West Palm Beach Child Custody Lawyers
At the LaBovick Law Group, each of our West Palm Beach child support attorneys have remedied a huge selection of cases of divorce annually since 1992. Our lawyers are well-versed legal representatives, and are also focused upon developing child support contracts which fit the most beneficial needs of your children and also your finances.
Our attorneys work for clients that need child support the very first time, in need of child support adjustments following a significant alteration of situations, or even battling with a possible child support responsibility. Should you be single, or are dealing with a contested or uncontested divorce case, or are perhaps remarrying, we'll be capable of evaluating your circumstances and promptly investigate what you can do.
For your reference, we have listed below the applicable Florida custody laws. To schedule a free consultation with one of our West Palm Beach divorce attorneys, please call us at (561) 625-8400, or fill out the contact form to the left and a child custody lawyer will contact you promptly.
61.13 Custody and support of children; visitation rights; power of court in making orders.
(1)(a) In a proceeding under this chapter, the court may at any time order either or both parents who owe a duty of support to a child to pay support in accordance with the guidelines in s. 61.30. The court initially entering an order requiring one or both parents to make child support payments shall have continuing jurisdiction after the entry of the initial order to modify the amount and terms and conditions of the child support payments when the modification is found necessary by the court in the best interests of the child, when the child reaches majority, or when there is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties. The court initially entering a child support order shall also have continuing jurisdiction to require the obligee to report to the court on terms prescribed by the court regarding the disposition of the child support payments.
(b) Each order for support shall contain a provision for health care coverage for the minor child when the coverage is reasonably available. Coverage is reasonably available if either the obligor or obligee has access at a reasonable rate to a group health plan. The court may require the obligor either to provide health care coverage or to reimburse the obligee for the cost of health care coverage for the minor child when coverage is provided by the obligee. In either event, the court shall apportion the cost of coverage, and any noncovered medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses of the child, to both parties by adding the cost to the basic obligation determined pursuant to s. 61.30(6). The court may order that payment of uncovered medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses of the minor child be made directly to the obligee on a percentage basis.
1. In a non-Title IV-D case, a copy of the court order for health care coverage shall be served on the obligor's union or employer by the obligee when the following conditions are met:
a. The obligor fails to provide written proof to the obligee within 30 days after receiving effective notice of the court order that the health care coverage has been obtained or that application for coverage has been made;
b. The obligee serves written notice of intent to enforce an order for health care coverage on the obligor by mail at the obligor's last known address; and
c. The obligor fails within 15 days after the mailing of the notice to provide written proof to the obligee that the health care coverage existed as of the date of mailing.
2.a. A support order enforced under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act which requires that the obligor provide health care coverage is enforceable by the department through the use of the national medical support notice, and an amendment to the support order is not required. The department shall transfer the national medical support notice to the obligor's union or employer. The department shall notify the obligor in writing that the notice has been sent to the obligor's union or employer, and the written notification must include the obligor's rights and duties under the national medical support notice. The obligor may contest the withholding required by the national medical support notice based on a mistake of fact. To contest the withholding, the obligor must file a written notice of contest with the department within 15 business days after the date the obligor receives written notification of the national medical support notice from the department. Filing with the department is complete when the notice is received by the person designated by the department in the written notification. The notice of contest must be in the form prescribed by the department. Upon the timely filing of a notice of contest, the department shall, within 5 business days, schedule an informal conference with the obligor to discuss the obligor's factual dispute. If the informal conference resolves the dispute to the obligor's satisfaction or if the obligor fails to attend the informal conference, the notice of contest is deemed withdrawn. If the informal conference does not resolve the dispute, the obligor may request an administrative hearing under chapter 120 within 5 business days after the termination of the informal conference, in a form and manner prescribed by the department. However, the filing of a notice of contest by the obligor does not delay the withholding of premium payments by the union, employer, or health plan administrator. The union, employer, or health plan administrator must implement the withholding as directed by the national medical support notice unless notified by the department that the national medical support notice is terminated.
b. In a Title IV-D case, the department shall notify an obligor's union or employer if the obligation to provide health care coverage through that union or employer is terminated.
3. In a non-Title IV-D case, upon receipt of the order pursuant to subparagraph 1., or upon application of the obligor pursuant to the order, the union or employer shall enroll the minor child as a beneficiary in the group health plan regardless of any restrictions on the enrollment period and withhold any required premium from the obligor's income. If more than one plan is offered by the union or employer, the child shall be enrolled in the group health plan in which the obligor is enrolled.
