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When Is It Too Late to File for or Modify Child Support?

In just about every divorce involving children, some child support arrangements will be made. But not every divorce is the same, and not all go as planned. And even if a child support agreement seems perfect at the time, circumstances can change.

Whatever the reason, you may find yourself trying to file a child support agreement, enforce or modify an existing one, or end your current child support obligations. But when is it too late? Here's a look.

Too Late to Create?

It's generally never too late to create a child support agreement. While most arrangements are negotiated during the divorce process, there's nothing that can prohibit exes from handling other issues first and hammering out child support later. You will want to be careful about waiting too long, though, because child support determinations are often made with each party's financial situations in mind, and the sooner those arrangements are made, the more accurate they can be and the sooner you'll receive the money (or, conversely, the sooner you'll know what you need to budget).

There are two ways you can go about creating child support arrangements: you can either go to family court and request a child support order from a judge (which may require multiple hearings, filings, and financial evidence), or you and your ex can negotiate a child support agreement on your own. Even if you come to your own agreement, however, you'll want to file it with the court, so it will be enforceable against both parties.

Too Late to Modify?

Child support agreements are not always set in stone, and as personal circumstances change, the amount a parent must pay or is owed can change as well. Obviously, these kind of life changes don't occur on a specific timeline, so there are no hard deadlines for child support modifications. Some child support agreements may have clauses that invite both parties to renegotiate payments at certain intervals -- otherwise you'll need to request a child support modification from the court or your ex. Courts will normally modify a child support order if there is a substantial change in your or your child's circumstances, so requests should be made as soon as possible after those changes.

Too Late to Collect?

Everyone wants to know when child support obligations end. Generally speaking, it's when the child turns the age of majority in your state, usually 18. But some states tie child support to high school graduation, and some child support agreements can cover college tuition as well. It's important for both parties to know, however, that it's never too late to collect back child support payments. While a child turning 18 may end child support obligations going forward, if a parent missed payments before the child turned 18, they are still on the hook for those payments.

States and the federal government are pretty serious when it comes to enforcing child support orders and non-payment can result in seized or revoked driver's licenses, passports, wages, tax refunds, or even jail time. Enforcement measures can continue after the child turns 18, although states may have varying statutes on the time a parent has to collect after the child turns 18.

Child support issues are often complicated, both legally and emotionally. If you have questions regarding child support obligations, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

By Christopher Coble, Esq.

Making Child Custody Agreements Work in Summertime

In the eyes of a child, summertime stands for fun. Swimming, sleepover camp, long days, cool evenings, and vacation plans dominate their calendars. For children of divorced or separated parents, summer can be anything but fun if effective co-parenting skills fail and custody arrangements are interrupted. Those long days can become even longer when tension and disappointment fill the air.

 

One of the most important aspects in any child custody arrangement is a commitment to communication by both parents. When two adults can put the best interests of their child ahead of personal agendas or heated emotions, all parties benefit, especially the children. Talking together about upcoming vacation plans and family holidays in advance can accommodate everyone’s plans if both parents agree to be flexible with changes to the established custody schedules.

As school ends and summer schedules take effect, a well laid custody plan that takes into consideration the work schedules of both parents can relieve a lot of stress and unnecessary childcare expenses. Deciding which activities the children will participate in and who will be responsible for paying for them, is an essential part of the custody agreement.  One that can alleviate a lot of last minute disappointments. Including your children in the conversation on what activities will be feasible can help present an amicable team approach to the custody agreement.

As children get older, their summer plans may change from recreational activities to work or school commitments and internships. When there are multiple children to consider, negotiating the custody agreement may have to focus on which parent or location can best accommodate each of the children. Sharing summer holidays like Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July, as well as vacation availability for working children can present a challenge, but with flexibility and compromise when forming the custody agreement, both parents can establish quality time with each of their children.

An effective custody plan will also leave room for celebrations like family reunions, weddings, and out of town visits. These special occasions are very important for children to hold onto the family traditions of each parent. A large majority of children grieve the loss of established family traditions when a divorce or separation occurs. Making family celebrations a priority can help establish a sense of security and can alleviate the feelings of loss for the children.

Note to Parents: Time Share is the term Florida now uses instead of the more familiar 'custody'. You do not have to be the ‘perfect’ parent to obtain time share. The courts generally recognize that people are not perfect. As long as your children are not in some way harmed by you and you are able to provide them with suitable accommodation and a loving environment, you should technically be able to share their care and control.  To find out more, you can contact a Florida Family Lawyer here.

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Family Friday: How Florida Courts Look at Child Support

Determining the outcomes of child support in the state of Florida entails a number of considerations. First and foremost, no parent can refuse to pay child support, even if it is just a small monthly amount.


In Florida custodial parenting is no longer granted with one exception, that of sole custody which is granted only under very strict circumstances due to proven abusive or unfit parenting, or incarceration of the other parent. If a parent feels they are entitled to sole custody it is necessary to seek the services of a child custody attorney as it is highly unlikely an individual can prove extenuating circumstances allowing sole custody on their own.

The term parental time-sharing is now used in Florida Family Law to provide the guidelines for physical custody, where and with who the child will live and how much time each parent shares with the child, including over-nights, and legal custody, the shared decision making for education, medical, discipline, and religion. Child support will be awarded on the basis of percentage of time spent with the child, number of over-nights, specific needs of child in question, and income and potential income of each spouse. In is important to note an over-night is considered when a child actually sleeps at a legal caregivers, usually the parent’s, home. Visitation with a child from, say, six in the morning to ten at night would not count as an over-night.

Once the parental time-sharing schedule has been completed and approved either in mediation or by a judge in court, the amount of child support will be determined. There is a generic dollar amount chart for Florida child support but as each case is different, there are many considerations, which will be taken into account. This is where a child support lawyer is really essential for obtaining the best outcomes. It is often true the dollars spent in hiring a competent, experienced child support lawyer will be more than made up by the amount of child support awarded. While it is true there is now a computer program to do the final figuring, the information put into the computer is best done by a professional.

But what happens when the parent adjudicated to pay child support fails to pay and arrearages become a problem. In Florida child support is not an option it is a legal responsibility there are two choices.

The party awarded child support, and this can sometimes be a third party such as a legal guardian, can have the Florida Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement pursue the case at no cost. This, however, usually takes a long time to come before a judge as there are over a thousand cases being serviced at a time. Too, there is no contact with the child support lawyer representing you until your day in court so essentially there is no time to hear your story and prepare you for questioning.

The second choice is to hire a qualified and experienced child support lawyer who will be able to work with you personally and bring the matter to court in a much shorter period of time. The judge has a number of possible methods to help bring child support up to date including but not limited to, incarceration up to 179 days, canceling a passport, giving tax refund monies from the owing party to the party owed back support, garnishing a bank account, and suspending a car/truck license plate and registration and even the offending party’s driver’s license.

Florida cares about their children and in fact goes by the watchwords “In the best interest of the child”. Child support arrearages are not acceptable!

Written byGisondo P.A.Source