Time-Sharing and Decision Making

Our goal at Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys is to resolve your case without causing you to lose all of your money and assets, while retaining your dignity and sanity. The most difficult part of a divorce usually concerns the minor child(ren). When minor children are involved in divorce proceedings, the parties are required to enter into a parenting plan that determines the day-to-day responsibilities of the parents over the children, as well as determine a time-sharing schedule, a holiday schedule and parental responsibility over the major issues affecting a child’s life, such as, their education, religious upbringing, non-emergency medical decisions and extra-curricular activities.

In very few circumstances, the divorcing parents are able to work out the custody/time sharing schedule as well as the parental responsibility of the minor children. “Custody” is no longer a term used by the courts and “Time-Sharing” is the proper term used to mean the sharing of time with the minor children by both parents or parties.

“Shared parental responsibility” means a court-ordered relationship in which both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their children. Both parents confer with each other in good faith and with cooperation, so that major decisions such as education, religion or medical needs affecting the welfare of the children will be determined jointly.

“Sole parental responsibility” means a court-ordered relationship in which one parent makes the decisions regarding the minor children. This is only awarded if shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse can be considered by a judge in assessing detriment.

It is the public policy of the State of Florida to assure that each minor child 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 of child rearing.

For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parent’s relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration. Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the minor child, including, but not limited to:

·      The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.

·      The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.

·      The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.

·      The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

·      The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.

·      The moral fitness of the parents.

·      The mental and physical health of the parents.

·      The home, school, and community record of the child.

·      The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.

·      The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.

·      The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.

·      The capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.

·      Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought.

·      Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.

·      The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.

·      The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.

·      The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

·      The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.

·      The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.

Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule. A parenting plan approved by the court must, at a minimum, describe in adequate detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child; the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent. A designation of who will be responsible for providing any and all forms of health care, school-related matters.

Child Support

Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys work to assert your legal rights. We will work to obtain the right child support level for you.  Child Support is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a noncustodial parent for the financial benefit of a child. Since the payment of child support is the child’s right, the parents cannot agree to waive child support by law.  Elaine M. Simon, Martial and Family Law Attorneys, are experienced family law firm that understands child support law and obtain results. We represent clients involving:

o   Child Support

o   Enforcement of child support orders

o   Paternity as it relates to child support

o   Enforcement of child support orders

o   Modification of child support

Even if you develop a plan outside of court, it will need to be approved by the family courts. The primary goal of a child support plan is to ensure that each parent is contributing fairly based on his or her finances as well as each parents’ timesharing arrangement. Parents can reach agreements about child support in several different ways:

o   Through the collaborative divorce process,

o   With the help of a mediator,

o   Out of court settlement negotiations; or

o   In a court of law.

Florida Statutes require the use of Statutory Guidelines when calculating child support. The mathematical formula is used to guide the courts on the payments that the child should receive. The courts may deviate from the guidelines given specific facts that would benefit the child. More than likely, when making decisions about child support, judges consider factors, including but not limited to:

o   The total income of both parents (including Social Security, investments, etc)

o   The number of children in the family

o   The predicted needs of each child based on age

o   Certain expenses of each parent (taxes, support to other children, union dues, etc)

o   Any special circumstances affecting a child’s health or needs

Monthly expenses and deductions will help us get an accurate picture of how much support a parent may pay and require. Our attorneys will calculate the gross and net salaries of each party based on pay stubs and average income and financial affidavits over the course of the entire year. We can help analyze and assess child support scenarios as it relates to the parenting plan.

Enforcement

Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys are experienced in locating parents who owe child support and we have a variety of tools for the enforcement of child support. While the various methods are handled state by state, we may be able to assist you to take the following actions so long as child support continues to be unpaid:

o   Garnish wages

o   Place liens on a home or other property, like a mortgage

o   Seizing property

o   Suspend or withhold driver’s licenses or passports

o   Withhold tax refunds

o   Withhold benefits or unemployment payments

While it is possible to be arrested for failing to pay court ordered child support, but this is usually a last resort when other methods have failed, as it potentially ruins a parent’s potential to pay by resulting in job loss or other consequences.

