Author Archives: The Spatz Law Firm Blog

What is Retroactive Child Support?

Child support is a major factor when it comes to raising the children of parents who are no longer together. In the state of Florida both parents are equally responsible for being able to provide for their children, whether they reside with them or not. After a divorce or separation the courts will typically require the parent who the child is not living with on a full time basis to pay for a portion of the expenses that are incurred in the child’s life. Retroactive child support may come into play if there are certain circumstances where the bulk of the expenses related to the child falls directly on the custodial parent.

What Circumstances Can Lead to Retroactive Child Support?

According to Florida law, retroactive child support can only go back as far as 24 months. This means that no matter how long the situation has gone on, payment is only expected to cover the last 24 months worth of expenses that have been created.

Ways retroactive child support can be put into place:

  • If a divorce takes several months and during that time a bulk of the expenses falls directly on the custodial parent – for example daycare or school expenses.
  • If a woman who had a child out of wedlock decides to seek retroactive child support, that support will not go back any further than two years.
  • Retroactive child support could also be past due child support once it is ordered and goes unpaid.

Divorce is never an easy thing to navigate, especially when there are children involved. It’s in your best interested to work with an experienced family law attorney who knows the ins and outs of the process. Your attorney will work with you on issues related to child support and those that may involve retroactive child support. Russell Spatz has years of experience in this field and can help guide the way through these tough times.

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How to Tell Your Kids About Divorce

talking to your kids about divorce

Maybe you tried everything you could to make your marriage work, but the unfortunate reality is that it is not. Sometimes, couples feel as though the only way to create a happier life each partner is to separate and move on with their lives apart. While this may make each spouse more comfortable in the long run, during the short-term, you still have to deal with the day-to-day of going through a divorce. If you have children, this can be even more complicated. You may be wondering how to tell your kids about divorce.

How to Tell Your Kids About Divorce

As scary and disrupting as divorce can be, the fact of the matter is that it is pretty common. According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of married couples in the U.S. divorce, and the rate increases for subsequent marriages. Even if you have not been through a divorce before in your family, the chances are that if you have older children, half of their friends have been through the divorce process in their families. Therefore, older children may be susceptible to rumors or negative stories from their peers regarding the process of divorce.

Each separation is different than others, and people divorce for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, when speaking to your children, make sure to be very clear without giving away too many details. The line of communication between parent and child should remain open throughout the process. Additionally, the age of the child should be considered when having this conversation, so it is best to speak with a child specialist before diving into this complicated conversation.

Here are a few general tips for telling your kids about divorce.

  • Do not tell your kids that you will be divorcing until it is really going to happen. Many couples may go back and forth trying to decide if it’s right to separate, and it may be tempting to tell the kids in order to get their reaction early on, but this is a mistake. Children need stability in their lives for proper growth, so any disruption in the family will be a challenge. Therefore, you don’t want to send them on an emotional rollercoaster if you can prevent that from happening. Wait until you are sure to have any conversation.
  • Don’t go into details about why the divorce is happening, especially if it paints one of the parents in a particularly bad light. It may make you feel better to tell your child the divorce was a result of the other spouse’s infidelity, but this will not help your child. Keep adult issues between adults, and let your child enjoy their childhood without taking on the burden of the problems of your marriage.
  • Have the conversation as a family unit. If you have multiple children, make sure that all of them are present for the talk. The last thing you want to do is put one child against the other if he or she feels that he gets information first or last. Additionally, make sure that both parents are present for the conversation so that the children understand that this is a family decision and that both parents care for them deeply. This will also help keep gossip among parents and children to a minimum if the conversation happens out in the open together as a family.
  • Try as much as possible to keep a routine for your family throughout the divorce. This may be difficult if parents begin to live in separate homes, but as much as you can do it, stick to the routines that your children know in order to reassure them that their lives will remain steady, simply with mom and dad living in different locations.
  • If possible, connect with a child psychologist or therapist early on in the process to help you and your family emotionally through the separation. By opening up early on, you may be able to help your children move through the divorce and past it without a large amount of emotional damage.
  • As with any change in your child’s life, make sure that you are paying close attention to their moods, and any changes in behaviors or school performance. Significant shifts in life circumstances can cause children to act out in different ways. Parents should pay attention to these changes to help their child cope with divorce in a healthy way.

