Florida Supreme Court May Hear Child Support Case

Florida child support collection appeal

In child support matters, discrepancies often occur between the parents, but not many of them make their way to the Florida Supreme Court. The Fourth District Court of Appeal, however, recently asked the state’s Supreme Court to hear a matter in which a woman is attempting to sue her ex-husband’s employer for covering up his real income. The appeals court is asking for the case to be heard by the Florida Supreme Court because it is refusing to amend Florida law that would create “a sweeping change.”

The appellate process began when a woman in Palm Beach County alleged that her ex-husband and his employer conspired to cover up his real income. She claims that the two came up with the plan in order to keep her from receiving court-mandated child support payments.

In an article that appeared on Florida Record, Professor Timothy Arcaro of Nova Southeastern University, commented that there would be cause to pursue a violation of the court mandated child support order if the employer knowingly reported a reduced income. The violation would most likely be sought against the employer, which could be held responsible for breaking the law by the Florida Supreme Court.

Child support matters are complicated. Although the State of Florida has specific parameters set up for calculating child support, a variety of factors go into the final amount to be paid. In addition, child support is never written in stone. Whether you need to set up child support for the first time, amend your child support due to financial changes, or collect unpaid child support, a family law attorney can ensure that your rights are protected.

References:

JACOBSON, K. (2016, November 23). Florida appeals court asks state supreme court to take up child support case. Retrieved November 30, 2016, from http://flarecord.com/stories/511048156-florida-appeals-court-asks-state-supreme-court-to-take-up-child-support-case

 

 

 

5 Surprising Facts About Child Support in Florida

document-428338_960_720Child support is always a hot topic in family court. Even though it’s based on numbers and the Florida Child Support Calculator, it can be an extremely emotional subject for all parties involved. It can also be exceptionally confusing.

Here are five facts about child support in Florida that you should be aware of:

1. A 50/50 custody agreement doesn’t guarantee that you won’t have to pay child support.

A common misconception of child support in Florida is that if the parents share equal custody, or time-sharing, that they will not have to pay child support. If one parent makes substantially more income than the other parent, it is possible that once the numbers are worked out, they will still be ordered to pay child support.

2. Child support payments can be reviewed and changed.

Financial circumstances change and if they are significant changes, you may be able to request that your child support payments be reviewed and changed. These changes may include losing a job, substantial medical expenses, or another change in the child’s needs. Keep in mind that voluntarily quitting a job isn’t enough to seek a change in child support payments.

3. An arrest warrant can be issued if child support is not paid.

In Florida, if a parent fails to pay child support, the court may be able to issue an arrest warrant. Other penalties can also be imposed such as a suspended license, property liens, and more.

4. Imputed income can be assigned if a parent is voluntarily not working.

If one parent is capable of working, but voluntarily chooses not to work, imputed income can be assigned and factored into child support payment. This means that if one parent isn’t currently employed, it doesn’t automatically mean that the other parent will have to pay them more money. A salary will be assigned to the non-working parent for child support calculation purposes.

5. Wages can be deducted directly from a parent’s paycheck to pay for child support.

Wages can be deducted voluntarily from a parent’s paycheck, which can help ensure that payments are not missed. However, a paycheck deduction can also be ordered by the courts. 6. Parents who pay child support do not have the right to know how that money is spent. In Florida, there is no law that requires that the parent who receives the money (the payee) tell the parent who is paying child support (the payer) how the money is spent.

If you’re facing a child custody matter, an experienced family law attorney can guide you as to your rights as a parent. Whether the issue is new or you would like to have an existing order, such as child support payments, reviewed and possibly amended, a family law attorney can help ensure that the best interests of both you and your children are not overlooked.

5 Things to Know About Alimony in Florida

Generally following a divorce, a spouse can be awarded alimony. Alimony is defined as a court-ordered provision that is granted to a spouse after separation or divorce. The alimony can be one or more things including child support, financial support, and maintenance.

Within the state of Florida, there are a few things you should be aware of in regards to alimony in a divorce/separation case.

