Family Law Group Tampa, FL
Family Law Group In Tampa, FL
If you’re trying to figure out how to approach child custody issues in the wake of a romantic split with your child’s other parent, please consult our family law group Tampa, FL residents trust with these kinds of legal issues. Our attorneys understand just how emotionally intense and logistically complex child custody arrangements are and we will always treat both you and your case with the dignity, respect, and focus that your family deserves during this challenging time.
CHILD CUSTODY OPTIONS – THE BASICS
Most Florida parents navigate joint custody of their children. This arrangement is referred to as “shared parental responsibility” in the Sunshine State. If you and your child’s other parent either agree on this approach or a judge orders that your child custody situation is classified as such, you’ll need to make major decisions about your child together and you’ll share physical parenting responsibilities. Your expectations will be outlined in a parenting agreement, which our family lawyer Tampa, FL trusts can help you to construct.
EVALUATING YOUR CHILD CUSTODY OPTIONS
If you and your child’s other parent have either already separated or are thinking about severing your romantic ties to one another, consider scheduling a consultation with our experienced Tampa, FL family law group today. Even if you’re unsure of whether you and your child’s other parent may remain together, it’s important to understand your child custody options in the event that you choose to make a permanent change. Remember that, as long as your arrangements are crafted to reflect your child’s best interests, a judge will almost certainly sign off on any parenting arrangement that you and your child’s other parent can come to agree upon mutually. If you could benefit from assistance negotiating or mediating the terms of a child custody arrangement out of court, our experienced Florida legal team at The McKinney Law Group can help you to navigate that process. Similarly, our firm can also assist you if you and your child’s other parent cannot come to an agreement and your dispute must be settled in court.
CHILD CUSTODY ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE
No two sets of parents approach the child custody process in exactly the same way. As a result, our firm employs a personalized approach that helps to ensure our clients’ unique needs are treated with dignity, respect, and a seriousness of purpose. You don’t need to have “all the answers” to how you’re going to approach this process yet. We can advise you of your options, answer your questions, and help you make an informed decision about how best to move forward. Schedule a confidential, no-risk consultation with our Tampa, FL family law group today; we look forward to speaking with you.
CREATING A WORKABLE PARENTING PLAN
If you and your child’s other parent will continue co-parenting your child or children after your legal separation, divorce, or unwed romantic split is finalized, you will need to create a parenting plan. A parenting plan (sometimes referred to as a parenting agreement or parenting arrangement) details the “ins and outs” of how you’ll make your co-parenting situation work. Our firm’s Tampa, FL family law group can help to ensure that your parenting plan both reflects your child’s best interests and is manageable for everyone involved. Most of the time, parenting plans address when the affected child will reside or otherwise spend time with each parent. However, many other elements of your family’s co-parenting arrangements can be addressed here too. Parenting plans serve as legally-enforceable documents. So, if you are concerned that your child’s other parent will “stick you” with the responsibility and/or costs of transporting your child between houses, maintaining communication burdens, etc. you can address those concerns in legally enforceable ways within this document. Topics that many parents choose to address within their agreements include holiday and special occasion challenges, visitation with various other family members, transportation between households, who will pay for educational expenses, travel expenses, extracurricular expenses, etc. (outside of child support purviews), religious education and/or attendance at religious events, etc. Essentially, if an issue is important to you and/or gives you cause for concern, let the legal team at The McKinney Law Group know. We’ll be able to advise you regarding whether your concern can and/or should be addressed within the context of your parenting plan.
MODIFYING A PARENTING PLAN
It is important to note that a parenting plan can be modified under circumstances. After all, the courts can’t expect that the best interests of a child and the circumstances that their family faces will remain the same from infancy to adulthood. Generally speaking, you and your co-parent can agree to modify any of the terms of your parenting agreement by mutual assent at any time. However, if one of you wants to modify your agreement and the other does not, the court will only rule in favor of medication if two criteria are met. First, the modification must be in the child’s best interests – this is the standard applied to all decision-making concerning child custody nationwide. Second, a significant change in circumstances or needs must have occurred since the original order was put into place. This approach helps to ensure that co-parents don’t drag each other into court over every kind of disagreement imaginable.
