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People's Law Guide


Who Comes First?

Marlene A. Posner


With Divorce/Dissolution on the rise, the main concern of all of the parties involved should be the best interests of the minor children. Divorce cases heard in the Family Court in Broward County evidence this concept as Family Court Judges have consistently placed the needs of the minor children first. Economic needs are protected as it is now a mandatory requirement for both parties with minor children to file mandatory Long or Short Form Financial Affidavits with accompanying, verifying documentation when filing for divorce. This documentation supplies the numbers in determining the child support contribution of both parents; these Financial Affidavits must be updated with contempt sanctions against that party and his/her attorney if this requirement is ignored. Furthermore, it has been established in Florida law that the minor child/children should benefit from either parent's good fortune thereby allowing for modification of child support.

Besides protecting the minor child's economic best interests in the form of statutory minimums for child support and medical coverage (a required part of child support), the Family Court has taken a definitive stand against the use of alienation tactics by one parent (usually the resident parent) against the other. When one (1) parent withholds visitation, uses the minor child as a spy, uses the child as a pawn or bargaining chip in division of assets, uses the child as a go between to resolve issues, speaks negatively and in anger about the other spouse, negatively compares the child with the other parent, "bad mouths" the other parent, attempts to manipulate the child's affections away from the other parent etc., that parent is utilizing alienation tactics which is not in the child's best interest! Unless one parent has documented proof that the other parent is a danger to the child, the Family Court will not support limitations on visitation. It is the minor child's right to have access to both parents. In fact, one factor that the Family Court Judge considers in deciding a contested custody case, is which parent is more likely to allow visitation and encourage a relationship with the other parent. A parent who continues to utilize alienation techniques thereby ignoring the child's best interests can be fined and held in Contempt by the Family Court Judge resulting in a possible change in residential custody. Consequently, the only answer to the question, Who Comes First? is the minor child/children!

Marlene A. Posner is an Attorney who has been practicing since 1988. She is a participating law firm of Hyatt Legal Services and a member of Broward County Bar Lawyer Referral Service. Her office handles Family law, Bankruptcy, Simple Wills. She can be reached at (954) 749-8400, e-mail: or her website at

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