Child Support

Help, My ex is underemployed, voluntarily!!! Child Support Modification By: Walid O. Mabrouk, Esq. So perhaps you have been through a divorce. You have dealt with the unfortunate complications and challenges associated with the process. Or perhaps you were never married and you have at least one child in common with another. Maybe you were able to reach an agreement through a court order or a mediation regarding your child(ren)’s rights including child support. After an agreement is reached, many issues can come to surface, including voluntary underemployment of a parent responsible for child support. Many would think, who would do such a thing? However, as frustrating as it sounds, it does unfortunately happen. Underemployment by choice has been addressed both by Florida Statute as well as case law. Just recently, a Florida Court of Appeals dealt with a situation involving an underemployed parent. Not because the parent was looking and could not find a job. It was underemployment by choice. In that case, Carlson v. Carlson, the Fourth District Court of Appeal concluded, “the Magistrate did not abuse her discretion in concluding that the wife’s voluntary underemployment was a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification in child support”, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8325 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. June 1, 2016).  Florida law, through Fla. Stat. 61.30 (2)(b), imputes income to an unemployed or underemployed parent when that underemployment is found to be voluntary, where there is no physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances where a parent has no control. Furthermore, Florida courts have dealt with parents who are paying child support and asking the...

Life and Divorce

Life and divorce can be so tough and unfair. Kids suffer. Parents suffer. What can we ALL possibly do differently? What am I, as an aggressive family law practitioner, doing differently to mitigate the pain and the financial costs? Well, in the last few months, I am doing several things differently to offer more value, greater certainty and to alleviate some of the pain associated with divorce and post-judgment matters.  The main purpose of this blog is to let you know you are not alone, you do not have to be alone and no matter what there are remedies for you. In sharing these remedies, I will also elaborate on how may firm may be able to help you or someone you care about. First, you should know there is NOTHING to be embarrassed about.  EVERYONE has their unique challenges. Today is the best day to start from because if you start from anywhere else, chances are you are living in the past and in your head and you are not truly living to arrive at your new goals. So, make today a fresh start. Whether you or ex suffer from  mental illness, alcoholism, a recent job loss or are catching up with paying down your debt, you are not alone.  All my life I have been so focused on solutions that they have generally come easy to me.  I have even learned to find happiness after losing my dear Mom to suicide almost 30 years ago. As a result of some recent challenges that I have personally endured, I have never been more empathetic or understanding of what its...

Articles and Statutes

F.S.61.13001 – Parental Relocation with Child F.S.61.30 – Child Support F.S.61.075 – Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets F.S.61.13 – Support of Children parenting and timesharing F.S.61.08 –...

How to Effectively Deal with an Ex who causes you constant angst

I recently had a Mediation with one of my favorite clients, who was very emotional about the whole divorce process and I realized something that may be of great value to anyone going through a divorce or a break-up. In the majority of divorces, one party initiates the process and the other defends themselves. It is rare that a petition for a dissolution is filed along with a settlement agreement reached between the parties. In most cases, one or both parties are very hurt and often at least one remains acrimonious throughout the process. The question this blog seeks to answer is “How do I deal with my Ex when all he/she wants to do is cause me harm?” My first suggestion is don’t resist the truth about your ex. While he/she may be difficult, obstante or just very unpleasant, wishing they were different does not make it so. Many people going through divorce want the process to just be over, but not necessarily at the expense of a very unfair arrangement. Thus, my second recommendation is that you accept that divorce IS a PROCESS. My client, whom I will refer to as Blanca, is frustrated, tired, at times overwhelmed and just wants this all over. Her Husband has been unreasonable through most of the process and is remaining so at Mediation. He has been a bully to her for a long time and we are now about to conclude Mediation without settlement and get ready for trial. Thankfully, despite many differences, they have worked out a timesharing arrangement for their two children and I am not litigating timesharing...

Does a civil servant’s “religious freedom” trump the duty to follow the law?

Controversial Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis has made headlines after she was incarcerated (and later released) for refusing to follow a court order requiring her to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.   Ultra-conservative presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz have lined up in support of Davis, arguing that her right to religious freedom (i.e., her Christian belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman only) trumps any requirement under Kentucky and Federal law that she issue licenses to those entitled to one under the law.   This New York Times op-ed piece highlights several opinions against Davis’ position as well as those in support of the purported “religious freedom” Davis argues she is entitled to.    ...

Dealing with Divorce with Love

Quite a title, huh? Yes, it is possible. Don’t worry. I wont advise you here about what is impossible. Your first thought might be along the lines of “Love. Are you KIDDING ME?!” Your next thought might be, who is writing an article with this title? Yes, I am a divorce attorney. However, through my 20 plus years of practice I know that it is possible to deal with Divorce with Love even when the other side may feel differently. If you a re contemplating a divorce, have been through one or are going through one, please bear with me as I hope to shed some light to hopefully empower you. I suggest that the biggest obstacle people face during a divorce is the problem. Yes, the biggest problem is the problem! Here you are shaking your head again, right? So, allow me to explain. You are focused on the problems that have led you to get a divorce and not focused on the solutions. Lets say you are married for ten years and have two children. You and your spouse have been fighting for three years regularly and the example of love you both show the children is not what you had in mind ten years ago. As a matter of fact, your spouse is interested in another person and you feel unfulfilled daily. What are the problems in your marriage? How do you feel about those problems? Hopefully, you have at least both tried counseling. If you haven’t, stop reading this article and do whatever it takes to find solutions to save your marriage. When you have...

