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Plantation Family Law Blog

Parent coordinators help provide long-term solutions

Understandably, parents who are going through divorce often have a difficult time meeting each other on common ground in terms of child custody arrangements. If this is your situation, then it may be a good idea to make a list of things, no matter how small, that you both can agree on, and then try to build from there.

For example, maybe you and your co-parent can agree that staying with the same pediatrician is the right decision. If you both agree about your child's extracurricular activities, then maybe that can be added to the list. Really, any number of points of agreement may serve as a foundation for a long-term solution.

What are the legal requirements for custodial parents who want to relocate?

Occasionally child custody arrangements have to be modified because the custodial parent wants to relocate with the child. Sometimes both parents agree to the move; other times they don't. Here let's go over the requirements relocating parents must satisfy under Florida law.

The parent with whom the child lives most of the time must notify the other parent before moving with the child if the following statements apply:

  • The new principal residence is more than 50 miles away from the custodial parent's current residence
  • The relocation will last for at least 60 consecutive days

When can a Florida child support order be modified?

When divorce decrees are made, they are meant to be permanent. However, it may be possible to modify a divorce decree with regard to child support if the financial or personal circumstances of the parties have changed. Successfully changing a Florida child support order requires careful preparation, and parents who are seeking a modification, whether it's a reduction or increase in payments, should have the help of a family law attorney throughout the process.

In Florida, the amount of child support is calculated based on the child's needs and both parents' income. A child support order can be modified if the requesting parent can show that a major change in circumstances has occurred. For example, a modification may be appropriate if a parent loses a job or gets a promotion. 

How is paternity established in Florida?

The question of paternity comes up in many family law cases. In Florida, when the parents of a child are married, generally nothing needs to be done to prove paternity. However, when the parents are not married, paternity can be established in three ways: a paternity acknowledgment form signed by both parents, an administrative paternity order, or a judicial paternity order.

Many fathers and mothers sign paternity acknowledgment forms at the hospital when the child is born, but you can also sign this form at a later date. Paternity acknowledgment means that both parents agree that the father has parental rights and responsibilities.

Taking legal steps to protect against domestic violence

When domestic violence is an issue in any Florida divorce or separation of partners, it is extremely important to take immediate legal action to address the situation. If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, then your primary concern should be safety. Contact police and get to a safe place as soon as you can. Once you're there, you can take additional legal steps to help ensure that the abuse never happens again.

In many cases, a restraining order is necessary to guard against domestic violence. A family law attorney can help you obtain a restraining order. An official report of domestic abuse, along with a restraining order, can also have a major impact on every aspect of a divorce, including child custody and parenting time.

Parenting coordination should be the norm, not the alternative

We recently discussed the positive shift from the idea of "winning" child custody to the more collaborative approach of time sharing and co-parenting after divorce. Today courts in Florida recognize the importance of having both parents in a child's life, rather than creating a court-ordered void where one parent might have been.

A timely follow-up to that discussion is the recent New York Times article, "How Divorced Parents Lost Their Rights." In it, the writer, who is a psychology professor, points to the historical reluctance of courts to get involved in child-rearing disputes between married parents, yet judges often have a hand in deciding child custody matters for divorced or separated parents.

Developing workable parenting plans without going to court

The commonly used terms used to be "visitation" and "child custody." There was something controlling about them. They suggested a situation in which only one parent had control and influence over a child, while in another situation only the other parent had control and influence over the child. The terms suggested little, if any, overlap.

While "visitation" and "child custody" are still widely used, Florida courts now recognize the importance of both parents working together to give their children the best life possible, even if the parents are not married and don't necessarily get along. The increased emphasis on protecting children's best interests through the inclusion of both parents can be gleaned from the terms now used to describe parenting arrangements: parenting plans and time sharing. 

When a parent quits a job to avoid paying child support

Sometimes in particularly acrimonious divorces, the spouse who would otherwise pay a certain amount of child support purposely quits his or her job in an attempt to lower the support payments. In ordering child support, the court bases the decision in part on the separate incomes of the parties involved. By quitting a job, some people think they can get around paying support.

However, under Florida law, a court may impute -- or attribute -- additional income to the paying parent -- the obligor -- if he or she voluntarily quits a job or takes a pay cut. The obligor parent may not actually have the imputed income, but the court may still require monthly support payments based on the sum of the actual income and the imputed income.

Some things you should know about Florida child support

Many Florida parents going through divorce or separating are not quite sure of how child support works in our state. The legal language regarding child support is complex, so let's discuss some aspects of child support in a way that is easy to understand

First, let's clarify two terms: "obligor" and "obligee." The parent who pays child support is the obligor, and the parent who receives support is the obligee.

Child support payments can be deducted directly from the paying parent's paycheck, or both parents can request that the obligor parent be in charge of making payments directly to the obligee parent. The court has to approve if the parents request a parent-to-parent payment plan.

Lesbian adoptive mother's parental rights upheld by FL high court

Like other states, Florida is seeing important changes in family law with regard to same-sex couples. As yet, the state does not recognize same-sex marriage, though a number of courts have ruled that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Another major ruling supporting the rights of same-sex parents recently came from the Florida Supreme Court.

In 2007 a lesbian couple used an anonymous donor to conceive a child. After the birth, the child was raised by both women. In 2011 the partners petitioned to have the non-biological mother legally adopt the child. The following year, the adoption was approved, and both of the women's names were listed as parents on the child's birth certificate. The last name of the birth mother was also changed to that of the adoptive mother and their child.

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