The Vocabulary of Divorce

VOCABULARY OF DIVORCE:

Custody, parental responsibility, visitation and time sharing of your children are the most important aspects of any divorce action or proceeding involving separated parents. On October 1, 2008 the Florida legislature passed a new law that changed much of the vocabulary of divorce and child custody, as well as the form and style of certain document that govern the role of parents in their children’s lives. Despite these changes the fundamental premise upon which all decision made by the courts involving children has remained constant: WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD.

Today, what was formerly called “joint custody” is known as “shared parental responsibility” and “visitation” is now “time sharing.” Gone are the labels of “primary” and “secondary” parental caregivers and secondary parents. Courts of today are now required to create a detailed parenting plan that governs all aspects of the parent child relationship including which parents will parental responsibility for their children, a time sharing plan, a plan governing transportation and exchange of the children, communications between all parties involved (including the children), and childcare.

Below are some helpful definitions that are common to divorce and may help you better understand the divorce process:

· “Clerk of Court Child Support Collection System” or “CLERC System” is the automated system integrating all clerks of court and depositories in the state and through which child support and other domestic related payment data is transmitted to the department’s automated child support enforcement system.

· The “Department” is the Department of Revenue. The branch of the Florida government that enforces child support payments on behalf of the state.

· The “Depository” is the central governmental depository established to receive, record, report, disburse, monitor, and otherwise handle alimony and child support payments not otherwise required to be processed by the State Disbursement Unit.

· The “Federal Case Registry of Child Support Orders” is the automated registry of support order abstracts and other information established and maintained by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

· The “Obligee” is the person to whom payments are made pursuant to an order establishing, enforcing, or modifying an obligation for alimony, for child support, or for alimony and child support.

· The “Obligor” is a person responsible for making payments pursuant to an order establishing, enforcing, or modifying an obligation for alimony, for child support, or for alimony and child support.

· The “Parenting plan” means a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. In creating the plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration.

· The “Parenting plan recommendation” is a nonbinding recommendation concerning one or more elements of a parenting plan made by a court-appointed mental health practitioner or other professional.

· “Shared parental responsibility” means a court-ordered relationship in which both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child and in which both parents confer with each other so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly.

· “Sole parental responsibility” means a court-ordered relationship in which one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child.

· A “Support order” is a judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary or final, issued by a court of competent jurisdiction or administrative agency for the support and maintenance of a child which provides for monetary support, health care, arrearages, or past support. When the child support obligation is being enforced by the Department of Revenue, the term “support order” also means a judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary or final, issued by a court of competent jurisdiction for the support and maintenance of a child and the spouse or former spouse of the obligor with whom the child is living which provides for monetary support, health care, arrearages, or past support.

· “Time-sharing schedule” means a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child will spend with each parent.

For more information about these or any other term you may have heard related to a divorce or family law matter, please contact Matthew C. Bothwell, P.A. We are here to help.