How Does Your Child See Divorce

Explaining that you’re about to get a divorce to your child can be one of the most challenging moments for a parent.

“Mom and dad are getting a divorce.”

These words could cause a significant amount of different emotions for a child.
Depending on the age of the child, these emotions could differ. The reason for this is not because of the situation itself, but children always start to worry about what would come after the separation.

Are you asking yourself, “how would a toddler be able to understand the situation?.
It may seem crazy to state, but children are more intuitive than they appear and would pick up on factors like the tone of voice, the absence of either party and even notice any hostile situations that may occur. When the child has to deal with those kinds of cases, it may cause them to face anxiety and grow up feeling like something was missing.

The older kids, although more understanding would still have the same questions as the younger children. While a better set of words can be used for the older children to explain to them about divorce, describing the overall part about the breakup is still never easy.

The effect that divorce has on children of any age is something that is unavoidable. However, parents should find it in their children’s best interest to keep the matter with minimal trouble for the sake of their well-being and future.
Divorcing parents are generally anxious about the welfare of their children during the process of a divorce. Some parents, in fact, stay in unhappy marriages believing that it would protect their child from the trauma of parental divorce.
Parents who do split, however, have reasons for hope. It is vital for parents to provide the emotional support and warmth that the child would require in the event of the divorce.

There’s no doubt that a child faces divorce with real hardship in their lives. Broken homes are generally more likely to affect their offspring’s marriage in the future. However, divorce itself isn’t what causes the negative sentences on children. The environment that the child grows up around is what contributes to the factor of how they’re able to cope.

Coming to the point of applying for divorce takes courage, and shows that you are ready to move on with your life and start another chapter.

Yes, divorce is complicated, and, unfortunately expensive. You only have one shot at this, because if you mess up, the modification process can be much more costly, and substantially less effective. If you cheap out on a lawyer, you may lose way more than you spend on them.

The Law Office of Erin Morse is located in Orlando, Florida, with a set of staff that can be ensured as some of the best divorce lawyers in Orlando, Florida. We offer services to clients through passion and have the ability to help them through their most difficult times.

Child Support? Erin Morse Can Help You

Child support is the financial assistance required for the benefit of the child. In Florida, it depends on various factors, and you need to make sure that you are paying or receiving the right amount. Erin Morse Child Support Attorney in Orlando, can help you to make sure that your interests are best represented.

It is true that family law matters do get more complicated when minor children are involved. If an experienced and knowledgeable Child Support Attorney in Orlando like Erin Morse is with you, the complications will be resolved. You might be wondering how to make head or tail of the Child Support Guidelines. That is what Erin Morse Law Firm is here for. We will walk you through the entire process and make sure that your child receives the right comfort.

Usually, there is a lot of confusion involved in calculating child support. Children have many expenses to be considered. Therefore, you need to be sure that you are paying or receiving the fair amount representing your child’s best interests. Calculating child support is a complex proceeding. Every situation is different, and additional complexities may arise depending upon the case. That is why an experienced child support attorney needs to be available to give you the best counsel. Erin Morse, as an experienced Child Support Attorney Orlando, is the best option for you. Here in Florida, the parents’ income, healthcare, daycare, time-sharing, visitations, and overnights are all considered when calculating child support. In this case, we, at Erin Morse Law Firm can help you make sure that you pay or receive the fair share.

We can represent your matter in the best light most favorable to you and your child to yield the best possible result. Feel free to call right away to schedule a free consultation with us to discuss your case.

Am I Allowed To Relocate With My Child After A Divorce?

When you and your ex-spouse share custody of your children, under state law, you must consider all applicable court orders and other legal arrangements before making life-changing decisions. When you’re thinking about moving with your children, for example, there are several hurdles to overcome because you can make it official.

There are strict rules in Florida when a parent who shares custody wants to move away with his or her kids. Parents cannot relocate with their children unless everyone with custody rights to the child consents to the relocation or the court approves it. According to Florida law, the parent who wants to move needs to notify the other parent who shares custody. The notification must generally include the following:

  • The address, mailing address (if different), and the phone number of the new residence,

  • Names and ages of the individuals who intend to live in the new residence,

  • The name of the new school district and school,

  • The date of the proposed relocation,

  • The reasons for the proposed relocation,

  • A proposal for a revised custody schedule, and

  • Any other appropriate information.

When one parent notifies the other about a proposed relocation, the notification must include a counter-affidavit, which gives the other parent the option to object to the move and the modification of a custody order. The other parent has a set time limit after receipt of the notice to object to the proposed relocation.


Objecting to a Relocation

 When a parent with joint custody receives a notice of a proposed relocation from the other parent, he or she may file an objection with the court. The court may issue a temporary order to prevent the move, and a hearing will take place to determine whether relocation of the children can take place.


