If you are going through a family law issue, you may be feeling worried. Our Pensacola family law attorneys are here to make this process easier. Please read about common family law matters below, then give us a call to set up a consultation.

Child Support

In Florida, both parents have an obligation to provide financial support for their children. Child support amounts are set according to a guidelines chart in Florida Statute § 61.13. The current guidelines chart considers number of children, income of each parent, number of overnights spent with each parent, health insurance cost, day-care costs, and any special needs of the children. These calculations can be complex and the assistance of a lawyer is important to make sure the amount of child support is established correctly.

Child support in Florida for each child continues until that child’s 18th birthday, with the following exceptions:

  • The person is between the ages of 18 and 19 and is still in high school, performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduating before turning 19; or
  • The person is considered dependent due to a mental or physical incapacity. Such incapacity must have begun prior to the child turning 18.

Child support can also be established by the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) through administrative proceedings. The DOR is a State agency that is assigned the tasks of establishing, enforcing, or modifying child support orders. All child support orders can be enforced through an income deduction order. This authorizes the DOR to collect child support directly from the employer of the parent paying child support.

Contempt & Enforcement

We can help you enforce an existing order for child support, visitation, alimony, and other orders pertaining to property division.

The failure to pay child support can result in serious consequences, including contempt of court, which could include jail time. The judge must first find that the responsible party is delinquent on child support, the person has the ability to pay the arrears, and that the failure to pay was willful. The judge cannot on his or her own order the non-paying parent in contempt. The parent who is supposed to be receiving child support must first file a motion for contempt with the court and set it for hearing before the judge.

The Department of Revenue can also enforce child support orders. There are different ways the State can go after a non-paying parent, including:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Professional and Driver’s License Suspension
  • Federal Income Tax Intercept
  • Place liens on property

Paternity

Paternity disputes arise when the parents of a child are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth. Paternity can be established in different ways in Florida:

  • Through voluntary acknowledgment of paternity
  • Through a private suit and court order by a judge
  • Through administrative proceedings by the Department of Revenue to establish child support

If paternity has already been established by the State through the DOR, a father might still want to petition the court to establish a parenting plan, with time-sharing and parental responsibility. The DOR can only establish paternity for purposes of ordering child support, but it cannot order time-sharing and parental responsibility. Please see our separate time-sharing and parental responsibility section for information about those issues.

A paternity suit can be brought by the mother in order to establish child-support or other custody rights. A paternity suit can also be brought by the father in order to establish time-sharing and parental responsibility.

Parental Responsibility & Time-Sharing

Parental Responsibility & Time-sharing

Parenting is one of the most rewarding life experiences, but as most of us know, it can also be challenging at times. Co-parenting between two people who do not always agree can add to those challenges. When children are involved, it is important to remember that the children’s interest come first and must always be protected.

Divorce is stressful for both spouses and emotions sometimes get the best of people. Unfortunately in a divorce, children often get stuck in the middle between two opposing parents. At McKenzie Law Firm, we always strive to provide our clients with guidance and representation that will protect your parental rights and your children’s best interest.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is what used to be more commonly referred to as “custody.” Parental responsibility concerns decision making authority over the children. Florida law recognizes three different types of parental responsibility: 1) shared parental responsibility; 2) shared parental responsibility with ultimate decision making authority; or 3) sole parental responsibility.

Shared parental responsibility aims to keep both parents involved with daily life and decision making authority over the children. Judges usually favor shared parental responsibility, unless it would be detrimental to the children.

Shared parental responsibility with ultimate decision-making authority is when both parents try to agree and make joint decisions regarding the children, but if the parents cannot agree, the court can award one parent ultimate decision-making authority (i.e., final say). This means that if the parents cannot agree on issues relating to education, healthcare, or similar issues, one designated parent gets to decide.

Sole parental responsibility means that one parent has the right to make all decisions affecting the children without needing to consult the other parents. Sole parental responsibility is only reserved for cases where one parent cannot be trusted to care or make decisions for the children, there is abuse or neglect, or for some other reason that would be detrimental to the children.

Relocation

The parent who wants to move with the minor child at least 50 miles from his or her residence at the time the last parenting plan was entered, must comply with Florida Statute § 61.13001 to do so. Under the Statute, the parent who wants to move must either obtain a written agreement from the other party or file a verified Petition to Relocate and get permission from the judge.

The judge will ultimately then decide whether the relocation is in the best interest of the child. In doing so, the judge will follow the factors laid out in Florida Statute § 61.13001.

Modifications

Child support can be modified, but only if there has been a substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the last order addressing child-support. The Court can award an increase or decrease in a child-support modification case, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, child support may be modified if there has been a change in the child’s daycare expenses, change in income of either parent, or change in health-insurance costs. The judge will use the child support guidelines chart in Florida Statute § 61.13 to arrive at the new amount of child support.

Parenting Plans and time-sharing agreements can also be modified by the Court. The parenting plan can be changed when both parents agree. This is the easiest and most cost-efficient way of changing a parenting plan. But in some cases, the parents cannot agree concerning changes of the parenting plan. If this happens, the court must decide.

The judge may modify the parenting plan if there has been a substantial, unanticipated change of circumstances and the judge finds that a modification is in the “best interest of the child.”

The first step to modifying an order is to file a Supplemental Petition for Modification. This must be accomplished by filing the Petition with the Clerk of Courts and then having it served on the opposing party. Modification proceedings are similar to original divorce proceedings and require compliance with mandatory disclosure rules and other discovery rules. Modification proceedings are retroactive to the date when the Petition was filed, but the judge cannot change an award of alimony or child-support going back prior to the date of filing. If any of these circumstances apply to your situation, please contact us at McKenzie Law Firm to schedule a consultation.

Call Our Pensacola Family Law Attorneys Today

If you want skilled and dedicated representation for your family law matter, please call our office today. Our Pensacola family law attorneys will help you through this difficult time.