Divorce and Children in Florida: What You Need to Know
Divorce is often a very emotional situation. Both parties often have a difficult time ending the marriage and dividing the assets and establishing legal obligations to their soon-to-be ex-spouse. Determining child custody and parental rights is often the most difficult task for both parties.
Florida believes strongly in shared parental responsibility. It is very difficult to establish sole custody or single parent status in a divorce in Florida unless there has been documented abuse of the children presented to the Court.
Even then, Florida may provide the other parent with the right to visit their children under special protective circumstances.
It is the belief of the Florida courts that regardless of the ability of the parents to get along in a marriage, they are both responsible for the upbringing of the children.
Even if the children live with one parent more than the other, both parents retain a legal right to make decisions about the health and welfare of the children of the marriage.
The Court will require that a parenting plan is created and presented to the Court for approval before the finalization of the divorce is granted. This parenting plan will include living arrangements, visitation rights, decision making plans, and all other issues pertaining to the welfare of the children.
Required Parenting Class
Florida now requires that all parents attend a Court approved parenting class prior to the dissolution of marriage. This class is designed to prepare the parents for raising children as a single parent and informs them of their responsibilities to the other parent after the divorce.
This is a mandatory class and varies in length by county. Your divorce attorney will inform you of the available classes in your area. Proof of completion is necessary for the divorce to be finalized.
Also Read – 8 Things to Ask Your Divorce Attorney
Financial support of the children is determined on the net wages of both parents and the number of children in the marriage. Florida Statutes has created a chart that establishes the amount of child support that is necessary based on these two factors. Preference is not given to either parent at this point; the support is based on income levels alone.
However, there may be other factors that are presented to the Court that may require one or the either parent to provide additional forms of support while the children are minors.
This may include:
- Health insurance coverage for children
- Additional support for special needs children
- Expenses related to schooling
- Expenses related to extracurricular activities
Establishing support guidelines is often the most difficult part of the negotiation process for finalizing the divorce. Although Florida has established specific guidelines for support amounts, there are often too many other circumstances surrounding the support to just go by these figures.
Your child support attorney tampa, Fl will have to create a support plan for the children and present it to the opposing attorney for their approval. Once negotiations are completed, the final figures must be presented to the court for approval.
The Court reserves the right to change or alter any support plans if it feels that the plan is not in the best interest of the children.
Relocation of the Children After Divorce
Florida has very strict laws and procedures concerning the relocation of children after a divorce. Relocation is defined as moving 50 or more miles from the area where the children currently live for a period of 60 or more consecutive days.
Divorced parents must understand that relocating the children without the express consent of the other parent, and with the proper court documentation filed and approved, is against Florida law.
Parents who desire to relocate their children must file a petition with the Court establishing that they need to relocate and the reason for that relocation. The other parent is given a limited number of days to respond to that petition. The response, or lack of will determine how the Court rules on the relocation petition.
Overall Best Interest of the Children
Overall, the best interest of the children is always foremost on the agenda of the Florida Court System. Florida does not give preference to either parent when it comes to custody or support, and encourages both parents to take part in raising the children, even though they are divorced.
The Court will always consider outside factors regarding the children, such as who the child has a closer relationship with or work schedules. They will determine who can provide the most care and how to establish a visitation and living arrangement that is best suited for all parties involved.
While the adults in the marriage are going through a very emotional time when they are getting divorced, the children often suffer the most. Adults can forget how traumatizing the divorce is on the children. The Court wants to make sure that they are protected as much as possible during this stressful time.
Speak To a Florida Divorce Attorney
If you are facing a divorce in the Tampa area, there are many things that you may have questions about concerning your children and how the divorce will affect them.
You are encouraged to speak with one of our compassionate divorce attorney Tampa about your rights as a parent and how Florida laws will impact your divorce and children.