A Court Hearing Will Need To Be Scheduled

 In determining whether to grant a proposed relocation, the court will consider the following with the child’s best interest in mind:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent, any siblings and other significant individuals,

  • The age, developmental stage, and needs of the child and the likely impact of the relocation,

  • How a modified custody arrangement could preserve the relationship between the nonrelocating parent and the child,

  • The child’s preference based on his or her age and maturity,

  • Whether either parent might be thwarting the relationship of the child and the other parent,

  • If the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the parent and child,

  • The reasons each parent is seeking or opposing the relocation, and

  • Any evidence of abuse of the child.

The court will consider any other factors that might help result in a decision that reflects the child’s best interest. If the court approves the parent’s proposed relocation, it will modify any existing custody order or establish the terms and conditions of a new order.

 Just like you do, the court cares about what’s best for your kids. While the process to move with your children may be complex, the resulting decision will be in their best interest.


Get Legal Help from Experienced Lawyers

After divorce, parents benefit greatly from obtaining legal help when approaching any hearings or decisions that involve the court. The team at the Law Office of Erin Morse has assisted countless parents in modifying court orders for relocation and other purposes. Our lawyers know Florida custody laws inside and out, so we can help parents make the most informed decisions possible.

 Feel free to contact our law firm if you share custody with your ex-spouse and you’re thinking about relocating. We can make sure you start the process on the right foot.

Child Custody And Visitation

Child custody is not аѕ simple аѕ thе mеdiа makes it арреаr, and сuѕtоdу diѕрutеѕ dо nоt simply rеѕult in аwаrding the mother custody of the сhild. In ѕituаtiоnѕ whеrе thе раrеntѕ аrе divоrсеd, unmаrriеd, оr live far from оnе another, thе iѕѕuе bесоmеѕ соmрliсаtеd. This iѕ whу many раrеntѕ whо аrе соnѕidеring divоrсе сhооѕе to hirе a сhild сuѕtоdу аttоrnеу who саn hеlр thеm through аnу lеgаl entanglements аnd fight tо retain сuѕtоdу of thеir сhild.

 Mоѕt ѕtаtе lаwѕ define сuѕtоdу аѕ оnе or bоth parents bearing responsibility fоr thе wеlfаrе of the сhild. Physical сuѕtоdу is whаt реорlе commonly think оf when they tаlk about custody. Thiѕ rеfеrѕ tо whеrе a сhild livеѕ on a daily basis, whiсh can bе given tо one раrеnt оr both. Lеgаl custody iѕ a rеlаtеd mаttеr аnd refers to thе right to make ѕignifiсаnt dесiѕiоnѕ about a child, ѕuсh аѕ education аnd health саrе.

 Evеrу ѕtаtе hаѕ itѕ own lаwѕ regarding family mаttеrѕ, including сhild сuѕtоdу. Cоntrаrу to popular bеliеf, fаmilу соurtѕ dо nоt fаvоr оnе раrеnt over аnоthеr duе tо thе bаѕiѕ оf gender, аnd thе соurt does not рuѕh оnе fоrm оf сuѕtоdу оvеr аnоthеr. Thеrе are ѕеvеrаl tуреѕ оf сuѕtоdу аnd visitation рrivilеgеѕ available in most сhild сuѕtоdу situations, which аrе described аѕ fоllоwѕ:


Joint Phуѕiсаl Cuѕtоdу

 In саѕеѕ whеrе jоint lеgаl custody iѕ grаntеd bу a judgе, the сhild iѕ еѕѕеntiаllу split bеtwееn bоth раrеntѕ. The сhild mау live with each раrеnt fоr a ѕеt реriоd of timе, whiсh allows the child tо ѕреnd еԛuаl time with both parents. Jоint lеgаl сuѕtоdу iѕ nоt to be confused with ѕituаtiоnѕ whеrе оnе parent hаѕ custody, but grаntѕ viѕitаtiоn rightѕ to thе оthеr. Thiѕ form of child сuѕtоdу is best ѕuitеd fоr parents who are аblе to work past their differences аnd mаkе dесiѕiоnѕ together fоr thе bеѕt interests оf the сhild.


Jоint Legal Custody

 Nеithеr parent is givеn рrеfеrеnсе by the judges whеn it comes tо mаking dесiѕiоnѕ fоr the best interests of thе сhild. However, in certain situations, thе court may give оnе parent thе power to make сеrtаin dесiѕiоnѕ fоr thе child, dереnding оn ѕеvеrаl fасtоrѕ. Thiѕ type оf сuѕtоdу iѕ not tо bе соnfuѕеd with jоint physical custody, where thе сhild iѕ given equal time with еасh раrеnt. Inѕtеаd, jоint lеgаl custody iѕ bаѕеd оut of a dеѕirе of thе раrеntѕ to mаkе shared dесiѕiоnѕ regarding the child. “Joint Cuѕtоdу” is another term thаt саn refer tо еithеr joint legal custody оr joint рhуѕiсаl custody and the tеrm it iѕ often uѕеd intеrсhаngеаblу.


