Family Law

Dissolution of Marriage

When spouses no longer wish to be married one may file a petition for dissolution of marriage or in other words a petition for a divorce. A divorce can resolve issues such as alimony, custody, child support, and division of assets and liabilities.

 

Adoption

One of the most common adoptions in Florida is a Stepparent adoption. A spouse is allowed to adopt the biological child of the other spouse. There must be consent from both biological parents. If one biological parent is unable to be found the adopting party must show the court they have attempted to find the parent. An adoption will terminate the parental rights of one biological parent and legally establish the stepparent as the new parent.

There are some special considerations before going through a stepparent adoption. After a stepparent adopts a child then if the couple divorces the stepparent now has all the same rights and obligations of any other parent. This means the stepparent can be liable for child support and will have time-sharing (custody)  rights regarding the child.

 

Child Custody

Florida has done away with terms like custody and visitation. What happens in courts today is a determination of how many overnights a child will spend with each parent every year. This is called time-sharing. Time-sharing orders should be sought from a court by parents of a child whether or not the parents were ever married. These orders give the parents instructions on who has authority to decide issues about the child such as medical care and where the child will attend school as well as who may claim the child on their taxes.

A determination by the judge of which parent should have primary custody is not set in stone. A non-custodial parent may petition the court and ask that they be awarded custody by showing a material change in circumstances to warrant the change in custody.

 

Child Support

A court may order a non-custodial parent to pay child support to the parent having majority time-sharing until the child reaches eighteen or the child becomes self-sufficient. In Florida there are a set of guidelines for determining child support where the income of the parties, health insurance costs for the child, and pre-existing child support and alimony obligations are used to set child support. However, a court may deviate from the guidelines and consider other factors.

 

Enforcement

One way to enforce an order of the court can be to file a petition for contempt. The petition will ask the court to find the other party in contempt for failing to follow one or more of the judge’s orders. If the judge finds his order has not been followed then he has the power to confine the contemptuous party or in the case of past due child support the judge may find the party liable for support arrearages.

 

 

 

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