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Consequences of Not Paying Florida Child Support

If a court orders you to pay child support, I have two words for you: Pay It.  Child support is taken so seriously by the Florida and federal government that it is one of the few types of debts that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy proceedings, and it can be enforced against you no matter which state in this country you live in or move to.

The Florida Statutes and Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure provide several consequences of not paying support.

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Modifying Florida Alimony

Now that Senate Bill 718 on alimony reform has been vetoed by Florida Governor Rick Scott, many Tampa Bay residents are wondering whether there is any way to modify or terminate their alimony obligations.  The answer, in many cases, may be yes.

Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes states that most types of alimony may be modified or terminated when there has been a substantial change in circumstances that affects the receiving spouse’s need for alimony or the paying spouse’s ability to pay. Case law tells us that a “substantial change in circumstances” means a change that was unanticipated at the time the alimony was ordered by the Court, and a change that is permanent, involuntary, and material. Examples of substantial changes in circumstance that may justify upward or downward modification include health issues, long-term unemployment, a big raise, or a large inheritance.

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Mandatory Disclosure in Florida Family Law Cases

The Florida Supreme Court provides the following commentary on Mandatory Disclosure in Florida family law cases:

Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, requires each party in a dissolution of marriage to exchange certain information and documents, and file a Family Law Financial Affidavit, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b) or (c). Failure to make this required disclosure within the time required by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure may allow the court to dismiss the case or to refuse to consider the pleadings of the party failing to comply. This requirement also must be met in other family law cases, except adoptions, simplified dissolutions of marriage, enforcement proceedings, contempt proceedings, and proceedings for injunctions for domestic or repeat violence. The Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.932, lists the documents that must be given to the other party. For more information see rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, and the instructions to the Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.932.

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Pew Report Observes Non-Resident Fathers

A recent report conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographics Trends project makes some interesting findings:

  • “Absent” or “non-resident” fathers are defined as those that do no live with their children;
  • The number of children not living with their father has doubled from 1960 to 2010;
  • Four in ten non-resident fathers communicate with their children several times a week, while one in five spend time with their children more than once a week;
  • One in three non-resident fathers report that they talk or exchange e-mail with their children less than once a month; and
  • Twenty-seven percent of absent fathers say they have not seen the children at all in the past year.

In Florida, generally speaking, each parent has a right to spend time with his or her children, and each parent has a responsibility to contribute financially to the child’s support.  If there is a court order pertaining to child custody, these rights and responsibilities can usually be enforced by contempt.

If you have questions regarding paternity or child custody and you wish to speak with a Florida family law lawyer, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., by calling us at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our online form.

When Is Permanent Alimony Not Permanent? When There Has Been A Substantial Change In Circumstances.

When a judge orders a spouse to pay permanent periodic alimony, he or she may feel resigned to a lifetime of indebtedness to the one person he or she is trying to forget about. It’s that word, “permanent,” that seems so…well…permanent. But, believe it or not, Florida law has contemplated that there are times when permanent alimony may no longer be appropriate (or when the amount of alimony may be reduced).

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What is a General Magistrate?

If you have a family law case in Florida, your matter may be referred to a general magistrate under Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.490.  But what is a general magistrate?

A general magistrate is simply an attorney appointed by the Court with the power to (i) conduct a hearing and (ii) make a recommendation to the judge on how a particular pleading or issue should be ruled on.  General magistrates keep the keep the family law system moving by taking some of the load off of the judges’ busy schedules.  In Hillsborough County, general magistrates are most commonly utilized in post-judgment cases (e.g., modification of a child support or alimony order).

If you have questions regarding a post-judgment or other family law matter and you are seeking to retain an attorney in Tampa Bay, you can schedule a consultation by calling The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our contact form.

Am I Required to Disclose My Finances in My Family Law Case?

Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, requires each party to a family law matter to disclose certain financial information to the other party.  Disclosure is strictly enforced in cases with money at issue, including child support, alimony, and equitable distribution or property division. Parties are required to follow Rule 12.285’s disclosure requirements in two ways: (i) providing a financial affidavit; and (ii) exchanging certain documents (also known as mandatory disclosure).

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Section 61.45, Florida Statutes

For the latest version of this statute, go to http://www.leg.state.fl.us.

Court-ordered parenting plan; risk of violation; bond.—

(1)In any proceeding in which the court enters a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, including in a modification proceeding, upon the presentation of competent substantial evidence that there is a risk that one party may violate the court’s parenting plan by removing a child from this state or country or by concealing the whereabouts of a child, upon stipulation of the parties, upon the motion of another individual or entity having a right under the law of this state, or if the court finds evidence that establishes credible risk of removal of the child, the court may:

(a)Order that a parent may not remove the child from this state without the notarized written permission of both parents or further court order; Read more

Section 61.21, Florida Statutes

Parenting course authorized; fees; required attendance authorized; contempt.—

(1)LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS; PURPOSE.—It is the finding of the Legislature that:

(a)A large number of children experience the separation or divorce of their parents each year. Parental conflict related to divorce is a societal concern because children suffer potential short-term and long-term detrimental economic, emotional, and educational effects during this difficult period of family transition. This is particularly true when parents engage in lengthy legal conflict.

(b)Parents are more likely to consider the best interests of their children when determining parental arrangements if courts provide families with information regarding the process by which courts make decisions on issues affecting their children and suggestions as to how parents may ease the coming adjustments in family structure for their children. Read more

Section 61.18, Florida Statutes

Alimony and child support; default in undertaking of bond posted to ensure payment.—

(1)When there is a breach of the condition of any bond posted to ensure the payment of alimony or child support, either temporary or permanent, for a party or minor children of the parties, the court in which the order was issued may order payment to the party entitled thereto of the principal of the bond or the part thereof necessary to cure the existing default without further notice from time to time where the amount is liquidated.

(2)The sureties on the bond, or the sheriff or clerk holding a cash bond, shall be ordered to pay into the registry of court, or to any party the court may direct, the sum necessary to cure the default.

(3)If the principal or sureties or sheriff or clerk fails to pay within the time and as required by the order, the court may enforce the payment by contempt against the principal or sureties on the bond or sheriff or clerk without further notice, or may issue an execution against the principal, sureties, sheriff, or clerk for the amount unpaid under any prior order or orders, but no sureties on the bond are liable for more than the penalty of the bond.

For the latest version of this statute, visit http://www.leg.state.fl.us.