Child Custody and Child Support

In 2008, the State of Florida changed the laws regarding child custody. According to the new law, neither parent is designated as the “custodial” or “primary residential parent”. The Courts require parents to divide care of their minor children according to what is now called a parenting plan. This plan sets forth the amount of time each parent is entitled to spend with a child and sets out how parents will share in the decisions regarding the children which is called "parental responsibility.  In most cases the parenting plan provides one parent the majority of time with the children, while the other parent enjoys time sharing with the child according to a set schedule.

The main factor that the Court will take into consideration when determining the division of care of minor is the best interests of the child(ren). Many people are misinformed that the mother is always considered the primary caretaker. Today, a father is granted equal consideration and has the opportunity to be awarded more time than a mother with the children. 

Keep in mind that failure to pay child support has no bearing on that parent’s contact with a child.  

RELOCATION  

According to Florida law, once a final order has been entered regarding visitation, a parent cannot move the child’s residence more than fifty (50) miles from the child’s address at the time of entry of the order without the other parent’s written consent or a court order. Failure to either obtain the other parent’s written consent or a court order approving the move could result in the court requiring you return the child to the area from where you moved. Florida law dictates the process for relocation of a minor child; therefore, you should seek the advice of an attorney if you have any questions or concerns.

CHILD SUPPORT

Parents of minor children are obligated by Florida law to provide financial support for the child(ren). This obligation is the right of the child and cannot be waived by either parent.   

Child support is calculated according to child support guidelines set forth in the Florida statutes and take into consideration both parents’ income, the cost of daycare, if any, and the cost incurred to maintain health insurance for the benefit of the children. The Court can also consider the amount of time each parent spends with the children.   

Child support can be ordered by the Court as part of a divorce action or a paternity action, in situations where the parents of the child(ren) have never been married.  

MODIFICATION OF A PARENTING PLAN OR CHILD SUPPORT

Modification of a parenting plan or child support is based on a substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances that occurs after the entry of the final judgment. Modification of child support can be either an upward or downward change in the amount of support a minor child receives. The court will modify child support payments upon a substantial change in the financial ability of either party or the child who is the beneficiary of an agreement or order reaches majority.