  1. Distribution of the Alimony

After the dissolution of the marriage and award of the alimony, it may be asked that payments be made periodically or in lump sums. A very important thing to consider if the latter, as lump sum payments are often harder to achieve. The adultery of either spouse can be utilized in the case in order to determine the amount of the alimony awarded. The court will also determine if there are any facts that lead them to believe either spouse is actually in need of alimony.

  1. Factors Considered by the Court

The court takes a variety of circumstances into account after the divorce when making a decision on awarding alimony. Such circumstances of the marriage are included, but not limited to, the duration of the marriage, the standard of living of the marriage, the financial resources of each party, the contribution of each party to the marriage, and all sources of income that each party possesses.

  1. Protection of the Alimony to the Awarded Spouse

The court may order that the individual that is to be making the payments take out a life insurance policy in order to provide security to the awarded party. If not a life insurance policy, a bond, or other forms of available assets will be asked to serve the same purpose.

  1. The Awarding of Rehabilitative Alimony

If a single party is incapable of supporting his or herself after the marriage has dissolved, a rehabilitative alimony may be awarded in order for that person to re-establish themselves. This can be anything from acquiring further education or job skill training that assures the individual can seek adequate employment. In order to be awarded the alimony, it has to be shown that there is a plan or end goal for the seeking party.

  1. Awarding of the Alimony May Not Leave Payor with Less Income

The net income of the recipient is not to exceed the net income of the payor unless an extreme or special circumstance calls for it. Only in the case where there are written findings of “exceptional circumstances” may there be an outcome of the payor acquiring a lower net income than the recipient.

If you have been through a recent divorce in Florida or may be filing for divorce in the future, it is wise to seek an experienced family lawyer. Adequate representation can help protect your rights during a divorce. Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.

 

 

Sources:

Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine. (2016). Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute

Is Divorce Seasonal? Study Finds There Are Peak Periods

divorceSociologists at the University of Washington have performed new research finding that divorce may actually be seasonal. The data collected is said to be the first ever quantitative evidence proving that there are biannual filings for divorces. The study was performed between the years of 2001 and 2015 and noted that the majority of divorce cases peaked during the months following winter and summer holiday seasons.

Peak Times for Divorce Revolve Around Holidays and Kids

According to statistics, many couples see holiday seasons as a time to hold to traditional family values. Splitting up is the last thing they want to do so in an effort to make it work they attempt family trips or outings. The usual presumption is that things will get better, but as time passes it becomes more apparent that it’s probably best to make the split.

Generally, couples filing for divorce will take some of the strain off of themselves by agreeing to separate close to when the children are going back to school. In their opinion this has a lower impact on the family dynamic, which accounts for the spike that occurs just after summer holidays.

However, the researchers involved were still trying to discover what causes the post winter divorce spike. Experts claim that the longer days of winter months drive people’s motivations to act; the conclusion was reached after taking notice that suicides also increase during this same time.

Is Seasonal Divorce a Common Phenomenon Nationwide?

Birnes, one of the active scientists in the study, claims that the end goal wasn’t necessarily to find a pattern in divorce. The study’s aim was to investigate the effect of the recession on marital stability. Their results, however, turned up with seasonal filings for divorce cases.

Since happening upon this phenomenon (which was restricted to 39 counties in Washington), Birnes wanted to know if this trend also took shape in other states around the country. They decided to examine Arizona, Minnesota, Ohio, and Florida. Each of the states showed a similar trend in comparison to the state of Washington.

If you’re considering filing for a divorce in, consult an experienced family lawyer. Spatz Law Firm specializes in family law and can aid in the multidimensional aspects of divorce. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation in your family law case in Miami.

Reference Article:

Is divorce seasonal? UW research shows biannual spike in divorce filings. (n.d.). Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://www.washington.edu/news/2016/08/21/is-divorce-seasonal-uw-research-shows-biannual-spike-in-divorce-filings/

 

 

Divorce for the Older Generation is on the Climb

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It used to be that the longer the couple was together, the longer the marriage would last, but as of late this isn’t proving to be true. The baby boomer generation, now well over 50, is bending the rules. More and more of the baby boomer generation are seeking out divorces as they age.

