Establishing Paternity in Florida

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Children deserve to have a legal father. When you establish paternity, you identify the legal father of the child. Paternity gives rights and benefits to the mother, the father and the child.

Some of the rights and benefits for the child are:

  • Information on family medical history
  • The child will know the identity of his or her father
  • The father’s name is on the birth certificate
  • Health or life insurance from either parent, if available
  • Support from both parents, like child support and medical support
  • Get Social Security or veteran’s benefits, military allowances and inheritances

How Do I Establish Paternity for My Child?

  • IF the parents are married when the child is born, paternity is established without having to take any action.
  • IF the parents are unmarried when the child is born, paternity can be established voluntarily by both parents in the hospital.
  • IF the mother is unmarried when the child is born, but later marries the child’s father, paternity can be established when applying for a marriage license.
  • IF paternity has not been established another way, it can be established with a legal order.

Can Children Express Preference in Florida Custody Proceedings?

Written by: Aaron Thomas; Article posted on:

When a custody dispute involves very young children, either the parents or a court will decide where they live. As children get older, however, they may prefer to live with one parent or the other. 

Overview of Custody Decisions in Florida. When separating parents can’t agree how to split parenting responsibilities and visitation time, the judge makes the decision for them. After hearing evidence from both parents, the court will develop a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, based on what is in the child’s best interest.

When Will the Court Consider a Child’s Preference? Unlike other states, in Florida, there is no particular age when courts must consider a child’s preference regarding which parent should have custody. Instead, the judge has the discretion to decide whether the child is intelligent enough to make a choice, whether the child understands the decision he or she is making, and whether the child has enough experience with each parent so that the decision is meaningful.

Everything You Need to Know About Child Support

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Child support is the duty you have to support a biological child, whether you are married to the other parent or not. Each state follows a specific set of guidelines for calculating child support. 

These guidelines vary a great deal from state to state but typically rely on factors similar to those used to determine spousal support and child custody, such as: 

  • Each parent’s net income; 
  • The time the children spend with each parent; 
  • The number, ages, and needs of the children—including health insurance, education, day care, and special needs; 
  • The family’s pre-divorce standard of living; and 
  • Hardship factors that affect a parent’s ability to pay support.

How long must child support be paid? Child support is usually paid until the child turns 18. However, sometimes child support payments can extend beyond 18 if the child lives at home and is dependent on his or her parents. 
Child support can also last through age 23 if the child is still a student. Furthermore, if a child is severely disabled, child support may be ordered to be paid through his or her entire life.

Failure to pay child support Failure to pay child support can land a parent in big trouble. A non-paying parent can face asset seizure and wage garnishment. Furthermore, because child support is a court order, a parent can be found in contempt of court, face jail time and/or lose his or her driver’s license. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act provides for interstate enforceability of child support orders across the country. 

Modifying child support Like alimony, a child support order can be modified. However, there must be a substantial change in circumstances to modify an existing child support order. If for instance, a child needs tutoring because of a learning disability, a paying parent might need to pay more. On the other hand, if the payee hits the lottery, the paying parent might get a portion of that money or have to pay less child support going forward.

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5 Ways to Protect Children During Divorce

Article Written By: Deborah Anderson Bailis 

How will divorce impact your children? Fear of harming your children might have even been a reason you stayed in an unhappy marriage for longer than you wanted to. During this time, there are concrete ways to minimize negative impacts divorce might have on your kids and to make the transition more positive.

(1) Try an amicable alternative to litigation
Choosing to mediate or take a collaborative approach will decrease contentiousness and will likely make the process faster, meaning your children will be exposed to less acrimony and uncertainty.
(2) Insulate your children from the drama
Adjusting to life in two separate households can be very difficult for children. When they are with you, you can help them by focusing on having fun together and doing the activities they love, rather than dwelling on the divorce or pushing for details about their “other home.”
(3) Invest in a good therapist (or two!)
Soliciting the help of a therapist for your children could make a world of difference. It will give them a neutral party to speak openly with about their feelings and work through any grief, resentment, or guilt.

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7 Things You Should Never Post On Facebook When You’re Going Through A Divorce

Article Written by: Kara Wahlgren

If you’re in the midst of a divorce, keep things civil by steering clear of these all-too-tempting social media mistakes.

