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4 Things to Know About Child Support in Florida

Divorce is a life altering experience that results in a number of changes for both you and your spouse’s lives, but also in the lives of your children. With divorce comes the added process of making sure that the children are provided for not only mentally and emotionally, but also financially. To do so a child support agreement may be put into place by the court. No two child support agreements are the same, but in the state of Florida there are several things that you can expect when entering into one of these agreements – no matter which side of the situation you are on.

It’s important to note that nothing is permanent and just like a custody agreement, child support agreements can be updated if there are new circumstances like a change in income whether its an unexpected drop or substantial increase. This is a matter that would need to be taken to court and often the assistance of a family law attorney is needed.

Here are 4 things to keep in mind when it comes to child support in Florida:

  1. The custody agreement will be taken into consideration – One of the biggest factors when it comes to determining child support is how much time the child(ren) will be spending with each parent. The number of overnight visits per year will help decide what the additional financial responsibility will be. The more overnights, then the less one would have to pay as its assumed they are responsible for all finances while taking care of the child. If there is a 50/50 custody arrangement in place and both parties make roughly the same amount of money, chances are no one will be paying child support in this instance. Typically, whichever parent makes more money, or has them less would be the one to pay child support.
  2. Net income will be a major deciding factor – When it comes time for the courts to calculate what the dollar amount will be net income for each parent will be taken into consideration. This means the amount of income after monthly taxes, health care, and any retirement payments, etc. This will show the true income that each parent has available to handle their actual finances each month.
  3. Don’t forget to include any daycare or health care costs – While figuring out what your child’s monthly expenses are the usual suspects like food, clothing, and shelter are important but don’t overlook things like daycare costs or medical expenses. Be sure to calculate what is needed on a regular basis, as well as what could be needed in case of an emergency. Keep track of these costs in case a change needs to be made to the agreement in order to cover such expenses at a later date.
  4. Consider an Income Withholding Order – In the state of Florida, when it comes to court ordered child support, it’s possible to have an Income Withholding Order put into place that would automatically deduct the child support payment from the payer’s paycheck, within each pay cycle through their employer. Sometimes this is mandated by the courts and usually makes things easier on both parties as it allows for a paper trail and there are no missed payments or opportunities to forget to make a payment.

If you are currently working through a child support agreement, whether you’re the one requesting the payments or the one making the payments, consider hiring a family law attorney to help you through the process. Someone like Russell Spatz can help you to understand the court’s process and to calculate an amount that works for you and your child’s needs. Give him a call today at (305) 442-0200.

4 Marital Issues That Can Cause Divorce

Marriages aren’t expected to be constantly happy, shiny, and new. As time goes on problems and disagreements are bound to occur. In a healthy relationship, these differences can be worked through via compromise or educating each other on the other’s values or views. Unfortunately, sometimes the common issues that come up in marriages are too difficult to work through and can lead to a divorce.

Here are five marital issues that often cause divorce:

Financial issues – Finances are a big factor in many marriages. Sometimes it’s a struggle to pay bills and sometimes it’s an issue if one spouse brings in more money than the other. Arguing over bills, spending, and even debt are fairly normal issues, but how those issues are resolved can have a very positive or negative impact on a marriage. If these issues keep coming up or can’t be resolved, divorce may be the last option.

An extramarital affair – Being unfaithful to one’s spouse is a common cause for divorce. While some situations of cheating can be overcome, there’s a level of broken trust and betrayal that is sometimes too difficult to push through.

Family – Many times negativity that is projected from one’s in-laws, children, or stepchildren can have a deep impact on a marriage. Coping with these issues can be tough, especially as having to pick sides between ones family and their spouse is not an ideal thing to do.

Growing apart – As we grow older, we grow into ourselves or we change in ways that often times don’t match with the growth that our partner is making. While many couples grow together and become closer, it’s also possible to grow apart or to reach a point where you are no longer in love with the person you’re married to as they’ve aged into someone who doesn’t fit your ideals of a perfect partner anymore.

No one gets married thinking that it will someday end in divorce, but the reality is, divorce is more common than we’d like it to be. Many times it’s unavoidable and really what’s best for both parties. If you are considering a divorce or are in need of a family law attorney, Russell Spatz has decades of experience and is available to help you through this emotional time in your life.

What Happens When Children Refuse Visitation with a Parent?

No one gets married and starts a family with the intention to get divorced, but sometimes a divorce is an unavoidable part of life. While divorce isn’t easy on anyone, it can be made enough harder when there are children involved. It’s not rare for children to be caught off guard when a divorced is announced. This is a change in dynamic that can cause emotions to erupt as their parents are suddenly living in different homes with different lives.

Divorce agreements typically involve a custody arrangement that will dictate which parent is the primary parent and which one has visitation rights. Legally, the parents must follow this agreement, but what happens is the child doesn’t want to partake in the way the courts have approved?

Reasons Why a Child Might Refuse Parental Visitation

There are several reasons why a child might not want to abide by a scheduled visit.

