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Lori I Barkus
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Lori Barkus’s Answers

314 total


  • What do we have to do first to file for custody for our grandson?

    My husband and I have been the sole caretakers and supporters of our grandson for five years. His single mother gave us guardianship and left Florida. She's spent the last five years living in San Diego, CA with her boyfriend. She flew home twice ...

    Lori’s Answer

    I'm not clear what you mean by "gave us guardianship". If there is a court order giving you temporary custody, then that order stays in effect unless and until the mother files a petition to seek custody of the child, and proves that she is a fit parent. If you do not have a court order, then you should seek one. There is a procedure for doing this that may or may not apply to your case. It is very fact specific and must be done correctly or it can be overturned. I strongly recommend that you seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney who has handled kinship matters and have him/her guide you through the process.

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  • Do I have a strong case to pursue a step parent adoption if he contests?

    My daughter is 6 yrs old. Her biological father has not seen her or had contact in 5.5 yrs. He has been incarcerated on and off the majority of that time. He has never provided any type of monetary support. My husband of 5 years wants to legally a...

    Lori’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Chapter 39.01 gives a more detailed definition of abandonment on other grounds, such as lack of participation in a child's life. Florida Statute 39.464(1)(d) deals with the termination of parental rights where a biological parent is incarcerated. That is one of the grounds that can be used to prove abandonment. . A termination of parental rights/adoption by stepparent can be a somewhat complicated procedure and must be done correctly. I strongly recommend that you seek an experienced adoption attorney in your local area to handle this for you.

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  • Is it possible to settle a different federal civil action I filed against my ex with arrears from a state judgment on alimony?

    my settlement conference with her is due and need input if that could be possible to deduct the arrears from damages I'm seeking in a fed civil suit.

    Lori’s Answer

    Generally speaking, you cannot deduct or offset support arrears. You may be able to do so if you and your ex reach an agreement and take the proper steps to have the family law judge enter an order approving the agreement. But I agree with the previous poster that there is too much going on here to handle on your own. And I second the advice that you seek to hire a lawyer.

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  • In Florida, at what age are overnight visitations allowed? How do we settle a custody agreement for our son now?

    I've been living with my boyfriend (never been married), we have a 2 year old son and I'm 7 months pregnant now. We broke up several months ago and have been roommates, nothing more. We've continued to live together for the sake of our son and un...

    Lori’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues that overnight visits are allowed at any age. But a parent is usually present for those visits. If the father works a midnight shift, that would not be the best time for an overnight with a small child and an infant. But its unlikely that he works every night and could ask for, and receive, overnights on the nights he is not working.

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  • I owe my ex child support, he owes me thousands. Can we legally agree to satisfy the judgment he owes me with child support

    My sons father has custody and has placed me on child support. He stole some items and also destroyed my house. He was arrested and I was ordered both restitution and a seperate judgement in small claims court for thousands of dollars. Can I use t...

    Lori’s Answer

    Generally, this is not something you can do. The family law statutes require the payment of child support because the state believes this is an ongoing need and a right that belongs to the child, especially when the child or children are minors. You are seeking to avoid paying future child support to erase a debt that is owed to you. Since you cannot prepay child support, or waive collection of child support, I would recommend against this.

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  • What can I and my husband do to get this done and him adopt my daughter, is it considered abandonment when he hasn't seen them?

    I have two daughters but am married to someone else other than their biological father, the biological father pays child support every month but he never makes an effort to spend time with them I have text messages facebook messages and phone call...

    Lori’s Answer

    Florida law requires that you prove abandonment and it requires very detailed and fact specific proof. It is best that you speak with a family law attorney who has experience handling these types of matters. He/she can go over these elements with you and advise you on whether or not to proceed.

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  • How can I find out who has custody of my child, and how can I get custody back if it is not me?

    My wife and I had a child in common. She had to leave him with her sister, and they asked me for a temporary guardianship which they were granted. Our situation has stabilized, but I don't know how to go about getting our son back. The guardianshi...

    Lori’s Answer

    You definitely need to speak with a family law attorney. Most guardianships involving family members cannot simply be terminated and require a burden of proof on your part. Speak with a local attorney who has experience with these types of matters before proceeding.

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  • How do I go about making this legal?

    Me and my husband are divorcing. We are on good terms and have lived apart for awhile. He lives in Ohio, I live in Florida. Our only issue is the car that I bought and paid for but is in his name. I want the car but at this time cannot get the...

    Lori’s Answer

    If the car is bought and paid for, then its not clear why you need to refinance. It sounds as though you may just need to change the title. I also agree with the prior answer about including this in a settlement agreement. You want to make sure you clearly spell out who has the right to the car and, if you cannot transfer title now, that you will in the future. Best of luck.

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  • Will this be sufficient for the judge and do u think they'll sign off?

    My daughters mother is willing to write a paper and have it notarized wanting to forgive arrears child support and interest in return I agree to pay current child support until she is 21 and give her 3000 lump sum.

    Lori’s Answer

    No one can give you legal advice in this forum, but, generally, a signed piece of paper is not enough if there is a court ordered child support obligation. If the department of revenue is involved in this case, they also need to be in agreement. I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney about whether arrears can be forgiven and how to go about getting a court order on the arrears.

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  • Can I have his rights terminated so we can proceed with the adoption without his consent? Is this considered abandonment?

    I have been married to my husband for 7 years. We have 3 children. Our oldest is not biologically his. He will turn 12 in April. He only learned that his stepfather is not his biological parent last year at 10 years of age. He wishes for my hus...

    Lori’s Answer

    In order to finalize a stepparent adoption, you need to terminate the biological fathers parental rights. It's possible the biological father will sign a consent to the termination. If he doesn't, you have a good set of facts for a case of abandonment. The adoption statute is very specific and needs to be followed carefully in order to prove this. This is also true of consents and waivers of parental rights. If you do not have very specific language in the documents signed by the biological father, a judge may not allow the adoption to proceed. I recommend that you speak with an experienced adoption attorney about the best way to proceed.

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