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Under the best of circumstances, going forward with a divorce (or dissolution of marriage) can be highly emotional. For this reason, it is important to review and discuss the entire process with you such as:
We will provide you with experienced and effective advocacy both in a mediation setting or in the courtroom.
Creation of a Parenting Plan is specific to meet the best interests of the minor children in your family. A Parenting Plan will address how the parents will do timesharing with their children and many other aspects of raising the children. Shared parental responsibility is required, meaning both parents work together to make all major decisions unless one parent should have exclusive rights to make parenting decisions such as education or medical issues if shared parental responsibility is detrimental to the child.
In Florida, both parents owe a duty to support their minor children. Child support is calculated based on the child support guidelines. A parent can ask for child support alone, or as part of another family law court case. You can ask for child support in cases involving divorce, paternity, domestic violence, separation unconnected with divorce or annulment. Often times, an income deduction order is entered which directs the child support payment straight out of the payor parent's payroll to the payee parent.
How is Child Support Calculated?
Child support is the amount of money that a court orders a parent to pay every month to help pay for their minor child’s living expenses.
Florida uses a formula to calculate what amount one parent should pay to the other for child support based on the earnings of each parent, the amount for child care and medical expenses, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child (overnights).
The child support guideline calculation depends on:
The primary consideration in creating a parenting plan is the best interest of the child. Parenting plans should be specifically tailored for each family after taking into consideration twenty-one statutory factors under Florida Statute, §61.13(3) to determine what is in the best interest of the child. The main components of a parenting plan include parental responsibility or decision making, extracurricular activities, information sharing (such as school and medical records), weekend, weekday and holiday timesharing, exchange location, transportation costs, foreign and out of state travel, retention of the child’s passport, school boundary registration, electronic communication between the parents and between each parent and the child, selection of child care providers, and right of first refusal. The timesharing schedule allocates time between each parent after taking into account the children’s ages, developmental age and needs.
If a child is born out of wedlock, you can establish paternity by several means and it differs depending on whether the parents of the child are married at the time the child is born. Either a parent or a child may bring a paternity action. Once paternity is established, the parties will need to address creation of a parenting plan and also address child support for the minor child.
Alimony is also referred to as support payments or periodic maintenance paid by one spouse to the other. The main consideration to determine if one is entitled to any alimony is the receiving spouse's need and the paying spouse's ability to pay. Often times, the issue of one spouse's true income may involved disputed facts and can be complex especially if there are in-kind contributions which reduce living expenses, trust income, deferred compensation, commissions, bonuses, gift income and other forms of income. Florida recognizes several types of alimony and may award temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, permanent or lump sum alimony. There are several factors which the court must consider in awarding alimony including the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, duration of the marriage, ages of the parties, each party's financial resources, contributions to the marriage, responsibilities in child rearing, and many other factors.
A male may disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation when the male is not the biological father of the child. If granted, it would terminate any prospective child support, parental rights, custody, and timesharing or contact with the child. Granting this relief does not affect the legitimacy of the child that was born during a lawful marriage.
If a parent wants to change his/her principal from his/her place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying timesharing he/she must file a petition for relocation unless the other parent consents to the relocation. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days. The petition for relocation must satisfy several strict statutory requirements as well as be in the best interest of the child, otherwise it may be defective and submit to dismissal or denial. The court must consider an extensive list of factors in its determination. Beware, if a parent relocates with a child without consent and without complying with Florida law, that parent may be held in contempt and suffer serious penalties.
An injunction or restraining order, is a court order that directs a person not to have any contact with another person. For the person to be restrained (respondent), the injunction issued against him or her can include the following provisions, in addition to the prohibition against contacting the petitioner:
He/she may be ordered to attend classes for batterers, substance abuse, and/or mental health.
Florida law provides 5 types of civil protective injunctions: Domestic Violence, Repeat Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking.
To protect an adult or minor child from violence by family or household members.
To protect an adult or minor child from repeated violence or stalking.
To protect an adult or minor child from dating violence.
To protect an adult or minor child from sexual violence.
To protect an adult or minor child from stalking or harassment.
Annulment means you want the court to void a marriage because you maintain that it never legally happened. The petitioner needs to demonstrate either fraud, duress, deceit, lack of mental capacity or lack of consummation of the marriage. A factual analysis of your circumstances is necessary in order to determine if you have a basis for annulment or a basis to defend against an alleged annulment.
Equitable distribution is also known as property division or distribution. In any divorce proceeding the court will be asked to divide the parties' assets and liabilities. This involves first identifying what is non-marital and what is marital. Then, non-marital assets/debts are set aside to each party. Marital assets/debts are divided, presumptively equally. However, if a party requests an unequal distribution, the court must consider several relevant factors in its determination.
In Florida, a couple planning to get married can decide to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement prior to the date of marriage and such agreements are routinely enforceable in court in the event the couple later divorces provided certain requirements are met. The purpose of a pre-nuptial agreement is to pre-determine matters such as division of property or support/alimony in the event the couple gets a divorce.
Post-nuptial agreements are similar to pre-nuptial agreements except that they are entered into after the couple has already married. Issues generally addressed in post-nuptial agreements relate to the acquisition and division of property, support/alimony, and income taxes by way of example. In order for either a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement to be enforceable, there must be no evidence of fraud or duress.
Most modifications of family law court orders or final judgments will require that the party seeking the specific modification can prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since entry of the last order that was unanticipated and it is in the best interest of the child. Modification actions involve careful consideration of where to file the action especially where you have multiple places to select from. We can assist you with pursuing or defending a supplemental petition for modification.
One a divorce, paternity action, or other family matter is concluded, the court will enter a final judgment either making the decisions or approving the parties' settlement agreement, if one was reached. If one party fails to live up to his/her obligations, then the other party can seek to enforce the judgment or order. Examples would be failure to pay alimony, child support, deliver certain property, move out of the home, etc. The defending party may have legitimate reasons or defenses for failing to comply with his/her obligations.
In Florida, a stepparent may adopt the natural child of his or her spouse. There are specific consents required to adopt a stepchild and each case must be analyzed in order to determine which consents are necessary or required. For example, if the minor child is over 12 years of age, his/her consent is required. It is also important to obtain a certified copy of the child's birth certificate. The petition is presented by the stepparent and their spouse. Once the process is concluded, the child receives a new birth certificate. The adoptive stepparent will then continue to have parental rights, including custody and timesharing and in the event of a later divorce, he/she may be liable for child support for that child.