SETTING CO-PARENTING COMMUNICATION EXPECTATIONS
When the experienced Florida legal team at The McKinney Law Group helps you to construct your parenting agreement, we’ll prompt you to think about the ways in which you will be communicating with your co-parent as you move forward. Many disagreements and tensions can be mitigated if clear co-parenting communication standards are put into place proactively. These can be outlined in your parenting plan. Some parents choose to communicate as much as they can via an online tool designed to help co-parents navigate their arrangements seamlessly. Others choose to check in weekly over the phone or to only communicate via email. How will you and your child’s other parent communicate most effectively from now on? It is an important question to consider.
THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT
When discussing child custody, our family law group in Tampa, FL questions about child support are often at the center of client conversations. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your children receive adequate care. This includes housing, food, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, etc. In the case of divorce, that responsibility is divided up between both parents at a percentage determined by the court. Whatever your personal circumstance, we know you have the best interests of your children at heart. Our experienced team of lawyers and staff have decades of experience helping families navigate complex situations. Please call the McKinney Law Group today at 813-906-0048 for a free consultation. We want to help you!
COURT-ISSUED CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS
When parents decide to separate or divorce, they often need to address child custody and child support issues at the same time. A family court judge will consider many factors when determining how much child support that one parent should pay. Factors include the income of the both parents, the number of children involved, and the financial needs of the children. Child support payments are intended to support the children — not the parent who receives these payments. These payment orders are separate from alimony or spousal payments, although both orders may be given at the same time. When the parent paying child support does not make their payments on time, this is considered noncompliance with a court order. The custodial parent may choose to hire a child support lawyer to assist with enforcing the order. Some courts withdraw money from a parent’s paycheck if they are earning a regular income but refuse to pay. Other courts may seek to penalize that parent in some form, such as sending them to jail for a few days or revoking any professional licenses they may have.
MODIFYING A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER
After agreeing to a child support order, parents often find that they need to revisit the order at a later date and make adjustments to it. It’s very common for a parent’s income to change or to find that they have more financial burdens than they did when the order was drawn up. Parents may also petition for temporary modifications in custody and/or support payments. This is fairly common if a parent is facing a medical emergency or a sudden loss of income. Modifying a child support order is something that a lawyer from our firm can help with. Even if two parents are in agreement about making a modification, they will still need to formally petition for a modification. As with the original child support order, the judge will consider all of the relevant factors and will determine if the changes can meet the needs of the children.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
When you’re facing a difficult child support dispute, never hesitate to reach out to a child support lawyer for assistance. At McKinney Law Group, we’re dedicated to our clients and we strive to help them reach a place of stability and happiness. We know that separating from your partner can be extremely difficult, and when you have children to consider as well, it can be hard to know what decisions will be best for your entire family. With that said, while child custody issues can be particularly challenging to navigate, child support issues tend to be a little more straightforward, as their calculation, modification, and enforcement possibilities are governed more clearly by state standards than the nebulous “best interests of the child” standard is in re: child custody issues. When thinking about what child support questions you’d like to ask our team, keep the following basics in mind:
- What does child support include? – Child support usually covers lodging, food, clothing, medical care, school expenses, and sometimes extracurricular activities. Basically, anything the child enjoyed during the marriage should be available to the child after a divorce.
- How is child support calculated? – There are many online calculators available online to help with this, or your attorney is another good resource. There is a complex formula that takes into consideration income levels of both parties, expenses, percentage of custody, etc.
- Can child support amounts be changed?– As children’s needs evolve or family circumstances change, one or both parties can file a court motion to review child support and ask for a modification.
- What if my ex-spouse hides assets? – This is quite common. If you suspect your ex-spouse is hiding assets, you can produce records or hire an investigator to find the proof you need to uncover any hidden assets.
