Monday, December 17, 2012

Child Support Arrearage

Often, at the end of a child support hearing, the paying party is informed that they owe retroactive child support. The amount covers what they would (i.e. should) have paid since the case began through the date of the final hearing.

For example, suppose a Petition for Support was filed on June 1, 2012 and a hearing was held on September 1, 2012. Suppose that at the hearing, child support is established at $500.00 per month. In Florida, the retroactive child support amount would be established at $13,500.00 ($1,500.00 for the 3 months between the date of filing and the date of the hearing, and $12,000.00 for the 24 months prior to the filing of the Petition). This retroactive child support amount can be reduced if the parties lived together during these 27 months. Additionally, the amount can be reduced if there was any child support paid during these 27 months (or if this period extend beyond the child's date of birth). Typically, the party paying the child support can expect to pay an additional amount (perhaps $20 - $100) per month to slowly pay off the retroactive child support.

A recent Florida appellate case has stated that the retroactive child support amount is not arrearage. An arrearage exists where a person has been ordered to pay child support and has failed to do so. Therefore retroactive child support is NOT to be considered arrearage and is, thus, not subject to IRS income tax refund intercepts.,%202012/2D11-1761.pdf

It is important for the Court to distinguish between retroactive child support and arrearage. Having a child support arrearage can impact your ability to hold a professional license (contractor, lawyer, dentist,.....) and your ability to have a valid passport. If you live in North Florida, please consider consulting with a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney BEFORE your child support hearing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Freedom of Speech?

This is not really a family law topic, but I found it interesting anyway.

A man from Sanford, Florida was ticketed by local police for flashing his car's headlights to warn passing traffic that police were nearby with their radar guns. He was charged with violating a state statute that prohibits the flashing of after-market vehicle lights (i.e. fog lights,...).

The trial judge dismissed the case and stated: (1) the state statute did not apply to him since he was flashing his factory installed headlights, and (2) his headlight flashing to warn oncoming traffic is speech protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

Good for him!

Jacksonville Divorce& Family Law Attorney

Monday, May 14, 2012


Florida Statute 61.13001 contains various requirements that a parent must comply with before relocating a child more than 50 miles from a current residence. Occasionally, a potential move is very close to the 50 mile mark. A recent case from Florida's 5th district Court of Appeals held that distance is calculated "as the crow flies" (by a straight line from point A to point B) rather than by the distance that would be driven in a car. Tucker v. Liebnecht, 5D11-681 (Fla 5th DCA May 4, 2012).

For more information on relocation, contact the Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Waiving Parental Rights in Florida

Another question that seems to come up over and over is the waiver of parental rights. Can a biological parent "sign away" their rights?

Often I receive phone calls from a mother who doesn't want her child's father involved with the child. The mother is willing to waive child support if the father would sign away his rights to the child. Others call wanting to know if such an agreement is valid.

These agreements are invalid. A parent may not simply "waive" his (or her) parental rights. The Courts in Florida have long held that "agreements relieving a parent of the duty to support [i.e. pay child support] are void as against public policy. The rights of support and meaningful relationship belong to the child, not the parent; therefore, neither parent can bargain away those rights ... [A] total abdication of parental responsibility ..... cannot be said to protect the best interests of the child." Bassett v Saunders, 835 So. 2d 1198, 1200 (Fla App., 2002).

The main (and perhaps only) exception to this rule occurs during a step-parent adoption. In such a case, the Courts find that such an "abdication of parental responsibility" would be in the child's best interest - because there is a person to take the place of the biological parent.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Exclusive Use of the Marital Home

Very often a spouse awarded majority time sharing (formerly known as custody) of minor children is also allowed to remain in the marital home until the children are out of high school. This is done primarily for the benefit of the children in order to minimize disruption to their lives.

Unfortunately, this situation often creates a hardship on the spouse that leaves the home. Since the house is not sold, the departing spouse still has their name on the mortgage and is often not able to obtain a mortgage for another home. Also, since the marital home is not sold, the departing spouse does not receive any of the marital home's equity until it is sold.

A recent case from Florida's First District Court of Appeals has provided a reason to sell the marital home prior to the children finishing high school. The Court decided that if the in possession spouse remarries, then their period of exclusive use and possession must end. Fisher v. Fisher, 4D10-383 (Fla. 4th DCA January 25, 2012).

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