The Complications of International Custody Disputes

The media has recently focused on an international custody dispute involving actress Kelly Rutherford and her former husband Daniel Giersch after Rutherford was ordered by a New York judge to return her two children to Monaco, where Giersch resides. Giersch and Rutherford filed for divorce in 2008, and have been involved in a custody dispute ever since a 2012  California court ordered the children shall primarily reside with Giersch in Monaco after Giersch’s United States’ Visa expired, and shall visit Rutherford in the summers in New York, with Rutherford having the ability to exercise timesharing with the children in Monaco. Per that California court order, Rutherford was to return the children to Monaco in early August 2015 and failed to do so, at which time Giersch filed in the New York Court seeking a Writ of Habeas Corpus for the immediate return of the children to Monaco.  On August 11th a New York judge chastised Rutherford for disobeying the court order and ordered the children be immediately returned to Monaco, with Giersch’s mother accompanying the children on the flight from New York. Further complicating matters for Rutherford and Giersch are the multiple jurisdictions involved in the case at the present time. Rutherford previously attempted in July 2015 to have the California court reconsider the 2012 order allowing the children to primarily reside in Monaco, but the California court responded it no longer has jurisdiction over the case to modify its own order since Giersch has instituted custody proceedings in his primary residence of Monaco and because the California court now considers Rutherford a New York resident, despite Rutherford’s argument to...

In Florida, Infidelity in your Marriage Probably Does Not Matter (Legally) as Much as you Think it Does

Undoubtedly one of the first things we are told in consultations with potential clients who are seeking a dissolution of marriage is whether the potential client or their spouse have been unfaithful in the marriage.   While infidelity can often be a fundamental reason why a spouse seeks a divorce, the actual infidelity is rarely a fact that is legally relevant. Certainly from a morality standpoint, the majority of people would agree that faithfulness to a spouse or long-term partner is essential to a trusting, happy, and successful relationship together.   Yet many potential clients are surprised when we inform them that Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that a spouse’s infidelity need not be alleged in order for a Florida court to grant a dissolution of marriage. Rather, a Florida court simply requires that a party swear that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” as part of obtaining a dissolution. Often clients want the court to see which spouse was”wrong” and want it known that they were the faithful spouse.   In reality, however, it is often irrelevant to the court.  For example, while recently appearing in Miami-Dade Domestic Violence Court, a party opened their testimony by alleging that an argument began over the other party’s purported unfaithfulness.  The court immediately cut the testimony off and admonished the entire courtroom that testimony regarding infidelity was not at issue and therefore would not be considered by the Court.   While that was a domestic violence-specific hearing, it is indeed rare that fidelity is an issue that is important for the family court’s consideration.  In fact, one of the few exceptions relating to a...

Marriage Equality and the Impact on Transgender Rights

Many by now have heard of the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling last month in Obergefell v. Hodges, making same-sex marriage a Constitutional right on the federal level.  The ruling further protects individuals seeking same-sex marriages and offers protection from any state attempt to interfere with this clear fundamental right. A less publicized, but equally-relevant question is how the ruling applies to transgender individuals.    J. Courtney Sullivan writes in a recent New York Times Op-Ed about a Texas widow named Christie Littleton who, in 1996 after her Husband’s death at age 35 of a misdiagnosed blood clot, filed a medical malpractice suit under a state statute permitting surviving spouses to do so. Defense attorneys fighting against Littleton’s malpractice suit successfully argued in a pretrial motion to dismiss the suit that because Christie Littleton was born a man, she therefore could not be another man’s spouse, citing to the Defense of Marriage Act passed by Congress in 1994.  The Judge in Littleton’s malpractice suit agreed, ruling that Christie Littleton had no standing under the state statute to file a medical malpractice suit on behalf of her deceased husband.  Incredibly, Christie Littleton’s sex reassignment procedure at age 28 had already been acknowledged by the state of Texas, as her birth certificate and driver’s license with the state both reflected that she was a female, and the Littleton’s had obtained a marriage license in the state. J. Courtney Sullivan sees Obergefell v. Hodges as a victory for transgender individuals moving forward, citing Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion that 14th Amendment equal protection extends to “intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.”  Case law in state...

How to Talk About Dying and Why

The New York Times has recently run a series of op-ed pieces dealing with end of life  discussions that many of the authors navigate through their personal experiences and what they would have done differently for loved-ones in terms of planning for death and health decisions prior to death. In a particularly moving piece, Ellen Goodman writes that her and her mother shared conversations about everything in life, but as her mother’s health slowly deteriorated, they never had a conversation about how her mother wished to live in her final years and what decisions she would make for herself.  This led to Goodman having to make crucial medical decisions on her mother’s behalf that caused uncertainty for Goodman as to how her mother would have decided which created a feeling that Goodman may not have been respecting her mother’s true wishes. Goodman cites to a variety of reasons why people do not have these discussions, including that many feel it is “too soon” to have the conversation or feel uncomfortable talking about the issue with loved ones.  Goodman  points out  that one of the best ways to honor and preserve the memory and dignity of a person is to attempt to follow their wishes as much as possible when they can no longer make decisions for themselves. The best way to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are followed in terms of medical care, funeral arrangements and disposition of property upon death is to meet with a professional with experience in estate planning.    If you have more questions about these matters, you should not hesitate to schedule a consultation with our...