- What if my ex-spouse refuses to pay court ordered support? – Failure to comply with a court order has serious consequences. Anytime you do not receive a child support payment on the due date, you should inform the court. There are many agencies that will help in child support collections and the court can help with that. In some cases, you can garnish the wages of the non-compliant parent.
- What if my ex-spouse is misusing child support funds? – If you have evidence that your ex-spouse is using child support funds for personal gain, you should report it immediately to the judge. Child support is meant solely for the upkeep of children, and there are serious legal consequences if you can prove it. As always, keep detailed records.
What To Expect at a Child Support Hearing
The Judge May Want To See Documentation
Most of the time, documentation is required during your Department of Revenue hearing. However, even if you aren’t required to bring your financial documentation, it is a good idea to do so anyway. McKinney Law Group, a family law group in Tampa, FL, can help you gather what you need. The first thing you should gather is a copy of your financial affidavit. If you make less than $50,000 per year, you’ll provide a short form. If you make more than that, you’ll need a long-form affidavit.
Next, gather your pay stubs and your tax returns. You’ll need paystubs for the last six months that you worked as well as tax returns for the last three years. Furthermore, if you’ve recently been terminated from a job, you’ll need to bring a notice of termination.
Finally, consider any child-related expenses that you pay. If you have medical or daycare bills for your child(ren), bring records of it. You should also bring records of any of your own medical expenses as well as records of any child support payments that the petitioner has already received.
What To Expect at the DOR Hearing
There are two scenarios that can play out during your DOR hearing for child support. The first scenario is that the petitioner doesn’t appear before the court. In this scenario, the respondent may have a more favorable child support order and can avoid a full hearing. Typically, if the petitioner does not appear in court, then the respondent will not need to provide as many documents. Our family law group in Tampa, FL, recommends that you still bring any that you have, though, as a precaution.
The second scenario occurs when both the petitioner and the respondent appear in front of the judge. The court will look at it in order to create an accurate and fair child support order. If you are the respondent in a case, keep in mind that the petitioner may hold you accountable for any unpaid child support. Regardless of your situation, it is important not to embellish or manipulate facts, as it will reflect poorly on you if you are found out.
What Your Child Support Payment Covers
Child support covers a wide variety of things. In addition to basic needs such as food and clothing, it will help to pay for your child’s education, such as tuition, uniforms, and supplies, as well as out-of-pocket medical expenses. Finally, it will help to pay for your child’s hobbies or extracurricular activities. Our family law group in Tampa, FL, McKinney Law Group, can help you do what is best for your child.
Six Different Types of Divorce
When it comes time to dissolve your marriage, there are different divorce options available to you. Here are all six explained.
1. Uncontested Divorce
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on everything: division of assets and debts, child custody, child support, alimony and even pet custody. This type of divorce is often fast and cheap, and may not necessitate calling a Family Law Group in Tampa, FL, such as Mckinney Law Group. An uncontested divorce is sometimes called an amicable divorce or a friendly divorce.
2. Contested Divorce
A contested divorce is contentious and time-consuming. The two spouses may agree on a few things, but disagree about the rest. Mediation and arbitration may have failed to make any great progress on the spouses coming to an agreement. Lawyers get involved, and the judge will make a ruling on all contested issues. Contested divorces get pricey quickly. The average contested divorce in the U.S. costs $15,000, according to Business Insider.
3. At-fault Divorce
An at-fault divorce lets you air your dirty laundry in court, in hopes of getting a bigger slice of the marital assets or a more favorable child custody arrangement. Most states don’t have the option of filing for an at-fault divorce. A Family Law Group in Tampa, FL, can explain your options for an at-fault divorce.
4. No Fault Divorce
This is the most common type of divorce across the U.S. It simply states that the marriage is irrevocably broken and can’t be repaired. Neither party charges the other with doing something to break the marriage. One great benefit to a no fault divorce is that only one spouse has to want a divorce to get a divorce. The other spouse can’t stop the divorce proceedings.
