Navigating a divorce is challenging and even more complex when children are involved. Understanding the Florida laws surrounding divorce and its effects on children is essential to make the transition as smooth as possible.
At Griffin Family Law, PLLC, I am here to guide you through this challenging period. Here are seven key aspects of divorce and children under Florida law. As an experienced divorce attorney, you can feel confident that I will work to protect your rights.
1. Equitable Distribution Principle
The Equitable Distribution Principle is a critical aspect of Florida divorce law. Unlike “community property” states where marital assets are split 50/50, Florida follows the Equitable Distribution Principle, which seeks a fair division of assets and debts, not necessarily equal.
Under Florida Statutes §61.075, the court considers factors such as the duration of the marriage, the economic circumstances of each spouse, and the contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including homemaking and childcare.
This principle extends to all marital assets, from real estate to pensions and retirement plans. It’s crucial to understand that “equitable” means “fair,” which doesn’t always translate to an equal 50/50 split.
2. Child Custody Laws
Child custody is one of the most sensitive aspects of divorce, and Florida law pays keen attention to it. The state prioritizes the child’s best interests in all custody decisions, encouraging shared parental responsibility where both parents have equal involvement in raising the child.
This shared responsibility covers daily tasks to major health, education, and general well-being decisions. As per Florida Statutes §61.13, the court considers various factors such as the mental and physical health of the parents, the child’s school and community record, and the demonstrated capacity of each parent to encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship.
The ultimate goal is to minimize disruption to the child’s life while ensuring their welfare.
3. Child Support
Child support is a critical component in ensuring the well-being of children following a divorce. Child support determinations in Florida are based on the Income Shares Model.
This model considers both parents’ income to calculate the child support amount, reflecting the belief that children should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have if the parents were together. The court also considers factors such as healthcare and childcare costs. The objective is to ensure that both parents adequately meet the child’s financial needs.
Remember, child support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in the circumstances of either parent’s or the child’s needs.
4. Parenting Plan
A Parenting Plan is a detailed written agreement Florida law requires for divorcing parents with minor children. This comprehensive plan outlines how parents will share responsibilities and time with their children post-divorce.
As outlined in Florida Statutes §61.046, the plan should include time-sharing schedules, decision-making on health and education, and communication methods between parents and children. The plan aims to minimize potential conflicts and consistently meet the child’s needs.
It’s designed to offer the child stability and predictability in both homes. The court encourages parents to develop this plan together, but if they disagree, it will be determined based on the child’s best interest.
5. Impact of Divorce on Children
The impact of divorce on children is significant and varies depending on the child’s age, emotional maturity, and the level of conflict between parents. According to the Florida Department of Health, approximately 50% of children in Florida have experienced their parents’ divorce. This transition can lead to various emotional responses, including loss, anger, confusion, and guilt.
Children may also face challenges adjusting to new living arrangements, changes in financial circumstances, and the absence of one parent. In some cases, academic performance may decline, and there might be an increase in behavioral problems.
However, it’s important to note that children can develop resilience and adapt well over time, especially when parents effectively manage conflict and communicate openly about the changes. Parents are encouraged to secure professional help, such as counseling or therapy, to support their children through this emotional transition.
6. Mediation is Encouraged
Mediation is highly encouraged in Florida divorce cases, particularly when children are involved. Mediation is a collaborative process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the divorcing couple to negotiate and reach mutually agreeable decisions regarding child custody, support, and property division.
The Florida court system promotes mediation as it can significantly reduce conflict and foster a cooperative co-parenting environment, which is highly beneficial for the emotional well-being of children. Mediation is designed to make the process of dispute resolution more amicable, efficient, and less adversarial.
Mediation can also give parents more control over the outcomes than a court-imposed decision. It’s essential to have legal representation during mediation to ensure your interests are adequately protected.
7. Modification of Child Custody and Support
Over time, circumstances can change significantly, and the initial agreements made during a divorce may no longer serve the child’s best interests. Recognizing this, Florida law provides for modifying child custody and support orders under certain conditions.
According to Florida Statutes §61.13, a substantial change in circumstances, such as relocation, changes in the child’s needs, or a significant shift in the parent’s financial situation, could warrant a revision. When considering these modifications, the court will always prioritize the child’s best interests.
Remember that the legal process for modifying child custody or support can be complex.
Let Griffin Family Law, PLLC Help with Your Case
Understanding the implications of divorce on children is crucial when navigating a separation. Florida law prioritizes the child’s best interest, emphasizing shared parental responsibility and equitable distribution of resources. However, the emotional impact on children is significant, with half of Florida’s children experiencing their parent’s divorce.
At Griffin Family Law, PLLC, I am committed to guiding my clients through this difficult period while prioritizing the welfare of the children involved. It’s essential to seek legal advice to ensure you are fully informed about your rights and responsibilities under Florida law.