Articles Posted in Paternity

Jacksonville, Florida is in the Fourth Judicial Circuit of courts, prior to the 2007 legislative change from visitation to time-sharing, there was a standard visitation guidelines established by the court. Since time-sharing is a new concept for many people in Florida, the idea of the old “standard visitation schedule” seems to be used frequently in establishing a time-sharing plan. Because such schedules were developed by the court, each circuit court of Florida that used one had something different than the other. The difficulty I see with this issue is that often one parent will do research, find a schedule for visitation and try to apply it without court action. I often have clients call and ask me what “standard visitation,” is because the other parent told them that is what they have to do. Since there are different versions out there, often times my client does not know which one the other parent is even using. The legislative change to establish a time-sharing plan is designed to assist in this issue.

First, the Fourth Judicial Circuit visitation guidelines basically provided the minimum amount of visitation for the non-residential parent. According to this circuit, again each had their own standard; the non-residential parent received the following:
One day per week from after school got out until 8 p.m. one night per week, typically Wednesday; alternating weekends; alternating Thanksgiving from the day school got out until the day before returning to school; alternating Christmas break with one year from the day school got out until Christmas day at 3:00 p.m. and the next from 3:00 p.m. Christmas day through the day before school started; one-half summer and the other parent received alternating weekends; Mother’s Day with mom and Father’s day with dad; alternating birthdays; and other provisions.

If the standard visitation schedule was not working, often parents did not know what else to do because this was the court order and that is what they were going to follow. A time-sharing plan can still use these same ideas; however, it is designed to think through matters more intently so that parents can actually have time with the children greater than a minimum amount. Furthermore, some families celebrate different holidays than those accounted for in the above schedule, so the time-sharing plan takes those factors into consideration. The other thing that a time-sharing plan can assist with is developing a schedule that accommodates the parents and children since they often have more activities the older they get.

In dealing with any matter regarding children, the first step is to determine what the children’s needs are and go from there. Establishing a plan that makes sense on paper does not mean that it is going to be the right schedule in practice. Life is filled with the unexpected and having two households means that the unexpected can happen twice as often. Working through a time-sharing plan allows the parties to think through real issues before going in front of a judge and the plan can often be tweaked by agreement of the parties. In addition, it is an option to place in the plan that if the parties cannot agree on changes, then they will first go to mediation before filing for a modification of time-sharing with the court. This gives an opportunity for the parents to work through their disagreement with a neutral third party and hopefully, ultimately agree on a plan that will work.

It is not a good idea to inform the other party that you are making them go to guideline visitation because they will not understand and will not know to which set of guidelines you are referring. If you provide the parent with the guidelines that you wish to use, then allow him or her time to look over them and decide if they are agreeable. If you both have lawyers, then have yours provide your proposal to the other attorney. This can help in reaching the right time-sharing plan for both parties.

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Written by: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

In Florida, Time-Sharing Plans have replaced the normal visitation schedules previously enforced by the courts. A Time-Sharing Plan is used in Florida divorce and paternity cases in order to assist the parents in scheduling visitation with their children. Visitation schedules, in the past, often provided for visits at times that were not practical for the children or parents. The idea of a Time-Sharing plan assists the parties in keeping the children first in developing the schedule.

Written by: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

Florida child support that has been ordered but gone unpaid may be collected through a Motion for Contempt or by the Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement. A court order is enforceable, so if you have not received child support payments, you may want to look into both a private action of a Motion for Contempt and the State’s assistant with enforcement.

FatherCustody.jpgIn 2007, Florida made it possible for men who discovered they were not the father of a child for whom they were paying child support to petition for the termination of that support and any other parental obligations through the Disestablishment of Paternity process.

The Disestablishment of Paternity statute spells out how this must be done, and one of the main factors is that there must be newly discovered evidence showing that the supporting father is not the biological father of the child.

After learning he is not the biological father, the alleged father cannot:


Under Florida Law, incarceration alone is insufficient grounds for terminating parental rights. Although Florida Family Courts may terminate parental rights where the court finds that the parent has abandoned, abused or neglected the child, incarceration, as a matter of law, does not constitute abandonment. That is not to say that terminating parental rights of a parent who is incarcerated is impossible. The efforts, or lack thereof, of the incarcerated parent to communicate with and support his or her children are measure against the incarcerated parent’s limited opportunity to assume those duties while imprisoned.

Therefore, whether or not you can terminate the parental rights of a parent who is incarcerated is a case-by-case determination and will depend on the facts of your case. The parent’s relationship with the child before his or her incarceration may have some bearing on the court’s ruling as well.

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The Florida Disestablish of Paternity or Termination of Child Support Obligation statute allows a male to disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation when that male is not the biological father of the child.

Steps to disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation:

1. The male must file a petition in the circuit court that has jurisdiction over the child support obligation.

FatherCustody.jpg As a Florida divorce attorney, I find that many of my clients are unaware of the different types of child custody that can be considered as part of a Florida divorce settlement.

In a Florida divorce action that involves minor children, there are four different kinds of child custody to be considered:

Legal Custody – Legal custody means you have both the right and the obligation to make important decisions about your child. This includes education, religion and medical care. In many cases, both parents are awarded legal custody of minor children and share the decision-making responsibility. If joint legal custody is awarded and one parent continually excludes the other from decisions about the child, that parent can be taken back to court for enforcement of the joint legal custody order.


Florida alimony is due for a facelift and this year’s legislation has decided to do the work. Currently, Florida House Bill 907 is sitting on Governor Crist’s desk for a signature. What does this mean for those who may receive or pay alimony?

Well the main change will be that “Bridge-the-Gap” alimony, which historically is designed for a determinable (by the Court) period of time to provide for support from married to single life. Now, the time-frame will be defined with a stroke of Governor Crist’s pen.

According to the intent of Florida HB 907, “Bridge-the-Gap” alimony will no longer be dependent on issues surrounding the divorce, but simply a two (2) year time frame. This type of support will be available for no more than two (2) years. While some who are recipients of this type of alimony may be cringing as they read, the reality is that this may not be a bad thing for either party. The reason is, if you become too reliant on money that is only there for a short period of time, previously 1 – 5 years, then it will make the inevitable transition that much more difficult. Knowing that you only have, no matter what, 2 years to rehabilitate yourself from married to single life, actually gives you a timeframe to see where you’re going and when you need to get there.

Florida child support is not designed to hurt your bank account. In Florida, child support guidelines use the incomes of the parties with a few credits given: childcare costs (who is paying?) and health insurance (who is paying?).

First, the income of the parties and their percentage to the overall household is how guideline support is determined. For instance, if you W makes $50,000 per year and H makes $50,000 per year, then the combined income is $100,000 per year and each is contributing 50%. So, if the child support calculation is $1000.00, then the parent without the majority of time with the child will pay $500.00.

The cost of child care is factored in, and the person paying gets a 75% credit of the money paid. Therefore, if childcare is $100 per month paid by W, W will get a credit of $75.00. The same is true with insurance payments.


Florida children that are the product of divorce are now a familiar with

visitation planning. Florida timesharing plans came into law in 2008 and

were introduced to help ease the need for a custodial parent to be

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