ISSUES INVOLVING CHILDREN
CHILD CUSTODY & VISITATION
When you talk about timesharing in the context of a family law matter, no one seems to know what you mean. They wonder if you are talking about some sort of real estate transaction or your vacation rental. Timesharing is the term Florida law uses to refer to what everyone commonly referred to as “custody and visitation.” Gone are the days when one parent received “primary custody” and the other parent received “visitation” with a child. Today, it is assumed that every parent wants an equal right to see their child and be involved in the day-to-day decisions of raising their child. The courts presume that both parents will share in the responsibilities of raising their child, unless it can be proven that this would be detrimental to the child.
Each set of parents in every divorce or paternity action are asked to determine a Parenting Plan for their child. This plan sets out the rights and responsibilities of each parent. It is a detailed plan that sets forth the following types of issues related to each individual family:
How the parents will share time (overnights) with the child;
How the holidays will be shared;
Whose home will be used to determine school boundaries;
How the parents will be responsible for health care and extra-curricular costs;
How the parents will share the child-rearing decisions/responsibilities;
How the parents and child will communicate with one another;
Decision making for the child’s medical, educational and religious needs;
And many more issues.
The court has the discretion to determine whether a plan agreed to by the parents is in the child’s best interest. If the parties can reach no agreement, the court can determine all of these issues after a trial. The court will consider a multitude of evidence including, but not limited to: witnesses (teachers, day care providers, family members, counselors, etc.), the testimony of the parents, medical and school records of the child, to name just a few.
Determining timesharing is one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of any family law matter. Contact our office today at (386) 256-3057 to discuss your options. Kim will assist you in trying to reach an amicable agreement with the other parent, but if settlement is impossible, she will represent you in obtaining the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Every child has a right to be provided for by his or her parents. Under Florida law, both parents have a duty to support their child after a divorce or paternity action. Parents are not allowed to waive child support. If the parents do agree to waive support, this agreement can be set aside, if challenged. Child support payments are generally made until a child reaches 18 years of age or graduates high school. Parents do not have a legal duty to support children after they have become adults, nor do parents have a court ordered duty to pay for a child’s college education.
There is a guideline set forth by the Florida Statutes that calculates child support. This mathematical formula factors in each parent’s income, the number of children to be supported, the cost of health insurance for the parents and the child, day care costs for the child and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. The number of overnights each parent spends with the child has a significant impact on child support amounts. The court can order a five (5) percent deviation from the guidelines, considering all of the information above. A departure of more than five (5) percent requires written findings by the court.
Unlike alimony, child support is not taxable to the receiving parent, nor is it deductible by the paying parent. In most cases involving child support, parents often negotiate who may claim the dependency exemption associated with each child.
Should you find yourself in need of advice regarding establishing or modifying child support to help you provide for your child, please contact our offices at (386) 256-3057.
Many children today are born to parents who are not married to one another. A paternity action can be filed by either parent to identify the biological father of a child, and to establish each parent’s respective rights and responsibilities to that child.
Paternity can be established in many ways. A child born to a married couple is legally presumed to be the child of the husband. An unmarried couple who have a child together, and then marry, have established the husband as the father of the child by virtue of the marriage. Parents can also execute certain documents to establish who is the father of a child. However, simply establishing a man as the “father” of a child does not necessarily imbue him with rights to the child or the responsibility to help support the child.
In order for the parents of a child born out-of-wedlock to be certain what each of their respective rights and responsibilities are (i.e. timesharing (custody/visitation), child support, parental responsibility, etc.), he or she must file a paternity action with the court. Whether you need to establish the paternity of your child, or enforce the rights and responsibilities you have as a parent, Ms. Banister’s knowledge and skill can assist you and explain all of your legal rights and obligations. Call today at (386) 256-3057.
RELOCATION OF A MINOR CHILD
In today’s world very few of us remain in the location we were born in. Often, after divorce, parents are required to relocate. Some of the reasons they may need to move are to pursue a new job opportunity, an educational opportunity, to relocate due to the job or educational needs of a new significant other and/or the need to be near family. There are many reasons why a relocation can become necessary for a family. The relocation of a child can cause significant hardship on the non-relocating parent. Relocation affects the other parent’s ability to spend time with the child and have the ability to be involved with and exercise his or her right to make decisions affecting the life of the shared child.
In order to relocate a child more than 50 miles away “as the crow flies” from their residence at the time of the last court order, the relocating parent must have the written permission of the other parent. This permission must indicate what the timesharing arrangements will be and what the travel arrangements will be. Once this agreement is made, the parties must have the court review the agreement and approve it as being in the best interest of the minor child.
If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding relocation, the relocating parent may petition (ask) the court for permission to move. This petition has specific requirements including providing the proposed timesharing schedule and transportation arrangements to name a few. The other parent will have twenty (20) days to object to the proposed relocation. If he or she fails to object in writing to the court within that time period, their objection will be waived and the relocation will be permitted. If the non-relocating parent objects, the court will determine whether or not it is in the child’s best interest at a hearing. The court must consider a laundry list of factors in making this determination including, but not limited to: the child’s relationship with both parents, the non-relocating parent’s involvement with the child, whether the move will enhance the quality of the child’s life, etc.
In some cases, the relocating parent will be permitted to move temporarily, pending final hearing. This temporary relocation is not given any weight at the final hearing on relocation. If a parent relocates without the permission of the other parent or the court, the court may require the return of the child pending further hearing. The improper relocation of a child may have impact on any subsequent modification of timesharing (custody) actions that may be brought. Relocation is a common, life altering situation for both parents and the child involved. If either you or the other parent is planning on moving more than 50 miles from your current residence, or if you want to dispute a proposed relocation, contact Ms. Banister at (386) 256-3057 to preserve your rights and fight for your family.