At Dahl Family Law Group we esteem men too. Most of us are married to them or are raising sons to become great men, husbands and fathers. So do not read this title and think I am bashing men. But sometimes a man should think before going into a divorce or family law matter (especially going into Court) on whether a woman attorney might serve his needs better. Many a man will tell you they left court and felt the result was not fair because it seemed the Court saw things as two men beating up on the little woman. I have had several male clients tell me they flat out hired me because I was a woman that worked and would not automatically expect every wife to stay at home. Another said only women can figure out other women and I need someone to figure this out. One of my favorite clients complemented that his soon-to-be ex-wife’s crocodile tears did not phase me.
In most circumstances, a judge will Order a “shared parenting plan” for the minor children. This means that both parents have a right to have full information about their children, and to share in making major decisions for the children. Just because the children live primarily with the other parent does not give that parent greater say in the children’s upbringing.
Occasionally for very special reasons, a judge may determine that one parent or the other should have the ultimate responsibility to make decisions in a particular area of the children’s lives.
If the parents, after good faith efforts, are unable to agree about a major decision affecting the child, (i.e., which school the children should attend) the court, upon motion, may decide the issue or designate the parent who will make that decision.
Sole parental responsibility may be awarded, usually rarely, to one parent when shared parental responsibility would be detrimental. Convictions of child or felony spousal abuse is a consideration and a presumptive factor in determining detriment, so is active drug charges. A court will also consider as evidence the fact that a person has provided false information in a domestic violence proceeding.
DIVORCE OVERVIEW (WITH CHILDREN), part 2
Questions involving children are more complex and emotionally charged. Who will the children live with during the process of and after the divorce? Who will make the decisions about where they go to school, what activities they will participate in, whether they need braces (and who pays for them), and how often they are with the other parent? What about vacations from school, annual trips, and summer camp? Where will the children spend their birthdays and holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover, and Easter? What about the parents’ birthdays, Mothers’ Day, and Fathers’ Day? Usually, each parent wants an arrangement that keeps these things the same but this is not possible when considering two separate households.
Florida courts will generally give both parents shared parental responsibility. This means each parent has a say in decisions about the child. Time sharing varies in each case. Parents can often divide the child’s time as they wish, as long as they are in agreement, and some can be pretty creative in a plan that is best for all. The courts, however, do not get creative. In LakeCounty, there is a standard arrangement that may be implemented if the parents cannot agree.
The next issue to be addressed is child support. Parents are often under the impression that child support is based on the actual expenses related to the children. This is not true. Child support is based on the income of the parents. A chart, mandated by law, is used which specifies how much money is to be paid. The amount is based on net income. There are several legal hoops to jump to determine “net” income. If a child lives with Mom, Dad pays child support based on net income, not on how much money Mom actually spends on the child each month. Child care and health insurance costs may also be taken into consideration.
What about my pets? While they aren’t children, we understand that you may be the parent of a pet that is caught in the middle. Stay tuned to our next blog to find out who gets the dog!