DIVORCE OVERVIEW (WITH CHILDREN), part 2
Questions involving children are more complex and emotionally charged. Who will the children live with during the process of and after the divorce? Who will make the decisions about where they go to school, what activities they will participate in, whether they need braces (and who pays for them), and how often they are with the other parent? What about vacations from school, annual trips, and summer camp? Where will the children spend their birthdays and holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover, and Easter? What about the parents’ birthdays, Mothers’ Day, and Fathers’ Day? Usually, each parent wants an arrangement that keeps these things the same but this is not possible when considering two separate households.
Florida courts will generally give both parents shared parental responsibility. This means each parent has a say in decisions about the child. Time sharing varies in each case. Parents can often divide the child’s time as they wish, as long as they are in agreement, and some can be pretty creative in a plan that is best for all. The courts, however, do not get creative. In LakeCounty, there is a standard arrangement that may be implemented if the parents cannot agree.
The next issue to be addressed is child support. Parents are often under the impression that child support is based on the actual expenses related to the children. This is not true. Child support is based on the income of the parents. A chart, mandated by law, is used which specifies how much money is to be paid. The amount is based on net income. There are several legal hoops to jump to determine “net” income. If a child lives with Mom, Dad pays child support based on net income, not on how much money Mom actually spends on the child each month. Child care and health insurance costs may also be taken into consideration.
What about my pets? While they aren’t children, we understand that you may be the parent of a pet that is caught in the middle. Stay tuned to our next blog to find out who gets the dog!