25+ YEARS of family law experience

board certified as a marital
& family law specialist

Broward County Family Law Blog

Parents should work toward child custody agreements, if possible

During child custody determinations, parents can sometimes spend a significant amount of time battling over what is in the best interests of the children. Different considerations and strategies may factor into a child custody dispute. Many times, determining what considerations parents can agree on is a good strategy to achieve positive outcomes that may build on one another during the process of negotiating a parenting agreement.

When parents have an acrimonious relationship, and are having difficulty agreeing on anything, they may want to consider bringing on a party that can provide a neutral evaluation as to what would be best for the children. Other qualified professionals' help, including a mediator, may be available to assist parents to reach agreements that are in the best interests of the children.

What can be included in a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements sometimes have negative connotations. The reality is, however, that prenuptial agreements merely allow couples to decide for themselves, in advance, how divorce-related issues should be determined if the couple ends up divorcing. Because there are a variety of benefits to having a prenuptial agreement, individuals planning on marrying may wonder what can be included in a prenuptial agreement. A variety of important topics and considerations may be covered by a prenuptial agreement.

Just as it is important to plan in advance for the wedding and make necessary arrangements before the big day, it is also important to address a prenuptial agreement well in advance of the marriage. To begin with, it is important to list all assets and debts. The couple will need to determine how to characterize their property, so as to determine if it will remain separate or be treated as marital property in the event of divorce. In addition, a determination of reimbursements, or status as gifts, for separate property contributions also should be considered.

Child support is important for families struggling with poverty

Child support can sometimes be a difficult subject for families. In the United States, one in four children are due some amount of child support but only 62 percent of child support due in the U.S. is collected. Florida has one of the lower rates of collection. In addition, there exists a relationship between child support collection and poverty that points to the inability of some parents to afford child support payments. Those earning less than $10,000 annually accounted for 70 percent of the $70 billion in child support owed nationally in 2004.

On the other hand, it is usually the poorest families, in the greatest need of child support, that are not receiving it. Of parents who were supposed to receive child support in 2011, 27 percent lived below the poverty line. Of these parents, 40 percent received the child support they were due, however, 27 percent did not receive any of the child support they were due. This same group of parents, on average, relies on child support for half of their income.

Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade granted custody of nephew

Family issues can be complex, which is why an understanding of family law issues can be important for many families. Many Florida residents are probably familiar with Miami Heat basketball player Dwayne Wade, who was recently granted custody of his nephew.

Miami-Dade family court records state that Wade was recently granted custody the 12-year old boy. Wade had petitioned for "concurrent custody by extended family" of the boy and his petition was granted. Wade's sister, who is the child's mother, will retain parental rights but Wade will raise the child. The boy's father is unknown, according to Wade's petition, and no father is listed on the boy's birth certificate. Wade has spent a significant amount of time with the child in recent years. Wade also has custody of his two sons with his ex-wife and fathered a third child with another woman.

How child support guidelines affect Florida parents

The area of the law identified as family law is concerned with important family-related interests such as child support. Child support in Florida is calculated based on child support guidelines. Child support guidelines help determine the amount of financial support a child needs and what a non-custodial parent has to pay. One of the goals of Florida's child support guidelines is to ensure that child support agreements are fair. When determining child support, the court will consider the income of both parents, health care and child care costs for the child, and the standard needs of the child (the age of the child can be a factor).

Once child support has been calculated, a child support order is put in place that is enforceable against the paying parent. The parent receiving child support, usually the custodial parent, will be able to enforce the support agreement with the help of the government. The child support guidelines are used to initially determine child support and if a child support modification is requested by one of the parents to change the amount of child support.

License suspension possible for delinquent child support

Florida law requires parents to provide assistance by way of money to minor children. When parents are divorced, this comes from child support payments that are calculated during the divorce process. However, while for the most part parents who are party to such an agreement have every intention of meeting their financial obligations to their children, life events and other factors may inhibit their ability to keep up. If that is the case, though, there may be consequences beyond repayment.

For example, one potential negative consequence of failing to pay child support is a driver license suspension. If a parent is behind on payments, the Florida Department of Revenue, which is tasked with collecting money required by a child support order and distributing it to the appropriate parties, will send a notice by mail to a delinquent parent. The notice will alert that person of the possibility that a driver's license could be suspended if payment is not made.

What is equitable distribution of property?

In the United States, different states provide for different methods of property distribution upon divorce. Throughout the United States, nine states follow community property division rules and the remaining states follow equitable division rules with some special nuances for Alaska. In Florida, equitable distribution rules are followed for the division of property when a couple divorces.

Equitable property distribution, and community property distribution for that matter, is a method of dividing property between spouses in the event of a divorce. Today, equitable property division rules take into account the contributions of non-wage earning spouses as homemakers and the spouse that primarily contributes to child rearing. Prior to recognition of these contributions, property division laws favored the wage-earning spouse to the disadvantage of the spouse that cared for the home and children.

In Florida, property division governed by equitable distribution

The focus of property division in the event of divorce in Florida is fairly dividing assets according to family laws. In Florida, marital assets are divided equally in the event of a divorce. The process is referred to as equitable division. The court will engage in the equitable division process followed by any necessary determinations of alimony and child support. It can be important to note that many rules that apply to the divorce process are established by statute.

The definition of marital assets in Florida is governed by statute. In general, marital assets include income and liabilities incurred during the marriage on an individual or joint basis. Assets the spouses entered the marriage with, or gifts made to one of the spouses during marriage, in general, are not considered marital assets. Marital assets are divided upon divorce but nonmarital assets are not. Because of this, it is important that the court first determine which assets are considered marital and which are considered nonmarital. Following the conclusion of the process, property division can occur.

What is paternity and how is it determined?

Paternity determinations can have significant legal and emotional implications. Because important issues such as child support can be based on paternity determinations, some people may wonder what paternity is and how it is determined? Paternity refers to the paternal parentage of a child or, in other words, the identity of the biological father of a child.

For children born in wedlock, paternity is presumed. The biological father is presumed to be the husband of the mother of the child. For children who are not born to married parents, paternity may be established but is not presumed. A determination of paternity can provide important emotional and financial support for children. Child support is one of the most obvious implications for the establishment of paternity, however, establishing paternity can also be useful for custody and visitation; inheritance; and healthcare issues.

Imputed earnings possible for child and spousal support awards

The divorce process can sometimes be an ugly process full of disputes and bad feelings. Some individuals who are going through the divorce process may wonder if the threats that a spouse makes during the proceedings are possible. In some cases, a soon-to-be-former spouse may argue that he or she is not going to work in order to avoid paying required child support and spousal support payments. A divorcing spouse may wonder if this is possible in family law situations.

In Florida, voluntary unemployment or underemployment may be considered when calculating the proper amount of child support and alimony awards. In cases of voluntary unemployment or underemployment, income may be imputed to the spouse for the purposes of determining alimony and child support. Likewise, income also may be imputed to the spouse that receives spousal support or child support.