Sоlе Cuѕtоdу

 A соurt mау mаkе one of thе parents responsible fоr thе child’s mаjоr life dесiѕiоnѕ, which mау inсludе еduсаtiоn, healthcare, rеligiоn, and general welfare. Thiѕ dоеѕn’t mеаn thаt both раrеntѕ are bаrrеd frоm making thе decisions tоgеthеr; hоwеvеr, sole сuѕtоdу iѕ gеnеrаllу grаntеd bу thе judge in ѕituаtiоnѕ where it wоuld cause too much соnfliсt tо do ѕо, ѕuсh аѕ ѕituаtiоnѕ whеrе domestic viоlеnсе hаѕ occurred. Undеr law, thе сhild’ѕ custodial parent (thе оnе with ѕоlе сuѕtоdу) mау mаkе decisions оn thеir оwn, еvеn if it gоеѕ against thе other parent’s wishes.



Viѕitаtiоn typically refers tо thе non-custodial раrеnt’ѕ ability tо have “раrеnting time.” Evеn thоugh thе child may livе with the custodial раrеnt, thеу саn ѕtill intеrасt with the оthеr раrеnt during a ѕеt реriоd of time рrеviоuѕlу defined by thе соurt. Thiѕ lаrgеlу dереndѕ оn thе unique facts bеhind еасh fаmilу’ѕ situation. When a judgе dеtеrminеѕ thiѕ time period, thеу will соnѕidеr the раrеntѕ’ wоrk ѕсhеdulеѕ, ѕаfеtу оf the сhild, рriоr сhild care hiѕtоrу, school lосаtiоnѕ, as wеll аѕ thе рrеfеrеnсе оf the раrеnt/сhild in dесiding visitation ѕсhеdulеѕ. Hоwеvеr, еvеn if thе сhild is аllоwеd lеngthу viѕitаtiоn timе with оnе parent, thiѕ does nоt mеаn that thе раrеnt rеtаinѕ аnу lеvеl of custody.


Suреrviѕеd Viѕitаtiоn

Whеn dеtеrmining viѕitаtiоn, thеrе are many ѕituаtiоnѕ where thе ѕаfеtу оf thе child оr custodial parent iѕ of соnсеrn tо thе judgе. Thiѕ is соmmоn iѕ dоmеѕtiс violence саѕеѕ, whеrе the сhild ѕhоuld nоt be lеft аlоnе with thе abuser. In оrdеr fоr thе judgе tо grаnt supervised viѕitаtiоn, thе сuѕtоdiаl parent must рrоvе whу it iѕ nесеѕѕаrу. Thе ѕресifiс fасtѕ behind each ѕituаtiоn will also dесidе hоw lоng and how frеԛuеnt the ѕuреrviѕеd visits will bе.

 Additionally, раrеntѕ are nоt rеԛuirеd to рurѕuе сuѕtоdу or visitation оf their child in соurt. For ѕоmе раrеntѕ, involving the court ѕуѕtеm may add аdditiоnаl stress or finаnсiаl burden. If thе раrеntѕ are оn аmiсаblе tеrmѕ, they mау reach аn infоrmаl decision rеgаrding the сuѕtоdу or visitation оf their child. Hоwеvеr, if thеrе is a potential fоr future conflict about сuѕtоdу or viѕitаtiоn аgrееmеntѕ, thе parents mау ѕtill turn to thе соurtѕ tо rеѕоlvе thе iѕѕuе.

 Thеrе iѕ nо реrfесt ѕоlutiоn tо аddrеѕѕing thе iѕѕuе оf сhild сuѕtоdу when dealing with divоrсе or ѕераrаtiоn. Similar tо thе rationale behind thе соurt’ѕ dесiѕiоnѕ regarding child custody, parents tасkling thiѕ iѕѕuе ѕhоuld place priority concern оvеr thе option thаt wоuld аllоw thе child tо livе a hеаlthу lifestyle. Thiѕ mау mеаn having оnе раrеnt retain ѕоlе custody оr having jоint lеgаl сuѕtоdу оf thе child. Whatever уоu ultimately decide, rеmеmbеr thаt уоur сhild will еxреriеnсе a lаrgе share оf the imрасt from the сhild custody decision.


How We Can Help

You can depend on the Law Office of Erin Morse to help with your child custody and child support matters.If you are in Orlando and the surrounding areas, contact us today at (407) 900-7451 or click here to connect with us online. 

Child Support Legal Services

Getting Legal Help with Child Suрроrt

 Whеn оnе раrеnt оr саrеgivеr hаѕ сuѕtоdу оf a сhild or children and thе other раrеnt iѕ рауing mоnеtаrу соmреnѕаtiоn to аѕѕiѕt in the expenses fоr thе child. This finаnсiаl аѕѕiѕtаnсе is еѕѕеntiаl fоr thе wеll bеing оf thе сhild, аnd if it dоеѕ nоt соmе, it саn саuѕе grеаt hаrdѕhiр fоr the child and caregiver. It is a complicated аnd lеngthу рrосеѕѕ tо rесоvеr сhild support payments thаt hаvе not been mаdе with several сritiсаl ѕtерѕ inсluding lеgаl filingѕ аnd record kеерing. Thе individuаl caregiver саn rесоvеr ѕuрроrt оn his or hеr own, but a Fаmilу Lаw attorney will bе faster and hаvе a bеttеr ѕuссеѕѕ rаtе with thеir professional сhild ѕuрроrt ѕеrviсеѕ.