5. Limited Divorce
Limited divorce is an option in several states, including Florida. It’s similar to a legal separation, but allows for division of property, assets and debts, and sets forth child custody and support arrangements and alimony. On the downside, you’re still legally married, you’re just living apart. A Family Law Group in Tampa, FL, from Mckinney Law Group can help you determine if a limited divorce might be good for you.
6. Summary Dissolution
Summary dissolution is faster and easier than even an uncontested divorce. It’s only available to couples who have few assets, little money and no children. The couple is required to decide together how to divide their property, assets and debts.
Tampa Family Law Infographic
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING YOUR CHILD CUSTODY CASE
Getting divorced is difficult enough. When there are children involved, it can make matters even more complicated. If you’re currently in a child custody battle with your ex, you can take steps to increase your chances of winning your case.
- Provide a comfortable and safe living environment. If you have decided not to live in the family home anymore, it’s important to find the right house or apartment as soon as possible. Your new place should be large enough to comfortably fit all of your kids and located in a safe neighborhood.
- Stay involved in your kids’ life. If you want to win your child custody case, you have to show the judge that you put your kids first. You can do this by staying actively involved in their lives. Arrive at each visitation on time and communicate with your kids regularly by phone or email. If one of your kids has a soccer game or choir concert, make an effort to go to it.
- Hire legal assistance. A child custody battle can be a complicated ordeal, so you don’t want to go through it alone. It’s in your best interest to work with a family law group in Tampa, FL. A skilled lawyer can present your case in front of the judge and help you make a positive impression. Your lawyer can also communicate with your ex on your behalf and prevent you from making costly mistakes.
- Don’t get into a new relationship too soon. After finalizing your divorce, you may feel lonely and sad. You may be tempted to get into a romantic relationship with someone new. However, if you’re trying to gain custody of your kids, you should avoid doing this right now. Introducing a new partner to your kids too soon may upset you and work against you in your child custody case.
- Be cautious about what you post on social media. In this day and age, social media is an important part of many people’s lives. However, if you’re in the middle of a child custody battle, you have to be extra careful about what you post on your social media profiles. The other side can look at your social media to find information to use against you. For instance, if you post a photo of yourself in a bar on Facebook, the other side may try to argue that you’re an unfit parent.
5 FACTORS THE INFLUENCE CHILD CUSTODY
Divorce is messy. The most impactful part of a divorce is determining custody arrangements. Ultimately, if you and the child’s other parent can’t come to an agreement around custody arrangements, you should seek advice from a family law group in Tampa, FL because the court will get involved and make a decision based on what they feel is in the best interest of the child. Here are five factors that influence child custody decisions.
Regardless of age, children are impacted by divorce. To minimize that impact, the court will consider which parent can provide the most stable environment for the child during this difficult time. A judge may require a custody evaluation in order to obtain as much information about your family’s situation as possible to aid in his or her decision making. A trusted family law group in Tampa, FL can help you navigate the evaluation process.
2. MENTAL HEALTH
The mental health of each parent and the children will be considered when determining custody arrangements. This is an emotional time for everyone. As a parent, you make many important decisions for and with your child. Certain mental illnesses won’t necessarily prevent you from getting custody of your child if it is well controlled and you are under a doctor’s care. You must demonstrate that you are well enough to care for your child appropriately. Mckinney Law Group can help you navigate the process of proving your fitness as a caregiver.
3. ABUSIVE HISTORY
If there is a confirmed history of abuse or neglect by one parent, or if there is evidence to be investigated, custody is almost always awarded to the other parent. The Mckinney Law Group can work with a parent survivor of domestic abuse to advocate for sole custody of their child or children if abuse has been a part of their lives.
4. CHILD’S PREFERENCE
A child’s preference is considered in custody hearings. The older and more mature a child is, the more weight their opinion carries. Part of a custody evaluation is to determine if a parent is trying to influence their child in any way surrounding who that child may say is their preferred parent.
5. PHYSICAL NEEDS
A parent’s ability to provide for their children’s physical needs is paramount. Each parent’s employment status, living situation, and each child’s physical and mental health needs will be considered during the custody decision. A family law group in Tampa, FL can help to collect paperwork and evidence that the judge will want when considering each parent’s resources.
