Unmarried with Children: Your child custody rights in Florida

Unmarried with Children: Your child custody rights in Florida

Child Custody Out Of Wedlock – Legal Issues

Unmarried parents often deal with a number of difficult situations when it comes to child custody and child support. An unwed mother might find that the father of her child refuses to acknowledge paternity and refuses to pay child support.  An unmarried father whose partner contests his paternity may find it impossible to receive custody rights or visitation with his child. In some cases, an unmarried father may be forced to pay child support for a child that is not his.

While most people understand child support, custody and time-sharing in terms of the divorce process, parents who were not married at the time a child was born have the same rights to seek these things on behalf of their children. When it comes to the rights of parents in Florida, the law does distinguish between married parents and unmarried parents. Regardless of your marital status though, you do have certain rights regarding the custody and support of your child. The one big difference is that parents who are not married have to establish their rights through a paternity action. A court-ordered DNA test may be required to identify the biological father.

As the relationship ends for unmarried parents, both the Mother and Father have to understand the importance of a paternity determination. Mothers should know that although a Father’s name may not appear on a child’s birth certificate, the Father may have the right to have it added. Fathers need to know that they must fill out the Florida Putative Father Registry form in order to start the process of establishing your rights.

When it comes to the rights of parents in Florida, the law does distinguish between married parents and unmarried parents.

Regardless of your marital status though, your child(ren) come first. A child is entitled to financial support from both parties. Of course, before child support provisions can be made, you have to establish paternity. Note that while the Department of Revenue (DOR) is helpful on obtaining child support, DOR may incorrectly calculate child support because it does not participate in certain discovery practices to determine the accuracy of the parties’ incomes and parents could receive less or must pay more than required by law. additionally, DOR does not have the ability to represent parents on other issues involving custody, timesharing, residence of the child and relocation.

An experienced Family Law and Custody Attorney, can help both unmarried mother and fathers establish their rights as it relates to their children and assist in obtaining the correct amount of child support. As with any rights however, there are rights come responsibilities. Your Attorney should take great care in explaining these responsibilities before moving forward with any actions.

While unmarried fathers do have the right to be involved with their children, these rights are not automatic. As is often stated,

The state can determine where the baby came from but the deposit is harder to figure out…

The bottom line is that you have to establish paternity. After that step is taken, your attorney can work with you to establish a parenting plan for your child that makes sense for your situation. Keep in mind that even if you and your child’s parent have an informal agreement already worked out, it is very important to formalize that agreement to protect the child and to make it clear.

 

 

Parents: You are going through a divorce, Not your children

Parents: You are going through a divorce, Not your children

Parents going through a divorce need to remember that their words and actions have a direct impact on their children during a divorce.   Remember – you are going through the divorce – not your children… and by that I mean your children are not divorcing either you or your spouse.  So if you are going through a divorce or highly contested family law matter, please keep these “divorce rules” in mind

 

