Child Support

Anytime a family law case has children under the age of 18, child support is going to be an issue. Every child in the State of Florida has the right to be financially supported by both parents. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, both parents have a child support obligation. Each parent’s percentage share of the child support need is determined by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by the combined net monthly income.

Child support in Florida is based on several factors including: the income of both parties, the cost of child care, number of children born or adopted by the parties, number of overnights spent with each parent, healthcare expenses for the children, the parents, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement payments, alimony payments, tax filing status, and previously court ordered child support. Other than the above listed expenses, the court does not take living expenses such as utilities, mortgage or rent into consideration when calculating child support.

The State of Florida created a formula to calculate child support located in Florida Statutes §61.30. Most family law firms use the same electronically generated program the courts use to calculate the monthly child support obligation. As a result of the use of a formula and child support guidelines, child support cases are not as difficult to resolve as some of the other more complex areas of family law. The difficulty arises when one party does not have verifiable income, such as someone who is self-employed or someone who earns money “on the side” or “under the table.”

If a party is unemployed or not employed at their full capacity, the court can impute income to that party. In other words, a party can’t quit his or her job or take a lower paying job in order to avoid paying child support.

Time-Sharing of Children

After a divorce in the state of Florida, fathers and mothers should have shared parental responsibilities. This ensures that both of the parents can jointly make decisions that will benefit the child’s day-to-day life, and that major decisions are discussed with both parents.

Who is responsible for what after a divorce with kids?

There are many things to consider while sharing parental responsibilities, that could impact the child’s well-being. When discussing the responsibilities with the other parent, it is imperative that there is an understanding on how the child should be raised while the he/she is away from the other parent.

Who get to choose the kid’s school, sports, religion, etc?

Which parent will determine education, extracurricular activities, religious upbringing, moral standards, discipline, ect? Mothers and fathers rights are equally protected under Florida law. Both parents should be able to provide a stable, socioeconomic environment for the child in an amicable manner. Both parties should collaborate on timesharing and custody agreements, that are convenient and fair to both sides. In the process of determining how to share custody, the stability of the environment before the divorce should be maintained in the child’s life. This includes things such as, how the child will get to and from school from each parents house.

What to consider while discussing shared parental responsibilities?

Both parties must demonstrate compliance to analyze and determine the child’s best interest. They should be willing to provide and maintain a consistent time-sharing schedule. They must also be willing to determine and maintain a daily schedule, routine, and disciplines for the child. Both parents must be able to communicate and keep the other parent informed about any events taking place in the child’s life.

Can children decide which parent gets custody?

Once the child is mature enough, he or she might be able to submit a preference on which parent they see being a more comfortable fit for their life. The court will also take into consideration any and all history of domestic violence, or other charges that may subject the child to any physical or mental trauma.

Creating a Parenting Plan to Determine Custody and Responsibility

Creating a parenting plan, and determining when each parent will have custody of children will help to organize the expectations both parents have in raising the child. When collaborating on a parenting plan, both parents must mutually decide what days, times, and holidays they want the child.

When parents can not agree on child custody and responsibility arrangements?

During a contested divorce, if the parents can not decide on this, the court will figure out a visitation/ timesharing schedule for both of the parents according to the specific circumstances of the case. In some cases, the court may only give sole custody to one parent if the other is not capable of raising the child. In this scenario the court with base their judgement off of which parent can provide the most stable environment. This includes determining which of the parents have the ability to give the child the education, food, health care, emotional attachment, and other essential requirements he/she needs to survive. This also means the parents will be evaluated for domestic abuse, substance abuse, abandonment/ neglect or sexual abuse to ensure that the child is in a safe, happy, and stable environment.

Sole Custody

Parents with sole custody will have the children a majority/or all of the time with limited contact to the other parent. The parent with sole custody can make major decisions in the child’s life without consulting the other parent, and also will decide when the non-custodial parent can have contact or visitation with the child, depending on the Court’s ruling. Although they can decide when, the sole custody parent is not allowed to completely cut off the non-custodial parent from their child.

Limited Visitation and Custody

Limited visitation/timesharing includes things such as overnight visits, or supervised visitation. In order to get sole custody, the party must prove in court that the other parent is not fit, or capable of raising the child, or that timesharing/contact would be detrimental to the child. In some instances, when a party is granted sole parental responsibility, the Court will provide a remedy such as parenting classes, anger management, and or substance abuse counseling, for the other parent to regain their parenting rights.