Divorce is never easy on a family, but it’s imperative that you work with an experienced family law attorney who has your best interest in mind throughout the process. Your attorney will work with you on issues related to asset separation and child support, which can be complicated and require someone with legal knowledge. Your lawyer can also be a great source of advice for handling the intricacies of a family separation.

 

References:

Marriage and Divorce. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

Heidelberger, E. (2019, February 06). How to gently talk to your kids about divorce. Retrieved from https://www.mother.ly/life/how-to-gently-talk-to-your-kids-about-divorce

5 Health Impacts of Divorce

The reasons why a marriage dissolves can sometimes include the fact that the couple was no longer happy together, and in fact, their relationship had become toxic. Unhappy marriages can lead to unhealthy lifestyles and choices. However, when a couple decides to divorce, there can be other physical and psychological health impacts that arise from the dissolution of the marriage. Sometimes, these adverse health effects can be treated, but it’s a good idea to understand what to look for as someone is going through a divorce.

Here are five health impacts of divorce that you should be aware of and work toward preventing.

  1. Excessive or Chronic Stress

Divorces are stressful, and there is no way around that. However, there are certain things that you need to watch out for to ensure that the stress is not getting out of control. Chronic stress can lead to an increased risk for many other harmful health conditions such as heart disease, anxiety, depression, weight gain, serious digestive issues, and overall malaise. When someone is suffering from an excessive amount of bad stress, his or her overall health can decline rather quickly, so it’s essential to combat the stress as soon as you can.

De-stress tip: Even though you may not feel like it while you are going through your divorce, it’s important to keep self-care at the top of your priority list. Self-care could be as simple as taking time once a week to do something that makes you feel good. Make sure you are attending to your needs and wants. It won’t make the process go any faster if you are just always stressed, so give yourself regular permission to continue to do things that help you to relax.

  1. Depression

Depression can evolve from the chronic stress you are experiencing as a result of the divorce if you are not staying very intune with the way that you are feeling. Separation can mean a significant life change for most people, as they shift into a way of life that does not involve their spouse, and often involves less of their children. It’s normal to feel sad about the loss of the life you once had but pay attention to the warning signs of depression and how you are dealing with stress and sadness. If you have been consistently feeling blue for more than two weeks in a row, it may be time to talk to a doctor about how your sadness is affecting your overall mood. There is no shame in getting help to try and mitigate the adverse effects of depression.

Mood lifting tip: It can be hard to find happy moments throughout your divorce process but try and make the best of the good moments you do have. If you have kids, maybe this is an excellent time to try something fun for the first time or take them to that restaurant you always drive by instead of just through the drive-through for dinner. If you don’t have kids, use some of your free time to reconnect with good friends, or invite a new friend to grab drinks or dinner. Engage in activities that take your mind off of the divorce process you are experiencing.

  1. Sleep Problems

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of overall good health. When you are stressed out or depressed, it’s easy to lose sleep. The problem arises when you start to lose sleep regularly, as sleep deprivation can be a slippery slope. One sleepless night can turn into another and another, and before you know it, you’re a walking zombie. Loss of sleep can affect everything from your waistline to your heart health and can cause conditions like anxiety and depression. Since many of these conditions are linked to each other, it’s important that you address the issue of a lack of sleep as soon as you notice the problem.

Sleep better tonight tip: Some swear by meditation and sleep aid apps on your phone. If you are having difficulty sleeping because your racing thoughts about your divorce are never-ending, you may want to consider meditation before bed. There are apps or videos online that can walk you through guided meditations that are explicitly geared to helping you sleep. Sound machines may also be a good way to help you drown out your thoughts by listening to the calming ocean waves before you sleep, even if you are miles from the nearest beach.

  1. Weight Gain

There’s no doubt that the above-mentioned health problems can also contribute to weight gain, which is another negative health impact of divorce. When someone is going through a significant lifestyle change like a divorce, it can mean that eating habits also change. It may be that you are no longer eating at home as much or taking refuge in comfort foods to help lift your spirits. If you went from being in a marriage to being a single parent most of the time, you might find that you don’t have as much time to work out or exercise on your own as you used to. When your eating habits and your workout schedule changes, you may be at risk for weight gain and the problems associated with that, such as an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and mobility issues.

Get back on track tip: If you find that you are at a loss for time to exercise as you are going through your divorce, start by incorporating small workouts in throughout the day. Instead of park by the entrance to the store, park farther out to give yourself a walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and drop down to do a one-minute plank each time you leave your desk for something. These are all ways that you can start to get your body moving and think about being active again.