  • Overwhelmed by the changes of a new home
  • Stressed by a new forced routine
  • Interference with school schedule or planned activities
  • Fear of missing out when it comes to their friends and what’s happening at “home”
  • A parent having a new partner that the child isn’t ready to accept
  • A parent is too strict or harsh (sometimes even abusive)

What are the Legal Obligations of Parents When It Come to Visitation?

When a child refuses to take part in the court approved visitation schedule, it puts the primary parent in a tough spot. Of course, the first thought from the parent is to protect their child and not force them into a situation where they might feel uncomfortable. But one must remember that the other parent has the right to see and spend time as it’s their child as well. By not complying with the visitation schedule it can be considered a custody order violation and legal consequences may follow. Ultimately, a judge is the one to decide is the custody order must be forced. The goal is always to try to have the child establish a well-balanced relationship with each parent. Changes to the custody order, whether requested by a parent or the child, must go through the courts and be approved by a judge after proving why a new arrangement would be a better fit for the child.

What Parents Can Do To Ease the Situation

A simple talk with your child about their feelings and their fears when it comes time to visit their other parent can make a world of a difference. Let them know you support them and are there for them, but remind them that their other parent loves them and supports them as well. You might not be a normal family anymore, but that doesn’t mean they are loved any less.

If you are doing through a divorce and are in need of a family attorney to help settle your affairs, such as a custody agreement, consider giving Russell Spatz a phone call at (305) 442-0200 today to see how he can help you. With decades of experience, he’s handled all types of family law cases and will always have his client’s best interest in mind.

Can I Adopt My Spouse’s Child?

adoption

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.

 

Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays

After a divorce, co-parenting your children can still create many challenges throughout the year, but these may be significantly magnified as the holidays approach. Between events and gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, you and your former spouse may be competing for precious time with your little ones.

It’s important to always follow the parenting plan established over the course of your divorce in order to avoid any major issues that could further damage the family, but in addition to that, here are a few more tips for co-parenting during the holidays.

Prioritize Your Kids

Never forget whose wellbeing is most important to consider, despite what happened with your former spouse. Make sure you are considering your children with each decision you make year-round, but especially during the holidays, which are supposed to be a fun and enchanting time.

You may feel the need to pull your kids in many different directions to visit family in the limited amount of time that you have together, but this may not serve your children well. Kids may become exhausted and not enjoy quality time if you are not taking their needs into consideration. Remember, this is a time for making memories, not for running your children into the ground and creating resentment for holiday functions. If your kids need a break, think about how you can incorporate that into the festivities.

Coordinate Gifts

If you and your spouse coordinate how you will handle gifts, you can limit the need to one-up each other each year. Decide on a budget, and make sure you aren’t getting the same gifts on your kids’ lists. Your children will be happier in the long run if both parents share the gift-giving duties equally as opposed to one outdoing the other.

Make Plans, But Be Patient

As stated earlier, it’s important to always follow the parenting plan set by the court when it comes to holiday time with your kids, but even more than that, make sure you have a plan for the time spent together. If there are extra activities or events that you would like for your child to attend, make arrangements with your ex to ensure that each parent is getting equal time.

Additionally, be patient. The holidays can be busy and stressful, especially if there is a lot of back-and-forth. Try to let the small things go, and remember that the most important thing is the experience of your child.

Never Argue in Front of the Kids

Though there may be disagreements from time to time, keep your arguing to a minimum and out of range of the children. Divorce is hard enough on kids, but repeated arguments between parents can be internalized by your children and cause them much distress throughout their lives. Consider settling disagreements after the kids go to bed or over email when decisions can be placed in writing in order to deter future arguments or misunderstandings.

Don’t Give Up on Self-Care

If you can’t take care of yourself, it’s very difficult to take care of others. Therefore, it’s important that you take some time to enjoy the holiday season as well. When the kids are with your ex, take time to relax, spend time with friends and family, and ensure that you are both physically and emotionally healthy. This will create a more positive atmosphere for the whole family and keep tensions to a minimum when the children are around.

In the event of a separation or divorce, it’s important to contact an experienced family attorney. Your attorney will help you through the process of creating a parenting plan and custody schedule that is beneficial for the whole family.

 

References:

Conklin-Danao, D. (2017, November 23). Co-Parenting During the Holidays: 5 Tips to Follow. Retrieved from https://www.divorcemag.com/blog/co-parenting-during-the-holidays-tips-to-follow/

 

5 Tips for Separated or Divorced Parents During the Holidays

Tips for Separated or Divorced Parents During the Holidays

The typical stress that accompanies the holidays can be magnified for families that are either going through a separation, or who are experiencing this time of year for the first time since a divorce or separation. There are certain things that parents can do to mitigate this stress on children and the rest of the family, but it really should be a collaboration between the separated adults. The biggest priority should be ensuring that children have the opportunity to enjoy the season as much as possible without additional negative impacts from the divorce.

Here are five tips for separated or divorced parents to consider in order to make the crazy holiday season a little easier for children of separation.

