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Miami Divorce Law Blog

Florida woman seeks increased child support from former athlete

On July 21, a Florida woman filed an emergency motion seeking an increased amount of child support for her disabled daughter. In her request for a special hearing, the mother of a 3-year-old girl says that her child's father is not doing enough to assist her with the support of their quadriplegic child.

The father of the toddler, Clint Session, is a former National Football League player previously with the Indianapolis Colts. According to court documents, the child's mother says that the former outside linebacker has failed to pay medical costs, child support payments and attorney's fees totaling $200,000 in accordance with a court order handed down in February.

Pretrial procedures: A motion for continuance

In complicated divorce cases, it's possible that a hearing date may need to be postponed for various reasons. Some of these include if a lawyer who has been recently retained to represent one party needs more time to prepare and get familiar with the case or if there is an issue getting a witness or certain evidence ready for the hearing. Usually, your lawyer will let you know if you need to file a motion for continuance and what that entails, but it can be helpful to understand the procedures.

According to the Florida guidelines, a motion for continuance must be presented to the court in writing. It must also include a reason for the continuance and a proposed new date that the party's counsel will be ready to proceed. When one party knows he or she will need a continuance, the other party is usually advised. At that time, the other party may object to the continuance. If this happens, the other party's objection must also be noted.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in my divorce?

A divorce can fundamentally alter the lives of both spouses in several unexpected ways. A good example of this might be spouses who are not native residents of Florida and decide to return to their home states after their divorces. This can be especially problematic if those couples also share children together. Another example of how a divorce can affect you in strange ways is not having a full understanding of your marital wealth. A spouse that is purposely concealing assets from you can prevent you from getting an equitable distribution of the marital estate. Having an attorney that knows what to look for might have lasting benefits with regards to child support and alimony.

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that divorcing spouses make is when choosing their attorney. It's easy to understand why you might want to retain a super aggressive divorce attorney that will make life miserable for your soon-to-be ex. However, it's important for you to know that calm, methodical negotiation with your spouse regarding child custody and child support issues can sometimes be less costly over the long haul while also benefiting both parties.

Preventing domestic violence from derailing your divorce

Domestic violence is destructive for spouses forced to endure it and it unnecessarily hinders the proper development of any children who may also be involved. Sadly, we previously wrote about how wide-ranging incidents of domestic violence are throughout the country. It's estimated that as many as 25 percent of all women and 10 percent of men have experienced incidents of domestic violence. It's important to know that those numbers are probably actually higher due to the fact that many victims simply do not report violence conducted against them.

That being said, it's easy to understand why Florida courts have adopted such a very proactive stance against preventing domestic violence. Currently, the threshold to obtain restraining orders based on allegations of domestic violence is intentionally easy to overcome. No court wants to be in a position where a person requesting protection from his or her attacker is subsequently harmed after being denied. Ironically, this also increases the risks that some spouses going through divorce might use domestic violence allegations as a cudgel against their innocent opponents.

What can happen if I don't have a prenup?

Understanding what a prenup can do for you is important to deciding whether this option is a good choice for your situation. However, it is equally important to understand what may happen in your divorce if you do not have a prenup or the court sets it aside during the divorce process.

If you did not a sign a prenup before you got married, all property acquired during the marriage is likely to be deemed marital property by the Florida courts. This is true whether the asset is in one or both of your names. If you buy a house in your name only during the marriage, that does not necessarily mean that it will be considered separate property. Only property owned prior to the marriage and brought into the relationship will be considered separate property that you get to take with you when you divorce.

Actress Hallie Berry seeking modification of child support order

On July 14, popular television and movie actress Hallie Berry was in court seeking to reduce her monthly child support payments to her ex-boyfriend. An attorney for the 48-year-old actress appeared with Berry in a Los Angeles County, California, courtroom to ask a judge to reconsider a prior child support order. That order required the actress to pay her ex-boyfriend $16,000 per month to offset his costs for taking care of the couple's 7-year-old daughter.

The child's father is a Canadian model who first met Berry at a photo shoot back in 2005. The couple gave birth to their daughter in 2008, and they later separated in 2010. Berry subsequently married a French actor in 2013 and that new couple now has a 21 month-old child together.

Substance abuse and child custody

While many parents joke about their love of wine, substance abuse is a real problem that affects many. If you or your soon-to-be-ex has an issue with drugs or alcohol, it can have a significant impact on the outcome of any custody disputes or changes in visitation. Whether you are being accused of having a substance abuse problem or you are worried about the safety of your children when they are with the other parent due to a drug or alcohol issue, understanding how this can affect custody and visitation is important.

While exactly how child custody cases are handled varies by state and sometimes even jurisdiction or judge, all courts have one thing in common. They are focused on the best interests of the child. Very often, the parents will disagree on what is in the best interests of the child, and that's where the courts get involved.

What are the reasons for a child support deviation?

While the determination of child support is often referred to as "just a formula," this isn't entirely true. While the state of Florida does have a worksheet that takes the parents' income and other factors and calculates the required amount of child support, there are several reasons why the child support ordered is not the same as the worksheet amount. When this happens, it is called a deviation.

One of the most common reasons for a child support deviation is for time spent with the child. If the noncustodial parent spends more time with the child than in most cases, the child support may be lowered to account for the parent contributing more to the child's daily care expenses during parenting time. The amount of time usually required to consider a deviation for time spent is at least 20 percent of overnights a year.

When divorce divides things with sentimental meanings

If you are currently contemplating divorce, you need to know that Florida is considered an "equitable distribution" state. This means that family court judges will attempt to oversee the division of property between divorcing spouses in a manner that is as fair as possible to both parties. This is important to know because some divorcing spouses confuse the meaning of "equitable" as meaning "equal". Although these words may seem similar, they often do not produce similar outcomes when it comes to dividing up a marital estate.

Frequent readers of our online blog may recall a previous article we wrote that provides several good examples of how complicated the division of marital property can be during divorce. In that case, a divorcing couple disagreed as to which party should gain possession over the cremated remains of a son previously killed by drunk driver.

How does domestic violence impact children?

Domestic violence impacts everyone in and close to the situation, but children are the least equipped to understand and deal with domestic violence in a healthy way. Even if the children are not directly being abused, it can have a lifelong impact on their mental and emotional health.

It has been well documented that children living in a home where domestic violence is occurring can experience a host of problems, from trouble keeping up in school to acting out behaviors. These children may also become withdrawn and show symptoms of depression or may experience extreme anxiety, which can manifest in a host of physical symptoms. These symptoms occur in both children who directly experience domestic violence and those who only witness it happening to others.

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