  1. Alcohol Abuse

Divorce indeed provides a prime opportunity for someone to start abusing alcohol. Perhaps you aren’t at home with the kids every night now, and instead, find company in a neighborhood bar. Maybe you are spending more time with single friends and attending networking happy hours. All of these activities can be good in small doses, but keep an eye on the amount of alcohol you are actually consuming. Alcohol abuse can have many health impacts such as liver cirrhosis and mental impairment, as well as contribute to weight gain, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. There is nothing wrong with being more social as you are going through your divorce, but don’t allow your drinking to get out of hand in ways that will negatively impact your overall health and well-being.

Socialize sober tip: Instead of inviting friends to join you at the bar, switch up your activities and ask friends to meet for a Sunday morning yoga class and juice bar or take a walk to get coffee. Both of these activities can be done without alcohol and still allow you to catch up with friends and be social. As a bonus, by asking your friends to do active social activities, you are also giving yourself time to exercise instead of consuming empty calories, which is better for overall health.

Divorces can be incredibly painful and can cause many different physical or psychological effects. The best thing you can do is to be on top of any of these types of adverse health impacts.

If you are going through a divorce or separation, you should contact an experienced family law attorney to be on your side throughout the whole process. One way to take some of the stress off of your back is to have an attorney who you can trust and who will help you through the legal part of the separation.

 

References:

The Disturbing Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Health. (2019, January 23). Retrieved from https://dadsdivorce.com/articles/the-disturbing-ways-divorce-can-impact-your-health/

 

What to Know About Your First meeting with Your Divorce Attorney

The decision to get a divorce is extremely difficult. When two people decide that their marriage is no longer working, it can signal the beginning of a long and stressful process of separating two lives that have lived as one. If there are children involved in the marriage, this process can be even more difficult and emotionally draining as the family navigates a life that will be very different from what they are used to. When the decision is made to get a divorce, each spouse should meet with a family attorney to assist them through the process. Here are a few things to keep in mind about your first meeting with your divorce attorney.

Before the Meeting

Before you meet with an attorney, it’s important to do your research. Take some time to find an attorney that is competent in family law, and who has a track record of success for his or her client. Read reviews or ask for a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member. It’s essential that you pick a credible and experienced attorney to assist you through the most challenging time in your life.

You should also make sure that you are prepared before your meeting. Write out questions you want to ask, and have all documentation ready to show your attorney. Your first meeting will contain many questions on both sides as your attorney gets to know you and your marital situation, so it’s crucial that you come prepared to give him or her as much information as you can about your marriage. You must be prepared and focused for this important meeting.

During the Meeting

Your attorney should make you feel comfortable and at ease. If he or she does not, then maybe it is not a good match. It’s important that you trust the person advising you through the divorce proceedings because you don’t want to make the process any longer or main painful than it already will be.

Make sure you take notes during the meeting and ask for a recap or next steps. Your lawyer will charge by the hour, so you want to make sure that you are using your time wisely. Having as much information ready to go and asking for specific instructions on how to proceed will save you time and money moving forward.

The circumstances of your marriage will determine how the meeting will go. If you and your spouse have agreed to an amicable divorce, the meeting may be very different than if the divorce will be contentious. It’s important that you tell your attorney everything that you and your spouse have discussed and agreed upon prior to the meeting. Your attorney should also ask a lot of questions about the state of your marriage and your finances. Don’t be alarmed. This is normal and important when decided alimony and child support or any other separation of assets.

During the meeting, you should be prepared to discuss alimony, child support, and any division of property, assets, or debts. These issues will all be determined over the course of the divorce proceedings, so it’s important that you have an understanding of what should be expected.

Documents to Bring to Your First Meeting with Your Divorce Attorney

Make sure that you bring all financial documents to your first meeting with your divorce attorney. Any documentation that describes the current status of assets owned by you and your spouse should be brought with you. Your financial situation and the status of your marital finances will all be used to determine alimony and child support and other asset and liability distribution following the dissolution of the marriage.

These documents include:

  • Tax Returns- at least three years worth
  • Pension Plans/401(k)s/IRAs
  • Bank & Investment Statements
  • Pay Stubs from the last three paychecks
  • Real Estate documentation such as deeds or mortgages
  • Any other documents that you think would be essential and necessary related to your marital finances

At the end of the meeting, you should feel confident in your attorney’s ability to support your best interests through the divorce proceedings. If this is not the case, it may be a good idea to find a different attorney before you are too far along.