4.a. Upon receipt of the national medical support notice under subparagraph 2. in a Title IV-D case, the union or employer shall transfer the notice to the appropriate group health plan administrator within 20 business days after the date on the notice. The plan administrator must enroll the child as a beneficiary in the group health plan regardless of any restrictions on the enrollment period, and the union or employer must withhold any required premium from the obligor's income upon notification by the plan administrator that the child is enrolled. The child shall be enrolled in the group health plan in which the obligor is enrolled. If the group health plan in which the obligor is enrolled is not available where the child resides or if the obligor is not enrolled in group coverage, the child shall be enrolled in the lowest cost group health plan that is available where the child resides.
b. If health care coverage or the obligor's employment is terminated in a Title IV-D case, the union or employer that is withholding premiums for health care coverage under a national medical support notice must notify the department within 20 days after the termination and provide the obligor's last known address and the name and address of the obligor's new employer, if known.
5.a. The amount withheld by a union or employer in compliance with a support order may not exceed the amount allowed under s. 303(b) of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 1673(b), as amended. The union or employer shall withhold the maximum allowed by the Consumer Credit Protection Act in the following order:
(I) Current support, as ordered.
(II) Premium payments for health care coverage, as ordered.
(III) Past due support, as ordered.
(IV) Other medical support or coverage, as ordered.
b. If the combined amount to be withheld for current support plus the premium payment for health care coverage exceed the amount allowed under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and the health care coverage cannot be obtained unless the full amount of the premium is paid, the union or employer may not withhold the premium payment. However, the union or employer shall withhold the maximum allowed in the following order:
(I) Current support, as ordered.
(II) Past due support, as ordered.
(III) Other medical support or coverage, as ordered.
6. An employer, union, or plan administrator who does not comply with the requirements in sub-subparagraph 4.a. is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $250 for the first violation and $500 for subsequent violations, plus attorney's fees and costs. The department may file a petition in circuit court to enforce the requirements of this subsection.
7. The department may adopt rules to administer the child support enforcement provisions of this section that affect Title IV-D cases.
(c) To the extent necessary to protect an award of child support, the court may order the obligor to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure the child support award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose.
(d)1. Unless the provisions of subparagraph 3. apply, all child support orders entered on or after January 1, 1985, shall direct that the payments of child support be made as provided in s. 61.181 through the depository in the county where the court is located. All child support orders shall provide the full name and date of birth of each minor child who is the subject of the child support order.
2. Unless the provisions of subparagraph 3. apply, all child support orders entered before January 1, 1985, shall be modified by the court to direct that payments of child support shall be made through the depository in the county where the court is located upon the subsequent appearance of either or both parents to modify or enforce the order, or in any related proceeding.
3. If both parties request and the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child, support payments need not be directed through the depository. The order of support shall provide, or shall be deemed to provide, that either party may subsequently apply to the depository to require direction of the payments through the depository. The court shall provide a copy of the order to the depository.
4. If the parties elect not to require that support payments be made through the depository, any party may subsequently file an affidavit with the depository alleging a default in payment of child support and stating that the party wishes to require that payments be made through the depository. The party shall provide copies of the affidavit to the court and to each other party. Fifteen days after receipt of the affidavit, the depository shall notify both parties that future payments shall be paid through the depository.
5. In IV-D cases, the IV-D agency shall have the same rights as the obligee in requesting that payments be made through the depository.
(2)(a) The court shall have jurisdiction to determine custody, notwithstanding that the child is not physically present in this state at the time of filing any proceeding under this chapter, if it appears to the court that the child was removed from this state for the primary purpose of removing the child from the jurisdiction of the court in an attempt to avoid a determination or modification of custody.
(b)1. The court shall determine all matters relating to custody of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. It is the public policy of this state to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. After considering all relevant facts, the father of the child shall be given the same consideration as the mother in determining the primary residence of a child irrespective of the age or sex of the child.
2. The court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Evidence that a parent has been convicted of a felony of the third degree or higher involving domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28 and chapter 775, or meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d), creates a rebuttable presumption of detriment to the child. If the presumption is not rebutted, shared parental responsibility, including visitation, residence of the child, and decisions made regarding the child, may not be granted to the convicted parent. However, the convicted parent is not relieved of any obligation to provide financial support. If the court determines that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child, it may order sole parental responsibility and make such arrangements for visitation as will best protect the child or abused spouse from further harm. Whether or not there is a conviction of any offense of domestic violence or child abuse or the existence of an injunction for protection against domestic violence, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence or child abuse as evidence of detriment to the child.
a. In ordering shared parental responsibility, the court may consider the expressed desires of the parents and may grant to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child's welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parties based on the best interests of the child. Areas of responsibility may include primary residence, education, medical and dental care, and any other responsibilities that the court finds unique to a particular family.
b. The court shall order “sole parental responsibility, with or without visitation rights, to the other parent when it is in the best interests of” the minor child.
3. Access to records and information pertaining to a minor child, including, but not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, may not be denied to a parent because the parent is not the child's primary residential parent. Full rights under this subparagraph apply to either parent unless a court order specifically revokes these rights, including any restrictions on these rights as provided in a domestic violence injunction. A parent having rights under this subparagraph has the same rights upon request as to form, substance, and manner of access as are available to the other parent of a child, including, without limitation, the right to in-person communication with medical, dental, and education providers.