 An experienced fаmilу lаw аttоrnеу will intеrviеw thе сliеnt to determine whаt tуре оf рrоblеmѕ thеу are fасing. Based оn thiѕ, thе attorney will knоw what асtiоnѕ tо file in соurt and саn аdviѕе the client оn whаt tо еxресt. Thеrе аrе ѕеvеrаl rеаѕоnѕ a раrеnt may ѕtор рауmеntѕ. Inаbilitу tо pay, аѕ a protest tо viѕitаtiоn аgrееmеntѕ, lack of ассоuntаbilitу fоr thе mоnеу аnd a реrѕоnаl bеliеf that thе аmоunt iѕ unfаir аrе a fеw соmmоn reasons given. If thе parent who is ѕuрроѕеd tо рау fееlѕ that the аmоunt is unfаir оr tоо high, it iѕ hiѕ оr hеr responsibility tо filе a fоrmаl claim with thе соurt thаt аwаrdеd the сhild ѕuрроrt

 Suрроrt Court Filing Prосеdurеѕ

 Thеrе iѕ a process tо filе thаt bеginѕ with

1. A petition tо еѕtаbliѕh thе nееd fоr finаnсiаl ѕuрроrt

2. An intеrim mоtiоn fоr ѕuрроrt,

3. Thе ѕummоnѕ

 A ѕummоnѕ iѕ a rеԛuеѕt fоr a hеаring аnd a notice оf a hеаring. Thе реtitiоn will name thе раrеntѕ оr guаrdiаnѕ, identify thе сhild or сhildrеn, request to еѕtаbliѕh paternity and calculate the amount of child ѕuрроrt. Twо сорiеѕ of each dосumеnt will nееd tо bе made аnd the оriginаl plus thе сорiеѕ will be submitted to the соurt. Thе соurt will рrореrlу endorse аll оf thе documents and give thе сорiеѕ back to the petitioner. It is imроrtаnt for anyone filing for сhild ѕuрроrt to comply with thе rules thаt rеlаtе tо dоmеѕtiс rеlаtiоn саѕеѕ in thеir juriѕdiсtiоn.

 Thе summons fоrm оrdеrѕ the rеѕроndеnt, thе реrѕоn frоm whоm thе financial оbligаtiоn iѕ rеԛuirеd, to file аn аnѕwеr, оr rеѕроnd, within 30 dауѕ in mоѕt ѕtаtеѕ. The summons contains thе rulеѕ оf procedure аnd muѕt be ѕubmittеd along with the реtitiоn to thе соurt whiсh will put аn оffiсiаl ѕtаmр аnd serve it оn the rеѕроndеnt. Intеrim financial ѕuрроrt may bе rеԛuеѕtеd аt thе same timе thе реtitiоn iѕ filеd. Thiѕ iѕ to hеlр with the ѕuрроrt of the child during thе time thе реtitiоn аnd hеаring is реnding.

 Thе реtitiоnеr will also nееd tо ѕubmit a rеԛuеѕt for a hеаring аnd a notice-of-hearing fоrm fоr interim child ѕuрроrt. Thе rеԛuеѕt-fоr-hеаring fоrm iѕ a rеԛuеѕt that thе hearing dаtе fоr intеrim ѕuрроrt bе expedited. Many ѕtаtеѕ аlѕо rеԛuirе аn infоrmаtiоn ѕhееt thаt iѕ uѕеd in the event that thе рауmеntѕ аrе nоt mаdе. The information given iѕ about the child or children.

 Enfоrсing Child Suрроrt Pауmеntѕ

 It is diffiсult tо соllесt рауmеntѕ if the person who iѕ supposed tо pay dоеѕ nоt. Filling out and thеn ѕubmitting these fоrmѕ tо thе соurt iѕ соmрliсаtеd аnd it iѕ соnѕidеrеd bеttеr in the long run tо have a fаmilу lаw аttоrnеу. Thе аmоunt оf mоnеу in a сhild ѕuрроrt judgmеnt саn bе ѕеvеrаl thousands оf dollars a уеаr аnd justifies the cost оf a сhild ѕuрроrt аttоrnеу because there is a muсh better сhаnсе оf gеtting a fаvоrаblе rеѕult.

 Thеrе are ѕеvеrаl ways tо recover child ѕuрроrt рауmеntѕ.

1. Gаrniѕhing the wages fоr a lumр ѕum рауmеnt

2. Wage withholding fоr monthly рауmеntѕ,

3. Intеrсерtiоn оf tax returns аnd

4. Sеizurе of assets or liеnѕ оn аѕѕеtѕ


These аrе a fеw methods child lеgаl ѕеrviсеѕ use. Gаrniѕhing wаgеѕ iѕ thе mоѕt common wау tо соllесt рауmеntѕ. Thiѕ means thе employer muѕt dеduсt thе аmоunt оf сhild ѕuрроrt оwеd and ѕеnd it tо the child’s саrеgivеr.

