The Registering Parent

A major issue cropping up in many local parenting plan involves the designation for school purposes that is set forth in parenting plans. There arises an issue when the person designated as “school designation” in the parenting plan neglects to consider the fact the parties have “shared parental responsibility” in their parenting plan.

Shared parental responsibility deals with decision-making on behalf of the child. The majority of parenting plan allow for shared decision-making. This means in order to make a decision both parents will consult and confer in order to make a joint decision. These are for decisions for medical, educational, and religious issues. For example, if a child is to attend a private school or have a particular medical treatment.

A school designation sets forth which parent’s home will be designated in order to determine which school they will attend. For example, if you live on S. Cranberry Ave. in North Port, you will likely be zoned for Cranberry Elementary School. A school designation, also sets forth which parent is responsible for registering the child— basically to become the point of contact for the school.

Many districts’ school policies intend for only one parent to be the point of contact for all communications involving the child. This is so the schools do not have to be involved in custody issues. Can you blame them? However, one problem that results is that the parent whose home is designated for the school purposes and who is then the registering parent believes he or she is the one responsible or able to make educational decision-making for the child. And, this is not the case.

Regardless of who the registering parent is, both parents, if they have shared parental responsibility, are able to make decisions. However, the registering parent has the responsibility to contact the school, communicate, and make changes to records and such.

Collaborative practice comes to Charlotte County

Dr. Catherine Bukovitz, of Momentum Counseling Center, wrote an article for Charlotte Florida Weekly on how collaborative practice offers a better solution for those considering divorce or facing family law issues. Check it out here!

What happens with a pre-marital home in a divorce?

Florida allows for the court to set aside pre-marital assets of the parties so they are not distributed in a divorce. Typically, so long as the asset wasn't re-deeded in the new spouse's name, the pre-marital home remained the intact asset of the owning spouse with some exceptions.

However, over the past few years, case law has evolved to allow the non-owning spouse to go after the appreciation of the property. There are two types of appreciation: active and passive. Active is just how it sounds. Either party takes action to improve the property, such as the addition of a pool or detached garage, and not merely maintenance on the property like a new A/C unit or replacing roof shingles. Passive is the natural increase of value due to the market. 

In March 2018, the Governor signed into law what years of case law had attempted to sort out--how to determine the marital value of passive appreciation on a non-marital home. First, there must be a mortgage on the property that was paid down with either spouse's funds (aka marital money). The mortgage's principal must have been paid down during the marriage.

The equitable distribution statute Fla. Stat. 61.075 (the law that dictates how the court divides assets and debts in a divorce) was modified. We now look at what the value of the property was on the date of marriage and on the date of filing to determine any passive appreciation. If there was any active appreciation during this period, we subtract that amount out. Then the formula allows us to use the pay down on the principal of the mortgage to determine the marital portion of the total passive appreciation. 

How is child support calculated?

Florida Statute 61.30 governs child support. The statute details what amounts are the full obligation for a parent when you look at combined monthly net income of both parties. For example, if the mother and father earn, after taxes are deducted, an income of $2,000 per month, the total child support obligation is $442 for one child. The table details amounts up to 6 children.

In paternity and divorce cases, the Circuit Court typically handles establishing a child support obligation considering the parties' parenting plan and schedule. In these Circuit Court cases, both parties' gross incomes (before taxes and deductions) are looked at. Then, allowable deductions, including dependency exemptions, the parents' health insurance payments, the parents' mandatory retirement contributions, etc., are taken from the gross income. After, we are left with both parties' net income (after taxes and deductions). The Court considers if either party is paying for the children's child care expenses, uncovered medical and health expenses on an ongoing basis, and the children's health insurance. The Court also uses what's called a "gross up" method to account for overnights of the parties. At the bottom of the calculation, we are left with both parties' child support obligations.

This blog post is informational and not intended to provide legal advice in any way whatsoever. This post does not create a relationship between the reader and Bouchard Law, P.A.

What is a "dependency" case?

A dependency case is a civil action brought to the Circuit Court by the State through the Department of Children and Families (DCF). These types of cases are initiated based on allegations of abuse, abandonment or neglect of a child. 

When the court system becomes involved and a case is actually opened by DCF, typically the first step involves "sheltering" the child at a Shelter Hearing. This is where DCF has the burden of proving they have probably cause to believe abuse, neglect or abandonment of the child has occurred and it is then necessary to remove the child from the parent and place the child with another family member, friend, or foster parent.

The dependency process falls under Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes. Like any other case, the process can vary based on the circumstances and allegations. Therefore, it is important that if you find yourself involved in this type of proceeding that you contact an attorney and discuss your rights and the procedure.

Here you can find a flowchart of how dependency cases may go:

This blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship nor is it intended to give legal advice.

Florida Family Law App

Many Florida people must represent themselves in court or in filing a case for domestic relations, divorce, custody, and other family law related cases due to various reasons.

Our firm offers "unbundled" services, such as review of pro se, someone who is not represented by a lawyer, documents and pleadings, informational consultations, and limited appearance for court dates and filings representation, depending on the case. Contact us today for a case evaluation and to see if we can assist you with these services.

There is also an app that can assist you with navigating the court system called Florida Courts Help. This tool was recently created by the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice. The app works on Apple and Android devices and offers a spot for people to access Supreme Court approved family law forms, links and content to information for help centers in Florida, instructions for how to proceed with your case, and information regarding low-cost legal services, lawyer referrals, and eligibility criteria. 


"Gray divorce" on the rise

A recent Pew Research Center article states that among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s.

"The climbing divorce rate for adults ages 50 and older is linked in part to the aging of the Baby Boomers, who now make up the bulk of this age group. (As of 2015, Baby Boomers ranged in age from 51 to 69.)," according to Research Analyst, Renee Stepler, author of "Led by Baby Boomers, Divorce Rates Climb for America's 50+ Population" published March 9, 2017. 

Noted consequences of these "gray divorces" include becoming less financially secure than married and widowed adults, living alone at older ages, and having less satisfaction with social lives.



What is mediation?

“ 'Mediation' means a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal and nonadversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decisionmaking authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives." See Fla. Stat. Sect. 44.1011

Particularly, “ '[f]amily mediation' means mediation of family matters, including married and unmarried persons, before and after judgments involving dissolution of marriage; property division; shared or sole parental responsibility; or child support, custody, and visitation involving emotional or financial considerations not usually present in other circuit civil cases. Negotiations in family mediation are primarily conducted by the parties. Counsel for each party may attend the mediation conference and privately communicate with their clients. However, presence of counsel is not required, and, in the discretion of the mediator, and with the agreement of the parties, mediation may proceed in the absence of counsel unless otherwise ordered by the court." See Fla. Stat. Sect. 44.1011 (d)

In all family matters, the court orders you to participate in mediation. Court mediation is offered for parties earning a combined income of less than $100,000 annual gross income. This mediation is held for 3 hours at a courthouse and depending on the circuit, a contracted attorney and/or mediator or a court-employed mediator acts as mediator. The mediator holds a specific certificate that allows him/her to act in this role. Mediators are not always attorneys and are not always family law, marital law, or Florida attorneys.

Private mediators are often utilized in cases that are high conflict, deal with multiple assets and liabilities, have special considerations regarding parenting, or have parties who earn over the allowable amount for court mediation. These mediations tend to be effective as the parties typically invest their time and money for the purpose of reaching an agreement as to some or all of the issues involved in the case.

This blog post is not intended to provide any legal advice whatsoever. This post does not create a legal relationship between Bouchard Law, P.A. and the reader and is merely intended to provide general information to the reader.