(c) The circuit court in the county in which either parent and the child reside or the circuit court in which the original award of custody was entered have jurisdiction to modify an award of child custody. The court may change the venue in accordance with s. 47.122.
(3) For purposes of shared parental responsibility and primary residence, the best interests of the child shall include an evaluation of all factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child, including, but not limited to:
(a) The parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the nonresidential parent.
(b) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child.
(c) The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in lieu of medical care, and other material needs.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.
(k) Evidence that any party has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding a domestic violence proceeding pursuant to s. 741.30.
(l) Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
(m) Any other fact considered by the court to be relevant.
(4)(a) When a noncustodial parent who is ordered to pay child support or alimony and who is awarded visitation rights fails to pay child support or alimony, the custodial parent shall not refuse to honor the noncustodial parent's visitation rights.
(b) When a custodial parent refuses to honor a noncustodial parent's visitation rights, the noncustodial parent shall not fail to pay any ordered child support or alimony.
(c) When a custodial parent refuses to honor a noncustodial parent's or grandparent's visitation rights without proper cause, the court shall, after calculating the amount of visitation improperly denied, award the noncustodial parent or grandparent a sufficient amount of extra visitation to compensate the noncustodial parent or grandparent, which visitation shall be ordered as expeditiously as possible in a manner consistent with the best interests of the child and scheduled in a manner that is convenient for the person deprived of visitation. In ordering any makeup visitation, the court shall schedule such visitation in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of the child or children and that is convenient for the noncustodial parent or grandparent. In addition, the court:
1. May order the custodial parent to pay reasonable court costs and attorney's fees incurred by the noncustodial parent or grandparent to enforce their visitation rights or make up improperly denied visitation;
2. May order the custodial parent to attend the parenting course approved by the judicial circuit;
3. May order the custodial parent to do community service if the order will not interfere with the welfare of the child;
4. May order the custodial parent to have the financial burden of promoting frequent and continuing contact when the custodial parent and child reside further than 60 miles from the noncustodial parent;
5. May award custody, rotating custody, or primary residence to the noncustodial parent, upon the request of the noncustodial parent, if the award is in the best interests of the child; or
6. May impose any other reasonable sanction as a result of noncompliance.
(d) A person who violates this subsection may be punished by contempt of court or other remedies as the court deems appropriate.
(5) The court may make specific orders for the care and custody of the minor child as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case is equitable and provide for child support in accordance with the guidelines in s. 61.30. An award of shared parental responsibility of a minor child does not preclude the court from entering an order for child support of the child.
(6) In any proceeding under this section, the court may not deny shared parental responsibility, custody, or visitation rights to a parent or grandparent solely because that parent or grandparent is or is believed to be infected with human immunodeficiency virus; but the court may condition such rights upon the parent's or grandparent's agreement to observe measures approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States Public Health Service or by the Department of Health for preventing the spread of human immunodeficiency virus to the child.
(7) If the court orders that parental responsibility, including visitation, be shared by both parents, the court may not deny the noncustodial parent overnight contact and access to or visitation with the child solely because of the age or sex of the child.
(8)(a) Beginning July 1, 1997, each party to any paternity or support proceeding is required to file with the tribunal as defined in s. 88.1011(22) and State Case Registry upon entry of an order, and to update as appropriate, information on location and identity of the party, including social security number, residential and mailing addresses, telephone number, driver's license number, and name, address, and telephone number of employer. Beginning October 1, 1998, each party to any paternity or child support proceeding in a non-Title IV-D case shall meet the above requirements for updating the tribunal and State Case Registry.
(b) Pursuant to the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, each party is required to provide his or her social security number in accordance with this section. Disclosure of social security numbers obtained through this requirement shall be limited to the purpose of administration of the Title IV-D program for child support enforcement.
(c) Beginning July 1, 1997, in any subsequent Title IV-D child support enforcement action between the parties, upon sufficient showing that diligent effort has been made to ascertain the location of such a party, the court of competent jurisdiction shall deem state due process requirements for notice and service of process to be met with respect to the party, upon delivery of written notice to the most recent residential or employer address filed with the tribunal and State Case Registry pursuant to paragraph (a). Beginning October 1, 1998, in any subsequent non-Title IV-D child support enforcement action between the parties, the same requirements for service shall apply.
(9) At the time an order for child support is entered, each party is required to provide his or her social security number and date of birth to the court, as well as the name, date of birth, and social security number of each minor child that is the subject of such child support order. Pursuant to the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, each party is required to provide his or her social security number in accordance with this section. All social security numbers required by this section shall be provided by the parties and maintained by the depository as a separate attachment in the file. Disclosure of social security numbers obtained through this requirement shall be limited to the purpose of administration of the Title IV-D program for child support enforcement.