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Florida Family Law: Mandatory Disclosure

When you file and serve a petition in a Florida family law case that involves financial issues such as child support, alimony, or the division of property in debts, a clock starts ticking.  Within 45 days of the initial pleadings being served on the respondent, each party is required to provide the other party with a whole host of financial documents and information.

This is what is known as Mandatory Disclosure, and it is governed by Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

The following are a list of documents that are required to be exchanged:

(1) A financial affidavit in substantial conformity with Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b) if the party’s gross annual income is less than $50,000, or Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(c) if the party’s gross annual income is equal to or more than $50,000, which requirement cannot be waived by the parties. The financial affidavits must also be filed with the court. A party may request, by using the Standard Family Law Interrogatories, or the court on its own motion may order, a party whose gross annual income is less than $50,000 to complete Florida Family Law Rules of
Procedure Form 12.902(c).

(2) All federal and state income tax returns, gift tax returns, and intangible personal property tax returns filed by the party or on the party’s behalf for the past 3 years.

(3) IRS forms W-2, 1099, and K-1 for the past year, if the income tax return for that year has not been prepared. Read more

Changing Your Tampa Bay Child Support Obligation

It is a new year, and oftentimes that means many changes.  You may have changed jobs or been laid off from work.  You may have been transferred to a different office, or you may have received a promotion.

Any of these occurrences, or other substantial changes in circumstances, may be the basis for a modification of your Florida child support obligation.

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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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Disparaging The Other Parent Hurts Your Child And Your Florida Child Custody Case

Rosalind Sedacca, a divorce and parenting coach and author, writes about why parents should not bash one another in front of their children:

When you put down their other parent, your children are likely to interpret it as a put-down of part of them. When both parents are guilty of this behavior, it can create a great confusion along with a sense of unworthiness and low self-esteem. “Something’s wrong with me” becomes the child’s unconscious belief.

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Update to Changes Proposed to the Florida Alimony Statute

I previously wrote about a Florida House of Representatives Bill that proposed vast changes to the alimony statute and the “supportive relationship” standard to terminate alimony.

The Florida Senate has a competing bill, SB-748, which makes slightly fewer changes to the alimony standard and is somewhat less controversial than the House Bill.  The Senate summarizes SB-748 as follows:

  • Revises the factors that a court must consider in awarding alimony to include the net income available to each party after the application of the alimony award.
  • Requires the findings that a court must make in determining to award alimony be in writing.
  • Revises the circumstances under which a court may consider adultery by either spouse in its determination of the amount of alimony. Read more

Helping Teens Cope With Divorce

I came across a great article at the Divorce Saloon concerning how parents with teenagers can help their children deal with divorce.  Towards the bottom of the article the author, Brenda Monteau, provides these five tips:

1) Set boundaries. Just because you are divorced doesn’t mean that you allow your teen to do whatever he or she wants. Don’t let your guilt of “breaking up the family” get in the way of parenting. Just because teens are older than younger kids doesn’t mean they don’t need boundaries, or that they don’t need their parents to act like parents.

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Termination of Alimony: Proposed Changes to “Supportive Relationship” Standard

According to current state law, a Florida family law judge has the option to reduce or terminate an alimony award if he or she finds that the ex-spouse receiving payment (the “obligee”) is in a supportive relationship.  The term “supportive relationship” currently has somewhat of a tough standard to overcome.  For example, one factor in determining whether a supportive relationship exists is whether the obligee and his or her current boyfriend or girlfriend call each other “my husband” or “my wife” in public.

In a bid to curtail permanent periodic alimony and ease the ability for a paying spouse (the “obligor”) to modify or reduce his or her alimony obligation, Florida HB 549 proposes many changes to the “Supportive Relationship” standard.  This bill will change current section 61.14(1)(b) of the Florida Statutes as follows (new language is underlined, while deleted language is stricken):

61.14 Enforcement and modification of support, maintenance, or alimony agreements or orders.—
(1)
(b)1. The court must may reduce or terminate an award of alimony if it determines upon specific written findings by the court that since the granting of a divorce and the award of alimony a supportive relationship has existed between the obligee and a person with whom the obligee resides. The court shall make specific written findings that support such a determination. On the issue of whether alimony should be reduced or terminated under this paragraph, the burden is on the obligor to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a supportive relationship exists.

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Vast Changes Proposed to Florida Alimony Statute

Permanent Alimony?  A thing of the past.  Standard of living during the marriage?  That factor is so passe.  Payments past retirement?  Not any more.

These are just a few of the vast changes that will be made to section 61.08 of the Florida Statutes (the “Alimony Statute”) if the current version of House Bill 549 is passed and signed into law.  Below you will find the proposed changes to the Alimony Statute (proposed additional language is underlined while proposed deletions are stricken):

61.08 Alimony.—
(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage under s. 61.052(1)(a), the court may grant alimony to either party, which alimony may be bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or long-term permanent in nature or any combination of these forms of alimony. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both, which may not exceed 20 percent of the payor’s monthly net income to include all sources of income averaged over the last 3 years of the marriage. The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded. In all dissolution actions, the court shall include findings of fact relative to the factors enumerated in subsection (2) supporting an award or denial of alimony.

Factors in Relocating with a Child

If you are or have been involved in a child custody case and you wish to move with your child, you must make sure to follow the procedures of section 61.13001, Florida Statutes (the “Relocation Statute”).

Often times, parents are able to come to an agreement on relocation.  The Relocation Statute has specific requirements for the agreement, and the agreement must be filed with the court and ratified by a judge.

But what if you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement?  What specific factors does a judge look at to determine if relocation is in a child’s best interests?

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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.