Thursday, September 30, 2010

Questions and Answers

I recently blogged about changes to the Florida Child Support Guidelines that are going to be effective in January of 2011. This particular subject has hit a nerve with many of my readers and also generated quite a few questions. As a result, here are some answers to some of the questions that were posted as a result of the new law regarding child support and what constitutes substantial contact for purposes of credits in a child support calculation.

1. Many people questioned whether or not this law is something that will help or hurt children. To answer this question, I think that we don't have enough data to know whether this law is going to have a negative impact on children. As a practicing attorney with many clients going through divorce, I have seen first hand issues with respect to time-sharing that are specifically related to whether or not someone is going to get the substantial contact credit. I see both sides of the agrument and don't know whether or not this is going to have a big impact on cases settling or people coming out of the woodwork asking for their statutory reductions. True, someone is going to get less child support as a result of this change in the law, but my hope would be that the payor parent will be more willing to help out in other financial ways like school supplies, clothing, and extra-curricular activities as a result of this reduction.

2. The statute does not specifically address extracurricular activities, however, there is a trend, at least in Central Florida to make all agreed upon extracurricular activities shared between the parties and that no party can unreasonably withhold their consent for monetary reasons. I suggest that all parties request that this be put in their Final Judgments and certainly address it in your parenting plan if you and your spouse are coming to a full agreement.

3. Daycare and summer camp expenses should always be a part of child support and addressed by a judge. One of the other changes that is going to go into effect is that childcare is no longer reduced by 25%. If you are paying 100% of the daycare, this will be factored into your child support award or obligation.

4. If you want to get this substantial contact reduction, you need to file the appropriate paperwork with the Court, which
I believe would be a Supplemental Petition to Modify. It is something that you can do on your own by getting the appropriate papers online or from your local courthouse.

If you would like more information or have a specific question, please feel free to email me at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Country Concerns

I was reading an article recently about a father whose daughter was taken out of the country by his ex-wife and his efforts to have his daughter returned to him here in Florida. What was staggering to me in that article was a statistic from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which stated that in 2009 there were 1621 children that were wrongfully taken out of United States by a parent and of those 1621 children, only 436 were returned. I have had clients in the past that had legitimate concerns about a spouse taking their children out of the country without their permission. If a child is taken to a foreign country, it seems that there is less than a 30% chance that the child will make his/her way back to America. That is a scary statistic. Therefore, if you have a spouse who is from another country and you have legitimate fears that he/she may make an effort to remove your child from the United States, make sure that you have possession of your child's passport and don't give the other parent permission to take your child out of the country. While it is unlikely that a parent would have success getting the child out of the country without the other parent's consent, if the parent wishing to move to another country with the child is successful, the likelihood of getting the child back is very low. In many cases, its better to be safe than sorry when it comes to issues such as these.