Articles Posted in Child Support

Child Support Contempt is a common issue with Jacksonville Family law and divorce cases. When it comes to child support, often child support contempt motions are part of the norm.  As a Jacksonville child support attorney and family attorney, I have found that frustrations regarding child support are present on both sides. Parents that receive child support are often bothered when the paying parent fails to make child support payments. The parent required to pay child support is often frustrated when he or she can’t afford to make the payments. Child support contempt proceedings usually come up at some point in these situations.

The Issue if Non-Payment and What to Do About It

Child SupportFailure to pay child support gets the receiving parent charged up. This often leads to motions for child support contempt. Once the motion for child support contempt has been filed and scheduled for a hearing, the filer has to prove two things at the hearing. First, he or she must prove that there is a valid order from the court requiring the other parent to pay. Next, he or she must prove that the other person has failed to pay as required in the child support order while having ability to pay.   Ordinarily, these two things are easy to prove.  The court’s records will, of course, contain proof that there is a valid child support order. Next, the child support payment history will show a lack of payment.

gross income, child supportMoney and finances in divorce and related cases are rarely, if ever, at the very top of a judge’s list of important issues, but child support calculations are important.   For the most part, calculating child support is a simple as running the numbers through a formula set out by Florida law. Where child support calculations can be tricky is when there is a dispute over what numbers are to be used in the child support calculation. In general, child support is determined by taking each side’s gross income (monthly), then subtracting certain allowable deductions to reach the net monthly income. The net monthly income is then used to calculate child support based on the number of children and other factors.

 

Gross Income

Clearly, getting each party’s income correct is an important first step. Chapter 61 says income is “any form of payment to an individual, regardless of source, including, but not limited to: wages, salary, commissions and bonuses, compensation as an independent contractor, worker’s compensation, disability benefits, annuity and retirement benefits, pensions, dividends, interest, royalties, trusts, and any other payments, made by any person, private entity, federal or state government, or any unit of local government. United States Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits and reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation, as defined in chapter 443, are excluded from this definition of income except for purposes of establishing an amount of support.”

Recently, the Third District Court of Appeals, in the case of Schafstall v. Schafstall, affirmed a trial judge’s decision to include in kind payments as gross income. Specifically, the court included, as gross income for the Former Wife, $1300 that the Former Husband paid toward her mortgage and $250 her mother paid toward her phone bill each month.  The Former Wife argued that neither should have been included in the trial court’s calculation. However, the appellate court pointed out that F.S. 61.30 mandates that reimbursed expenses or in kind payments be included if they reduce living expenses. Any payments that come from any person will typically be included as gross income. In the Schaftall, case the appellate court pointed out that the evidence the trial court considered was enough to support the decisions that were made regarding income used to calculate child support. Continue reading

Child support is a major issue in family law. Child support is part of divorce cases and paternity cases. Even dependency cases can have child support issues involved. As a Jacksonville child support lawyer, I have handled many cases involving support from both sides. The person receiving child support and the person paying child support typically just want an amount that is fair.  Child support cannot be bargained away by the parents, as Florida law is clear that the right to child support belongs to the child and not the parents.

child supportOne child support issue that comes up sometimes is created by the scenario where the parent that has the child the majority of the time is not working. This issue comes up a lot more in paternity cases, but can be present in a divorce case, as well. Chapter 61, Florida Statutes and case law control how child support is handled. Florida law allows for income to be imputed to a person that doesn’t have a job or other source of income. The person paying support often is bothered that he or she is required to work and pay child support, while the recipient of child support sits at home and does nothing. In this situation, the court will sometimes treat the non-working parent as if he or she was working and use money that could be earned working 40 hours per week at minimum wage. Income can also be imputed to the person required to pay child support, even if he or she has no actual income.

Child support is based on a formula where each person’s earnings are used to produce an appropriate child support amount. So a parent without employment will be treated as if he or she is earning approximately $1300 per month in net income, rather than using $0 as his or her monthly income. Normally, this will decrease the amount of support due from the person paying child support. However, Florida law also allows the court that is imputing income to a non-working parent to consider what, if any, amount child care would cost in order for the person to work full time. The cost of childcare is high, and it will increase the overall child support number.