If you are in the process of considering a divorce, it’s important that you contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.

 

References:

Lowenstein, M. S. (2012, February 08). What To Bring to Your First Appointment. Retrieved from https://www.wife.org/lowenstein-002.htm#wrap

 

Guillen, L. (2013, April 03). Your First Meeting With A Divorce Attorney. Retrieved from https://www.divorcenet.com/states/massachusetts/your_first_appointment_with_your_divorce_lawyer

Facts About Prenuptial Agreements in Florida

When two people decide to enter into a marriage, what they are really doing is signing a legal contract of marriage. Though the hope is that they maintain the contract until death, the reality is that many couples that get married also get divorced. Because divorce can be messy, and a separation of assets does not always leave each spouse in the same place or better than, many prospective spouses choose to sign a prenuptial agreement in Florida.

Why Sign a Prenup?

Spouses may want to sign a prenup if one or both of them has a large number of assets that they want to protect in the event of a divorce. If there are children from a previous marriage, the parent of those children may also want to protect their inheritance in the unfortunate event of a divorce. Additionally, a prenuptial agreement may be in place to pre-determine which spouse will be paid alimony and for how long if the marriage contract is broken.

What Can be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement in Florida?

Usually, a prenup will cover the financial rights of each spouse. This includes the ability to manage property and who gets what property in the event of a divorce, as well who will be in charge of the property in the event of a death or other disability.

A prenup will also state what assets will remain with the spouses following a separation or divorce. For instance, if one spouse enters the divorce with significantly more assets than another, he or she may want to protect those assets from being separated if the marriage dissolves.

Life insurance policies, retirement plans, and alimony are also topics that can be included in a prenuptial agreement. However, it’s important to note that the issue of child support cannot be pre-determined through a prenuptial agreement. The courts will calculate Child support at the time of divorce depending on the financial status and ability to care for the children of each parent at that time. Custody of the child will also be determined by a judge based on the child’s best interest at the time of divorce or separation.

Enforceability

A prenuptial agreement must be in writing, and both spouses must sign it. If it is found that one spouse did not sign voluntarily, or was threatened by physical or psychological punishment, the courts may find the agreement void. Additionally, if one spouse was not given fair and responsible disclosure of the other spouse’s financial assets and debts at the time of signing the agreement, the spouse may challenge the validity of the agreement.

Even if the agreement is unfair, it may not be ruled void unless it can be proven that one spouse did not receive accurate and fair information regarding the finances of the other prior to the marriage and signing of the agreement. It’s important that at the time of preparing the prenuptial agreement, both spouses disclose their finances in full.

Changing or Canceling the Agreement

If the spouses want to change or cancel the prenuptial agreement at any time during the marriage, they may do so as long as they put the changes in writing and both sign the document.

It may be sad to think about what would happen in the event of a divorce prior to a marriage, but it is important that each spouse protect themselves financially, especially when it comes to assets that were acquired prior to the marriage. At every step of the way, it would be beneficial to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney who can help you through the process of preparing a prenuptial agreement.

 

References:

 

Thomas, A. (2015, March 27). Prenuptial Agreements in Florida. Retrieved from https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/prenuptial-agreements-florida.html

 

 

 

Simple Ways to Make Divorce Easier on Your Kids

The fact of the matter is that divorce is never easy. Whenever there is a separation of two people, especially if there are kids involved, it will be a complicated process. It’s often hard for children to understand why their parents are no longer together, so explaining divorce to children can make it even harder. However, there are some things that parents can do to try and make the process of marital separation more tolerable. When it comes to your children, here are some simple ways to make divorce easier on your kids.

Keep in Touch Easily with Social Media

There may be some negative aspects to social media, but if used in the right way, especially during and after a divorce, it can be an easy and positive way for families to stay in touch. Unfortunately, after a separation, there may be long periods of time where one parent goes without seeing their child. Through social media, the non-custodial parent has an easy way to make sure they stay updated on the events in their child’s life.

Social media and texting also provide a simple way for parents to maintain consistent communication with their child when they are not around physically. By sending a text or social media message, a parent can show that they are there for the child without much effort or interference from the other parent. In the same way, social media and text conversations allow the child to have a direct line of communication with each parent without having to disclose all discussions to the other parent.

