In a child custody and visitation case, a parent is required to comply with the time-sharing schedule ordered by the Court and may not frustrate the other parent's ability to have a positive relationship with their children. In a case captioned Ford v. Ford, the Florida Court of Appeal recently found a parent in contempt of court and imposed sanctions against her for failing to comply with the court ordered parenting plan. The Court held that a parent may not encourage children not to spend time with the other parent. A parent may not participate in a child's refusal to stay at the other parent's home for time-sharing. A parent may not empower children to reject the children's relationship with the other parent. A parent should not schedule social events on days when the other parent has time-sharing with the children. A parent who does these things can be held in contempt of court.
In awarding alimony, the trial court is required to consider 10 factors. These are: the payee's need and the payor's ability to pay in light of the standard of living established during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the age and the physical and emotional condition of the parties, the financial resources of the parties, the time necessary for either party to receive training and education to find employment, each party's contribution to the marriage, responsibilities for minor children, the tax consequences of an alimony award, each party's sources of income, and any other factor necessary to dispense justice between the parties. The Florida Court of Appeal recently held in a case captioned Badgley v. Sanchez. In this case, the husband challenged a final judgment of divorce which granted the wife a 60/40 distribution of the parties' assets and liabilities and awarded the wife durational alimony for a period of 54 months. The husband challenged the 60/40 distribution and the alimony award.
Alimony reform legislation was recently introduced in the Florida Senate on September 10, 2015. The new legislation creates presumptive alimony guidelines. The guidelines pertain to the amount and the duration of support. The low end of the presumptive alimony amount would be calculated by using the following formula: (0.015 x the years of marriage) x the difference between the monthly gross incomes of the parties. The high end of the presumptive alimony amount would be calculated by using the following formula: (0.020 x the years of marriage) x the difference between the monthly gross incomes of the parties. Twenty years of marriage is used in calculating the low end and high end of the presumptive alimony amount for marriages that exceed twenty years.
In a modification of child custody and visitation case, where the parties were originally awarded shared parental responsibility, the parties must attempt to confer and agree before major decisions are made. In Dickson v. Dickson, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated that if the parties are unable to agree on a significant issue affecting their children's health, safety, welfare or schooling, the parties must obtain a determination of the court before they take unilateral action. In Dickson v. Dickson the final judgment of dissolution gave the parties shared parental responsibility on major decisions, including educational matters. Under the concept of shared parental responsibility, major decisions affecting the welfare of a child are to be made after the parents confer and reach an agreement. In the event that the parents are unable to agree, the dispute should be presented to the court for resolution. The selection of a child's school is a major decision.