Mistake #1: Jumping the gun. When you’re used to sharing the minutiae of your life with everyone in your network, it may feel weird to suddenly keep mum about something so major. But discretion can help avoid hurt feelings and legal mayhem, so it’s smart to have a talk with your ex-partner about your social media strategy.
Mistake #2: Bashing your ex. Social media can provide a huge support system, but that doesn’t mean you should expect your online tribe to tear down your ex. 
Mistake #3: Oversharing. The internet is forever, so save the scandalous details for your closest friends and keep your online profile as drama-free as possible.

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The 21 Best Things to do in Miami with Kids

Article written by: Megan Barber and Adele Chapin; Provided by:

Miami might have an international reputation for thriving bars and late-night pool parties, but it’s also packed full of family-friendly activities for kids of all ages.

1. Sawgrass Recreation Park. If seeing the Everglades is on your must-do list for Miami, head to Sawgrass Recreation Park. General admission includes a 30-minute airboat tour through the everglades as well as access to 3 exhibit areas where you’ll see turtles, iguanas, and a 1,000-pound alligator.  

2. Oleta River State Park. Rent bikes at the Blue Moon Outdoor Center and explore the 15 miles of mountain bike trails in this oasis of wetlands and mangroves. The same outdoor center also rents canoes and kayaks that are perfect for exploring the calm waters and 1,200 feet of sandy beaches.

3. Institute of Contemporary Art. The newly opened Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami offers a “Family Day” on the third Sunday of every month. Be there for interactive activities and performances for all ages.

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Financial Steps to Take When Getting a Divorce

Written by: Maryalene LaPonsie; Article posted on:

Divorce is usually a highly emotional life event, and for that reason, financial experts say it’s important to have trusted advisors by your side. Gretchen Cliburn, senior managing advisor at BKD Wealth Advisors in Springfield, Missouri, says everyone going through a divorce should work with the following people.
  • Divorce attorney
  • Certified divorce financial analyst
  • Mental health counselor
As soon as you know you’re getting a divorce, collect all the financial documents you can. These include the following:
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Tax returns
  • Retirement account balances
  • Appraisals for valuable items, if available
Pull a copy of your credit report. Spouses should look for loans or accounts they don’t recognize and work with an attorney to ensure they aren’t responsible for any debt incurred without their knowledge.

How a Simple Divorce Checklist Can Keep You From Making These 10 Common Mistakes

Written by: Karen Covy; Article provided by:

Here are 3 common mistakes that you can avoid by having a simple divorce checklist:
  1. Having to Be Responsible for Debts You Forgot About (or Didn’t Know Existed) — There is nothing worse than finding out months (or years) after your divorce is over that you have a credit card bill in your name that was never dealt with in your divorce. 
  2. Having Your Spouse Read Your Personal Mail — While your spouse has a right to open mail directed jointly to the two of you, as you separate you are going to start getting mail (for example, letters from your attorney) that you won’t want your spouse to read. 
  3. Having Your Spouse Cyber-Spy On You — In the flurry of changing everything in your life when you divorce, it is easy to forget that your spouse probably knows (or can figure out) the passwords to all of your email, social media and other online accounts.

7 Little-Known Financial Benefits of Divorce

Written by: Maryalene LaPonsie; Article posted on:

  1. Easier budgeting and greater control over money. The end of a marriage can mean the end of fights over money. There is no more struggle over which categories get priority in the budget; no more evenings spent cajoling or pleading with a spouse to rein in spending. 
  2. Early access to a retirement fund, penalty-free. A divorce is one of the few times a person can pull money out of a retirement account early and not pay an early withdrawal penalty. When an agreement known as a qualified domestic relations order is reached as part of a divorce, it allows for an early withdrawal from the account. 
  3. Potentially better investment returns. Divorce could mean better investment returns.

How can you protect your child during divorce?

If you’re getting divorced, you’re probably worried about your child or children. So you’ll be heartened to know that the research shows that kids can cope with a divorce and come out ok. 

Unfortunately, though, they sometimes don’t. In fact, many children whose parents make the decision to divorce are emotionally wounded in a way that lingers throughout their lives.

Click the link below for tips on how you can protect your child during divorce.