DIVORCE AND THE FAMILY BUSINESS

 If the husband and wife have a small family business, particularly incorporated, it is a marital asset which would be subject to evaluation and if possible, division. Sometimes, a third person is involved. If this is the case, the corporation or entity must be joined as a third party to your “lawsuit” for divorce so the Court has authority to resolve issues regarding that business. This is not necessary with large, publically traded corporations like Amazon or GE. The shares are the marital assets.  Something to keep in mind when you speak with a family law attorney

A NEW YEAR: MODIFYING SUPPORT AND OR TIMESHARE.

If it has been a few years or one knows of or has had a substantial change or income which may affect child support or alimony, one way or another, it may be worth while to consult an attorney about modifying the present court support order. If a person has been laid off or has had a substantial increase of income where employed or moved to better employment (either side), it is possible for a change. If one person is not exercising his/her share of timeshare with his/her children, again, a change in the schedule and support may be in order

Child Support: Driver’s License and Passport Suspensions

It’s pretty well known that if you get behind of your child support past a certain amount, the Florida Department of Revenue or the judge will suspend your driver’s license if you are without a sufficient reason. You then have to ask the judge or DOR to reinstate it. An attorney may be able to negotiate that for you. When it comes to a U.S. passport, not so easy. If you get behind $2500 or more, you can’t get a passport. Done deal, no “ifs”, “and” or “buts” Title 22 of U.S. Code,  Section 51. An attorney can’t help you with that one. One side note; the government will be more than happy to give you one if you’re coming back into the country!

HOW MUCH ALIMONY?

Despite attempts by Florida legislature, there is no exact formula for a judge to use in calculating alimony. The are length of marriage guidelines in Florida Statute 61.08. The amount? Factors: Payee’s need versus payor’s ability to pay, lifestyle standards at the time of marriage, debt and assets, age, health, education, experience, just to name a few. Some judges use an equalizing of income formula. In other words, make it so both have the same income after the payment of alimony. I will say that it is harder and harder to get an award of permanent alimony in this state. Especially, if the payee is younger and healthy. For more information, get a consultation from a family law attorney.

CREDIT FOR OR MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT OR ALIMONY.

You cannot orally modify child support or alimony. You have to go back to court and have the final judgment changed. The standard is an unanticipated, substantial and material change of circumstances. If you’re the one paying, taking care of extras like a child’s car payments, or summer camp, which are outside the order, is not considered modification. And you may only get credit for past payments for those things if there’s an agreement between the parties. Better get it in writing. But again, that is not a retroactive modification. You have to go back to court. Consult an attorney.

MISSING VISITATION DAYS WITH CHILDREN

If you have a parent who keeps missing a substantial amount of court-ordered timeshare days with his/her children, it is possible to have a judge modify the schedule, adjust child support, and compensate you for the extra time you had the children. After all, the more the children are with you, the more money you spend on them. However, it is sad that a parent will forego seeing his/her children. See an attorney for more information.

ESTABLISHING PATERNITY IN FLORIDA

First, a child born in a marriage is, of course, presumed to be legitimate. Out of marriage, the legal presumption is when the alleged father signs the birth certificate. Remember, however, it does not give him fatherly rights. He needs a court order for that. An outsider to a marriage can’t sue for paternity; he has no “standing”. The courts want to protect the legitimacy of a child of a couple; biological or not. A father can file to disestablish paternity if evidence comes up that he isn’t. Some don’t care because of a long- standing relationship with the child. Cudos to them. There are many rules governing this. Consult an attorney.

Owing Past Child Support

Sometimes there are mistakes made in the Florida State Disbursement Unit when it comes to past child support owed. It mostly happens when there has been one or more modification order as to the amount to be paid. On one occasion, I was able to reduce the total past amount owed by over $20,000 because the State bookkeepers got it wrong. If you have questions regarding the amount of child support you owe, you should consult an attorney to investigate.

Divorce Professionals and Other Help

I’m pleased to announce that I have been accepted to the National Association of Divorce Professionals as a member. This is an organization of not only lawyers but of mediators, insurance and financial professionals, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, accountants, mental health professionals, Guardians Ad litem, etc.. They are devoted to providing help to divorcing or divorced people. A great resource for finding help. www.thenadp.com

Failure to Pay Child Support or Alimony.

There is no debtor’s prison here in the United States. One of our basic rules. The exception is one’s failure to pay child support or alimony on purpose. In other words, you knowingly withhold this support when you have an ability to live up to the judge’s orders. Other penalties may be paying for your former spouses attorney or your driver’s license being suspended until the issue is resolved. Remember, penalties are only forthcoming if the actions are on purpose. If you end up in the county jail, the key to the door is money. The judge will set a lump sum amount to be paid up front; this is called a purge. Then the balance will be paid in installments.. My recommendation? If you have the ability to pay, stay out of jail. It’s not a nice place. If you need a modification, seek legal advice.

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