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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

 

 

 

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4 Ways Divorced Parents Can Ease Holiday Stress

Ways Divorced Parents Can Ease Holiday Stress

 

Holidays bring magic, laughter, and memories to last, but sometimes, holidays can be stressful, especially for families of divorced parents. As a family law firm, we are all too familiar with stress that child custody (i.e., timesharing) can cause year round, yet holidays can add even more emotion to an already complicated matter.

Whether this is your first holiday season as a divorced parent or even if you’ve been sharing custody for quite some time, taking extra steps can make all the difference. Here are some ways to ease holiday stress for your whole family:

  1. Put the children’s interests first.

Be flexible and sensitive to their wants and needs. For example, do they have a favorite holiday tradition with your ex-spouse’s family? Allow them to participate if it’s feasible. Splitting time on a holiday might add more stress on the children. Alternatives to splitting time during each holiday is alternating holiday years and maybe celebrating the holiday on another day, before or after, the day the actual holiday falls on. The less transitional phases kids have to go through, the more enjoyable the day(s) will be.

  1. Plan ahead.

Planning ahead can help ease stress on both parents and children, as everyone will know what to expect during the day and celebration. Planning ahead can help avoid unfavorable behavior from both parents and grief from extended family members. If an agreement cannot be made, refer to the custody agreement. If one is not made, we strongly recommend discussing one with an attorney.

  1. Communicate.

Making sure your plans are in order before discussing them with your children will help ensure an enjoyable experience for all. Communicating about travel plans, gifts, and other events during the holiday season is vital for parents to ease additional stress on their children. Children might be used to certain holiday traditions a family unit, but encourage them to enjoy the holidays by discussing new traditions and still being a family unit, just in a different way. If children see their parents supporting each other, they will often feel more relaxed and enjoy themselves more.

  1. Possibly plan some celebrations together.

If divorced or separated parents and their extended families are able to celebrate the holidays together without hostility and mal behavior, parents should consider this for their children. Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to put on a “happy face” when in the vicinity of their exes, but think of the smiles on your children’s faces and that will help put your differences aside.

If your family needs assistance with custody, divorce, or other family planning needs, we a family law attorney assist you and help keep your families best interest a priority.

References:

Cannavo, A. (2016, December 12). 3 Stress-relieving holiday tips for separated or divorced parents. Retrieved December 18, 2016, fromhttp://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/moms/article120371338.html

Rubin, R. L. (2016, November 11). Putting Children First: The Best Gift Divorced Parents Can Give Their Children This Holiday Season. Retrieved December 19, 2016, fromhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/randi-l-rubin/putting

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

 

 

 

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