Child Custody  

Whether you are currently responsible for your child or want to be, you will find the help you need at the Law Offices of Tara J. Scott. Our attorneys carefully study your situation to present a strong argument to the Court to either change or bolster your custody (timesharing) claim.. Further our attorneys ensure that you receive and/or pay the appropriate amount of child support. Calculating  child support is complicated and many variables need to be considered.


For purpose of establishing or modifying parental responsibility (decision making for the minor child) and creating , developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan (timesharing schedule) , the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.


It is the public policy of this  state that each minor has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. There is no  presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific timesharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child. Florida Statute 61.13(2)(c)(1).


Parental Responsibility: This is the person who makes decisions for the child. The court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the courts finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Florida Statute 61.13(2)(c)(2).


Custody (Timesharing): Major battles are fought over custody and there is no easy answer except to say that the court is going to determine what is the best interest of the

child(ren). Often, people bring in witnesses to testify to their childrearing skills and to show the court that they are the more nurturing and capable parent. Other times, unfortunately, people need to bring in witnesses to testify that their spouse is not fit and proper to have custody of that child(ren) and that the child(ren) is better off with them. Psychologists, therapists, school officials/teachers get involved and will testify regarding the best interest of the child(ren).


Child Support

Child Support: There is a formula in the statute,  which is known as the Child Support Guidelines. Basically, the parties" combined net income is considered along with the number of children. The statute then gives a figure for the total support needed for the child(ren), from this it can be determined how support the noncustodial parent will pay. The living expenses of the paying parent are not in generally considered except in extreme circumstances.


In general, the courts have the discretion to deviate the Child Support Guidelines upward or downward 5% and if they want to deviate more, there needs to be sufficient reasons put forth before the court. It is relatively rare that the courts deviate more than 5% from the guidelines, although it can be done in exceptional circumstances. One example of this may be where a child has special needs such as the need for costly medications.


Other examples of when a deviation can occur are when noncustodial parent spends a "significant" or "substantial" period of time with the child(ren), or conversely, when that parent does not spend much time with the child(ren). There is also the question of whether the existence  of "subsequent" children (i.e. children living with a parent who were born or adopted after the support obligation arose) is justification to deviate from the child support guidelines.


Divorce

Filing for divorce can be exhausting, distressing experience, but it does not have to be. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Tara J. Scott in St Petersburg, Florida are dedicated to making the divorce procedure as efficient and stress-free as possible. We offer a free thirty (30) minute consultation to discuss your case and possible strategy. Further, in order to help our clients during this emotional and financially trying time, we offer some of our services at a flat fee rate and/or payment plans.


When you file for divorce, one of the main issues will be divisions of assets and liabilities. Unlike many states, Florida is not a Community Property state. In a Community Property state, most assets acquired during the marriage are owned jointly between spouses. In a divorce, the assets (and liabilities) are to be split in half between parties.


Florida, on the other hand, is an Equitable Distribution jurisdiction.  Under Equitable jurisdiction, a court is required to do what is "fair" or equitable in relation to the assets and liabilities. This does not automatically mean 50/50. Under Equitable Distribution, the court does start the presumption that the assets and liabilities should be split equally. The presumption is overcome by factors indicating that the assets and liabilities should not be shared equally. Some of the factors used include: respective contributions to the marriage by the parties, the financial circumstances of the parties, and the duration of the marriage.


Another issue that arises in a divorce is alimony. There are several types of alimony.


Temporary: Awarded until the final divorce hearing is held.


Bridge the Gap: Awarded to a party with legitimate, identifiable short term needs, it is to assist a party  in transitioning from being married to being single (it may not exceed two years).


Rehabilitative: Awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through 1) redevelopment of previous skills or 2) acquisition of education/training/work experience.  


Durational: May be awarded when permanent alimony is inappropriate. It is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of  short or moderate duration. It may not exceed the length of the marriage.


Permanent: May be awarded following a marriage of long duration, following a marriage of moderate duration under certain circumstances, and following a marriage of short duration if exceptional circumstances.


Also in a divorce, if there are children, the Court will address Child Custody (Timesharing) and Support. Please see our page on these issues or further discussions.                   



              



         


         

 

    


 


Family Law