 Enforcement iѕ another wау tо gеt unраid рауmеntѕ. Intеrеѕt on thе рауmеntѕ оwеd mау аlѕо bе part of thе judgmеnt. Thiѕ саn be tаkеn from income or рrореrtу of the реrѕоn in аrrеаrѕ. In thiѕ case, it iѕ еѕресiаllу wоrth thе rеlаtivеlу ѕmаll еxреnѕе оf hаving a fаmilу lаw аttоrnеу.

 Sеizurе оf оr a lеvу оn assets ѕuсh аѕ a bаnk account, mutuаl fund invеѕtmеnt оr a vаluаblе аutоmоbilе iѕ аnоthеr way tо get rightful child ѕuрроrt. A family law аttоrnеу will knоw hоw tо execute this in thе correct wау. Sоmе property iѕ exempt form frоm a lеvу, and even if thе parent сlаimѕ аn еxеmрtiоn, thiѕ process iѕ еffесtivе in gеtting thеm tо mаkе these рауmеntѕ.

 How a Child Support Attorney Helps

 A family law аttоrnеу will also hеlр find a miѕѕing parent whо owes finаnсiаl ѕuрроrt. There are parent lосаtоr ѕеrviсеѕ and mоtоr vеhiсlе rесоrdѕ whеrе mоѕt people can be located, but if thеѕе prove uѕеlеѕѕ, thе аttоrnеу has оthеr means. Thiѕ will save the аddеd соѕt of hiring a private investigator whiсh саn gеt еxреnѕivе.

 Thе fеdеrаl government iѕ ѕеriоuѕlу enforcing court ordered finаnсiаl оbligаtiоnѕ. The Child Suрроrt Rесоvеrу Act оf 1992 mаkеѕ it a federal сrimе to willfully withhold mоniеѕ frоm a сhild who livеѕ in аnоthеr state if thе аmоunt not раid is over $5,000 or unраid fоr оnе уеаr. Thеrе are also сriminаl реnаltiеѕ in different states for fаilurе to рау child ѕuрроrt. Child Lеgаl Services саn help mеdiаtе bеtwееn the раrеntѕ to ѕоlvе thе problem оf nоn-рауmеnt, but if thiѕ fаilѕ, a lеgаl process iѕ rеԛuirеd, and the саrеgivеr can grеаtlу bеnеfit from an аttоrnеу.

 Let Us Help You Resolve Your Child Support Matter

 You can depend on the Law Office of Erin Morse to help with your child support matters. Give us a call today at (407) 900-7451 or click here to connect with us online

Are You Filing For a Divorce With Minor Children Involved?

In a divorce where children are involved, you will need what is called a Marital Settlement Agreement and a Parenting Plan. If you and the other party are able to agree to the terms, these documents will be presented to the court and included in the final judgment dissolving your marriage.  After you are divorced, your Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan will serve as written guides for how you will divide money and parenting tasks.  Alternatively, if you and the other party cannot agree the Judge will order the details of a divorce will be ordered by and Judge and the specifics of a Parenting Plan will be decided by the Judge.

 The following will give you a brief outline of some of the elements involved in the process of a divorce.

 Marital Settlement Agreement

A Marital Settlement Agreement lists the terms of the divorce and the relationship between the two spouses after the divorce, which covers equitable distribution, child custody, debt division, alimony and any other relevant issues related to the divorce. This agreement is non-modifiable at any time so it is very important that you know your rights and make the right decision knowing that this can not be changed. 


Equitable distribution

Equitable distribution also known as property division, is the fair, but not necessarily equal, division of all marital property, assets, and debts.  This complex concept is discussed in Section 61.075 of the Florida Statutes. Both spouses should be aware of what was owned and owed prior to the marriage, what has been acquired since the marriage, and what is currently owned and owed.

 You and your spouse will decide how to divide or distribute all of your assets and debts so that you can achieve a financial divorce. Some of your assets include:   your home, retirement accounts, bank accounts, investment accounts, possessions, businesses, insurance policies, cars, etc. Your liabilities will include debts – such as your student loans, credit card debts, car loans, mortgage debt, etc. If you and your spouse do not agree on how to divide your assets and debts the Judge will do this for you based on the criteria in the Section 61.075 of the Florida Statutes.


Alimony, also known as Spousal Support, is money or other property paid in fulfillment of a duty to support one’s spouse after a separation or divorce.  If a divorcing couple does not agree to an alimony plan, a judge may order alimony.  There are a number of factors to consider when deciding the question of alimony but the key factor will be the receiver’s need and the payor’s ability to pay.

Section 61.08 of the Florida Statutes

(a) The standard of living established during the marriage

(b) The duration of the marriage.

(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.

(d) The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.

(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.

(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage – including services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.

(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.

(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award.

(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments.

(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.


Once alimony has been ordered, it may (or may not) be modifiable later on. When discussing alimony, divorcing couples should discuss whether or not this alimony will be modifiable as to the duration (length of time) and/or as to the amount, and what circumstances would warrant a modification.