Trusts have long been a tool used in asset protection and estate planning to protect property and income.  But  what if a person seeks to use a trust  as a shield to protect a trust beneficiary from making support payments in family law cases?  The answer is not necessarily straight forward, but depends on the circumstances and the terms of the trust.  However, Florida trust law makes it possible for a trust to be used to provide support to a trust beneficiary’s dependents.  This is  limited to child support or spousal support and is only considered when there are no other alternatives to receiving the support that is sought.  The person seeking to attach a trust’s distributions to a beneficiary must demonstrate to the court that certain factors are present that justify going after the trust.  A trust’s spendthrift provision will not defeat a garnishment for support of a dependent.

equalRecently, the 2nd District Court of Appeals, in Berlinger v. Casselberry, upheld a trial court’s order issuing a continuing writ of garnishment against any future disbursements from a trust for the ex-husband’s benefit after the ex-wife filed a motion for contempt and requested a writ of garnishment.  In this case, the ex-husband was ordered to pay a substantial amount of alimony per month.  The ex-husband stopped making the alimony payments, but lived a lavish lifestyle with his new wife.  The couple lived off a trust set up for the benefit of the ex-husband, who had attempted to hide the trust.  After the ex-wife discovered the trust, she requested the writ of garnishment, which the court granted.

The State of Florida holds spendthrift provisions in high regard and will respect them, generally.  However, the State’s policy as it relates to a person’s obligation to support his or her dependents is of higher interest to the State of Florida.  For more information on trusts or family law issues, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PPLC.  Initial consultations are free.

Florida child support is based off of a formula that is used to calculate the amount of periodic payments that have to be made by a noncustodial parent.  The goal behind child support enforcement is to have the parents, rather than the State of Florida, take care of children.  Of the thousands of cases that involve child support orders, some are the result of divorce cases or paternity cases started by the mother or father, while many are the result of legal action by the Florida Department of Revenue.  The Florida Department of Revenue is the state agency that handles child support enforcement.  However a child support order comes into existence, the obligation to support a child or children is taken seriously.  Not paying child support can have consequences that range from suspended licenses, liens on property, contempt of court (which can mean jail time), and more.

child supportAs a Jacksonville child support lawyer, I’ve had many conversations with noncustodial parents when they are behind on support payments.  Many have ignored the payments, typically after job loss or some other event that makes them believe they aren’t required to pay.  If a major even happens that changes your ability to pay or makes you think that you no longer have to make payments, I suggest that you immediately contact a child support lawyer that can help you understand your rights and obligations.  When there is a substantial change in circumstances, child support payments may be modified.  The possibility for change can be upward or downward, depending on the circumstances.

Contacting a child support lawyer is important whether your child support payments are made through an income deduction order or paid directly to the other parent.  Making adjustments to the child support amount on your own without going through the court can lead to some of the penalties listed above.  Call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today to schedule a free consultation.  We can help enforce child support payments, as well.  So whether you’re not receiving the support your child deserves, you need to start a new support case, or a modification is necessary, we can help.

money
“Why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it. “- Unknown

As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I can tell you that the average person that is thinking of divorce worries about the cost of  divorce.  The ugly truth is that divorce can be expensive, but divorce does not have to cost a lot.  There are things that you can do to help keep the costs down during your divorce.

1.  Be Reasonable

movingkidsIn Florida, the biological fathers of children born out of wedlock have few, or no rights, regarding the children until the court establishes paternity.  Florida Statute 744.301 makes a child’s mother the natural guardian when a child is born to unmarried parents.  Mothers are deemed to have automatic custody when the child is born. This means a single mother has the parental responsibility to make important decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing and the child lives with the mother.  Generally, there are two methods for a biological father to gain parental rights. He can formally petition the court for these rights, or he may establish through an informal method with the mother’s consent.