CONNECT WITH OUR FIRM TODAY
In order to protect your best interests and those of your minor children, it is imperative to have a solid legal team by your side. The McKinney Law Group will fight for you to make sure you get the best outcome for your children and your future. Call our family law group in Tampa, FL today at 813-906-0048.
Why you should hire The McKinney Family Law Group in Tampa FL.
With a team of experienced attorneys in Tampa FL, The McKinney Family Law Group is ready to handle all of your family law needs. This includes divorce and child custody agreements, prenuptial agreements, adoption, paternity, and other family law matters. We have decades of experience dealing with unique family situations in Florida, so trust us with yours. For those who have been struggling with a difficult family issue in Tampa FL or the surrounding areas, you may be considering hiring an attorney or law firm to help you reach a resolution. If that is the case, you should know that there are many different types of attorneys out there who can meet your needs. One type of attorney that you may not be familiar with is a divorce and family lawyer. These lawyers deal specifically with divorce cases and any related matters that arise from them. They can also help with cases involving child custody issues and can assist you if you are pursuing an adoption agreement. The attorneys at The McKinney Family Law Group offer the best legal advice to anyone facing one of these issues. The McKinney Family Law Group is a full-service law firm located in Tampa, Florida. We provide legal representation for family law cases including divorce, paternity, alimony and child support, mediation services and collaborative divorce. Our goal is to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your particular case.
The Tampa Attorneys at The McKinney Family Law Group Work With You
The McKinney Family Law Group offers a free consultation to help you understand your legal options for divorce and child custody. If you are facing a divorce, you need an experienced family law group in Tampa FL to help you with your case. Whether you want an uncontested divorce, collaborative divorce, or a contested divorce, we can help. We have dedicated our lives to helping people through difficult times. We take great pride in the fact that our clients know they can trust us to treat them with respect, and to keep their best interests first and foremost. We have a passion for achieving results, and we work hard until we achieve them. We are proud of our reputation as family law group in Tampa FL, and we work tirelessly to earn that reputation every day. The McKinney Family Law Group is dedicated to helping people in the Tampa Bay area find fair, compassionate solutions that fit their needs as they go through a divorce. Whether you are seeking alimony, child custody or property division, the team at The McKinney Family Law Group can help you. They will work hard to find a solution that works for your family. The lawyers of The McKinney Family Law Group are skilled in solving disputes and building relationships. They are well-respected in the community and have earned a reputation for working hard for their clients and making sure their clients’ needs come first. The team knows how important this time is and will work hard to make things easier for you and your family. If you’re thinking about divorce or need help with any other legal issue, call The McKinney Family Law Group today. Their goal is to help you find a fair solution without the cost of unnecessary litigation. Call today to schedule an appointment!
Florida Family Law Firm
The divorce process can bring up any number of emotions that can be difficult to deal with. Individuals who are divorcing often struggle with anger, jealousy, sadness, and fear. In some cases, spouses also struggle with feeling deeply suspicious of their spouses. Especially if their spouses have either behaved in secretive ways in the past or have recently proven themselves to be untrustworthy, it is certainly understandable that these individuals grapple with suspicious feelings throughout the divorce process.
If you are struggling with feelings of suspicion towards your spouse, it may benefit you to speak with an experienced Tampa, FL family lawyer about your concerns. An untrustworthy spouse may be hiding marital assets out of spite, misplaced ideas about self-protection or shame. When marital assets, like bank accounts, real estate and physical property remain hidden during the divorce process, they are not factored into determinations related to the divorce settlement. In these instances, the spouse unaware of the hidden assets is left with less property and/or spousal support than he or she is entitled to.
If you are concerned that your spouse could potentially be hiding marital assets from you, please consider contacting the experienced Florida family law firm The McKinney Law Group. We have extensive experience with the divorce process and will be able to either answer your questions or refer you to someone who can. Once we have a solid legal strategy in place, we will be able to determine what steps you may want to take in order to search for potentially hidden assets.