1. Make New Holiday Traditions

It may be difficult for your kids to come to terms with the fact that the family will not be all together for certain activities, but take this as an opportunity to branch out and try new experiences without the pain of family memories. Explain to your kids that each parent will have the chance to begin a new tradition with them, and that means fun new activities and special time with each parent.

2. Enlist the Village

It’s ok to ask for help this time of year. Friends and family who understand the position you are in are valuable sources of support. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and the needs of your family, but don’t be afraid to ask others if they can pitch in to assist with the kids if the stress becomes overwhelming.

3. Be Flexible

Try not to be too rigid with regards to the timing of certain events and holiday celebrations. Just because a holiday falls on a certain day of the week, does not mean that it has to be celebrated on that exact day. Being flexible means that you can decide to celebrate a holiday before or after the actual date, and if there are events surrounding the holiday that you want to share with you kids, be flexible about picking and choosing the ones that are most important for you, and ensuring that your former spouse also has time to share with the kids.

4. Discuss the Importance of Family Over Things

Because finances are usually tight following a divorce, this may be a good time to talk to your kids about the importance of spending time as a family and having experiences over exchanging many gifts. Use this as a teaching moment to have a dialogue with your children about how you and your spouse love them regardless of the separation.

5. Be Realistic and Honest

Keep a realistic mindset about how the holidays will go following a divorce. It will be different, and there will likely be a broad spectrum of emotions displayed by yourself and your children. Manage expectations with friends and family by being honest about your situation, capabilities, and commitments.

Divorce is never easy on a family, especially during the holidays, but there are ways that you can make it a little more bearable for everyone involved. Always keep in mind that despite how well your kids seem to be taking to the new arrangement, their well-being should always be at the center of any decisions made that may affect them.

References:

(2013, November 11). 21 Tips To Survive Divorce And The Holidays. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from https://drkarenfinn.com/divorce-blog/life-after-divorce/180-21-tips-to-survive-divorce-and-the-holidays

Parents Pay Attention to Photographers in Public Places

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It was recently reported that a man was kicked out and banned from the Palm Beach Zoo, not because he was causing problems with the animals, but simply for taking photos. The issue is that he was photographing a young girl as she played in the splash pad on zoo property, without the consent of the girl or her parents. The man claimed that he just wanted to record a happy moment, but the parents were not convinced. Because the parents felt uncomfortable and the zoo administration agreed that the act of taking photos of the young girl was inappropriate, the man was asked to leave.

With the easy access and availability of video recording devices and cameras on every smartphone these days, it gets harder and harder to maintain any sort of privacy for yourself or your children. Child predators have the ability to photograph your kids every time you step out of the house and take them to a public place, and that’s a scary thought.

Photography as a Right

According to the law, taking photos in a public place is protected under the constitutional right to freedom of expression. Unfortunately, your desire for a certain level of privacy does not supersede the right of a photographer, professional or amateur, to express himself. However, there are certain restrictions to this, and the right does not extend to all locations. For example, owners of private property can restrict this right as they see fit, which is what happened in the case of the Palm Beach zoo, which is private property. Whenever you leave the house, it’s important to be aware of who is around when out in public, such as at parks and on playgrounds, as there may be some people who are taking advantage of the right to photograph in public places.

Abuse of Public Photography of Kids

There have been certain cases where a child predator has been arrested while photographing kids in public places. In Broward County, a man was arrested as he took photos of a girl at a public splash pad. He was being investigated for child pornography charges, and was caught while he was at the park. Even though the charges were unrelated to the photos he had on his phone, this example still demonstrates that you never know the motives of an individual who chooses to take photos of your children.

Be Aware of Who is Around

Just as you teach your kids to be aware of strangers who may cause them harm, it’s important to also teach your kids to be aware of individuals in a public place who may make them uncomfortable, including adults taking photos of them. Some public parks have tried to mitigate adult interaction with children by requiring a child to accompany any adult who accesses the public playgrounds in a park. The City of Hollywood is a good example of this, where it is a law that any adult in a playground area must be accompanied by a child 12 years or younger.

Even with certain rules and laws in place, it’s still up to parents and kids to report any suspicious activity that makes them feel uneasy. Though it is not a crime to take photos in public, if someone does have the intention to cause harm to a child or use the photographs in an inappropriate way, it’s better to be safe and risk a misunderstanding than to put your child in danger of being exploited by a predator.

Your child’s safety is always a top priority. In matters of family law, it’s most important to protect the children in cases where they may be at risk for harm. If you are going through a divorce, separation, or a case regarding child custody or paternity, it’s vitally important to contact an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can guide you through your case and help ensure that your children are provided with the best care and safety.

References:

Chokey, A. (2017, June 22). Are your kids safe from snoops with cameras at South Florida attractions? Retrieved July 14, 2017, from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-reg-child-photography-cases-20170621-story.html

Recording in Public Places and Your First Amendment Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2017, from https://www.videomaker.com/article/15619-recording-in-public-places-and-your-first-amendment-rights

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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/

 

 

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.