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South Florida Family Law Blog

Quitting work may cause imputed income for child support purposes

Many divorcing parents in Florida who have children are typically aware that there will most likely be a child support order issued by the court at some point in time. Most parents want to properly support their children and comply with the state’s law for doing so. There are, however, times when a parent unwisely decides to stop working with the hope of escaping a child support order.

The amount of child support a court will order is based on guidelines defined under Florida law. Among other factors, the child support guidelines require consideration of both parents’ income. But what happens if one parent does not work?

Family feuds over ownership of double basses

Most in Davie might assume that domestic disputes requiring legal intervention only occur between spouses. However, that is not always the case. Parents and children can end up feuding for years over the circumstances of a divorce. This may come as little surprise to some given that children are equally as affected by a separation as their parents are. Yet the hope is that the age-old adage of time healing all wounds will eventually overcome any issues related to the breakup of a family. Yet sometimes, it may only serve to open new ones. 

That appears to be what is happening in a dispute involving a retired professional bassist in Illinois and his two adult daughters. At the center of the disagreement are two supposedly priceless double basses that the man played during his career. He alleges that after he and one of his daughters had a falling out late last year, she and her sister began to fear that they might be cut out of his will. Thus, he believes they chose to keep the instruments to ensure they would get something. His daughters disagree, saying that the terms of his divorce decree from their mother bequeathed the basses to them, and that their father had abandoned them anyway when he moved out of his home in 2014. They claim to fear that he wants to now sell them due to him and his new wife needing money. A judge is set to rule on each side's claim shortly. 

Nominal alimony can preserve a spouse’s rights later

Few issues in some divorces are more important to the parties than that of alimony. There are many guidelines used by the Florida courts to determine whether alimony is appropriate and if so, the level at which the obligor will be paying the obligee.

Often, divorce cases resolve by settlement of the relevant issues, including alimony, so that the judge need not decide the issue. Other times, the judge, upon a party’s request, will make an order when settlement is elusive on an issue. Because financial status can change, a party may want to make sure that the issue of alimony is modifiable down the road, even if not needed at the time of the divorce.

Same-sex marriage, divorce and equal rights

The romanticized appeal of spending a lifetime with someone can, unfortunately, go awry. When this happens, a multitude of issues can also come about, especially those involving legal matters. When a same-sex couple decides to divorce in Florida, those legal matters can become all the more complicated. Those complicated issues stem from a larger, highly debated topic: that of statewide gay rights. 

Issues also largely arise from the fact that same-sex divorce is, to many states, a complex process. Yet recent years have reflected a gradual complaisance on this subject, as Daily News reported on the first gay divorce in Florida in 2014. Granted by the same judge who helped deem the state's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, divorces of same-sex couples in Florida also involve other legal factors. Daily News goes on to share that because this ruling of gay marriage as unconstitutional came in a divorce case, it has the effect of also declaring that out-of-state same-sex marriages should be recognized in Florida. Only months after this event occurred, Florida would legalize gay marriage completely.

How do I help my kids when my ex is uninvolved?

After you go through a divorce in Florida, it may be difficult to help your kids work through their painful emotions. The new living arrangements and family structure may be more complicated if your former spouse appears to be emotionally distant from the children and does not honor the visitation schedule. In those cases, your role as an involved parent may become even more vital to your children's recovery process.

Parents states that, in virtually any divorce situation, you should try not to speak badly about your ex in front of your kids. If the other parent misses a visitation, your children will probably already feel badly enough without hearing your criticism about this important person in their lives. However, it is also wise to reassure the children that failure to make visitation does not indicate a problem with the children themselves. If they ask questions, be honest about the circumstances, while reassuring the children of their worth and your unconditional love.

“Gray divorce” trend continues

While overall divorce rates have remained relatively stable for years now, the dissolution rate for one demographic group has steadily risen – people over 50. Pew Research reports that the divorce rate for that age group has doubled since 1990 (now there are an average of 10 divorcing couples for every 1,000 married people, up from just five in 1990).

The rate at which divorces increased for people over 65 has gone up even more dramatically. This age group sees more than triple the amount of divorce now than in 1990 (six splits for every 1,000 married people, compared to two in 1990). So, if divorce rates haven’t climbed, what is the reason for the sharp uptick in older people ending their marriages?

What if the other parent doesn't honor our time-sharing schedule?

When you received the Florida court order for your parenting plan, you and your child's other parent became legally bound to honor it. If he or she is not letting you spend your share of the time with your child, unless there is a very good reason, you may be able to have the issue corrected in court.

According to the Florida Statutes, the judge's main concern in any custody arrangement is the best interests of your child. The goal of the time-sharing schedule is to ensure that you and the other parent each have enough quality time with your child to develop a healthy parent-child relationship. Typically, the court will see a refusal to comply with the schedule as interfering with the best interests of your child, and the situation is treated seriously.

Felony charge awaits man who refused to pay child support

Most in Davie likely understand that fulfilling a child support obligation is very serious. Those who fail to do it could face potentially serious criminal penalties, including jail time as well as being required to pay fees and restitution on top of their arrears. Yet the perception might be out there that the criminal penalties one may face for failing to pay child support are relatively minor. Those who subscribe to this assumption may be shocked to find out that is not the case. 

A Tennessee man is currently learning this lesson the hard way as he was recently sentenced to five years in prison for failing to pay his child support. It was reported that in all, he has only paid $40 of the over $23,000 that he actually owes, and that payment came after his arrest. Authorities ended up charging him with a felony, which mandates that he serve at least four years of his sentence. After that, he will still be required to pay over $23,000 in restitution. 

Default on alimony and pay with Social Security

With a Florida divorce, often comes obligations for alimony, also known as spousal support, by one of the parties to the other party. Usually the financially stronger spouse will be paying the spouse with less financial wherewithal.

As reported by Forbes, it is not unusual for the obligated party to fail to pay the other party. This could be due to job loss or developing financial problems, or simply out of spite. Delinquent alimony

LGBT couples should obtain legal rights of children

You love your children more than anything. You have enjoyed raising them. You like to watch as they learn new things and explore the world. You can see their personalities developing. They surprise you with new quirks every day. You like to listen as they tell jokes and learn new stories. You are their parent. You and your partner have raised them together.

You are not their biological parent, but regardless, you are theirs and they are yours.

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