Frequently Asked Divorce And Child Custody Questions
Below, please find answers to commonly asked parental rights, custody/time-sharing, and divorce questions. These answers only apply to the state of Florida. Please remember, every case is unique. Should you have additional questions, please call 561-303-0400 to schedule a strategy planning session with me, attorney Jennifer H. Milne. For more in-depth answers, you can visit the South Florida Legal Rescue blog.
Will the court determine whether one party is at fault for the termination of the marriage?
No, Florida is a no-fault state. Thus, the marital indiscretions of one spouse will not result in the favorable treatment of the other spouse.
I am contemplating divorce, are there any steps that I should take prior to leaving my spouse?
Absolutely. Prior to leaving your spouse, you will want to gather as much paperwork as possible, including copies of your spouses most recent pay stubs and past three W-2s. This is especially true where your spouse is self-employed. A lot of information can be obtained through discovery, but it is easier and more reliable to gather this information yourself as a spouse may not comply with discovery requirements.
Change all your passwords and pins (computer, ATM cards, credit cards, ebay, amazon, etc.; basically if there is a password or pin, change it!) and keep the new passwords in a safe and secure place. Do not use passwords that your spouse can figure out, like your child’s middle name or even your childhood cat. You need to secure non-joint bank accounts by ensuring that only you have access to the accounts funds. Lastly, you need to get off social media. It is time to shut down that Facebook account. Even if your spouse does not have access to your page, someone sympathetic to your spouse may. An attorney can provide you with additional information.
What will a divorce cost me?
There is a huge range depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested and whether both parties can agree on a Marital Settlement Agreement, which includes property division and time-sharing of the children. At South Florida Legal Rescue, I am committed to providing clients with affordable prices.
Can a final time-sharing or child support court order be changed?
Yes, but there must be a showing of a material and substantial change in circumstances. The requested change must also be in to best interests of the child.
How is child support calculated?
Child support is calculated using the Child Support Guideline Worksheet. The worksheet factors in the time spent with each parent, the parents’ incomes, and the child’s needs such as medical and daycare expenses and medical health insurance.
I filed paperwork that was incorrect. Can I fix my mistakes?
Some mistakes can be fixed by filing the proper paperwork with the court. Other mistakes which have resulted in the court issuing a final order are much more difficult to fix. With family law, time really is of the essence.
What can I do if I am being denied access to my child?
It depends on whether there is a court order in place and, in the case of fathers, whether paternity has been established.
What can I do to better my chances of receiving more time-sharing?
Prior to requesting time-sharing, make sure you are involved and active in your child’s life. Help them with schoolwork and attend their extracurricular activities. Even better, volunteer at school (if you don’t have a ton of time, just for a field trip or special event) or as a coach. If your residence is new to them, make sure your child feels safe and comfortable in your home. You can either buy items or just hang up crayon pictures that you draw together. This includes feeding them nutritious meals. If you have scheduled visitation with them, always show up on time with a plan for the day. If you are doing something fun, take lots of pictures. Keep a daily journal.
How long will it take to get a custody/time-sharing order?
A final custody/time-sharing order will take some time and largely depends on the court’s docket. In the meantime, a temporary order can be issued fairly quickly.
In a custody battle, do the courts favor mothers over fathers?
No, Florida has abandoned the tender years doctrine, which presumed the mother to be the better caregiver. Under the tender years doctrine, no matter how active or fit a father was, courts often granted significantly more custody to a mother. Today, absent a showing that a father is unfit, courts will grant liberal time-sharing to both parents.
Is access to my child contingent on paying child support?
No, time-sharing/visitation is not contingent upon payment of child support. One parent cannot deny another parent access to their child because of failure to pay child support.
I do not want this to get ugly. Can we stay out of court?
Yes, in a contested divorce, both parties will have to attend mediation. Most divorces are settled in mediation. However, collaborative divorce mediation is another structured and non-costly alternative to traditional court divorces. Whenever possible, I highly, highly recommend collaborative divorce mediation.
Am I entitled to alimony?
The courts will determine whether a spouse is entitled to alimony based on a specific set of criteria. Thus, each case is unique and fact-specific. It is best to consult with an attorney.
What are the grounds for divorce in Florida?
To obtain a divorce in Florida, only one party needs to claim either irreconcilable differences or mental incapacity of the other spouse. The alleged incapacitated spouse must have been adjudicated mentally incapacitated for three years prior to the divorce filing.