Frequently Asked Questions
In extreme cases, the judge can order supervised time-sharing or no time-sharing at all. These types of cases usually involve instances of abuse against the child or the other parent, parents who are actively involved in drugs or alcohol, or parents who suffer from severe and untreated mental health disorders.
Absolutely not. Child support and time-sharing are treated as separate issues by the court. A parent may not withhold contact with the child because child support has not been paid. By the same token, a parent cannot refuse to pay child support if time-sharing is refused.
In Florida, courts no longer use the term “custody”. Instead, courts use the term “time-sharing” to reflect the time that the child spends with each parent. Simply put, the court uses its discretion to determine what is in the “best interest of the child”. In most cases, the child’s best interest is to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Historically, courts have favored mothers with regard to caring for children, however, in recent years Florida statutes have changed and do not favor one parent or the other based on gender.
Child support is based on a number of factors and is governed by Florida law. Courts look at the income of both parties, health care and insurance costs, cost of daycare or afterschool care, special needs of the child and the number of overnight visits the child spends with each parent. If there is a minor child, the court will almost certainly order child support.
Every divorce is different so it really depends on the facts and circumstances that are unique to your case. Generally speaking, most divorces are resolved between 9 and 18 months. If there are issues that are highly contested or involve complex legal issues, it could be a year or more before it is finalized. The cost of the case depends on the level of complexity involved and how much you and your spouse disagree. The more details you and your spouse can agree on, the less you will pay your attorneys.
Mediation is a process used to settle cases already in the court system in an effort to avoid trial. In Florida, every litigated family law case filed must go through the mediation process before a trial date can be set. A mediator, or a third-party neutral person, attempts to get both sides to concede issues in an effort to “meet in the middle” and resolve the dispute. A collaborative divorce is, quite simply, not litigated. The parties agree at the beginning of the case not to litigate the issues in court.
If you have been previously ordered to pay child support for another child, and you actually pay that support, the amount of support you pay is taken into account when determining child support for any other children for whom child support is later ordered.
A parenting plan is a document that outlines how the parties will parent their children following a divorce. Parenting plans usually include such things as the time-sharing schedule, holiday schedules, travel parameters, child care, education and extracurricular activities. In every action involving children, the court will establish a parenting plan.
A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a written contract between both soon-to-be spouses before they enter into marriage.
A collaborative divorce is an effective way to reach a resolution without resorting to expensive litigation. One option for couples in Florida who wish to stay out of court is to have a collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses and their respective lawyers agree to avoid litigation and come to a settlement agreement without court intervention. Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial way to resolve conflicts in family cases in order to preserve relationships so you can work together effectively both during and after the resolution of your case.
Family law is a broad area of law dealing primarily with issues that arise when spouses separate. The spouses may be married or common-law. These issues typically involve such matters as:
- Parenting (Custody and Access) of Children
- Child Support
- Spousal or Partner Support
- Division of Property and Debts
Usually, the court orders the higher-wage-earning spouse to pay support to the lower-wage-earning spouse.
Ms. Trusik is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, is certified as a Collaborative Divorce Attorney, and is a Guardian Ad Litem for the Second Judicial Circuit.