Paternity, time-sharing, and child support cases can be highly emotional and traumatic for everyone involved. You need a lawyer on your side that understand that to help you through the process. Parents often do not know their rights or responsibilities. It is recommended that you obtain the services of an attorney concerning your rights in a paternity case, your children’s rights, and your responsibilities. We can understand and analyze your unique circumstances to help you to make decisions in your best interest and the best interests of your family and we work hard to achieve your goals.
A paternity action is a legal proceeding to establish the paternity of a child. Sometimes the parties agree as to the paternity of the child. Sometimes it is disputed and a DNA test is used to establish paternity or disestablish paternity. Only once paternity has been established can a father of a child born outside of a valid marriage have his rights to time-sharing and parental responsibility determined by a Court. Once paternity is established through such an action a father can seek to establish a parenting plan including time-sharing (custody/visitation) and parental responsibility (decision making). Paternity can also be established by other methods for the purposes of child support but they do not resolve the issues of time-sharing and parental responsibility. Call us for a consultation with one of our lawyers concerning your rights as a parent or your paternity case on (786) 539-4935.
PARENTING PLANS (CUSTODY/VISITATION/PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY)
Public policy in Florida favors that each minor child has contact with both parents after the parents have separated or divorced and that parents share responsibility for all major decisions concerning the child.
In determining time-sharing (custody/visitation) and parental responsibility each parent is meant to be given equal consideration. Usually the court awards shared parental responsibility and both parents share parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. Shared parental responsibility requires that parents discuss major issues and decisions affecting their child and attempt to reach a consensus or agreement. The parents are expected to agree or have the court decide an issue that they do not agree on.
Where warranted by specific facts a court can order ultimate decision making authority or sole parental responsibility be given to one of the parents over all issues or a specific issue. To award sole parental responsibility the court must make a determination that shared parental responsibility would cause harm to the child.
A parenting plan establishes whether the parents have shared parental responsibility or if one parent has ultimate decision making or sole parental responsibility for major decisions affecting a child. It also specifies the time-sharing schedule that the parties will have with a child. It can also specify how and when each parent is meant to be able to communicate with the child during the other parent’s time-sharing. A court is meant to apply the “Best Interests of the Child” standard when considering a parenting plan, time-sharing, custody, and parental responsibility.
Call us to schedule a consultation with a paternity lawyer concerning the issues in your case on (786) 539-4935.
Parents have a legal responsibility to support their child(ren). Usually this legal obligation continues until a child reaches 18, is emancipated, joins the armed forces, or dies. The child support responsibility is based upon the needs of the child, the income of the parents, and the time-sharing schedule, specifically the number of overnights each parent has. Statutory guidelines are used to calculate the amount of support a child needs based upon the income of the parents. Insurance and daycare expenses are then accounted for in the calculation before each parents’ proportion of the total child support obligation is calculated based upon the parents’ incomes.
In a divorce or paternity case the court can impute income if it determines that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. First, the court decides if the unemployment or underemployment that resulted in the termination or decrease in that parent’s income is or was voluntary. Then the court should decide if continuing unemployment or underemployment is the result of the lack of a parent’s use of best efforts to obtain new employment.
The court can impute income based upon a parent’s potential and probable earnings evidenced by their recent work history, qualifications, availability of positions the parent is qualified to take, or even the parent’s living expenses and present lifestyle. A parent seeking to impute income based upon the other parent’s potential and probable earnings must present competent and substantial evidence that the other parent can earn the amount sought to be imputed. The court must then make specific findings based upon the evidence of the source and amount of that available income.
Once a judgment has been entered there needs to be a substantial change in circumstances for the modification of child support if the change was not specified in the judgment. A change in child support could be based upon a change of income, expenses, or court ordered time-sharing. Child support can only be modified back to the date of the petition for modification. So if there has been a change in circumstances warranting a modification of child support it is important to get the petition for modification filed as soon as possible.
It is not legally permissible to withhold time-sharing because the other parent does not pay child support or pays it late.
If you need to talk to a child support layer about the establishment, modification, or enforcement of child support contact our offices to schedule a consultation on (786) 539-4935.
Where a parent wishes to relocate more than 50 miles from their principal place of residence at the time of the last judgment or order setting time-sharing they need to comply with Florida Statute 61.13001 by obtaining a written agreement that complies with the requirements of the statute or obtaining an order of the court allowing for the relocation through a Petition for relocation. Failure to comply with the strict requirements of the statute by the party seeking relocation can lead to adverse orders and the denial of the relocation. Failure to timely object to a petition and comply with the statute by a parent who does not wish the relocation to take place can also result in adverse orders and an order allowing for the relocation.
Navigating the relocation statutes requirements and presenting the correct evidence to the court in a contested relocation case is a complicated process and should be done with the assistance of an attorney who has handled such cases in the past. Call us for a consultation with one of our attorneys concerning relocation on (786) 539-4935.
If you feel a judge’s decision was incorrect it may be possible for you to appeal that decision. While a judge in a dissolution of marriage case has broad discretion it is required that the judge’s rulings and judgment comply with the law and are supported by admissible testimony and evidence presented to the court. Where a judge’s ruling does not comply with the law or is not supported by admissible testimony and evidence presented to the court an appellate court may reverse the trial court’s decision. You need to determine whether to take an appeal of a final judgment within 30 days of the filing of the final judgment. Call us to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers regarding an appeal on (786) 539-4935.