Zachary A. VanDyke, PA
Panama City Attorney
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Panama City Legal Blog

What if my former spouse quits working?

A previous post on this blog discussed how difficult it can be to figure out how much income each parent of a child makes so that a court can determine the proper amount of child support each parent should be responsible for. Particularly when a parent does not make regular income, is self-employed or otherwise get paid in cash, challenges in calculating income are relatively easy to come by.

On a related point, it can also be difficult to know what to do when a parent loses his or her job. Ordinarily, an unemployed parent will not have to pay as much child support as would a parent who is employed full time. However, this general principle assumes that all parents act in good faith when they either lose or cannot find a job.

What counts as income for Florida child support purposes?

Previous posts on this blog have provided an overview of the state Guidelines which family court judges in Florida will use in order to determine how much child support a parent must pay for the benefit of any children they have but who do not live with them.

As that post mentioned, sometimes it is difficult to know exactly what counts as a parent's income and, on a related point, how that income ought to be calculated. While things like pay stubs and tax returns can give a court some idea of what a parent's income is for child support purposes, they do not always present a perfectly clear picture of the parent's financial situation.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Florida?

If you're ending your marriage, a simple question you may have is how long you'll have to wait to be legally divorced. Depending on your situation, you may wish to finalize your divorce as quickly as possible. The good news is that if your divorce isn't complicated, it can take as little as 30 days.

To have a short divorce, you'll need to work with your spouse to come up with a separation agreement. In most cases, you can't have children or property and go through a simplified dissolution of marriage, which is the fastest form of divorce in Florida. On top of that, you'll need to show that you've lived in Florida for at least six months. If you haven't but can show your spouse has, that's acceptable.

Am I allowed to modify my divorce decree?

Many Panama City, Florida, residents who have been divorced or a while or who are subject to a paternity order or other sort of order from a family law court may find themselves in a situation months or years down the road in which it is apparent that circumstances have changed and they need to alter the order.

Getting such modifications is relatively straightforward when it comes to child support, child custody or visitation. As this blog has discussed previously, Florida law is generally set up to allow for changes that affect the well-being of any children involved. While one's right to modify these aspects of a divorce or paternity decree are not unlimited, generally speaking, a person need not worry that they won't be able to address a future change in circumstances.

Do my veteran's benefits count in child support calculations?

Many former members of the armed services how now live in Panama City or other parts of Florida draw disability benefits from the Veterans' Administration. While these benefits are ultimately intended to help military parents and other service members support themselves after being hurt or getting sick while in the line of duty, they also are calculated in to one's child support order as income.

What this means is that a disabled service member could be expected to apply a portion of his or her disability benefits for the support of any children they have and that do not live with the veteran. While most parents no doubt want to give the best life possible to their children, having one's disability benefits taken can work a serious hardship on a person such that he or she cannot provide for his or her own needs.

Powers and duties of a Florida guardian over a child

As this blog has mentioned on at least one previous occasion, relatives and friends who are not parents may be called upon to take on a child full time should the parents be unwilling or unable to do so. For instance, guardianship is a means by which grandparents can get custody of their grandchildren if they need it.

As a reminder, Florida courts are only going to give custody to a non-parent via a guardianship if the parents are truly unfit to take care of their children, such as the case when both parents wind up in jail for an extended period of time. Moreover, guardians of children have some important responsibilities and obligations, even if the children in question do not have any property other than some personal belongings.

Who do relocating parents need to notify per Florida law?

This blog has previously discussed how a Panama City parent's decision to relocate can affect child custody and visitation orders, depending heavily on the circumstances. Some Florida custodial parents and noncustodial parents may wonder whether and to what extent they even need to tell the other parent that they are moving.

Under Florida relocation law, a parent does not have to report every move to the other parent. Local moves, which the law defines as moves less than 50 miles away, are not subject to the requirement that a parent either get the other parent's consent or file a request to the court for permission to move.

Parenting: Child custody and natural disasters

Living on the Gulf Coast, one thing you have to worry about is the damage a hurricane can cause. Depending on your situation, you may be in Florida at all times of the year or only temporarily. Additionally, you could have your children there regularly or only once in a while.

Why is it important to talk about hurricanes and child custody? Simply because it could disrupt your custody arrangements. This is an issue that could land you in court, depending on how your ex-spouse approaches the situation. For example, if your ex thinks you're using the weather as an excuse to withhold visitation time, he or she could seek out legal assistance to change your custody plan.

An overview of Florida's child support guidelines

Like most other states, Florida has legal guidelines for helping judges in the courts around Panama City and statewide determine the correct amount of child support to order a parent to pay. The idea behind these guidelines is to make sure that child support orders are as consistent as possible across the state, and that both children and their parents have the financial means of support they require.

Florida's child support guidelines apply to all child support orders, both new ones and changes to existing child support orders. Courts also use the child support guidelines to determine whether a parent is even eligible for a change in his or her child support obligation.

How can Florida parents protect their children during a divorce?

Emotionally stable parents in Florida and nationwide are better able to focus on their children and their relationship. They do not have to worry about the possibility of fights or issues between their spouse, which, even done outside of a child's presence, could have an emotional impact on the parents while they spend time with their children.

A twenty-year research project has shown that 80 percent of children involved in a divorce do not suffer any negative effects in their education, social interactions or mental health. This was also confirmed by a development psychologist who studied 2,500 children involved with a divorce.


Zachary A. Vandyke, P.A.
502 Harmon Ave
Panama City, FL 32401

Phone: 850-851-0864
Fax: 850-215-6459
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