In What Order Does the Court Handle Issues?
PEACE (parenting plan, equitable distribution, alimony, child support, everything else like attorney fees)
As with most official situations involving a series of issues, when it comes to dissolution of marriage (divorce) the court will have an order to determine the outcome of resolutions in question. In Florida, there is an acronym, PEACE, which represents the order the court will use to handled is solution of marriage once the case is heard in a courtroom before a judge. Here is what each letter of PEACE stands for:
P—parenting plan: In Florida, all couples who are parents of a minor child, either by birth parents or adoption, are required to develop a parenting plan should divorce,or separation of parents become necessary. Parents in Florida need not have been married or even have stayed together longer than to create a child. Florida Family Court has a motto “in the best interests of the child” so has developed ways to ensure, whenever possible, that minor children will continue to be raised and nurtured by both parents. Parents will put in writing their plan for parental timesharing which will include a number of overnights with the child for each parent, the place and times. Where the child will spend holidays and special occasions such as birthdays will be decided. Concerns including, but not limited to, where will pick-up and drop-off take place for overnights, how will parents and parent/child communication take place, who will care for the child should one or the other parent or both parents not be able to take their usual overnight time, travel stipulations, claiming tax child credits, and life and health insurance. Additionally, whenever there are decisions to be made concerning medical, educational, religious, or discipline regarding the child, both parents must discuss and agree on the outcome. The judge will review the parenting plan to be sure it is a reasonable and fair plan in the best interest of the child.
E—equitable distribution: Florida is an equitable distribution, not equal distribution state. This means all property, real or personal, and debts which have been acquired during the marriage or put into joint ownership will be divided fairly. Many couples are able to do this in a mediation, required in most Florida jurisdictions before the setting of a court date. If the mediation fails and a judge hears the case, he or she, after hearing the evidence of value, cause, and need will decide how marital assets and debts will be equitably distributed.
A—alimony: In Florida, there are six types of alimony which can be awarded to either party seeking a dissolution of marriage. Temporary alimony is for the duration of the case, only. Permanent, lump sum, bridge-the-gap, durational, and rehabilitative alimony can be decided by the couple in a pre or post-nuptial contract, by the parties at a successful mediation or by a judge.
C—child support: all minor children in Florida are entitled to be cared for by their parents. This, of course,takes money as well as time. Depending on the income and needed expenses of each parent the court, or parents in successful mediation, will determine if each parent has the financial ability to do their part in financially supporting their minor child. There is a Child Support Guideline Worksheet the couple fills out which factors in a number of considerations including income, necessary expenses, care of special needs child, and number and ages of minor children, and amount of parental timesharing. Once the worksheet is completed a Supreme Court Approved Family Court Law Form 12.943 must be filed. Attorneys and judges will use a computer program to figure the final award when one party has child support needs greater than the other.
E—everything else: Each case has its own individual characteristics which need to be decided during a successful mediation or by a judge. Examples could be if a spouse wants to leave the area following the dissolution and there are minor children involved, taking back a former name, sharing costs of college education for a child, or allowing grandparents to have substantial time with the minor children.
Dissolution of marriage has many parts to it, especially when there are minor children involved. To help the process run more smoothly, Florida Family Court has established an order for PEACE. Even the acronym shows the attempt to have things run smoothly for the court as well as the involved couple.