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Saint Lucie County Legal Issues Blog

Confusion over marital assets, debts can cause divorce issues

It is not uncommon for husbands and wives to share the duties of running their households. While one partner may focus their efforts on caring for their children, maintaining their home and meeting their social and familial commitments, the other may prioritize earning money and ensuring that their family has a strong economic base on which to grow. In traditional Florida households, women may tend toward the more domestic roles of familial support, while men generally focus their attentions on the financial health of their relationships.

It is because of this traditional approach to living that women can often be surprised by money matters when they find themselves in the middle of a divorce. Although gender roles are shifting, women are still more dominant in the home-based roles of supporting their families in non-monetary ways. In fact, there are several financial topics over which women may be shocked to learn the truth of their actual economic pictures.

How to modify child support

Child support modifications are important to be familiar with because it can sometimes be difficult to make required child support payments or an increase in child support payments may be needed. Circumstances such as a job loss, injury, change in marital status, change in household income or a change in the circumstances of the child can create a need for a change in child support.

There are two ways child support can be modified including when the parents agree to the change or the family law court orders it. Knowing how to navigate the process can be helpful. It is important to act promptly when the parent knows they need a change in the amount of child support they are paying and should ensure they continue to make all required child support payments until any change is official.

What factors will courts examine when making custody decisions?

Often, when Florida parents consider how the court will determine who will receive custody of their children, they may consider the many factors related to their kids that can influence the custodial outcome. These factors can include, but are not limited to, the age of the children, the special or medical needs of the children, the preferences of the children and others. However, courts not only focus on the children in custody cases: they also pay attention to particular factors related to the parents.

For example, Florida courts will assess the capacity of the parents to provide loving and supportive homes for their kids. If one parent is more suited to provide these requirements, then they may be more likely to receive physical custody of their kids than the other parent.

Seek assistance before you fall behind on child support

Last week this family law and divorce blog discussed the important topic of child support. Child support is an obligation between a parent and their offspring that mandates that the parent will provide their child or children with financial support. Child support can be imposed through an agreement between the child's parents or by order of the court. As recently discussed, failing to pay child support can not only result in a child not receiving what they need but also serious penalties for the delinquent parent.

There are many reasons that a parent may find that they cannot make their child support obligation work. When hard times hit it can be tough to stretch a meager paycheck or no income to provide for one's self, let alone their monthly payment to their children. A parent who does not have the means to meet their child support obligation may feel cornered and unsure of how to do the right thing.

Spinal cord injuries impact victims differently

Spinal cord injuries can come from a host of causes. No matter caused the injury, you will likely face some challenges while you learn to live your new way of life. While not all of these injuries are associated with paralysis, there is a chance that you will find some limitations or quirks that weren't there before the accident.

Taking the time to learn some basics about the spinal cord and how injuries impact it can be very helpful in these cases. Make sure that you speak to your medical care team at length. Here are a few points to know about these injuries that you might find useful:

What are the penalties for failure to pay child support?

Penalties for failure to pay child support can be significant. Understanding what they are is important for both paying parents and recipient parents when it comes to child support. Simply failing to pay child support in Florida can result in serious penalties and consequences for the parent who is failing to pay.

Penalties and consequences for failure to pay child support in Florida can range from wage garnishment to being held in contempt of court and potentially jailed. Additional penalties can include the possible suspension of a license such as a driver's license or business or occupational license; the denial of a passport; and the interception of tax refunds; the placement of liens on property; and negative credit reporting. Additional potential penalties and consequences are also possible for the failure to pay child support.

Can my ex and I make our own child support agreement?

It is often beneficial for the parties to a Florida divorce to work out their own settlements and agreements regarding the custodial and financial obligations that will keep them bound together even after their marriage ends. When the parties are able to find common ground without the help of a court they are more likely to find satisfaction with the terms they are bound to follow. To this end, Florida parents who elect to divorce or separate may create their own child support agreements.

There are some limitations, though, on how a parent-created child support agreement may be structured. For example, like any contract that parties create, the child support agreement cannot be unconscionable or significantly unfair to one of the parents. If there is evidence that one parent was coerced into signing the agreement then it may not be approved by the courts.

Celebrity parents work out highly detailed custody plan

Working around two parents' schedules and the needs of their shared children can be difficult to say the least. As such, Florida families take their time to prepare child custody and parenting plans that serve the kids' best interests while preserving the parents' rights to be involved in the lives of their children. Custody plans can be changed when needed to accomplish the goals of meeting the children's needs and preserving the relationships between parents and kids; recently, a former celebrity couple established a summer custody schedule that is incredibly detailed in its scope.

Actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were previously marred and together share six children. After their divorce Jolie became the primary custodian of the children but just recently a court ruled that Pitt must have a more substantial part in the lives of five of his kids. The eldest child of the former couple was left out of the new arrangement as he was deemed old enough to decide for himself where he would like to live.

Introduction to the best interests of the child standard

The best interests of the child is an important standard to be aware of because it drives child custody decisions. What it is, is based on a variety of factors the family law court will consider to determine what is in the best interests of the child when making a child custody decision.

Factors the family law court may consider when determining what is in the best interests of the child include the mental and physical needs of the parents; if the child has any special needs and if the parents are able to meet those needs; if the parents have any history of physical, sexual, drug or alcohol abuse; any domestic abuse in the home; the age and sex of the child; and the wishes of the child. In addition, the court will consider religious and cultural concerns; the need for a continuous stable home environment; other children relevant to the child's custody arrangement; the opportunity for interaction with extended family members and the support of the same; interactions with household members; and any adjustment to school and community.

When might a third party be granted custody of a child?

In most family law cases that involve the custody of a child, the parents to that child will be allowed to retain their rights to raise their child in their homes and according to their parenting preferences. Florida parents may be required to share physical and legal custody of their children, but it is generally the case that a child will be placed in the care of at least one of their parents. This determination will be made based on the child's best interests.

From time to time, though, a child's immediate family may not provide them with sufficient support. In cases such as these a court may evaluate how best to serve the child's best interests and may determine that their interests will be served by living with a third party. In third party custody cases it is often a close family member such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent who is awarded custodial power of the child.