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30 YEARS of family law experience

board certified as a marital
& family law specialist

Broward County Family Law Blog

A better understanding of child support modification requests

It is commonly understood that following a divorce, many circumstances may change as life, of course, is full of changes. Following a court order or settlement agreement concerning child support, modifications may be necessary for either one or both parties as circumstances change down the road.

For parents either seeking a modification or contesting a modification of a support order, it is important to understand what is involved. The government and, of course, the court are involved in child support issues. In circumstances when the financial situation of either of the parties has significantly changed, or the child's circumstances have significantly changed requiring a modification of child support, a child support modification may be possible.

Considerations for developing a relocation parenting plan

The need for a parenting plan in all child custody situations was recently discussed on this blog. A parenting plan is required in custody sharing situations and can either be agreed upon by the parents and any others who are part of the time sharing arrangement or can be established by the court in the absence of an agreement between the parents.

In child custody circumstances involving relocation, important requirements must also be met. A relocation parenting plan is required when a parent intends relocate either the parent's or child's principal residence greater than 50 miles away or when pursuing a modification of the child custody or time-sharing order.

The different requirements of a parenting plan for child custody

Parenting plans are used in all circumstances when custody of children is shared. In Florida, there is a legal process that can help guide the development of a parenting plan. If the parents of a child have not agreed to a parenting plan, each can submit a proposed parenting plan to the court. In circumstances when neither of the parents of a child file a proposed parenting plan or agreed upon parenting plan, the court will step in to develop a parenting plan for the child.

The minimum requirements for a parenting plan include how each of the parents will share the responsibility for daily tasks related to the upbringing of the child; how the parents will share time that each spends the minor child, including a time-sharing plan; a determination of how the responsibility for health care and school-related decisions will be made; and how the parents will communicate with the child, including preferred technologies.

What is a paternity test?

We are all generally familiar with what paternity tests are, however, if you are involved in a paternity action or paternity dispute, you may have some anxiety about how they are conducted and how accurate paternity test results are. Paternity testing is used to determine if a man, usually referred to as the putative father, is the biological father of a child.

To conduct a paternity test, DNA testing is conducted on a small amount of fluid or tissue from both the child and putative father. DNA is considered a unique genetic fingerprint which is why it can be used to determine the identity of a child's biological father. Typically blood samples, or cells collected from inside the cheek, are used to test to determine if the putative father and child are a genetic match.

Things to think about when considering adoption in Florida

In today's society there are a variety of different types of family arrangements. Children may form strong attachments to adults other than their birth parents, such as step parents, following a divorce. Children may ultimately form bonds with step parents that are similar to the bonds they have with birth parents. Because of the reality of different types of families today, there are different situations when individuals may wish to adopt. Adoption can have both important legal and emotional benefits.

Step parents may form strong emotional bonds with their spouse's children following a new marriage. In some circumstances, families may enjoy official and legal recognition of the relationship between the child and the step parent. Depending on the circumstances, other adults, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents and close family members, may wish to seek an adoptive relationship.

Alimony modifications again on the table in Florida

Modifications to alimony laws are again being considered in Florida. A bill is currently being considered in Florida that would end permanent alimony. Changes in the alimony laws that permit permanent alimony have been sought for years by individuals who oppose what can amount to a lifetime of spousal support. Those in favor of retaining permanent alimony argue that permanent alimony provisions provide protections for spouses who do not pursue a career to take care the family home or children and can be left without means to support themselves following a divorce.

The changes that are currently being considered seek to provide a middle ground for the two sides of the permanent alimony debate. The alimony formula that is proposed with the new law would base the amount of alimony the recipient spouse would receive on the length of marriage and the income differences between the two spouses. The formula would also be used to determine the length of time of the alimony payments and limit alimony payments in duration to between 25 and 75 percent of the length of the marriage.

Child support enforcement consequences are serious

As most parents are aware, a child support order establishes the legal obligation of a parent to make child support payments. Child support orders commonly include details related to the amount of child support owed and the frequency by which it must be paid. While child support orders generally include basic information related to how child support is paid, orders are also specific to the parties.

Florida helps to enforce child support orders and collect child support payments that are owed. If child support is not timely paid, there are a number of consequences which serve as methods of child support enforcement. The state may send parents who fail to timely make child support payments late payment notices and may report the non-payment through the credit reporting process. The state may also engage in income withholding, wage garnishment or intercept federal income tax refund monies or workers' compensation benefits.

How do I establish paternity and why is it important?

There can be a variety of important reasons to establish paternity for a child. Paternity establishes the legal father of a child. In turn, establishing the legal paternity of a child provides rights and benefits for the child and all parties involved. When a Florida resident has a paternity issue, it can be worth it to understand the benefits, process and expectations related to a legal determination of paternity.

For the child, establishing paternity allows the child to know the identity of the father; have the father on the child's birth certificate; provides access to family medical history for the child; may provide health and life insurance rights for the child when available; provides for a variety of different types of support from both parents; and allows for receipt of important benefits, such as government benefits, when applicable, as well as inheritance rights.

Prenuptial agreements can facilitate important conversations

Prenuptial agreements may be appropriate for all different kinds of people in a variety of different places in their lives and a variety of different situations. Many couples, however, may be intimidated by prenuptial agreements or not fully understand their purpose or how a prenuptial agreement might help them. One useful purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to open important dialogue between the partners concerning discussions the couple may want to have prior to marrying.

The benefits of prenuptial agreements extend beyond the division and protection of assets, though they do that too. Prenuptial agreements open up communication and can help manage expectations between partners. While there may be many benefits to having a prenuptial agreement, prenuptial agreements can also clarify up front how property the partners entered the marriage with will be treated and, likewise, how property the couple acquires together during the marriage will be treated.

What are my rights to spousal support if I get divorced?

Financial security and your financial future can be serious considerations at the end of a marriage and as a couple approaches divorce. Depending on the circumstances, how to support yourself and whether or not you may be entitled to receive spousal support, also referred to as alimony, can be a significant concern.

If one divorcing party has a need for spousal support, and the other party can pay, the court may require spousal support. In some situations alimony may be ordered on a permanent basis. It can also be ordered on a rehabilitative basis, a temporary basis and in some other types of situations. A combination of different types of alimony may also be ordered. Alimony may be required to be paid according to a schedule or as a lump sum.