Tager Law Firm, P.A.

Child Support

. Posted in Divorce Attorney

Child Support in Florida

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Child support is a substantial commitment. Under Florida law, child support payments are intended to be used for your child's portion of expenses such as rent, electricity, food, transportation, and his or her hobbies/entertainment. Determining the appropriate child support payment amount and method can seem daunting, but having a good understanding of the process is invaluable.

Child support obligations under Florida Law

The Section of the Florida Statutes that mainly addresses child support is Section 61.30. The title of the Section is “Child support guidelines; retroactive child support.”

Section 61.30 should be read and understood prior to calculating child support in Florida. There are other child support laws in Florida that may have an impact on child support, but Section 61.30 is by far the most important of the child support laws in Florida.

Section 61.30 contains the factors that determine gross income as well as the allowable deductions from gross income. The child support calculator on this site starts with monthly net income, but a full and complete understanding of allowable deductions in deriving net income is critically important to accurately calculate child support.

How child support is determined in Florida

A child support order tells the parents what they must do to support their children. Enforcing child support orders means getting the parent to do what the order says.

The amount of child support is based on guidelines defined in Florida Law. Child support guidelines are standards used to figure out the support needed for a child and the amount a parent has to pay. Guidelines help make sure support amounts are fair. Every state has guidelines, but they may be different in each state.

These guidelines are used the first time child support is ordered and every time the child support amount changes. They are also used to review the order to see if the support amount should be changed.

Child support guidelines consider:

  • The income of both parents
  • The child's health care and child care costs
  • The standard needs for the child. A list of support amounts based on the child's age and net income of the parents

How the child support payments will be made

Once the court has calculated the child support, the court will decide to whom and how the payments will be made. The court can order that the child support payments be made directly to the parent with whom the child lives. If child support payments are made directly, the parents are responsible for keeping accurate records indicating how much and when each payment is made. Alternatively, the court can order child support payments to be made to the state disbursement unit, where it is collected, recorded, and

disbursed. The court can order that the child support be paid voluntarily or by an automatic deduction from each paycheck.

Allowable child support deductions

Parents are not allowed to stipulate to a lower child support payment. Only a court order can create or change a child support obligation. However, child support payments can be reduced or increased depending on the proper application of allowable deductions. What constitutes an allowable deduction has been the subject of much controversy and subsequent litigation. Some allowable deductions include the following:

  • Health insurance premiums
  • Mandatory retirement payments
  • Other child support payments
  • Alimony
  • Union dues
  • Uniform expenses

If you fail to make timely child support payments

If you fail to make timely child support payments, you can be held in contempt of court. The court has several tools to encourage parents to pay child support. It can suspend privileges such as the privilege to drive, operate a business, or travel abroad. If you fall behind in child support, the court can order you to sell almost anything you have of value. Additionally, parents who owe overdue child support must use any income tax returns towards their child support balance. Moreover, if the court determines the late-paying parent has money or valuables and is not paying off the child support debt, the court can have him or her put in jail for 5 months and 29 days.

 

Child Custody

. Posted in Divorce Attorney

Child Custody, Parental Responsibility and Parenting Plan

When parents divorce, they face the tough questions of where their child will live and who will provide care.  Our family law lawyers understand how difficult these emotional circumstances can be for both parents and children.

Florida judges consider the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of child rearing. There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.

Child Custody / Time Sharing

Child Custody or time-sharing,  is awarded by the Judge, depending on the circumstances of the divorce and the parents,  a number of ways.  Child custody or time-sharing is awarded in one of four different ways:

  • Temporary custody: This is the situation while the divorce is being litigated. The Court will award custody, if the    parents are unable towork it out themselves. The COurt will order the custody of the children will done in one of the three ways below.
  • Shared custody. Each parent shares the children on a division agreeable to both, or as ordered by the Court. it can be the Mother has the children 50 percent an dthe faher has 50 persent or any other combination. The chidren usually travel and stay with one another while they split their living arrangements with their parents.
  • Split custody: With two or more children, each parent has custody of a different child so the children are not always together with the same parent. (I am not a huge fan of this but there are times it can be necessary)
  • Sole custody: One parent alone has custody of the child or children.

Parenting Plan

"Parenting plan" is a document created to govern the relationship between the parties relating to the decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and shall contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child's education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being.

If the parents cannot agree, the court shall have ultimate decision making in determining all matters relating to parenting and time-sharing of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Parental responsibility

Being a parent brings with it certain obligations and rights. This is called  "Parental Responsibility". Parental obligations are straight forward. You must care for and support your children, emotionally as well as financially. Parental rights are little more involved.  Parental rights may include the ability to either make decisions for the children uniltareally or to have input and a say to decisions that affect a child. Examples of this that may affect a child include schooling, religious observation, medical decisions, extracircular activities, piercings, etc... Parental responsibility describes the right and obligation of a parent to make decisions that affect a child.  When responsibility is shared, major decisions are descided by both parents  but the parent with the physical custody of the children at any given time makes those day to ay decisions.

When a parent has sole responsibility, that parent makes all the decisions affecting the child.