Don’t Argue in Front of the Kids

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in the heat of the moment, it may be easy just to start or continue an argument while your child is nearby. This is a huge mistake that can have lasting consequences on their emotional health and future relationships. Children are constant observers, and they are learning from their parents subconsciously each day. If their first and only role models are always fighting and angry, they will carry that sentiment with them throughout their lives.

Make it easier on your child or children by saving the arguments for times when you are alone with your ex-spouse, or go through an attorney to handle any legal or financial discussions.

Minimize Disruptions to Your Child’s Routine

In a time when your child’s whole life is changing, it’s important to maintain consistency wherever you can. This may mean ensuring that your child continues to participate in after-school activities or that you have a family dinner with your child each night. Whatever efforts you can make to ensure that your child has a consistent home life will go a long way in helping them get through the divorce.

Legitimize Feelings

Your child will go going through complicated feelings and emotions that they have never had before when there is a family separation. It’s important that you validate and legitimize your child’s feelings. They may not even understand why they are feeling sad or angry, but it’s important that you don’t tell them to “suck it up” or to get over the fact that they are losing a parent in the home. Divorce can be an extremely traumatic event in a child’s life, and it’s essential for them to have the emotional support of both parents.

Get Help

Divorce is hard on everyone, so it’s important that you, as parents, get the help you need to handle your new life in an emotionally healthy way. It’s hard to take care of someone else if you are not taking care of your own emotional needs, so seek professional help if you need to. If you feel that your child would benefit from therapy with or without you, this is also a positive way to help your child handle the internal changes that occur with divorce.

Any time there is a familial separation, you should contact an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities of divorce so that you can focus on taking care of your children and home life.

 

References:

One Plus of Texting, Social Media: Divorce Made Easier on Kids. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2019-02-26/one-plus-of-texting-social-media-divorce-made-easier-on-kids

Lyness, D. (Ed.). (2015, January). Helping Your Child Through a Divorce (for Parents). Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/help-child-divorce.html

 

 

 

Preparing for Spring and Summer Travel During or After Divorce

Taking family vacations during the spring and summer can become a bit more complicated when a couple is going through a divorce. No longer are you planning travel as a whole family, but one parent or the other wants to take the kids out of town, or even out of the country without the other parent participating. This scenario can become even more complicated when you add in one parent’s new significant other or spouse as the family further separates and prepares for travel during or after a divorce.

Many times, parents become territorial over their children following a separation, and children, unfortunately, become a pawn in a game the parents play against each other. This can be detrimental to the goals of everyone involved, but most importantly to the emotional health of the child. Therefore, it’s essential that parents work out their travel arrangements ahead of time, or at least don’t involve the children in any post-divorce dispute.

When preparing for spring and summer travel arrangements during or after divorce, here are some things to consider.

Custody Arrangements

When going through a divorce with children, parents must decide on a custody arrangement. This means that parents either share custody, or one parent has primary custody while the other has visitation rights or a certain percentage of custody. Through a parenting plan, couples must decide how they will organize the care of the children after the divorce is final. Often, this parenting plan will include information on which parents are allowed custody during certain holidays or school breaks. It’s important that both parents involved abide by the restrictions of the parenting plan and custody agreement to avoid any additional legal issues.

If parents cannot agree on which vacation times are assigned to each parent, a judge may have to be the one who decides based on the custody arrangements. Therefore, it’s important that all parents who are going through a divorce consult with an attorney to understand what rights they have when determining custody and vacation time with their kids throughout the year.

Spring and Summer Travel During or After Divorce

Parents should always consult with their custody agreement and the other parent before traveling anywhere with their child during or after divorce, but this is even more important when there is international travel involved. Many parents may find restrictions in travel allowances, and each parent must always abide by the agreement set in place. Additionally, any international travel may require both parents to sign off on documentation, and therefore, both parents must agree to the travel.

The primary custodial parent can ban travel with the other parent and child, which may require the traveling parent to file a motion with the courts. This potential threat to future travel for a parent further highlights the importance of having a qualified family attorney on your side who can help you understand what rights you are entitled to as a parent.