Interestingly enough, the same trend isn’t occurring with the younger population. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage research, those individuals under the age of 35 are seeing a massive decline in divorce. Over the past 20 years the rate for divorce amongst those over the age of 50 hasn’t just doubled; it has tripled.

How Divorce Late in Life Affects Adult Children

The separation of the union doesn’t just affect the couple that engages in the divide, the children these individuals have are greatly affected as well. The general presumption is usually that since the kids are adults, they shouldn’t be nearly as affected as younger, more vulnerable children. After all, they have developed their own lives and have their own families by now. Regardless of these presuppositions, such is not the case.

Millennials, having grown up with the family dynamic, experience a good degree of shock in finding out their parents have suddenly split up. Their family traditions are lost, the way they interact with their parents is now different, and everything they’ve known for years disappears before them. Most children of “gray-divorces” initially support their parents’ right to be happy, but quickly begin to realize the life they knew has dissipated and become bereft. To their parents, however, remaining in an unhappy marriage after being empty nesters makes very little sense at all and are quite content with breaking ties regardless of their age.

Why Divorce Isn’t as Common for Those Under 35

Even though the divorce rate is rising for those individuals over the age of 50, those under the age of 35 are experiencing a rapid decline. Research is suggesting that this is due to the fact that millennials have put off marrying altogether. Without the act of marriage there cannot be the act of divorce, therefore their numbers for amount of individuals divorcing one another would be much lower.

The experience of divorce has a different effect on all parties involved. Although older individuals rarely have to deal with issues of child support in the matter, assets and alimony do still play a large roll. If you know someone who’s filing for a divorce in Miami, or if you feel you need to take the step yourself, contact us.

Source:

Saggio, J. (2016). ‘Gray divorce’ affects millennials as parents split. Retrieved July 25, 2016, from http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2016/07/01/gray-divorce-affects-millennials-parents-split/85602708/

The Rise of Post-Nuptial Agreements

Years ago the huge marital head-turner was the prenuptial agreement. Now couples that have already declared their vows are contacting lawyers to have their finances drawn out. Couples who may have spent years with one another, had a couple of kids, and are now seeking to part ways may find the act of a post-nuptial agreement quite helpful.

Instead of fighting over the distribution of finances or concerning yourself with which one of you gets to keep Rover, enter into a legal agreement. A post-nuptial agreement can sometimes dictate a resolution to unresolved issues within a marriage. It can’t solve any type of dramatic conflict that exists between the couple, but are commonly sought by couples that want to avoid divorce. Though the framework of a post-nuptial is geared towards couples that may foresee a future divorce, it has also served to mend broken relationships.

It is advised to have three family law lawyers in the event of a post-nuptial agreement; one for the husband and wife and the additional lawyer to ensure the terms are in each of their best interests.

Florida Post-Nuptials: What to Expect

State of Florida post-nuptial laws can be difficult to navigate as they contain a variety of sections and marital circumstances. The purpose behind a post-nuptial agreement is to protect certain personal assets in the event of a divorce (much like a pre-nuptial agreement), however, as the name suggests, the agreement occurs after marriage. Post-nuptial’s also take into account any future earnings or inheritance each spouse would acquire.

As shared by USALegal.com, when the agreement is made after the marriage each spouse must honor the disclosure for the estates. However, what does this statement actually mean and how is each party affected?

If you believe a post-nuptial agreement is the right step for you, or know someone seeking financial protection within his or her marriage, contact us.

Sources:

CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

“Florida Postnuptial Agreement Law.” Marriage Florida Postnuptial Agreement Law Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

“Understanding Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements in Florida.” Miami Criminal Law Blog Atom. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

“Postnuptial Agreement Can Cause Problems Contract With Spouse Has A Variety Of Uses.” Tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. N.p., 1988. Web. 29 June 2016.

