12 Myths About Florida Child Custody And Support
If you are a parent in the state of Florida, you may have some preconceived notions regarding child custody and support. The following article will debunk some common myths regarding child custody in the state of Florida.
Myth #1- Florida law requires parents to share parenting time equally (50/50). As of 2016, Florida no longer requires that parenting time be shared equally. Rather, Florida courts make decisions on parenting time based on the child’s best interests.
Myth #2- Florida courts favor mothers. Florida courts do not prefer the mother over the father or vice versa. Instead, these judges decide cases based on parents’ ability to support the child’s best interests. As such, this inevitably means that they decide child custody and support cases in favor of the parent who has been the child’s primary caregiver, regardless of gender.
Myth #3- If parents aren’t married, the father’s name must be on the child’s birth certificate for him to have rights and responsibilities. The father’s name does not necessarily have to be on the birth certificate for him to have rights and responsibilities for a child. In fact, there are four different ways to establish paternity in the state of Florida.
Myth #4- Children over 12 can decide which parent they want to live with. Florida does not have a specific age at which children can have a say in the child custody process. As such, courts will often take into account the child’s wishes regarding who he wants to live with, regardless of age (assuming that he is old enough to understand).
Myth #5- The father is always the parent who is required to pay child support. Courts don’t consider gender when determining child support payments. Rather, they assess other factors, such as the parents’ incomes, child-related expenses, number of children, and time spent with the children.
Myth #6- An unmarried parent can only get a child support order if the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate. The father doesn’t have to be listed on the birth certificate for either parent to request or receive child support.
Myth #7- If parents have a 50/50 time-sharing arrangement, child support isn’t required. This is only the case in situations where parents have equal net incomes and child-related costs, in addition to equal time-sharing.
Myth #8- A parent can choose not to receive child support. Children have a legal right to receive financial support from their parents. As such, the courts will not allow a parent to waive this right.
Myth #9- If a parent doesn’t pay child support, the other parent can keep the children from them. Absent the court’s termination of a parent’s parental rights, each parent has the right to custody over his child. As such, one parent cannot prevent the other parent from seeing the child.
Myth #10- Refusing to work reduces the child support you owe. Only involuntary unemployment (verified by the court) can reduce or suspend child support payments. If a parent chooses to be unemployed or underemployed, Florida law requires them to pay child support based on the income they could be earning.
Myth #11- If a parent pays alimony (spousal support), they don’t have to pay child support. Child support is for the children and alimony is for the spouse, so it’s common for a parent to pay both. When calculating parents’ net incomes for child support, alimony paid can be deducted, and alimony received must be included.
Myth #12- A parent can stop paying if they don’t like how the other parent spends child support money. The law does not specify how child support can be spent. As of now, a parent cannot stop paying child support just because they don’t like how the other parent spends the money.
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