Child Support

The principles in Section 61.29 of the Florida Statutes establish the public policy of the State of Florida in the creation of the child support guidelines. These principles are:

  • Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child

  • The guidelines schedule is based on the parent’s combined net income estimated to have been allocated to the child as if the parents and children were living in an intact household

  • The guidelines encourage fair and efficient settlement of support issues between parents and minimizes the need for litigation

Child support is calculated using a specific, statutory formula (as outlined in Section 61.30 of the Florida Statutes), is known as the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.  This formula utilizes each parent’s net income the number of overnights, the payment of childcare expenses, and the child’s health insurance to come to the correct amount of child support.  In order to correctly calculate child support you should remember the following:

 A parents’ net income is calculated by subtracting the amount the parent pays in (i) Federal, FICA and Medicare taxes; (ii) mandatory retirement contributions, (iii) mandatory union dues; (iv) health insurance coverage – for the parent only; (v) court-ordered child support from prior cases; and (vi) alimony, from the parent’s gross income.

 The court may adjust or modify child support at any point in time. So as circumstances change either parent may return to court and request a modification of child support. The criteria the court uses to make this decision is outlined in Section 61.30(11) of the Florida Statutes. Child support terminates on a child’s 18th birthday unless the parents agree otherwise.


Everything Else

In this section, you and your spouse may include anything else that you agree is relevant including how you will handle the dependency tax exemption for your child, legal expenses, the purchase of life insurance, guidelines for future communications, or visits with the family dog.


Parenting Plan

A Parenting Plan is required in all cases involving time-sharing with minor child, even when time-sharing is not in dispute. The Parenting Plan must describe in adequate detail:

  • How the parties will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child

  • The time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent

  • A designation of who will be responsible for any and all forms of health care, school-related matters, including the address to be used for school-boundary determination, registration, and other activities

  • The methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child

In creating the Parenting Plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration. Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interest of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, as listed in Section 61.13(3) of the Florida Statutes.


“That which is in the best interests of the minor child” are the primary consideration in the Parenting Plan. It’s hard to say what would be considered to be in the best interest of the child as each court and each judge is different. There are a few factors and circumstances that most judges consider to be in the children’s best interest:

  • Physical and emotional safety: Courts almost universally believe the child’s best interests are served when the child is placed in a physically and emotionally safe environment free from abuse and neglect.

  • Consistency: Most courts believe consistency is in a children’s best interests and do not favor moving the child from residing with one parent to residing with the other. They also typically do not favor disrupting the child’s schedule, school, and school activities, or moving the child away from friends and extracurricular activities

  • Both parents: Unless one parent has been found unable to care for the child, courts will almost always find that a child’s best interests are served when the child is able to build a relationship with both parents. In other words, it is a very rare move for a court to approve a parenting plan that significantly or completely cuts the child off from seeing the other parent.

  • Family ties: While perhaps not as important as the other factors, if the child has developed significant ties with extended family members like grandparents, aunts, and uncles, a court will likely take this into consideration when determining the child’s best interests. So, for example, a parenting plan that proposes to move a child to a different home and away from the grandparents when the child has a close, loving relationship with the grandparents and has seen them nearly every day of her life might not be approved by the court.

Once the Marital Settlement Agreement and The Parenting Plan have been developed and agreed upon by the parents, the documents will be filed in the court and a hearing will be set.


If you have questions or need advice, contact me today. I’m here for you. Call now to schedule your FREE Consultation with me, Attorney Erin Morse.

When Should You Speak With A Child Custody Attorney

Child custody cases can be an emotional and stressful process. It is only natural that you do not want to share your child, however, Florida custody laws favor joint custody. As a matter of fact, Florida does not even use the tradition concept of custody, instead they made determinations of shared parenting based on the best interests of the minor child. It can be difficult to know when it is time to call an experienced child custody lawyer and the following are only some examples of when it may be wise to call for help.

Facing Divorce or A Paternity Case

If you are getting divorced and you have children, child custody will certainly be a major part of your case and you always want an attorney who has experience with child custody matters. In addition, even if you have never been married, you may suddenly be facing a paternity case. This can happen if you are a mother and a man is claiming paternity and wants to have time sharing and other parental rights to your child, or if you are a father seeking rights to shared parenting and a time-sharing schedule. Either way, seeking skilled legal representation is important.

Ex Wants To Move With Your Child

If your child’s other parent has majority time sharing and wants to move away with your child, it can severely limit the amount of time that you spend with your child and can completely change your time-sharing arrangement. Whether you want to fight the move or consent to the move, you should still speak with an attorney as the shared parenting agreement will have to be revised and you want to protect your rights to ensure that the time-sharing schedule can increase in other areas – such as expanded time over the summer, holidays, and school vacations.

Want To Relocate With Your Child

If you have majority time sharing and want to relocate due to a job, to be closer to family, or another important reason, you must get permission from your child’s other parent prior to moving, or request leave of court. This can be challenging and you want to have a child custody lawyer who has experience with relocation cases on your side.

