Myths In the Law: There Is No Favoritism in The Law
For many years it seemed when it came to parents of minor children seeking custody and child support following a divorce or separation that the courts generally ruled in favor of the mother receiving primary custody and the father paying child support. Times have changed. There is no longer favoritism when it comes to the care and nurturing of minor children. In the state of Florida Family Court has a motto, “In the best interest of the child,” and this saying is translated into how minor children are cared for and who is responsible for paying child support. To be clear, a minor child is a child from birth to l8 years of age unless the child has physical or mental disabilities which prevent the child from becoming self-supporting.
Unless there are special circumstances, including one or both parents are in jail, have been convicted of child abuse or domestic violence, are on drugs, or have mental or physical reasons preventing proper parenting, parental timesharing is the way minor children are cared for. It has been proven many times over that children develop the best when both parents are a part of the child’s care and nurturing. This philosophy is carried out by the minor children spending as equal amount of time with each parent as possible. The time spent includes overnights as well as daytime together. There are different ways a judge will divide the timesharing, including every other week, and several days each week, and every other weekend. A parenting plan will be drawn up for each case and will address issues such as where a child spends holidays and birthdays, who cares for the child when a parent can’t, how will parents and parent/child communicate, who pays for extras like sports and daycare, and how will the child be transferred from one parent to the other. Additionally, major decisions in the areas of education, religion, discipline, and medical must be made by both parents discussing and agreeing together. So you can see neither the mother nor the father has priority under the law for caring for minor children.
When it comes to child support, the court will determine which parent will need to help the other parent to financially support the child. There is a worksheet both parents fill out, which is fed into a computer program that will determine the financial abilities and needs of each parent in relation to supporting the care of their minor child. Sometimes it is the father, and sometimes, it is the mother who will be ordered to pay child support.
However, as time often changes things, either party can return to court for a modification when there has been a significant, material, and unanticipated pre-divorce change affecting the amount or need of child support. Both amount and need can be adjusted up or down when proven necessary. It is important to understand the couple cannot make any changes to the child support order without returning to court.
While it is true there is basically no favoritism in the law when it comes to the care and nurturing of minor children it is equally as true that hiring a competent Family Law lawyer is vital for each party to receive the guidance and representation needed to see the law is fulfilled correctly. If you have minor children and are considering a divorce Attorney Grant Gisondo, a board-certified Marital and Family Law lawyer with over a decade of practice can help. He represents clients in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, and Hillsborough Counties in Florida and New York, and Washington DC. His office is in Palm Beach Gardens, where he offers a free, initial, in-office consultation to answer general questions and share how he can help. Hours of availability are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and for new clients on Saturday from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Please call Attorney Gisondo’s office at (561) 530-4568 for an appointment.