In any situation when a parent is considering travel with the child, the child’s needs and safety should come first. If the child has other obligations at home, is ill, or has work, school, or social engagements, it’s important that the non-custodial parent honor those obligations and not force the child into traveling just to prove a point to the other parent. The child should not be used as a way to assert power or get back at a former spouse. Divorce is not a game to be won, and each parent should absolutely place a priority on the wishes of the child.

If you are going through a divorce and wish to travel with your child this spring or summer, consider obtaining a family attorney to help you navigate any intricacies in your custody agreement or parenting plan. It’s important that there is open dialogue and agreement between former spouses, but it is also essential that you understand your rights as a parent.

 

References:

Retrieved from https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/travel-restrictions-for-parents-and-child-after-a-divorce-47485

Retrieved from https://thespatzlawfirm.wordpress.com/?s=travel

 

A Father’s Custody Rights During Divorce

fathers rights during divorce in florida

Losing the custody of a child can be the most devastating time in someone’s life. Having time with both parent important for the mental and emotional growth of a child, and also contributes to family happiness. When a family goes through a divorce, everyone loses, but many times fathers lose more than mothers when it comes to having an active role in their child’s life. This may be partly due to a father’s lack of understanding of the law, or fear of going to court to fight for equal custody of their child.

Equal Rights

Fathers should know that during a divorce they have the same legal rights to the child as the mother does, meaning they have equal rights to custody of the child. Each parent has equal standing under the law until there is a signed legal document containing the custody agreement, or the judge hands down his or her opinion on custody. However, if a father does not know this and gives up his full custody rights, he may lose them before he had the opportunity to fight for them.

Equal rights means that if the mother takes the children away from the father, he has just as much right to bring them home. He also has the right to know what is going on with the children at school or at the doctor’s office. Until there is a signed custody agreement, both parents have equality when it comes to matters of the child.

Fear of Fighting

There may be a lot of fighting during a divorce about everything from the family home to special heirlooms. Fathers may feel that they don’t want to drag the subject of custody through the courts for fear of eventually losing out to the mother. Therefore, many fathers may even allow the mother to dictate when he can see the child before a court-ordered custody agreement is in place. This behavior can be detrimental to a father’s ability to gain custody because the longer that a father allows his ex wife to dictate the child’s schedule, the more he may lose favor in the courts, which is why it’s very important for fathers to know that they have equal rights.

Custody and the Courts

According to divorcepeers.com, many custody agreements are decided without ever going to court, and most of them are in favor of the mother. Meaning, there are many men who are giving up their rights before giving themselves a fighting chance.

It’s important that any father who is going through a divorce hire a family law attorney who will fight for his equal rights for custody. Fathers have a right, and arguably an obligation to fight to be a part of their children’s lives on a consistent basis.

If you are a man with children who is going through a divorce, do not let your ex-wife dictate when you can see your children before a custody agreement is signed. Just because someone you know was not granted equal custody by the courts, it does not mean that you will not be given equal custody. Don’t agree to any custody document without consulting with an attorney and fighting for your right to be in your child’s life.

In the end, the man goal is to do what is best for the child. If you believe that you at risk of losing you parental rights during a divorce, contact me to learn more about how you can remain in your child’s life.

References:

Meyer, C. (n.d.). What Custody Rights Do Fathers Have? Retrieved from https://www.liveabout.com/a-fathers-legal-rights-to-child-custody-before-and-during-divorce-1103351

 

Will Child Support be Enforced if a Parent Goes to Jail or Loses a Job?

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The issues of divorce or separation and child support can be extremely touchy for many reasons. When couples with children separate, the consequences can be tumultuous. One of the consequences may be that one parent must pay child support to another parent, which should go solely to the care of the child.

How is child support calculated?

In the state of Florida, child support is taken very seriously. The courts make a decision on how much one non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent in order to support the needs of the child. This decision is based on several factors including the income of both parents and the healthcare and child care needs of the child or children, as well as the standard needs of the child. If a parent is voluntarily not working, then a salary will be assigned to him or her based on the average salary of their location at that time. One parent may be required to pay child support to the other even if the custody arrangement is 50-50.

Changes in Employment Status or Incarceration

In the event that a parent who is paying child support loses his or her job, there are several things that can happen. Unemployment does not mean that the parent is relieved of his or her child support obligation. If a parent loses his or her job, he or she should notify the child support enforcement agency immediately. The unemployed parent should then apply for unemployment benefits in the state, if he or she qualifies. Through the unemployment benefits, the parent may have the child support automatically deducted.