If the court finds that your former spouse or the other parent's non-payment of alimony and/or child support is willful and that he or she has the ability to pay, the court will order him or her to abide by the alimony and/or child support term of your final judgment or marital settlement agreement and may result in a contempt order being entered against him or her.

Modification

If either parties’ circumstances substantially change after entry of the final judgment, so that an upward or downward modification of child support may be warranted, do not hesitate to contact Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys. Your child support order amount is based on the income of both parents and the needs of the child. It specifies how much support should be paid, when it should be paid, who pays support and who receives support. Support orders may need to be changed to meet the current needs of the parents and child.

Child support is always modifiable under Florida child support law, as long as the change would be at least $50 or 15% – whichever is greater. This includes prior orders for child support under a previous divorce, paternity case, or any support order established by the Florida Dept. of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Office. You can never designate child support as un-modifiable. Any time a parent establishes the basic requirements for modification, that parent may file a petition for modification of child support.

A child support modification can be filed by either parent at any time after an initial order is obtained. Initial orders are obtained in a divorce or custody matter. After the first modification order is obtained, then the party filing the modification must wait two years after the order is signed and entered by the judge before filing for another modification.

Should your child support arrangement require modification due to changes in life circumstances, seek the help of Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys. Child support modification is not as simple, or as fast, as many parents might hope or expect but with the experienced attorneys at our office we can help you modify a Florida child support order when it is in the best interest of the child.

Paternity

Elaine M. Simon is an established family law practice. We have become known across Palm Beach County for our strong advocacy and Paternity results. The definition of family has evolved greatly, children may be born during marriage or not. Where a child is not born unto a marriage, the rights and responsibilities of the biological father may be determined by a DNA test and a Petition to Establish Paternity.


If you feel that you would be the better custodial parent, and you have evidence and witnesses to support your case, we can help you. Where paternity is established we can form parental responsibility including:  

A parenting plan regarding:

  • Time-sharing schedule for the child and parents,
  • Holiday timesharing schedule, and
  • Division of extracurricular expenses for the minor child.
    1. Establish child support obligation including:
      • Which parent should provide medical insurance coverage for the child,
      • Division of unreimbursed reasonable and necessary medical expenses, and
      • Contribution towards pregnancy and birth-related expenses for an unborn child.
    2. Division of the child dependency exemption for federal tax purposes.
    3. Adding the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.
    4. Changing the child’s name upon establishment of paternity.
    5. Payment or contribution towards attorney’s fees, suit money, and costs.

To schedule a confidential consultation with the Palm Beach County attorney, call Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys at (561) 472-0087.

Relocation

Whether you are considering relocating your family or your former spouse intends to relocate, Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys are well versed in relocation factors and tactful in preparation for our client’s unique relocation needs. Relocation with minor children can be an issue for divorced parents even long after they have finalized their divorce and parenting plan. We are determined negotiators and persuasive litigators for our clients.

Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys can provide experienced representation regarding relocation. Florida law defines a relocation as a parent moving 50 miles or more from the current residence, for at least 60 days. A relocation is not a temporary change for the purposes of vacation, education, or providing the child with medical care. The State of Florida has adopted new statutes to address the issues raised by the increasing trend in non-traditional families.

If either parent would like to move more than 50 miles away from their present location after divorce, the parties can either agree to the terms of relocation or petition the court for permission to do so. In the latter case, the court will determine whether the relocation is in the child’s best interest. The law sets forth a series of factors the courts must consider when determining whether to allow relocation.

·      The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the non-relocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.

·      The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child(ren).

·      The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.

·      The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.

·      Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent and other person seeking the relocation and the child, including but not limited to financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.

·      The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation.

·      The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child(ren).

·      That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.

·      The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.

·      A history of substance abuse or domestic violence by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.

·      Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child(ren).

Relocating is a big decision for anyone. As parents, you need to understand the impact it may have on your child. Often, a divorce or separation is an emotionally traumatic event for a child: The prospect of moving away from one parent may be even more stressful. Work together to make the right decision for everyone involved. Relocation cases are highly complex. If you're on either side of a move-away case, you should speak to Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys for advice.

To schedule a confidential consultation with the Palm Beach County attorney, call Elaine M. Simon, Marital and Family Law Attorneys at (561) 472-0087.