Category Archives: Florida Child Support Law

Can I Adopt My Spouse’s Child?

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Marrying someone with a child can be a blessing, as well as a large responsibility. Sometimes step parents are willing to go the extra mile and want to take on the huge task of becoming a legal parent to their spouse’s child. This isn’t a simple process, but with some determination and a bit of guidance it can be done.

How To Adopt Your Spouse’s Child

In order to adopt your stepchild, a petition must first be filed with the court. Once this petition is accepted, it then most be proven that you are eligible to adopt the child and that both your spouse and the child (if the child is 14 years old or older in the state of Florida) consent to the adoption. Of course, the second parent must be taken into consideration. If they are in the picture, then they also much consent as well as sign away their own parental rights. If the second parent isn’t around due to unestablished paternity, being an unfit parent, being a danger to the child, or has been in prison for a significant amount of time – then their consent may not be needed.

What Happens When You Adopt Your Step Child?

Once the adoption is finalized, you’re no longer a step parent, but a true legal guardian to the child. This means you accept all legal and financial responsibility. If there are any child support orders in place from a biological parent, these orders will end. Alternatively, if there is a future divorce, the adoptive parent may be held responsible for future child support payments. It’s a big step to take, but creating a new blended family can be a wonderful thing.

Adopting a stepchild can take roughly three months, but with the help an of experience family law attorney like Russell Spatz, the entire process can be made seamless and easy to understand. Those who are willing to take on the legal and financial responsibility of a child who is not biologically theirs are very special people and Russell Spatz takes great pride in working with them to help make their family complete.

 

Establishing Paternity in Florida

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According to Florida Law, when a mother gives birth and is married, it is assumed that the husband is the father of the child. If this isn’t the case, or if the mother is unmarried at the time of the birth, then paternity must be established. Establishing paternity when the parents of a newborn aren’t married is done either voluntarily or by court order.

What is Voluntary Paternity v. Court Ordered Paternity?

Voluntary paternity is established when both the mother and father or the child agree on who the father is and sign a “voluntary acknowledgment of paternity” form. This form simply means that both parents are acknowledging that the child belongs to them. The father who signs the form is agreeing that they are the child’s father and will take all legal responsibilities as such. The form is then file and becomes final 60 days after it has been signed. No changes to this form can be made without proving that fraud or force was used in the signing.

Court ordered paternity is when either parent takes the situation to court to establish the paternity. This may be brought to the courts by the child’s mother, the alleged father, the child themselves via legal representation, or Florida Department of Child Supportive Services. This process can begin before the child is born, but can not be finalized until after the birth.

What Happens Once Paternity is Established?

To prove paternity, genetic tests will be done for the mother, child, and possible father. Once paternity is proven child support, visitation, health insurance, and authority over the child’s rights are determined.

If you or a loved one are currently in the process of establishing paternity or believe that you have the right to be granted paternity of a child you think is yours, the assistance of a someone who is knowledgeable in the field of family law could make the process smoother. Consider giving Russell Spatz a call today at (305) 442-0200 to help make your family whole.

 

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