Illinois and primarily raised in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Cosentino received a B.A. in Dance Performance from the University of South Florida in 1998. After 21 years studying and performing in various areas of the arts, Ms. Cosentino started attending Nova Southeastern University Law in the summer of 2001.
Ms. Cosentino was awarded a Public Service Fellowship from Nova Law in 2002 for her pro bono work for the City of Hollywood. Ms. Cosentino worked for the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office as a CLI prosecuting in the domestic violence division, and practices family law in the West Palm Beach area since 2005. Ms. Cosentino won leadership awards in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 for her work in the domestic violence committee of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. She co-chaired this section from 2009 - 2014. Ms. Cosentino proudly received the 2012 Palm Beach Legal Aid Society’s Child Advocacy Award for her pro bono work on an abused child.
Ms. Cosentino is a member of the Florida Bar in good standing. She is also a member of the Palm Beach County Bar Association, a member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. Ms. Cosentino also participated in the Lawyers for Literacy Program for the Palm Beach County Bar Association, is past-President of the Palm Beach Nova Law Alumni Chapter, a mentor for Women of Tomorrow from 2009 - 2016, and is a published legal author for lawyers in Florida as she co-authored an article for the December 2007 and solely authored for the September 2013 Florida Bar Journal. Ms. Cosentino is also published and co-edited in “The Commentator” a source for Florida family law attorneys and has spoken both at C.L.E’s and other venues on domestic violence. Ms. Cosentino prides herself as a leader and speaker in domestic violence and a court appointed Attorney Ad Litem. Ms. Cosentino served on the Legislative Committee in 2013 and 2014 and assisted and moderated the first all day Florida Family Law seminar in Domestic Violence in October of 2013.
SAMANTHA SOBEL, ESQ
Paralegal Rachel Cox has 10 years working in the legal field, with the past five focused in family law. A Florida native (really) she graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s in Communications and a Master’s in Nonprofit Management and from Indian River State College with an Associate’s in Paralegal Studies.
Rachel uses her research, organization and customer service experience to help provide the best experience to clients as they navigate family law litigation. Shel assists clients by providing regular contact and updates and supports the firm by maintaining the case calendar and deadlines, scheduling court appearances, drafting pleadings and managing document production and the case file. In her free time, she attends book clubs, escapes the heat at museums, searches for the perfect cup of coffee and pretends to be cleaning her apartment when really watching Netflix.
Attorney Samantha Sobel is a Jupiter, Florida native. Ms. Sobel received a B.A. in Criminology with a minor in Psychology from the University of South Florida in 2012. Ms. Sobel attended Stetson University College of Law and received her J.D. in 2015 with a Certificate of Concentration in Social Justice Advocacy based on her focus in Family and Juvenile Dependency Law.
Ms. Sobel received several awards and scholarships for her dedication to community service, including the prestigious William F. Blews Pro Bono Service Award from Stetson Law. Ms. Sobel interned with Bay Area Legal Services, Family Law Team in Tampa, Florida assisting low-income families under the SafeNet grant, focusing on the representation of domestic violence survivors in dissolution of marriage cases.
Ms. Sobel has extensive experience in Juvenile Dependency work, starting as the statewide Appellate Team assistant for Department of Children and Families- Children’s Legal Services (CLS) in 2013 and becoming an Attorney with CLS in 2017, advocating for abused, abandoned and neglected children in Palm Beach County. Ms. Sobel was also a volunteer Guardian ad Litem in both Pinellas and Palm Beach Counties, representing the best interests of the children in the Juvenile Dependency system.
Ms. Sobel is a member of the Florida Bar in good standing. She is also a member of the Young Lawyers Division and Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. Ms. Sobel is also a member of the Palm Beach County Bar Association.
2465 Mercer Avenue Suite A202
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 537-3019
Fax: (561) 537-3018
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