 

What you need to know about post-divorce debt

Most states view debts, as well as assets, acquired during a marriage as shared property, and they are divided similarly. If possible, you and your ex-spouse may be better served by dividing the debts up, with each different debt assigned to a single person.  If you can’t agree, a judge will do so.

While the responsibility of debts between divorcing parties is clearly defined by the courts, creditors don’t see it the same way.  Your credit can be damaged if it is still tied to your ex-spouse’s.  These steps can help you protect your credit after a divorce:

  • Alert all creditors that any debts belonging to you be put in your name only
  • Close all shared accounts, including credit cards
  • Refinance shared loans, including auto and home loans, to a single creditor
  • Monitor your credit report closely
  • Make all loan payments on time, and minimize new credit attempts

Failure to fully separate your debts from an ex-spouse can have far-reaching impact on your credit report. If they fail to pay off credit cards or default on a loan, you can be impacted if you haven’t fully extricated yourself from them financially.

If it does occur that your ex-spouse’s failure to pay their share of debts has impacted your financial standing, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau. The court can also compel them to pay.  If they are found in contempt, you can also request compensation for attorney’s fees.

Financial matters related to divorce are complicated and can have far-reaching impacts. Make certain you have a family law attorney to protect your best interests. In Florida, assets you and your spouse own will be divided equitably, but not necessarily in a 50-50 split. Attorney Russell Spatz gives clients comprehensive guidance about how to approach the division of their assets. He will listen to your concerns and provide honest advice about the best options available to you. You can rest assured knowing he will never keep you in the dark about the progress of your case.

Source:

Niemeyer, Brooke. “Why Your Ex Is Still on Your Credit Report.” USA Today. Gannett, 29 May 2016. Web. 31 May 2016.

Governor Rick Scott Vetoes Alimony Reform Bill

For the second time in three years, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed an alimony reform bill passed by the House and Senate. The reason for the veto was due mainly to a controversial child custody component in the bill.

Alimony overhaul on pause

The bill would have altered the alimony system by establishing a formula for alimony payments which would weigh the length of the marriage and the combined income of both spouses.  It also would have eliminated permanent alimony, and limited the duration of alimony to a percentage of the length of the marriage.

Scott says equal time for parents isn’t best for kids

The bill failed to pass due to a proposed child-sharing amendment.  The change to the law would have established the premise that children should spend equal amounts of time with each parent, instead of one parent having primary custody.

Scott vetoed the bill on the grounds that the child sharing concept put the desires of parents over the needs of children. Marie Gonzalez, Family Law Section Chairwoman and supporter of the veto, said that if the amendment were to have become law it would have caused more litigation. She praised the veto saying, “So when mom and dad come in front of the judge the best thing they can have is a clean slate and have a judge consider the uniqueness of the family, and also the needs of the particular family and come up and craft a good parenting plan, a good time-sharing schedule that works best for that family.”

Child custody issues to be removed from next version of the bill

Advocates for alimony reform are disappointed, and some say they will attempt to keep any child custody issue out of the next version of an alimony reform bill. In an interview with the Palm Beach Post, Family Law Reform founder Alan Frishner said, “We still believe, as an organization, child sharing is important. We just don’t want it to hurt our chances for alimony reform, which is what happened this session.”

Family law issues stemming from divorce such as child custody and alimony are complex questions. An experienced attorney can help you reach a resolution that is best for you and your loved ones.

Sources:

Scott vetoes overhaul of Florida alimony, child custody laws. (2016, April 15). Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/scott-scuttles-florida-alimony-overhaul-citing-chi/nq6Mh/

Dunkelberger, L. (2016, April 15). Scott vetoes alimony overhaul, again. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2016/04/15/scott-vetoes-alimony-overhaul-again/

3 Things to Know About Florida Child Custody Law

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Divorce is difficult for all parties, but particularly on children. In Florida, the legal system is structured with the intent to look out for the best interests of the child in divorce and custody agreements. Upon that basis, decisions are made about where a child lives, who makes decisions for the child’s welfare, who pays for their needs, and so forth. A few of the main concepts of Florida divorce law are explained below.

