All too often, children are born into relationships where the parents are not married. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a headache for both the parents and the child(ren) involved if the couple ever decides to separate. In Florida, when the mother of a child(ren) bore out of wedlock (yes, ancient term), applies for any sort of state assistance, whether it be food stamps, medicaid, cash assistance, etc., the Department of Revenue steps in and begins the initiation of a child support proceeding. Once initiated, the Department of Revenue, on behalf of the State of Florida and the mother of the child(ren) will begin a court proceeding to one, determine the father of the child(ren) at question, and two, assess the appropriate amount of child support against that individual once established as father.
A father in Florida can be established through an affidavit of paternity (essentially signing a document admitting you are the father of said child(ren) in question) or through scientific DNA testing.
Once established, a father will be assessed child support against him for the child(ren) he has been proven to have fathered. Child support can be assessed retroactively, resulting in arrears (or back support payments) being owed on top of child support going forward. Child support will continue until the minor child(ren) reach 18 years of age (typically). The downfall is, in Florida, once established via a Department of Revenue proceeding, that does not give you legal rights to your child. YOU MUST INITIATE A TIMESHARING PROCEEDING.
What is a timesharing proceeding?
Timesharing (formerly called custody and visitation) is the arrangement between the parents for each to spend a certain amount of time with the child(ren). Each county in Florida has guidelines the court has adopted as a "framework" for the minimum amount of timesharing a minority timeshare parent should have. (Minority timeshare parent is the parent with the least amount of time with the child(ren). There are many factors that come into play when determining a timeshare schedule for the minor child(ren), but the most important is the best interest of the child(ren).
Establishing a timeshare schedule through the courts not only gives you the legal to see your child(ren) and have designated times to spend with them and bond with them, but it also effects child support. Remember earlier in this article I stated that once established as the parent through the Department of Revenue proceedings you are assessed child support? Well that child support, since at that time you have no legal rights to the child(ren) is assessed with the other parent having 100% timeshare with the child(ren). That means, even if you are seeing your child(ren) every other weekend for example, you are still paying the other parent as if they had the child(ren) in their care, custody and control 100% of the time. Essentially, in layman's terms, you are paying the other parent to care for your child(ren) even when you are supporting them because they are with you.
So once you have a timesharing schedule in place, you can then appropriately modify your child support to accurately reflect the amount of time each parent has the minor child(ren) in their care, custody and control.
SO TIMESHARING IS A MUST! It not only establishes your legal right to see your child(ren), a schedule that allows you to foster a healthy relationship with that child(ren) but it also has an effect on the amount of child support you will pay.