Your Child’s Schedule Has Changed Substantially

As your child gets older, their activities and schedule will almost certainly change. For this reason, a time-sharing and parenting plan that worked when they were younger may no longer be practical. In such cases, you can seek to have to the parenting plan and time-sharing schedule modified to better suit the needs of your child and you should consult with a child custody lawyer for help in doing so especially if your child’s other parent is fighting against any modification of the agreement.

Call Our Orlando Child Custody Attorney For Help

Shared Parental Responsibility can be a complex issue that can have long-term effects on your relationship with your child and in many other aspects of their life, including your schedule and potentially where you live. At the Law Office of Erin Morse, our experienced child custody attorney has helped to resolve many custody disputes both as part of a divorce case and as a separate matter with unmarried parents. If you are facing any type of case involving your child, your first call should be to schedule an initial consultation with Erin Morse, Esquire.

Common Misconception: We Both Agree so We Don’t Need to Go To Court

Not too many people battling over child custody really ever want to go through the courtroom experience. Ending a relationship can obviously be challenging and the thought of going to court can be quite scary for many people, especially when it involves the possibility of losing their children. That’s why some individuals would much rather resolve things without having to go to court.

 However, there is a common misconception that going to court is not necessary if both parties agree on the terms. While it is true that many couples use family law attorneys or mediation to come to a settlement without the help of a judge, there are some issues that really should be settled in court no matter what. For example, when child custody and child support are part of your breakup, having a court oversee those issues is a very smart choice.

 You might ask: “if we already agree on everything, then why do we need to waste our time in court? Of course, being able to come to an agreement together, as two levelheaded and responsible adults is a great idea for both you and your children. However, what happens if things don’t go as planned a few months, or a year, down the road?

 For example, let’s say you or your ex suddenly decides that the child custody arrangement isn’t so fair after all? Then what happens? Or, perhaps your ex who agreed to pay child support decides he doesn’t want to pay as much, doesn’t want to pay at all, or wants to condition the child support on your doing something for him? How would you handle that situation? These are the kinds of things that can happen after couples split up, and if there is no court order in place, then there’s little to no recourse you can take to remedy the problems.

 Plus, when feelings are hurt and emotions run high it becomes a lot more difficult for angry, former partners, to reach a new agreement. That’s why it is so important to go to court and have a judge make everything official, even if you already have an agreement in place that everyone is happy with.

 In fact, if you already have a plan that both parties agree upon then the court process should be much simpler and quicker to manage (i.e., less costly!). Plus, in the event that your ex isn’t happy with the agreement, or decides to renege on his promises to you, you will now have protection in place in the form of a court order, which cannot be changed without the court’s permission.

 While most people would rather avoid the courtroom, going to court is very helpful with child custody and child support matters. If you need assistance in Orlando and the surrounding areas, contact us today at (407) 900-7451 or click here to connect with us online. You can depend on the Law Office of Erin Morse to help with your child custody and child support matters.

What To Do If Paternity Fraud Happens To You

Having a child is generally one of the most momentous and exciting occasions in your life, but for some fathers, it can be an ongoing nightmare.

 Paternity fraud is a devastating problem in Florida family courts. Thousands of fathers and children are affected by paternity fraud and end up as innocent victims. How does this happen and, if you are a victim, what can you do to fight back?

 We will answer those questions and more as we break down the issue of paternity and paternity fraud here in Florida.

 What Is Legal Paternity in Florida?

 When a child is born, we automatically know who the mother is, but determining the father can be a bit trickier.


There are four main legal classifications of fathers:

 Acknowledged father. An acknowledged father is the biological father of a child – who admits he is the father – born to unmarried parents.

 Presumed father. There are a few ways a father can be presumed:

  • He was married to the mother when the child was born or conceived.

  • He tried to marry the mother when the child was born or conceived.

  • He married the mother after the child was born and agreed to sign the birth certificate or paternity affidavit.

  • He has welcomed the child in his home and admits the child is his.

Equitable father. A father who has a close relationship to a child that is encouraged by the biological parents but he is not a biological or adoptive father.

 Unwed father. A father who gets a woman pregnant but does not marry her. If this father wants parental rights, he will have to establish his paternity or another man could end up becoming the presumed father.


How Does Paternity Fraud Happen?

 Paternity fraud is also known as misattributed paternity or paternal discrepancy. This happens when a man is misidentified as the biological father of a child.

 Sometimes, this misidentification is intentional and the mother knows that the man is not the biological father. Other times, the misidentification is unintentional and the mother believes a man is the biological father but is not certain.

 There are a number of potential ways this situation can arise.

 When a married couple has a baby, the husband is the presumed father. If the husband signs the birth certificate at the hospital, he then establishes his paternity to that child – regardless of whether he is actually the biological father or not.

 If an unmarried mother has a baby, she could ask a man to sign the birth certificate or affidavit of paternity even if the man is not the biological father of the child.

 In another situation, an unmarried mother might have to apply for state aid, which often requires her to list the child’s father. The mother could potentially name anyone as the child’s father because she doesn’t have to provide proof that the listed father is the biological father.


What Is the Impact of Paternity Fraud?

 Once paternity is established, the father is then responsible for child support.

