There are several topics concerning minor children which the Broward divorce Court has to rule upon, or the parties have to deal with upon settling their case. The first is child support. Florida uses a statutory formula to determine the amount of child support that one party will pay the other. As a general proposition Florida child support is dependent upon how much time each party gets to spend with the child or children, and how much income each party has.
If there are special needs of the children, that will be taken into account in deciding the amount of Florida child support. Things such as daycare and health insurance for the children are also considered. The attorney will need the paystubs of each party and the time sharing schedule of the parents in order to calculate the child support properly. The Broward divorce Court can deviate from the statutory formula by 5%. (Or more than 5% if there are legally sufficient reasons to do so.)
If a party spends little to no time with their children, their child support will be higher. Child support can be taken out of a party’s paycheck through an income deduction order which an employer must honor. Click Here to see the child support guidelines. If the parties share time with the children equally and they both make the same amount of money, then absent other circumstances, no child support will be due. If the parties share the children equally and one party makes more than the other, then that party will pay child support to the other party.
The parties are not free to just make up their own child support amount. (unless it’s more than the Florida statute requires) And the parties are not free to just “forget about” child support. Failure to pay child support as ordered can result in a finding of contempt of court (and suspension of a driver’s license) and the non paying partying may have to pay the attorney fees incurred by the other in enforcing the child support order.
The other important issue with regard to children in a Broward divorce is time sharing. We no longer use the term “custody” in Florida, or the term “visitation” either. Timesharing means how much time each parent will spend with the children. Unless there is some reason to believe that a party is not a fit and proper person to have timesharing, they will enjoy some meaningful amount of time with their children each week. Parties with children will have to complete a parenting course before their case can be concluded. It is intended that the parties learn how to deal with child related issues now that the parents will no longer be together.
Timesharing will include overnight timesharing. In determining how much time each parent will spend with the children, the Broward divorce Court will first and foremost consider what is in the best interest of the children, not what is in the best interest of the parents. The Court will approve almost anything that the parties agree to with regard to the division of property and alimony as long as there is no coercion or duress, and every body has made full financial disclosure.
But when it comes to child related issues such as child support and timesharing the Broward divorce Court wants to make sure that the best interest of the children are met before they will approve the arrangement or agreement. In fact the parties must agree to a parenting plan which spells out all of the specifics regarding timesharing and other child related issues. (if they cannot agree, the Court will determine the parenting plan) Also, the court can appoint a parenting coordinator to assist with disputes which the parties are having regarding child related issues.
Florida also has what is called shared parental responsibility. This is separate and apart from how much time each party will physically spend with their children. It means that the parties shall share in the decision making process regarding the major issues of the child’s life, such as health, education, religious training, etc. If the parties cannot agree on these issues then the Court will decide. If a party is incapable of making reasonable decisions with regard to the important issues in the child’s life, the Broward Court will assign the responsibility to the other party. If it would be detrimental to a child to be with a particular parent, for example because they have a history of driving the child around while drunk, or because they are incapable of taking care of the child’s physical needs, the Court may order supervised timesharing.
Another area of significant dispute is where one party wishes to relocate with the children a great distance away from the other party. There are very particular rules that apply. The parties can agree to a relocation. But once there is an objection to relocation the Court will look at specific statutory factors to decide if permission to relocate the children will be granted.
If a child is born in Florida during the course of a marriage, that child is presumed to be the legal child of the Husband. If it is shown through DNA or other evidence that the Husband is not the father, then he will have no responsibility for child support or the right to timesharing. (if there is a disestablishment of paternity granted by the Broward Court) If two people have a child but they are not married, then a paternity case is necessary if the biological father wants to be declared the legal father.
It should also be noted that a biological father may be prohibited from seeking to be declared the legal father if the child was born while the mother was married to another man. (because that other man is the legal father of the child) It should also be noted that child support can be modified and timesharing can be modified if circumstances have changed substantially since the entry of the previous time sharing or child support order.
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