Petitioning the court.

A father may take legal action to establish his parental rights. He can prove that he is the biological father and petition the court for parental rights. In Florida, a father can file a Petition to Establish Paternity to establish parental rights. The court may then issue a parenting plan, which will describe in detail how the mother and father will be responsible for the daily upbringing of the child, the time-sharing schedule, and methods of communication with the child.

After a court has established paternity through this method, the father has the same rights as he would if he were married to the child’s mother. The mother can also ask the court to order the father to pay child support. The amount of child support to be paid usually depends on the father’s income and guidelines established by state law.

What does it mean to be a putative father?

In Florida, the term “putative father” means an individual who is or may be the biological father of a child whose paternity has not been established and whose mother was unmarried when the child was conceived and born. In order to establish rights as a father, the putative father must file a notarized claim of paternity form with Florida’s Department of Health, which maintains the Florida Putative Father Registry. A claim of paternity may be filed at any time prior to the child’s birth, but a claim may not be filed after the date a petition is filed for termination of parental rights. Once a claim is filed with this department, the registrant expressly consents to submit to DNA testing upon the request of any party, the registrant, or the adoption entity with respect to the child referenced in the claim of paternity, according to Florida Statute 63.054.

A claim of paternity form does require the alleged father provide some information such as the name, address, date of birth and a physical description of the mother and the father. It also must provide the date, place, and location of conception of the child if known. Continue reading

Child custody and time sharing battles in Florida divorces are always stressful situations for the people involved.  Jacksonville divorce lawyers and custody lawyers zealously represent clients who each want something different when it comes to custody or time sharing.  The judge hearing the case has to decide what is in the children’s best interest.  This is the standard that is always applied.  What the parties want, including the children, is not the controlling factor.  When the husband and wife are both fit parents and can provide a stable environment for children, difficult decisions have to be made.   So what factors will the judge consider in determining child custody and time sharing battles in Florida divorces?

man-woman-heart-5-1056041-mFlorida Statutes 61.13(3) lists several factors that judges can consider, but gives judges discretion to consider any facts that the judge deems relevant.  Click the link above to view the complete list and the full body of the statute.  Florida’s state policy is that each parent is afforded the chance to build a strong relationship with children.  The first factor on the list of things the judge is to consider is, “The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.”  In view of the State policy and the importance of having both parents actively in children’s lives to help produce healthy, emotionally balanced children, it is no coincidence that this factor is listed first.  Other factors include the future division of parental responsibility, the reasonable preference of the children, school and community records of children, moral fitness of parents, and more.

For help with child custody and time sharing issues, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today at (904) 685-1200.  Initial consultations are free.  Our experienced Jacksonville divorce lawyers can help you understand your rights as a parent and coach you through a stressful divorce.  Our attorneys have years of litigation experience and are prepared to fight for you when needed, but are also skilled in assisting you with uncontested divorces or collaborative divorce.  Schedule a consultation today.

1. “I brought my ‘friend’ with me to the interview.”

You and I have an attorney client privilege. But once you bring in a third party, whether it’s a friend, a lover or whoever, the benefit of the attorney client privilege is gone. Unless that third party is named in the case or otherwise officially associated with the case, there is no attorney client privilege.. If a friend or a lover is in a meeting with attorney and the case goes sour, in the event of a trial or deposition, there is no privilege and all those secrets can spill out in a deposition or in court.

2. “I am so depressed over this.”

The last several days we looked at laws Jacksonville, Florida parents should know about. This is the last installment in this series.

18. I am not sure that I want my kids vaccinated against all of the diseases that my pediatrician recommends. I have heard about negative side effects. Do I have a choice? Section 381.003, Florida Statutes establishes programs for the prevention of preventable disease. The law requires that all children receive vaccines protecting against the spread of diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and other diseases for child-care center or school attendance. There are religious exceptions.

A religious exemption for vaccination is a written form certifying that the parent’s objection to immunization for religious reasons exempts the parent and child from state vaccination requirements. .

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