During the course of the divorce process, each spouse is supposed to submit a full disclosure of all personal and marital assets. These disclosures form the basis upon which property division negotiations may begin. Even if an asset is unlikely to be treated as marital property by the court, like a piece of land that was inherited by one spouse or the other prior to marriage, it is important to disclose all assets. Real estate, cars, valuable and sentimental personal property and bank accounts are all examples of assets that should be disclosed.
If your spouse has left any assets off his or her disclosure and you can spot these omissions immediately, please tell our Florida family law firm about the items that are missing. An obviously incomplete disclosure may be a sign that your spouse is hiding assets you may be unaware of as well as those that you are aware of.
Similarly, make sure to examine your spouse’s submitted bank statements. Trails to hidden assets often begin in the form of transfers from one bank account to an undisclosed account. If and when any suspicious activity occurs, you may opt to ask our Florida family law firm about conducting formal interrogatories or insisting that your spouse submit to a deposition in which he or she will be compelled to tell the truth under oath or face potential penalties linked to perjury.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you are concerned that your spouse may be hiding assets from you, it is important to seek legal assistance. Hidden assets may dramatically impact your ability to obtain an equitable divorce settlement. And as you are generally entitled to half of all marital property, failure to find any hidden assets may leave you with far less property and/or spousal support than you deserve.
Please consider reaching out to our Florida family law firm. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and to advise you of your legal options. Searching for hidden assets may not result in discovering any. But, if your spouse is hiding assets, the consequences of his or her actions could be significant.
When a married couple that shares a minor biological or adopted child or children chooses to divorce, the couple’s ultimate divorce settlement will almost certainly address expectations related to child support, as a Florida family law firm can explain. An order outlining payment amounts, payment schedules and other details will generally be drafted by the Tampa FL divorce attorneys involved and approved by a judge before it becomes binding. Once in effect, it will remain so until a child turns 18 years old, graduates high school or some other qualifying event occurs.
This is the most straightforward child support scenario imaginable. But not all child support situations are so clear-cut. Sometimes child support orders need to be filed by unmarried individuals and are not tied to a legal event like formal divorce proceedings. In addition, there are times when modifications are needed and/or requested because either a parent’s circumstances or a child’s needs have significantly changed since an initial order was drafted. In both instances, there are few hard and fast rules concerning when child support orders or modifications either should or must be filed.
Filing a Support Order Not Tied to a Divorce Settlement
In general, unmarried couples may either agree to a support arrangement or file a child support request as soon as they no longer function as a romantic couple. Technically, an unmarried parenting team may file for support or come to an agreement even if they live together as a romantic couple, but most individuals in this situation opt to work out the financial needs of their intact families without the aid of the court.
There is generally no expiration date for filing for child support of minor children. Although it is advantageous to file as soon as one is no longer romantically linked to a child’s other parent, there is no time limit for requesting child support.
Filing a Child Support Modification Request
When a parent or child is affected by a relatively extreme change in circumstance, a child support modification request may be filed by either parent. Two of the most common reasons why modifications are sought involve a parent experiencing a dramatic change in income or a child suddenly requiring significantly more care due to serious illness or injury. There is no specific deadline by which modification requests must be filed.
It is helpful to speak with an attorney at a Florida family law firm about the timing of such requests as they are more likely to be approved if certain conditions are met. For example, if a parent is concerned about losing his or her job, it is generally unwise to file a modification request before the job loss has occurred. Otherwise, at the time of the request, the parent remains capable of either meeting his or her payment obligations or providing for the affected child without an increased amount of support from the child’s other parent.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about paying or receiving child support, please do not hesitate to speak with an experienced family law attorney from a Florida family law firm. Lawyers who specialize in family legal issues will be able to advise you of your options based on your unique circumstances. Child support is a serious business and delinquent payment may be treated harshly by the court. As a result, it is important for you to speak with an attorney from Florida family law firm of The Mckinney Law Group if you are concerned about missed payments, inability to pay or trouble receiving the support your child is entitled to.