Determining custody and parental responsibility

The Court will determine what is in the best interest of the children and assign parenal responsibility accordingly. Even if teh parents come to an agreement, the Court ill still evaluate that agreement to ensure it is in the bst interest of the child. The Court usually gives great deference to parents that come to an agreement. 

Courts consider the following factos when determing child custody and responsibilities:

A Florida family court will establish child custody or time-sharing based on the best interests of the child. In determining best interests of the child, a court will consider the following factors:

  • Each parent's willingness to encourage and support a relationship between the child and the other parent, to   honor a time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes occur.
  • Each parent's ability to respond to the child's needs as opposed his/her own needs.
  • The mental, physical, and emotional health of the parent.
  • The stability of the child's home environment.
  • Any history of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
  • Each parent's ability to be involved with the child's school and extracurricular activities.

Call the Tager Law Firm for a consultation. (727) 723-1616

Divorce

. Posted in Divorce Attorney

Divorce Attorney ClearwaterCLEARWATER DIVORCE ATTORNEY

Family Law and Divorce representation includes all areas encountered during the divorce process. The Tager Law Firm, P.A. has been helping clients in the Tampabay area for over 13 years.  Many of the issues involving divorce include child custody and time sharing, Child Support, Alimony, and Equitable Distribution. The firm handles cases in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco Counties.

Alimony

. Posted in Divorce Attorney

ALIMONY in FLORIDA

Alimony is the judicial order of money being paid from one spouse to another. Unlike child support, there are no mathematical guidelines that apply in computing 1) whether alimony should be awarded, 2) how much that alimony should be, and 3) the duration of the alimony. There are three factors that must be met before alimony can be awarded.

  1. There must be a valid marriage,
  2. There must be a need on the part of the requesting spouse, and
  3. The paying spouse must have the ability to pay.

There are several different types of alimony: Permanent Periodic Alimony, Durational Alimony, Rehabilitation Alimony, Bridge the Gap Alimony, and Lump Sum Alimony.

There are three marriage time frames the Court looks at: Short Term (less then 7 years), Moderate Term (7 to 17 years), and Long Term (17 years or more).

  •  PERMANENT PERIODIC ALIMONY: Alimony that is awarded for a longer period of time then Durational. Permanent alimony may be appropriate after a long term or moderate term marriage. The  requesting spouse has a higher burden of proof following a moderate term marriage.  It may be ordered following a short term marriage only under exceptional circumstances. It may be modified or terminated by order of the court following a substantial change in circumstance. It terminates when either spouse dies or the receiving spouse remarries. It may also be terminated when the receiving spouse is in a financially supportive relationship.
  • DURATIONAL ALIMONY: Lasts for a set period of time, never exceeding the length of the marriage. It is awarded when Permanent Periodic Alimony is not appropriate. it may be awarded after a short term, moderate term, or long term marriage. It terminates after the either spouse dies, the receiving spouse remarries, or on a substantial change of circumstance.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: The purpose of this alimony is to assist the receiving the spouse become self sufficient or re-renter the work force. This alimony is used to receive education or training to gain skills for the work place. There will be a rehabilitative plan that the receiving spouse must follow. Rehabilitative alimony can be terminated if there is a substantial change of circumstance, either spouses death, or failure to follow the rehabilitative plan.
  • BRIDGE THE GAP ALIMONY: Can not be modified and can last no longer then two years. The purpose of this type of alimony is to provide short term assistance for the receiving spouse. It is used for things such as rent, food, or other necessities. It terminates upon either spouses death or the receiving spouse remarries.
  • LUMP SUM: Is a one time payment usually for the purpose of equalizing equitable distribution or satisfying the receiving spouse. It can not be modified.

 Two of the most contested and fought after items in divorce is Alimony and Child Support. An incorrect or improper award of Alimony can effect your financial stability for years. Call Divorce Attorney Robert Tager now for a free consultation. (727) 723-1616.

Divorce Process

. Posted in Divorce Attorney

The Divorce process in Florida is straight forward. A "Petition for Dissolution" is filed and served on the spouse. The Spouse has 20 days from the date of receiving it to file an answer. Our firm usually also serves the receiving spouse with certain discovery requests depending on the specific facts of the case.

Once the Petition is answered by the receiving spouce, discovery (exchange of information) begins. The discovery process  takes 3 months or more depending on the facts of the case.  During the time that discovery is progressing we usually begin informal negaotiations with the other spouse or their divorce attorney. 

During the time that the spouses are exchanging financial informtion through their lawyers, there is usually discussion between the lawyers. If the parties divorce attorneys feel they have accurate and sufficient information but are unable to come to a settlement agreement then the parties and their divorce attorneys will go to mediation. Mediation is the process where each spouse and their respective attorney are in a seperate room from the other spouse. The mediator  speaks to each side, outside the presence of the others and acts as a middleman. It is a very important role, and their objective is to help the parties resolve any conflicts in reaching a settlement.

If the parties are able to reach an agreement thorugh mediation, the case will be set for a short final hearing. This final divorce hearing lasts only about 5 minutes. At least one of the parties must be present to answer questions live under oath. If the case can not be resolved through mediation, the case will be set for a final hearing.