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Tampa Family Law Law Blog

Parenting through a divorce

Parents across Florida know it is hard work to make sure their children are happy and healthy, but parenting through a divorce adds an entirely new level of difficulty. Keeping children out of the middle when dealing with the feelings of frustration, anger, and sadness that are often present in a divorce is as necessary as it is challenging.

As the Washington Post explains, making sure the children are safe and well-cared for is the most important step, which means if one parent is not safe for the kids to be around, immediately dealing with that through orders of protection is imperative. However, if the kids are safe around both spouses, protecting them from the animosity should be a focus of both spouses. Even in times of conflict divorcing couples must "find a way to love their kids more than they may hate their exes."

What are everyday expenses in child support terms?

When parents in Florida get divorced, they still have a child to take care of. Child support payments are meant to help bridge the financial gap created after one parent leaves. The other parent is meant to cover everyday expenses, and use the support payments to help.

What exactly are "everyday expenses" when it comes to child support? To know this, you should have a good idea of what constitutes everyday expenses in the first place. What Mommy Does lists monthly household expenses that can be relied on as constants, unlike certain items which may fluctuate based on the month or even the year. Fluctuating items can include cost of heating or cooling, which is seasonal, or non-essential things such as presents near the holiday season.

Exception to narrow Florida grandparents visitation rights

While many grandparents across Florida enjoy close relationships with their grandchildren, for those who do not there is not much legal recourse. Yet for two grandparents in Colorado, the courts have made an exception.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of grandparents who were able to get an order for visitation from the Colorado courts. The grandchildren moved to Florida after their father, the son of the grandparents in question, died, and wanting to have the right to see their grandchildren, they filed a motion for visitation in their state. The mother of the children, who now lived in Florida, filed her own motion. Seven years later, the court decided that honoring the visitation order is in following the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which the U.S. Constitution says requires states to recognize other states’ judicial activities. The decision explicitly stated that the ruling would not apply to grandparents in Florida.

What should you expect when dealing with divorce relocation?

Very rarely in divorce is there a perfect solution to determining child custody and the location of each parent. However, beginning proceedings with an idea of what to expect is an excellent way to maintain objectivity and a positive outlook on whatever the outcome is.

According to the Huffington Post, there are some considerations you can begin thinking through in preparation for making decisions related to child custody and relocation. These include the following:

  • Relocation affects everyone differently: No matter who ends up relocating in your divorce, it is imperative that you remember that relocation affects everyone differently. Do not be fearful of the stories you have heard about children forming adverse relationships with their parents because your situation has the possibility to be wildly different.
  • Not every outcome is convenient: Unfortunately, sometimes you will only be able to agree upon an outcome that is not convenient. In fact, it could even be a lose-lose situation where you are left to learn how to cope with the sudden changes in your life.
  • Put children first: You may have heard about putting the best interest of your children at the head of all decisions. Doing so may not be easy for you, but it can help your children maintain normalcy amid the chaos.
  • Your decision may be unsupported: You may very well face criticism and judgment from your friends and family. Often, people may think they understand the situation, but fail to fully comprehend why you have made a certain decision because they lack the details and facts.

How can you make joint custody work for your family?

Parenting after divorce is not an easy process, but the decisions that you make during divorce can make it easier for every member of the family. Florida parents often choose to parent cooperatively through a joint custody agreement, and while this will not work well for every family, it could be a positive decision for yours.

If you choose to work on a joint custody arrangement, it will require a willingness from both parents to set aside differences and work cooperatively for the best interests of the kids. With preparation, planning and dedication, you and your child's other parent can make joint custody work long into the future. 

Penalties for unpaid child support

Paying child support is essential for any parent in Florida who has a court order to do so. The Florida Department of Revenue explains that the court order specifies how often child support payments should be made, as well as how much they should be. The money goes toward food, clothing and shelter for the child, which is often enough motivation. 

Because many people do not send child support to the custodial parent as ordered, the agency has the authority to take any of the following actions to collect and deliver the funds:

  •          Require employers to withhold wages
  •          Take workers’ compensation payments
  •          Garnish money from personal bank accounts
  •          Take winnings from Florida lottery payouts of at least $600
  •          Intercept a state income tax refund

The difference between marital and separate property

When people file for divorce in Florida, there are many issues to resolve. Dividing marital property is one of the largest topics to tackle when creating a divorce settlement. It can be difficult to split the property that people have become attached to throughout years of marriage. However, not everything is eligible for division upon termination of a marriage. There are some items that may stay with the original owner once the divorce is finalized.

Separate property is not considered marital and is not eligible for division once a marriage ends. This involves property and/or assets that either party owned prior to the marriage, as well as any gifts given to either party during the marriage. Furthermore, inheritance that was given to either spouse before, during or after the marriage. Separate property can, however, easily become marital if the title of the property is modified to include the other spouse’s name or if the assets are deposited into an account shared by both parties.

What are the alimony payment enforcement procedures?

If you are receiving alimony in Florida, you may wonder what you can do if your ex-spouse stops paying the court-ordered alimony. This is a common issue that the law has set standards for. The Florida Statutes state that a person who stops paying alimony without a prior agreement or order to do so will be held in contempt.

If this happens, your ex-spouse will have to go to court. The court can make the person attend job training, report income directly to the court or actively look for employment if unemployed. The court may also charge court fees to your ex-spouse. It is the responsibility of the person charged with contempt to prove that he or she cannot pay the alimony as ordered.

Why you should say I do to a prenuptial agreement

No one gets married with the expectation that their marriage will fail, but some Florida couples will find it greatly beneficial to put certain legal protections in place before saying I do. Marriage is an exciting step, but before you walk down the aisle, you may want to consider the benefits of drafting a prenuptial agreement.

Not everyone needs a prenuptial agreement, but for many couples, it is the wisest and smartest step. This small effort can be greatly beneficial for the future, not only in case of a divorce, but also because of the peace of mind that this protection can bring.

Proposed law to reform spousal support

Spousal support, or alimony as it is commonly referred to in Florida, is a hot button issue in many divorces. According to the Sun Sentinel, the Sunshine State is one of only a few states that have lifelong spousal support payments. As things currently stand, Floridians who divorce and receive alimony payments will continue to receive them for the length of their spouse’s life. The exception is that those payments stop if the supported spouse remarries.

The law has been discussed frequently by the state Legislature, and it is again the subject of a reform bill being debated in the House. Two years ago a similar bill made it all the way to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk, but it went unsigned due to the retroactive nature of the bill, which gave him pause. The version currently at issue has no such clause. In its current state, the bill would use a formula to calculate how much spousal support one should receive and for how long based on both the difference in income and the number of years a couple was married.

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