Kenny Leigh Q&A

Custody of Children

  • What does the term “majority timesharing” mean?
    It is the term that replaces the term “custody” in the state of Florida. “Majority timesharing” means “custody”.
  • How does a judge determine who receives custody?
    With an analysis of approximately 20 factors in Florida statutes, chapter 61. The child will receive majority time sharing with the parent who is better at more factors.
  • Can a child choose which parent to live with?
    Contrary to popular belief, a child cannot choose which parent to live with. The child’s choice is one small factor a judge may consider, but it is not dispositive of the entire issue.

Filing a Family Law Case

  • Where should an original divorce be filed?
    The proper place to file an original divorce is the last county the husband and wife last lived together. In a paternity action, the case can be filed in the county where the mother or father lives.
  • How is an order enforced or modified?
    It first goes to the original county that the original action was in. If no one lives in said county anymore, then it usually can be filed in any counties that the parties reside in, provided they are still in the same state.
  • How is a time sharing arrangement modified?
    The action usually must be filed in the county that the child currently resides. There are some exceptions.

Marital Property

  • What is marital property?
    Generally, everything that was acquired during the marriage from the day of marriage to the day of filing the petition for dissolution is classified as marital. Exceptions include inheritance, outside gifts to a specific spouse, etc. By and large most everything will be considered marital.
  • Is a gift from one spouse to another considered marital?
    Yes and it will be divided during the divorce process. This includes jewelry, watches, and anything of the sort. It does not matter whose name the property is in. If it was acquired during the marriage with marital effort and/or funds, it is considered marital property.
  • Can social security benefits be included as part of an equitable distribution award?
    Under Hisquerdo v. Hisquerdo, 439 U.S. 572 (1979), social security benefits cannot, under any circumstances, be included as part of an equitable distribution award.
  • How are replacement plans divided in Florida?
    Replacement plans are not the same as social security benefits. Thus, replacement plans are equitably divided in Florida without regard to the position the nonparticipating spouse will be in upon retirement.
  • How do courts compensate for the inequity of the positions of the spouses?
    Depending on the circumstances, there is an argument for the court requiring the participating spouse to pay alimony to the nonparticipating spouse if the equitable distribution places the nonparticipating spouse in a position of need, and gives the participating spouse the ability to pay.
  • How does a court award alimony?
    Alimony can be used to correct the “mechanical” equitable distribution factors in order to avoid an unfair result. The court does not look at the disparity in income of the parties when awarding alimony.
  • How is alimony determined?
    Alimony is determined in the state of Florida by referring to statutes 61.08 and case law.
  • What types of alimony are there?
    There are four types of alimony that can be given as a result of a divorce proceeding.  They are called bridge the gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, and permanent alimony.
  • What is bridge the gap alimony?
    It is designed to assist a party transition from married life to single life. It is nonmodifiable and may not exceed two years.
  • What is rehabilitative alimony?
    It is designed to help a person become self-supporting. There must be a specific plan for rehabilitation. It is modifiable.
  • What is durational alimony?
    It cannot extend past the length of marriage. It is modifiable but can be no longer than the length of the marriage.
  • What is permanent alimony?
    It can last forever. It is modifiable and terminates upon remarriage or potential cohabitation of the receiving spouse. It is designed for a long term marriage, although there are exceptions.
  • How does cohabitation affect alimony?
    Florida statutes allow the person who is paying alimony to modify that alimony or even terminate it based on cohabitation.
  • How does one prove cohabitation?
    There are many factors involved in proving cohabitation. The biggest is proving that there is a supportive relationship. This is possible through joint bank accounts, shared home bills, and other things that show their similarity to an actual married couple. Length of time living together is also another factor.
  • How is child support issued when a parent is receiving disability?
    When a parent is disabled and receiving money from the government, frequently a separate check for child support will also be sent.
  • What is the proper way to handle a disabled parent’s child support payment?
    Add it to the income of the disabled parent and then calculate the guidelines with the parent receiving both disability checks as their income.
  • What is subsequent children’s defense?
    A child born after the child who is in need of child support can be considered by the court in the deviation of the guideline amount of child support. This is typically done by figuring out what the child support would be for the subsequent child and using that and the other calculation for child support.
  • How does one establish paternity?
    The legal father has an unmistakable interest in maintaining a relationship with the child, and a putative father generally lacks standing to challenge paternity. However, if the unwed father shows a substantial concern for the welfare of his illegitimate child, he may be accorded standing to assert an interest with respect to that child.
  • What can be done about an injunction filed against a person?
The injunction must be taken very seriously. A person must do everything possible to win that hearing. Witnesses are crucial.

By Kenny Leigh

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