If a parent is unable to find employment, he or she must continue to actively search for jobs, and it may be possible to request a reduction of child support or a modification. However, it is up to a judge to decide any changes in child support, and the parent must continue to pay as required in the original agreement until the courts approve a change. Once employment is re-established, the parent may have an increase in their payment amount in order to cover any missed payments during unemployment.

In the unfortunate event that a parent is incarcerated while he or she owes child support, that parent is still obligated to pay. He or she must contact the child support enforcement agency as well, and may also request a modification in payments. Once he or she is released from their sentence, he or she must notify the courts and resume regular payments as established by the courts.

Any time there is a change in financial status, it is possible that child support payments can be modified, but the courts must approve the modification in order for it to be legal.

Child Support Payment is Critical

Any time that a parent can pay child support; he or she should always pay based on the court order. It’s important to note that the consequences of not paying child support can be severe.  A delinquent parent can be punished by anything from the suspension of a driver’s license, to passport denial, or even jail or prison time.

If you or anyone you know is going through a divorce or needs assistance with issues of child support, it’s important to contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you on the best course of action for your case.

References:

Child Support Amounts. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://floridarevenue.com/childsupport/child_support_amounts/Pages/child_support_amounts.aspx

Child Support Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://thespatzlawfirm.wordpress.com/?s=child support

 

 

 

Mediation in Family Law Cases

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Anytime there is a dispute within a family, whether it has to do with a divorce or child custody issues, emotions can be high, and it can be difficult to come to an agreement that works for each party. Many times, this is when the courts get involved. Family members may have to present to a judge, and in some cases, may be subject to the decision of a judge or jury.

However, there is one way that disputes can be resolved that gives more decision-making power back to the people who are having the conflict. If conflicting parties are ordered to or choose to go to mediation, it is possible to settle a family dispute outside of the courtroom.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a way for people to discuss their dispute in the presence of an impartial party. In certain cases mediation is court-ordered while in other cases the two parties can choose to go to mediation. The neutral mediator is often chosen by the courts in issues of family law. He or she must be certified by the Florida Supreme Court, but is not allowed to give legal advice, or provide therapy or counseling. The mediator may help the discussion along by providing ideas of ways that the disputing parties can come to an agreement.

Whenever there are issues involving the family, it may be difficult for opposite parties to operate without being emotional, and it can often be hard for each person to see the issue any other way. A mediator’s job is to spark ideas that may lead to an ultimate agreement, or simply the agreement that a mutually satisfying resolution cannot be made.

Once there is an agreement in mediation, both parties will be asked to sign a document that explains the details of the agreement, which becomes a contract. At this point, the terms of the contract are legally binding and must be followed by all parties involved. If an agreement cannot be made, then the issue may be sent back to the courts for a judge or jury to ultimately decide.

Benefits of Mediation

Mediation is a way to keep a dispute out of the courts, and may save time and money. It is an opportunity to resolve conflict with an impartial person who can offer up suggestions that may not have been considered by either party. Additionally, the mediator can help overcome communication obstacles or emotional barriers that have stalled the issue from being resolved or moving forward. He or she can assist with listening and help each party stay focused on the real issues that need to be discussed

Perhaps the biggest benefit to mediation is that it keeps the decision-making power with the parties involved in the dispute as opposed to a judge or jury. An agreement established in mediation is one that is created by the people who will be affected the most by any terms, and therefore, it may be appealing to some to have the power to make that ultimate decision.

Mediations are also private and confidential, which is different than public hearings that wind up on the record. There are no judges or juries involved in the mediation process, and attorneys are not required, but advised.

Tips for a Successful Mediation

Any time that you will be going to mediation, you should absolutely consult the advice of a family law attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you understand what terms would be most beneficial to you.

Make sure you are prepared and arrive on time. If you are ill prepared for the mediation, you may end up agreeing to something that does not work in your favor.

It’s important to also arrange for childcare if needed. Children are often not allowed in the mediation room.

Mediation in family law cases may last an hour or several days, depending on the time it takes both parties to agree on terms to a resolution. In the event that you are going to mediation or feel that you may need to in order to resolve a legal conflict, contact an experienced family law attorney who can properly advise you through the mediation process. The Spatz Law Firm can be reached at (305) 442-0200.

References

Mediation in Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2018, from https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Alternative-Dispute-Resolution/Mediation-in-Florida