child support attorney lakeland florida

CHILD SUPPORT, SPOUSAL SUPPORT, AND DIVISION OF MARITAL ASSETS IN LAKELAND, FL

CHILD SUPPORT, SPOUSAL SUPPORT, AND DIVISION OF MARITAL ASSETS ATTORNEY IN LAKELAND, FLORIDA

When deciding to pursue a divorce, it is a decision not made lightly for many reasons. For some, it is the fear of custody issues, and for others, it is worrying about the division of marital assets and debt. Regardless, deciding to end a marriage will create a series of difficult choices that will impact your life for years to come.

Inevitably, there is the worry of financial losses you might suffer when trying to reach a divorce settlement with your ex-spouse. Three areas that create a significant amount of tension that can protract a Lakeland, FL, divorce process are:

  • Child Support Determinations
  • Spousal Support 
  • Division of Assets

Before undertaking this significant milestone in your life, make sure you consult with a well-versed divorce lawyer in Lakeland. Their guidance can help you keep calm and find a pathway to divorce that is less stressful and could potentially save you thousands of dollars.

FLORIDA CHILD SUPPORT ATTORNEY

Child support protects a child’s right to be financially supported by both parents. Some parents attempt to use child support as a bargaining chip during divorce, forgetting the fact that child support is not a privilege given to one parent; it is a child’s right.

Child support is often awarded in situations where one parent has significantly more time with the child than the other parent or an earnings discrepancy. Ideally, a child support award should allow the child to maintain the same standard of living at both parental homes.

When determining child support, Florida courts use a specific set of guidelines. Factors considered include:

  • TIMESHARING AGREEMENT A parent with no scheduled parenting time will pay the maximum amount in child support. Their obligation begins decreasing once their share of parenting time reaches 20% and continues to do so as the time sharing obligations shift. Even with a 50/50 timesharing agreement, a child support award may occur if there are income discrepancies.
  • NUMBER OF CHILDREN The more minor children produced by marriage, the higher the child support award will be.
  • HEALTHCARE COVERAGE A child must have access to healthcare coverage. A child support award will account for that and require one parent to cover the cost of healthcare coverage, depending on which parent has a better policy through their job or another source.
  • INCOME AND EARNING ABILITY OF EACH PARENT This is a significant factor in determining child support. Consider a divorcing couple with massive differences in income. If the couple has a 50/50 timesharing schedule, but one earns $10,000 per year, and one earns $200,000 per year, the parent earning $10,000 per year would still receive quite a bit of child support. This formula allows both parents to provide a similar standard of living for their children, which would have occurred if they had remained married. Earning ability is also a factor; if one parent could reasonably get a job that pays $50,000 per year, but they choose to work part-time and earn $12,000 per year, the court does not look favorably on such choices. They may require the parent to pay at the higher level of the higher paying job they opted to forgo. This method discourages parents from remaining underemployed to avoid child support.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT IN LAKELAND, FLORIDA

Another particularly contentious issue that many divorcing couples dispute is spousal support. This type of support involves court-ordered support payments to an ex-spouse. Alimony is not part of ordered child support obligations in any way, and the spouse who has the greater income or financial resources available typically pays it. The purpose is to enable the other spouse to have time to establish themselves independently. 

The state of Florida does not have any specific formulas for calculating spousal support, though the law lists several factors for the court to consider when determining how much alimony to award: 

  • Length of the marriage
  • Ability of one spouse to support the other
  • Evidence of demonstrated need for support
  • Ages of the spouses
  • The overall health of the divorcing parties
  • What the standard of living in the marriage was
  • Parental obligations
  • The amount of time and cost to support a spouse through the necessary training to be self-supportive
  • What each spouse contributed to the marriage financially and non-financially
  • Tax consequences of spousal support orders
  • The ability for each party to be self-sufficient
  • Additional factors that could impact the equity between the parties

If the court determines that spousal support (alimony) is appropriate, it will need to decide what form to grant. The length of your marriage will directly impact this choice, especially in cases where a spouse requests ongoing support.

The time frames are as follows:

  • Short-term: Under seven years of marriage 
  • Moderate: Any length between seven and 17 years 
  • Long-term: Marriages that lasted 17 years or longer

Currently, Florida law provides for several types of spousal support orders. The awarding of alimony depends on the duration of your marriage and any factors the court deems relevant.

  • Temporary
  • Bridge-the-gap 
  • Rehabilitative
  • Durational
  • Lump-Sum 
  • Permanent

Keep in mind that spousal support is not a punitive measure used against a spouse. If you feel that the amount of ordered support is excessive or not enough, contact the experienced spousal and child support lawyer in our Lakeland, FL, office to learn what steps you can take to modify your spousal support order. 

DIVISION OF MARITAL ASSETS IN FLORIDA

Florida is an equitable distribution state when it comes to the division of marital assets during a divorce. This law states that any property you or your spouse acquired during your marriage is subject to this standard of division. The state does not specify who should receive how much of the property, and it is critically important that you understand that equitable does not mean equal but fair. 

Lakeland, FL, couples who cannot agree upon a fair distribution of their marital property and debts risk potentially hurting themselves financially if the court must perform the division instead. Upon reviewing how each spouse contributed to the marriage, accumulated assets, and debts, a final determination can be made. 

Generally, the below factors will influence how a judge may divide the assets and debts in your marriage:

  • All acquired assets and liabilities from the marriage regardless of which spouse incurred them. 
  • Gifts you may have received during the marriage
  • Non-marital assets that gained value or equity during the marriage
  • Retirement accounts, insurance benefits, pensions, and other assets
  • Income earned from non-marital assets that both parties relied on as a marital asset while married
  • Assets and liabilities that were agreed to not be treated as marital assets by both parties in writing 

As you can see, there is significant financial well-being at stake during this part of the divorce process. If you are considering or are already in the process of divorcing, you must speak with a Lakeland, FL, divorce attorney possessing extensive experience in asset and debt division.

HOW DARLA K. SNEAD, P.L., CAN HELP YOU

There is a lot of financial risk when deciding to divorce your spouse. You may have concerns that a family court will not treat you fairly when determining support obligations or dividing marital assets. An experienced divorce and child support attorney will prove invaluable. You don’t have to navigate this type of action on your own. It is possible to reach a divorce settlement you can live with. 

Lakeland divorce and child support attorney Darla K. Snead knows how these discussions and negotiations can quickly breakdown and tailspin into unnecessary disputes. With over 20 years of demonstrated divorce mediation experience, she can provide you the calm guidance you need. This will allow you to stay focused on settling the issues to help your divorce get finished. Her empathetic communication style and extensive understanding of state support and marital asset laws will help you save money now and in the future. 

If you and your ex-partner both want to find a resolution, or if you want to reopen negotiations to avoid your divorce settlement being determined by a judge, Ms. Snead is ready to help you. She will do whatever it takes to defend your rights while trying to find the best solution to any disputes that have begun to drag out your case. Her familiarity with the 10th Circuit Court has helped thousands of families throughout the Polk, Hardee, and Highland Counties finalize their divorces and move on with the next stage of their lives.Contact her at her office by phone today or schedule a free consultation online to evaluate your current divorce action to learn how she may be able to help.

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