Both parents have a duty to support their children. The duty is ordinarily enforced through an award of child support from one parent to the other. To calculate child support, the court will usually follow a process in the child support guidelines statute. The process requires the court to consider the gross earnings of each party, subject to certain specified deductions, then apply those net earnings to a chart. Ordinarily, childcare expenses and child health insurance premiums are added to that charted figure. Alimony paid is considered income to the receiving spouse and is a deduction from the income of the person who pays. Each parent’s percentage of support is then calculated and a support figure is generated. When it is reasonably available, payment of health insurance premiums will be required, and the cost of uncovered medical, dental and prescription needs will be allocated.
I realize this is a sad commentary on what excites me, however, I love reading Florida Weekly. Each week not only does it keep me up to date on the latest Florida family law cases, rules, laws and statutes but it gives me several chuckles too. This week I got a great laugh. My newest favorite quote out of the 2nd DCA in the case of Leach v. Kersey: “A reasonable woman who had an eighteen-month affair with another woman’s husband might well expect to hear the scorn of an angry wife.” There you go – we all knew it. Now it it is the law. It’s also a warning. Behave! Otherwise everyone could be reading about the sordid details of your life.
Collaborative Family Law. What is that? I’ve been collaboratively trained since 2008. South Florida and Tampa have had Family Law Collaborative Groups for more than 15 years. It has been in the news lately regarding proposed legislation. The press is helpful so that more families learn about collaborative law and consider it as an alternative to traditional litigation. The premise behind collaborative law is to promise the other spouse or parent not to beat each other up in court, not to hide assets, not to lie, cheat or steal. Instead they agree to act honestly and civilly toward each other to meet their family’s needs, with particular emphasis on shared interests and goals for their children and their assets (particularly family owned businesses). It helps the family decide their fate instead of a judge that does not know them. In the collaborative model, the parties each have their own attorney and they obtain either a neutral mental health professional like a counselor or a forensic accountant and all meet together in joint sessions to resolve their case. Ultimately all they do is give the judge their paperwork to rubber stamp. It’s not great for every case as some people cannot afford to have a forensic accountant and/or a mental health counselor (of course, not all cases needed one or both). For those people who can, it saves litigation costs. On average, Money Magazine says collaborative law reduces litigation costs by more than forty percent.
Alimony – here today, gone tomorrow? Alimony is not going away. Do not let any fool you. Will it be changed? Yes. The legislature is tackling this issue. When will we know all the details? Probably in May with the new law going into effect as early as July, 2015. Will we have alimony guidelines like a few other states? Will we have permanent alimony? Can someone retire? Can someone still get alimony if they entered into another relationship? Florida law has great provisions for all of these important factors for alimony, plus others such as the party’s ages, the party’s income, the party’s health, their education and work before during and after the marriage, supportive relationships, the care and contributions to the other spouses career and education, contributions to the family and children as a homemaker (although rumor has it we can kiss this factor goodbye – sad commentary on the state of our society and whether family really matters or not – yes, that was a play on words just like our logo). All of these are currently covered in our alimony statute and case law. Good lawyer’s know the law and tell other people about them. But everyone’s not a good lawyer. And, just like every profession and every other area of the law, there have been some bad cases out there. I mean, when is the last time you heard anyone say that the law was fair? Whether family law or criminal law – or, do I dare say it, tax law? Why is our reaction to throw the baby out with the bath water? Let’s hope that the new law clarifies and simplifies alimony. Let’s hope it provides more certainty. Stay tuned.
Have you ever looked at your ex and wondered why? Who knew algebra and romance go hand in hand! All kidding aside, Valentine’ s Day is a great time to get out of the romance box and think about real love – for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. God is love and the ultimate source of love. The more and more divorce work I do, the more and more I believe it’s His love that we need. Maybe it seems too late for you, it is not. Use Valentine’s Day as a reminder to draw near to the ultimate source of love and shower the other loves of your life – children, parents, family and friends with love. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Is your current timesharing schedule not working for you and the child(ren)? Did your income change substantially and you need to modify your child and/or spousal support? Florida law allows for a modification of timesharing and/or support under certain circumstances. We will be happy to assist you in determining if modification is an option for you, as well as how best to achieve this change.
Is your former spouse not abiding by the existing court order regarding payment of spousal support or equitable distribution? Is the other parent not following the timesharing schedule or parenting plan that was previously established? At Dahl Family Law Group, we can represent you in your legal proceedings to enforce the terms and conditions of court Orders and Final Judgments already in existence.
Are you married and want your current spouse to adopt your child(ren) from a previous relationship? Under certain circumstances, a court has the ability to terminate the rights of the biological parent and allow your spouse to adopt the children, establishing a legal relationship as if the child was born of the marriage. Let our firm help you to determine if this is an option for your family.
Now referred to as a “timesharing schedule,” our firm can help you to create a visitation plan that works for you, while keeping the best interest of your children in mind. At Dahl Family Law Group, we know that everybody’s situation is different, and will strive to create a timesharing schedule that is specific to your circumstances.
When a child is born to parents that are not married to each other, it creates a very unique set of legal circumstances for everybody involved. Our firm can educate you regarding your rights and can assist you in establishing paternity, disestablishing paternity, or defending you against similar claims.