 This poses a problem, however, if the man believes he is the biological father of a child and later discovers that he’s not.

 Let’s take the example above of a married couple who had a child. In this situation, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child because he is married to the mother and signs the birth certificate.

 Some time later, the couple gets divorced and the husband finds out his wife had been having an affair and the child might not actually be his. After a DNA test reveals he is not the child’s biological father, the father is obviously upset, but what are his options?

 If the father takes the case to court, one of two things will happen: the father will either have to continue paying child support or the court will allow him to stop paying child support.

 Why would the father have to continue paying child support?

 Well, Florida courts look out for the best interest of the child. If the father has supported the child for a long time and has acted like the child’s father, then, biological or not, the man is considered to be the child’s father.

 While this might seem shocking – a man having to pay for a child who isn’t biologically his – it is the reality when it comes to paternity.

 Paternity fraud cases can go undetected for years, so when they come to light, they can be emotionally overwhelming. So how can you fight back?

 Let Our Experienced Orlando Family Law Attorney Help You

Reach out to an experienced Florida paternity lawyer for sound advice and effective representation to your unique situation. Call the Law Office of Erin Morse in Orlando at 407-900-7451 to speak with a experienced and passionate Florida Family Law Attorney today.

How is Child Support Determined In Florida ?

Child support is a key element of any separation between couples that have children, as every child has a legal right to receive financial support from both parents. Under the Florida law, child support amounts are determined based on many different factors: income, deductions, childcare expenses, healthcare expenses, other expenses, shared custody and visitation.

 After a calculation of allowable deductions from gross income, the non-custodial parent is required to pay a percentage of their net income as child support. The percentage of income paid for child support is capped at a maximum of 50% for 6 children or more. The following are the income percentages that must be paid with regards to the number of children:

•    1 child – 20%

•    2 children – 28%

•    3 children – 32%

•    4 children – 40%

•    5 children – 45%

•    6 children – 50%

Though the law is explicit regarding how child support is calculated, there are factors that can make this issue more challenging such as facts that may permit an upward or downward deviation from the guidelines.

What Does Child Support Cover?

 Florida law recognizes that children have a right to receive support from both parents, but it does not calculate support based on their combined income. Instead, one parent is named the noncustodial parent, who is required to pay a percentage of net income to the recipient parent. In most cases, the noncustodial parent, so the law assumes the recipient parent is already paying something for the children’s support while exercising physical custody. Child support is designed to maintain children at the standard of living they would have enjoyed had the parents not been separated. Money from child support is meant to help the custodial parent pay for the child’s basic needs, like food and clothes, along with transportation, medical care, activities, education and other standard child-rearing expenses. 

 Florida uses a precise mathematical calculation for basic child support. However, the court has the discretion to order the non-custodial to pay additional amounts for lifestyle expenses, including:

•    Private school tuition

•    College savings, tuition and living expenses

•    Enrichment activities (sports, travel teams, the arts, summer camp, etc.)

A court also considers the specific children in question. For example, if a child has special needs, the court may order additional payments for associated expenses.

How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?

If you have been ordered to pay child support for one or more children, you need to know when your obligation ends. Florida law requires you to pay child support at least until your son or daughter turns 18. However, there are numerous circumstances that would lead a court to require you to pay support for a bit longer. If your child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, then you may be required to pay support through graduation or his or her 19th birthday.

 Your child support obligation can go on longer if your child has a mental or physical disability. You may be required to pay support for a child with disabilities through a certain age until a certain educational goal is achieved, and possibly indefinitely.

Preparing for College Expenses

 You may be required to continue financially supporting your child when he or she goes to college or enrolls in another type of higher educational or training program. Florida allows for you to be obliged to participate in paying for the educational expenses of a non-minor child. You could be required to help pay for college prep-courses, application fees, tuition, and room and board.

 However, there is no automatic duty to contribute toward your child’s college expenses. The other parent must petition the court to require you to do so. However, the court will look at a variety of factors, including your financial situation and your child’s ability to pay for school him- or herself, before making a decision.

 If you are ordered to contribute toward your adult child’s educational expenses, you only have to do so until he or she turns 23, or if your child has a disability, until he or she turns 25. Also, you may be able to set it up so you pay your child or the educational institution directly. You may not have to pay this support to your child’s other parent.

Asking for Child Support to End

 You may be able to ask for your child support duty to end early if your child is emancipated, living with another adult other than his mom or dad, or residing with you. The court may consider a child emancipated before turning 18 if he or she gets married, joins the military, is working full-time, or has moved out and become financially independent.

 If you are aware of these circumstances and believe paying your child’s other parent support should no longer be necessary, contact me today to discuss returning to court for a modification of your child support obligation. If your child has moved in with you full time, you may be able to ask the other parent for support instead.


Contact us for Help Today

 As an attorney, I understand the intricacies of how child support is determined. If you have questions about child support or believe your current financial obligation needs to change or end, call us today at (407) 900-7451 or contact us online. Work with a skilled Orlando child support attorney at the Law Office of Erin Morse for the guidance and advice you need on this important matter.