You live in Florida and your child lives in Florida. You have determined that you will not reconcile with your partner, either because you don’t want to reconcile or because your partner doesn’t want to reconcile. You must first think about these 5 things before taking any other steps:
1. Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan considers which parent will be responsible for what aspects of your child’s upbringing, otherwise known as parental responsibility. The Florida legislature has determined that it is the public policy of this state to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of child rearing. The trial judge must order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the judge finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. In ordering shared parental responsibility, the judge may consider the expressed desires of the parents and may grant to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parties based on the best interests of the child. Areas of responsibility may include education, health care, and any other responsibilities that the court finds unique to a particular family. The judge must order sole parental responsibility for a minor child to one parent, with or without time-sharing with the other parent if it is in the best interests of the minor child.
2. Time sharing Schedule. A time sharing schedule is when the child will spend time with each parent. There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.The Florida legislature has determined that it is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved. If you have young children, you should remember that the timesharing schedule should contemplate the child’s near term needs and the child’s long term needs. Timesharing schedules should allow for flexibility but should provide certainty so that each parent may plan their activities with the child. Child support will vary depending on the timesharing schedule, so that a parent who spends more than 20% of the time with the child (overnight) in a year with the child will receive a lower child support calculation than a parent who spends less time with the child or children.
3. Cost of Extra Curricular Activities, Child Care, and Medical Expenses. Both parents have a duty to support their minor children. In determining child related issues, a court will establish child support in accordance with Florida’s Child Support Guidelines. If your child requires day care, after care, or summer camp, these costs are generally built in to the child support obligation, along with the costs of health insurance and payment of uncovered medical, dental and vision expenses. Whether you are the payor parent or the payee parent (that is the parent who will pay child support or the parent who will receive child support), you should know the costs of caring for the child in the short term and in the long term. As children age, the need for child care becomes less expensive and may be unnecessary altogether. Knowing these costs before you begin the divorce process will save you money in the long term if you are the parent paying support to the other parent.
4. Income of the Parents. Child support is calculated based on, among other things, each parent’s income. Income is a defined term for child support purposes. If you are a wage earner, on salary, with no overtime or bonuses, then calculating income for child support purposes is easy. If you are self employed, if you are a salesman, if you are a business owner, or if you receive commissions, bonuses, or overtime, then income calculation becomes much more complicated. In cases where income is not easily determinable, because one parent is in sales or receives income that varies from month to month, there are often disputes about what income means for that parent for child support purposes.
5. Contemplated Changes in your personal circumstances. If you are planning to relocate your residence or change your employment at the time you divorce, you should think about how those contemplated changes will affect your Parenting Plan, your time sharing schedule, and your child support obligation.
This article is for general informational purposes only. This article is not legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of an experienced Family Lawyer. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based on advertising alone. Contact me to provide information in writing about my qualifications. Visit my website at http://www.DoreenVarela.com for more information about me and about my qualifications. Call 561-820-0811 to discuss your particular circumstances in confidence.