Ending your marriage to a person you once thought you would spend forever with can be an extremely overwhelming experience that is difficult to move forward from. As time goes on, though, the hurt will fade away, and your former relationship will just be a memory. However, divorcing someone you share children with is an entirely different type of experience, because you will always be connected to your ex-spouse as long as you are raising your children together. In this blog, we’ll divulge 10 crucial pieces of information that you need to know if you’re divorcing with kids in Florida.
1. All family law cases in Florida are bench trials.
This means that there is no jury involved in rendering decisions – only a judge. This is generally beneficial because judges are extremely knowledgeable and practiced in family law, and are able to remain impartial as they determine the outcome of cases. It is also the best case-scenario when children are involved, because their best interests will be kept at the forefront of their decision-making.
2. The more you and your ex disagree on matters related to your children, the more complex your divorce is likely to be.
If you and your ex cannot come to an agreement on custody, visitation, child support, or other issues, you should prepare for a long and expensive legal battle. You may be able to engage in mediation and discuss your disagreements while seeking alternative solutions that you both find favorable. However, mediation may not be an option if your ex is intent on continuing to fuel the fire of conflict. In the end, litigation may be the only available route, and a judge may need to have the final say. A contentious divorce or custody case has the potential to negatively impact your children, even if you are trying your hardest to keep them shielded from it. This is why it is crucial to ensure that you have an aggressive and capable divorce attorney helping you navigate each step of the process.
3. If your children are under the age of 18, you will be required to take a parenting class.
Even if you and your ex agree on all matters of your divorce and maintain an amicable relationship throughout legal proceedings, you will both be required to participate in mandatory Florida Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Your divorce will not be finalized without verification that you have completed the class, and it must be one that is approved by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
4. Child support is not guaranteed after a divorce.
Under Florida law, there is no guarantee of child support after a divorce. But if there are minor children involved, there is a high probability that someone will be ordered to contribute financially to the other, even if the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent. The funds are expected to go toward the child’s basic living expenses, educational expenses, medical expenses, and other expenses that promote a healthy and positive lifestyle. The court considers several factors in the decision to order child support, such as the economic circumstances of both parents, the type of custody arrangement they have, whether the primary physical custody parent receives alimony, any special needs of the children, and the terms of the parenting plan.
5. Neither is alimony.
Alimony, sometimes referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, are payments made from one person to their former spouse following a separation or divorce. Florida courts will consider several things to determine whether alimony is necessary, including the duration of the marriage, each party’s accustomed standard of living during the marriage, the future financial outlook of each party, and each partner’s individual contribution to the family and marriage.
6. Child support amounts are always determined by the Florida child support statute.
Unless both parents make the exact same amount of money and share the rights and responsibilities of their children, Florida judges will refer to the Child Support Guidelines to calculate the amount one parent will pay to the other. This entails calculating the net income of each parent and then dividing it by the combined net monthly income to determine each parent’s percentage share of the financial obligation. The dollar amount of each parent’s minimum obligation is calculated by multiplying the minimum child support obligation by each parent’s percentage share of the combined monthly income.
7. Florida operates under a 50/50 custody presumption.
In 2023, Florida signed House Bill 1301 into law which set the presumption that it is in a child’s best interest to spend an equal amount of time with each of their parents following divorce or separation, unless this would be in “detriment” to the child. An experienced father’s rights attorney can be an asset to you if your ex isn’t agreeable to sharing custody of your children equally.
8. Divorcing couples must create and agree on a parenting plan.
A parenting plan is a document that outlines how each parent will contribute to raising the children and how they will participate in their upbringing. It should include details regarding custody, timesharing, schooling/education, extracurricular activities, healthcare matters, and other potential expectations and possible conflicts that may arise. Both parents must agree on every aspect of the parenting plan. If disputes continue and there seems to be no compromise possible, a judge will step in and issue the final decree. A skilled family attorney can help you draft a parenting plan with the terms that you and your ex agree on, or step in to mediate in the event that you cannot agree.
9. There are restrictions to relocation.
A parent who has custody in Florida may not move more than 50 miles away for more than 60 days without informing their child’s other parent and obtaining consent. If both parents agree with the move, a written agreement that includes the approval, necessary changes to the visitation schedule, and a record of any transportation that is secured for visitation purposes must be submitted to the court.
If one parent disagrees, the moving parent must file a petition with the court to allow the move. If the non-moving parent does not respond to the petition, the judge presiding over the case will generally allow it, as long as it is in the child’s best interests. If the non-moving parent does respond, the case will proceed to a hearing and a judge will issue the final ruling.
The Men’s Divorce Law Firm Fights For Men And Fathers
If you’re currently going through a divorce and want to ensure your parental rights are protected, allow our team to apply our experience and proficiency to your case. We are an award winning firm with a record of success for countless clients across Central Florida. Call to schedule your initial consultation and to learn more about our exceptional level of service.