  1. Determining what’s in the best interest of the child

In Florida law, it is assumed that it is in the best interest of the child to have contact with both parents, with both parties involved in parental decisions. When determining best interest, the courts take into consideration issues of health and safety, emotional development, and environment. Of course evidence of violence, abandonment, or neglect can prevent a parent of being granted custody, but the court also considers the ability of each parent to provide for their child’s emotional, developmental and material needs.

  1. Understanding the types of custody

Legal custody refers to parental right to make decisions for the minor – such as schooling, medical care, and religious teaching. Physical custody refers to the residence of the child. It is considered in the best interest of the child if both parents make legal decisions on their behalf, though that isn’t always possible. Sole custody is when the child lives with one parent, and in joint custody, a child lives with both parents. The division of time between the two homes varies widely, depending on such factors as the child’s school and the parents work and travel commitments.

  1. Child support

Child support is determined by the courts based on the parents’ joint income as well as the needs of the child. If one parent has a significant change of income or the child’s living expenses suddenly rise (such as for a health issue or a change in education expenses) child support may be adjusted. A multitude of factors are taking into consideration for child support. The state of Florida has a calculator that helps to determine what the child support share should be, but there are many variables in this formula.

Regardless of your situation, the services of a family law attorney well-versed in Florida child custody and divorce law is essential. A family lawyer can make sure you understand your legal rights and responsibilities as a parent so that you can make the best decision for your child(ren).

Sources:

The Basics of Florida Child Custody Law. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.attorneys.com/child-custody/florida/florida-child-custody-law-basics/

Bishop, S. (n.d.). Child Custody in Florida: Best Interests of the Child | DivorceNet.com. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.divorcenet.com/resources/child-custody/child-custody-florida-best-interests-child.htm#b

Florida House and Senate Divided Over Alimony and Child Custody

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This week, the Florida Senate passed a bill which makes a significant statement about child custody. The measure establishes 50-50 custody, or child-sharing, as the standard for custody agreements. As the bill moves to the House, however, it is likely to be met with opposition, as House leaders are attempting to pass an alimony bill which does not have a child-sharing proviso. House leaders intent on changing alimony laws are resisting any additions to that goal.

Senate establishes child time-sharing as the norm

The Senate’s bill establishes a legal norm where child-custody begins with the assumption of equally shared child care. From that 50-50 baseline, 22 different factors may be considered to find the solution in the best interests of the child. Nine other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws, which signifying societal shifts in wage earning parents and the duties of child-rearing. The new precedent will certainly have significant impact on how divorced couples co-parent.

House focused on alimony reform

The House is more focused on an alimony reform bill, which does not include the child-sharing language. Both the House and Senate have put forth alimony bills to eliminate the various forms of alimony that currently make up Florida law, including bridge-the-gap, durational, rehabilitative, and permanent alimony. Instead, alimony would be distilled into one type, called post-dissolution, which would be rewarded on an established scale linked to years of marriage. If the House measure passes, those seeking alimony in Florida may receive a smaller allocation for a shorter period of time than they may have received in previous years.

Members of the House who have been working towards alimony reform for years say that it hasn’t passed before because of add-ons to the bills. Therefore, they oppose the child custody addition on the grounds it could hamper the alimony from passing as a stand-alone issue.

Alimony and child custody laws are complex and change frequently. Trust only an attorney experienced in Florida family law to represent you in such cases.

 

Sources:

Dunkelberger, L. (2016, February 18). Child-sharing may derail alimony bill. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2016/02/18/child-sharing-may-derail-alimony-bill/

Dunkelberger, L. (2016, February 23). Fla. Senate OKs bill on child time-sharing in divorces. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from http://www.theledger.com/article/20160223/NEWS/160229780/1374?Title=Fla-Senate-OKs-bill-on-child-time-sharing-in-divorces

Kam, D. (2016, February 18). House, Senate alimony divide emerges on child time-sharing. Retrieved February 24, 2016 from http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202749898159/House-Senate-Alimony-Divide-Emerges-on-Child-TimeSharing?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=2&slreturn=20160124202126