DIVORCE RULES WITH CHILDREN

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m just a kid, so please…

  1. Don’t talk badly about each other to me. (This makes me feel torn apart!  It also makes me feel bad about myself.)
  2. Do not talk about my other parent’s friends or relatives. (Let me care for someone even if you don’t.)
  3. Do not talk to me about the divorce or other grown-up stuff like that. (This makes me feel sick. Please leave me out of it.)
  4. Do not talk to me about child support. (This makes me feel guilty or like I’m a possession instead of your kid.)
  5. Do not make me feel bad when I enjoy my time with my other parent. (This makes me afraid to tell you things.)
  6. Do not block my visits or prevent me from speaking to my other parent on the phone. (This makes me very upset.)
  7. Do not interrupt my time with my other parent by calling too much or by planning activities for me during our time together.
  8. Do not argue in front of me or on the phone when I can hear you. (This turns my stomach inside out!)
  9. Do not ask me to spy for you when I’m at my other parent’s home. (This makes me feel disloyal and dishonest.)
  10. Do not ask me to keep secrets from my other parent. (Secrets make me feel anxious.)
  11. Do not ask me questions about my other parent’s life. (This makes me uncomfortable. Just let me tell you.)
  12. Do not give me verbal messages to deliver to my other parent. (I end up feeling anxious about their reaction. Please call them, leave them a message at work or put a note in the mail.)
  13. Do not send written messages with me or place them in my bag. (This also makes me uncomfortable.)
  14. Do not blame my other parent for the divorce or for things that go wrong in your life. (This really feels terrible! I end up wanting to defend them from your attack. Sometimes it makes me feel sorry for you and want to protect you. I just want to be a kid, so please, please…stop putting me in the middle!)
  15. Do not treat me like an adult. (It causes way too much stress for me.) Please find a friend or counselor to talk with or to.
  16. Do not ignore my other parent or sit on opposite sides of the room during my school or sports activities. (This makes me feel sad and embarrassed. Please act like parents and be friendly, even if it is just for me.)
  17. Do let me take items to my other home as long as I can carry them back and forth. (Otherwise it feels like you are treating me like a possession.)
  18. Do not use guilt to pressure me to love you more and do not ask me where I want to live.
  19. Do realize that I have two homes, not just one. (It doesn’t matter how much time I spend there.) I’d also really appreciate it if you would let my other parent come into our house every now and then, because it’s my home too!
  20. Do let me love both of you and see each of you as much as possible!

Family law issues can become extremely complex.  Securing strong legal representation from an attorney who knows Florida divorce law is the first step toward the outcome you deserve.  If you are concerned about what will happen to your children, the future of your home and other assets, or the overall costs of divorce, please schedule an initial consultation with experienced family law attorney.

 

Florida Child Support Guidelines and Calculator

Florida Child Support Guidelines and Calculator

A child support order tells the parents what they must do to support their children. Enforcing child support orders means getting the parent to do what the order says.

The amount of child support is based on guidelines defined in Florida law. Child support guidelines are standards used to figure out the support needed for a child and the amount a parent has to pay. Guidelines help make sure support amounts are fair. Every state has guidelines, but they may be different in each state.

These guidelines are used the first time child support is ordered and every time the child support amount changes. They are also used to review the order to see if the support amount should be changed.

Child support guidelines consider:

  • The income of both parents
  • The child’s health care and child care costs
  • The standard needs for the child. A list of support amounts based on the child’s age and net income of the parents is in the Florida law – standard needs table.

The court or agency establishing support must use these guidelines to decide the amount of child support that will go in a Florida support order. In special circumstances, support amounts can be higher or lower than the guideline amounts. For example, a judge may consider a child’s high medical expenses as a reason to change the support amount. In most cases, judges have to give written reasons why support amounts are different from guideline amounts.

You can get an estimate of child support amounts by using the Florida Child Support Calculator. The calculator will take the information you put in and give you an estimate of your child’s support amount. This estimate is for informational purposes only. A court or agency may look at factors that are not included in your estimate.

Florida Divorce Law: Child Support

Florida Divorce Law: Child Support

FLORIDA CHILD SUPPORT

You and your spouse each have a responsibility to sup­port your children in accordance with their needs and your financial abilities. Child support may be by direct payment or by indirect benefits, such as mortgage payments, insurance, or payment of medical and dental expenses. Ordinarily the obligation to support your child ends when that child reaches age 18, marries, is emancipated, joins the armed forces, or dies.

Some of the issues concerning child support which must be considered include: (a) the amount of support; (b) the method of payment; (c) ways to assure payments are made; (d) when child support may be increased or de­creased; and (e) who claims the dependency deduction for tax purposes. Other questions may need to be answered,depending on the circumstances of your case. Guidelines for the amount of support apply to all cases and are based on the income of the parents and the number of children with adjustments for substantial overnight contact.

If you have a problem getting support payments from your spouse or former spouse, or the time-sharing plan is not being followed, you should bring this matter to the attention of the court. It is not legal to withhold visitation or child support payments because either parent fails to pay court ordered child support or violates the time-sharing schedule in the parenting plan.

Family law issues can become extremely complex.  Securing strong legal representation from an attorney who knows Florida divorce law is the first step toward the outcome you deserve.  If you are concerned about what will happen to your children, the future of your home and other assets, or the overall costs of divorce, please schedule an initial consultation with experienced family law attorney.

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