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Florida Divorce & Children
Obviously where children are involved there is still some interaction among the parties. Significant amounts of money are spent on lawyers simply because the parties cannot get along even during the few moments it takes to pick up or drop off a child for visitation. Judges will sometimes have to lay out in great detail how exchanges regarding children shall take place. Third parties may be asked to assist in the situation, especially where supervised visitation is ordered. Supervised visitation may be necessary where one party proves that it is unsafe for the child to be alone with the other parent.
One of the most fertile grounds for legal battles involves child custody. These contests can be as inexpensive or costly as the parties cause them to be. There is no presumption in favor of women in Florida with regard to custody. In determining who is the more appropriate parent for the child to live with, Court's apply a "best interest" test. Occasionally, depending on age, the child may spend an equal portion of each week/month/year with each parent, although Courts do not particularly favor this arrangement. When custody battles really heat up, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other experts may be brought in to examine all concerned and to help the Court in determining what is in the best interest of the child.
Another significant area concerning children is where one parent wishes to relocate to another geographic area with the child. The Florida Supreme Court has outlined in the MIZE case the circumstances under which a child can be removed to another location.
In general, Florida law utilizes a concept called Shared Parental Responsibility. Thus, even though the child may live with one parent, the other parent has equal say in how the child is brought up. Each party has input for example on issues relating to education, health, religion, discipline, etc, and as always, if the parties can't agree, the Judge will decide for them. Visitation issues can also arise. Many non-custodial parents will want to spend as much time as they can with the child. Courts generally try to strike a balance between the work schedule of the parents and the needs of the child. The goal of course is to foster a close and loving relationship with both parents. In this regard some circuits require attendance at a children and divorce seminar.
A spouse who does not make timely support payments can have his or her wages garnished through the Florida Child Support Enforcement Department. The court orders that alimony be automatically taken from the paying spouse's paycheck. The court can also order that the paying spouse give the alimony payments to the Support Enforcement Department, which will give the money to the receiving spouse. The department acts as a third party which manages the collection and distribution of support payments on a statewide basis. If the paying spouse of child support or alimony fails to make timely and sufficient payments, the court can suspend the paying spouse's driver's license.
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