WUFT News

Expert teaches class on child custody as part of law library series

By on March 22nd, 2013

On March 15, in a room with spring-themed cardboard butterflies, Samuel Patterson Stafford, judicial hearing officer, taught a free class on child custody issues as a part of the Law in the Library series at the High Springs Library branch.

The series rotates around the Alachua County branch libraries and lets people pick the brains of legal professionals on issues ranging from home foreclosure to divorce. The Law in the Library program has met since February 2012.

Stafford’s best piece of advice for people in child custody cases is for both parties to get a lawyer as soon as possible. Things get complicated quick, he said.

Even if one parent has everything in order, he said, the process relies on both to file a series of documents across a web of departments.

And for those documents to be effective, they need approval from entities like the state, and can require a courtroom, which can take six months to get signatures, he said.

“The state handles hundreds of thousands of people clawing at them for assistance,” Patterson said. “Be persistent.”

Patterson had a question-and-answer session with the participants.

No case was too complicated, and each had its own quirk and they all had to be hypothetical.

“What if your ex-husband is in New Jersey?” a woman asked.

“Is the case in Florida?” Strafford responded.

“Chicago,” she said.

“Track him down. Does he have any relatives?” he asked.

“He has a cousin,” she said.

“Find her,” he ended.

After one or two people asked questions, anonymity and hypotheticals didn’t quite stick.

“My ex was incarcerated,” another participant said.

“Did you owe him any money when he went in?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“It’s a shame,” Patterson said. “Even if he’s on work release there would have been child support. It would’ve accrued while he was in there. You’re going to have to start over when he gets out.”

One man whose case had lawyers both sides, wanted to know some more options.

“She wants to take them with her to live with her new husband up in Georgia,” he said.

“Are you still filing together?” Patterson asked.

“We never got married,” he said.

“Are they your kids?” he asked.

“I said I was the parent,” he answered.

“Did you get a paternity test?” Patterson asked.

“No, they’re mine,” he finished.

She also figured out a way to intercept his government benefits.

“I’m glad you got a lawyer,” Patterson said.

A theme for the class was the difference between turning 18 and graduating high school. They’re not the same, and it comes down to the original agreements in the contracts.

“All the courts want is a part of what keeps you alive and functioning,” Stafford said. “A piece of that is going to child support.”

Stafford said problems usually come from one party not having a lawyer, so it’s best to invest in one.

“If someone comes up to you with a contract, say ‘This looks good, but let’s get it into a court.’” Stafford said.

“This is a forum for experienced attorneys to share their knowledge of the law with our community,” said Carolyn Kershner, a lawyer who volunteers for Law in the Library.

About forty or 50 people attended classes on topics such as mortgage foreclosure, healthcare reform and collaborative divorce, she said.

A group of six attended the lecture of Stafford, who has nearly 40 years of experience. for about an hour an a half.

The classes are a result of the local bar association volunteering time and teaming up with the Alachua County Public Library system, which provided the space.

The next class will be about residential foreclosure at the Millhopper Branch library at 3145 NW 43 St., on April 8 at 6 p.m.

The next child support class will be at the headquarters on University Avenue on April 10 at 6 p.m. Full child support laws can be found on the Florida Senate website.

For a complete list, visit the Alachua County Library website.


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

The Preservation Jazz Band takes the stage at the frank street fair Thursday evening on Feb. 26. The band is from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Jazz Band, Street Fair Draw Crowd To Downtown Gainesville For Frank Conference

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed on Bo Diddley Community Plaza on Thursday as part of a street fair. The fair was part of day three of the 2015 frank conference.


Construction workers from Superior Construction Company Southeast work on replacing the culvert underneath the Oakleaf overpass in Clay County on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

Oakleaf Overpass Closed During Culvert Construction

A deteriorated culvert failed inspection last month, closing the Overleaf overpass over State Road 23 until a new culvert is built. The construction has caused traffic issues and added to commute times.


Mishler rides Chief Free Spirit, and Cherry follows behind. Cherry, 7, is Chief Free Spirit’s daughter. Chloe Stradinger/ WUFT

Evangelical Cowboy Rides Through Gainesville As Part Of Larger Journey

Doc Mishler rides around the country on horseback preaching his Christian beliefs. He travels about 20 miles per day and rode through Gainesville on Monday.


Mike Myers, 68, illustrates how he created a notepad from an orange juice container. Myers said that the Repurpose Project is the culmination of his dream.

Repurpose Project Finds Success in New Location

After moving to its new location next to Satchel’s Pizza, The Repurpose Project has more than quadrupled in size and substance. The owners plan to expand with the additional space, adding a garden, play area for kids and an event area.


A herd of American bison gather on Dixie Sportsman’s Hunting Preserve February
21. The 320-acre preserve is currently for sale.

Future Uncertain For 320-Acre Dixie County Hunting Preserve

A wildlife preserve in Dixie County used for hunting is for sale. The current owner said he will not require the buyer to continue in the hunting business.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments