Tips for Developing Your Holiday Timesharing Plan

Holidays provide amazing opportunities to create lifelong memories for your family and your children. Make the most of the holidays by preparing your holiday timesharing plan with these tips in mind.

#1 –If you have very young children who are not in school, parents will often focus on dividing just the actual holidays between themselves in their parenting plan. But it’s important to keep in mind that the holiday timesharing schedule you create today, will still apply once your child starts school in the future. Once children are attending school, both parents usually want to take advantage of their child’s time off from their usual schedule of school and activities to spend quality time together over the holiday break. Instead of just splitting up the holidays, it is often best to focus on dividing the entire holiday break from school to maximize the time each parent gets with their child during this quality timesharing.

#2 – Be as specific as possible when developing holiday timesharing plans and avoid entering timesharing agreements with verbiage that states “Holiday timesharing to be agreed upon at a later date.” Open-ended timesharing plans are great when people are getting along, but vagueness only leaves room for confusion and resentment among parents and children alike.

How can this be avoided? Define drop-off and pick-up times and exchange locations for holiday timesharing. The more defined the agreement is up front, the less potential there is for arguing or conflict around the holidays, a time you should be enjoying with your family.

#3 – Don’t be afraid to celebrate the holiday on another day of the week on the years you don’t get the actual holiday. I’ve never heard anyone complain that they get two Christmases or two birthday parties. Your child will remember the magic of the holiday, not that the holiday was celebrated a day early or a day late.

#4 – If travel is required for the child to visit a parent, determine who is responsible for the cost of airfare, who needs to accompany the child during travel, or what age the child is allowed to travel as an unattended minor.

#5 – Many times, your child’s school will be closed during times that are not federally recognized holidays. Plan ahead and determine which parent will be responsible for childcare in these circumstances. If childcare costs will be incurred for school closures and/or holiday breaks, make sure to specify how these costs will be split between the parties.

Overall, the goal when coming up with your holiday timesharing schedule is to make sure you come up with a plan that will work for you and your family for years to come. Johnson Ritchey Family wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders

Too often, a dissolution of marriage begins with an altercation of domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offence resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

If somebody has been the victim of domestic violence or is an imminent threat or fear of becoming a victim of domestic violence, that person should file a petition for injunction against domestic violence in order to obtain a restraining order. The filing party must prove that he/she was either a victim of domestic violence or is in fear of an imminent threat of violence. To prove that a victim is in fear of an imminent threat of violence, that threat must be actual. It must be a threat that can be carried out.

When a party files a petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence, the court is required to set a hearing within 14 days – meaning that you, the petitioner, must be ready to prove the domestic violence within 2 weeks of filing. The court will also decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order against the accused offender, which would force him/her to vacate your residence. For anyone who has received a temporary restraining order, you must be prepared to defend yourself in order to avoid a final injunction for protection against you in favor of the petitioner.

The lawyers at Johnson Ritchey Family Law Firm have extensive experience in litigation with domestic violence matters. Contact us today.

Give Giving a Go

In one of my recent collaborative cases, the parties were stuck negotiating between two numbers. They were not far apart, certainly not far apart enough to warrant litigating or even mediating. They were stuck and dug into their positions. Our very experienced team with excellent professionals was having difficulty getting them to move from their dug-in trenches. The settlement facilitator had a private meeting with both spouses. She reported back that she allowed them to each voice their concerns, discuss their perception of why what he/she was asking was fair. Each of them was heard by the other. At the end of that meeting, she asked each of them to approach the rest of the process from a perspective of what he/she could give, rather than what he/she could ask of the other. By focusing on what each was able to give we were able to resolve the case. Interestingly we ended up on one of the parties number, but that party was able to give on other issues that made the resolution possible.

This case reminded me of the principles taught by Bob Burg and John David Mann in The Go-Giver. If you have never met Joe in this parable be sure to check it out to see what he learns on his journey to uncover the following five principles.

  • The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
  • The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
  • The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
  • The Law of Authenticity. The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
  • The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

By focusing on theses principles and on what you can give rather than what you can get, you can achieve success in business and life in a much more fulfilling way than by being a go-getter. You do not have to accumulate wealth or possessions to give something to someone. Everyone has the ability to give. It could be as small as a smile or a helping hand. Even though we are in a service industry, a lot of times it is easy to forget we are here to serve.

I challenge everyone to think about what you can give– in your relationships at home or at work, in your practice with your clients, employees and other professionals. I anticipate the results will surprise and please you.

Florida Alimony Reform: Permanent Alimony Eliminated

On July 1, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1416 into law. SB 1416 permanently abolished permanent alimony. SB 1416 has substantially changed our alimony laws in Florida. The Court may award a combination of three (3) forms of alimony. The forms of alimony that may be awarded are bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational alimony.

In a similar manner to the prior alimony statute, the Court must analyze each party’s need for and ability to pay alimony. The Court evaluates several factors in order to determine the alimony award. SB 1416 revised those factors to include an analysis of not only standard of living, but also future expected expenses. The mental condition of each party is now a factor along with prior factors of age, physical and emotional condition. And, SB 1416 provides for the Court to give special attention to a party’s care for a child that is mentally and/or physically disabled.

Upon a determination that there is a need and ability, the Court may award a combination of the various forms of alimony, in addition to temporary alimony during the pendency of the litigation. The forms of alimony have been reformed pursuant to SB 1416.

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony may not exceed two (2) years and is non modifiable in duration and amount. Bridge-the-gap alimony is for legitimate, identifiable short term needs.
  • Rehabilitative alimony may not exceed five (5) years and is modifiable in duration and amount. Rehabilitative alimony requires a plan.
  • Durational alimony cannot be awarded for a marriage of less than three (3) years. The length of durational alimony may not exceed 50% of the length of a short term marriage (3-10 years); 60% of the length of a moderate term marriage (10-20 years) and 75% of the length a long term marriage (20 plus years). The amount of durational alimony may not exceed 35% of the net difference between the payor spouse’s net income and recipient spouse’s net income.

The statute does not provide a cap on the amount of alimony, but rather guides the parties in that the payor may not be left with significantly less net income than the recipient. The Court may award alimony as a lump sum payment under certain circumstances.

The attorneys at Johnson Ritchey Family Law PLLC are highly skilled and competent to handle all alimony related issues in dissolution actions, including post-judgment modifications and enforcement actions that might be necessary.

Florida Academy Of Collaborative Professionals Launches Leadership Institute

The Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (FACP) has commenced its inaugural Leadership Institute. Members of the collaborative community were given the opportunity to apply to be a part of the Institute. The FACP Leadership Institute Committee received more applications than they had seats. Christen Ritchey was chosen as a fellow for the inaugural Leadership Institute. The Institute is designed to provide an opportunity for select FACP members to build upon existing leadership skills while helping them develop professional networks within Florida’s collaborative community. Former FACP President Edward Sachs explained of the Institute “We want our best and brightest to serve as beacons for peaceful problem-solving in their communities.”

Participants convened for their first session at the FACP’s annual conference in May and will continue to meet throughout the year. The participants will engage in leadership seminars, educational forums, small group workshops and team building. This experience will be rewarding and educational; Johnson & Ritchey PA is proud Christen will be a part of it.

Collaborative dispute resolution is growing much more popular in South Florida. Many families are choosing to use this alternative dispute resolution process to settle their matters. In addition practitioners are utilizing the process for probate matters and business disputes. Any dispute that involves parties who may want to preserve relationships at the end of their dispute would be served well by this process. The FACP and the Leadership Institute will provide advanced skills to practitioners working in this field.