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we recently seperated, never married and we have a 2 year old

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we recently seperated, never married and we have a 2 year old son. He lives with me full time and the father has him 2 days a week, i have him the other 5 days. We wanted to have a general custody letter and child support agreement notorized for our protection, in case we are not on amicable terms at some point in the future. However, i have read that notorizing a document can not be upheld in the court. We both live in Orange county, Orlando, Florida. Does anyone know how we go about doing this leagally? what are the forms? is there a cost? do i have to pay child support if i earm slightly more than the father does?
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Hello. Thanks for contacting us. This is known as a "Parenting Plan" and you can find details from the Florida court system on how to file it here:

Notaries are merely serving as verified witnesses to the signing of a document. After notarizing (or signing before a deputy court clerk), it still must be filed with the court to be effective.

I believe any confusion arose over the way a notary functions in these cases -- as I indicated, as a kind of certified witness to signing of the parenting plan. The advantage of a notary over both parents appearing before a deputy court clerk is really a matter of convenience. Notarized documents allow one person to file without the other one's presence. Otherwise, if both parents have time, it may be easiest to simply go to the clerk's office in the local circuit court, as it has jurisdiction over child custody and related money issues.

Please let me know if you need any further clarification on this issue.

I wish your family a smooth road ahead!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

so do i or we fill this document out and go to the courts? what if half of that information listed has not been decided upon yet. for example schooling, holidays, etc.?


what about the child support? i have recently gotton a raise and now earn more than the father, however, i believe the father should participate in providing for our son. As off now he approximately provides $150 in food/pamper etc. for our son and because of his income he is unable to help more financially. My concern is if i earn more and i am primary custody parent (because he lives with me ) will i have to ever pay the father child support because i earn more?

Good questions, all!

When the parents agree on a plan, then the court reviews it, and if it finds that it is okay (unless it incorporates neglectful allowances for the child's needs, it will allow usually approve), it then becomes a court order.

If parents don't agree, there's a formula that takes into account both parents' income, and the number of nights the child officially stays with each parent (they can informally agree to change the custody schedule, but need court approval to change the court order governing it), and then apportions it on a kind of percentage basis. While an initial court order (or mutually agreed parenting plan) may start out based on a current situation, there is room to petition for changed circumstances (for instance, one parents suddenly makes a lot, and other parent loses a job, or one parent has to travel a lot for work, requiring the other to have the child over for more official overnights).

When negotiating parenting plans, some parents agree on a formula (a percentage of income divided by official custodial overnights, is popular), for the first time period, and then have an agreed upon periodic review to reset the payments based on current situations (employment, income, changed overnights, etc). It is up to the parents how often to do it. But mechanism that keeps parents from having to fight it out in court is valuable -- because it saves time and gives certainty (and may save on legal fees, if things get ugly). When this happens, the only thing needed is to file a new parenting plan based on the agreement -- and if reasonable, the court will approve.

As for your question as to what to do: yes, it has to be filed to have any validity. If there are blanks, it is probably a good idea to come to agreement unless the item is inapplicable (for instance, there is no issue of private school tuition for public school students). Courts want to approve something, in lieu of the official formula, that will ensure the child's needs are met to the extent the law expects parents to do so. And whatever can be done to make this document as complete as possible will help give a court confidence that it can sign off rather than use a default formula.

Ultimately, courts are required to consider the best interests of the child, not the parents -- and the more the parents can show the court that they are on board with the concept, the more likely the court will be to approve the parents' agreement.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

so, the parenting plan also includes a section for child support disclosure specifics? Can we add what the father will be able to provide until there is a change in income? as long as we both agree to it?


Also, if we agree upon most everything listed in the parenting plan form, we can agree to have it reviewed for portential changes at our discretion? say on a yearly basis? would we also have to petition for changes in holiday schedules ? for example: i would have him most holidays because he will be working. but if in the future he is able to secure a holiday do i still have to petition that change, or can we decide between the two of us as long as we agree? since it would not be a permanent availability?




These things are always easy to work out, if both parents agree. If they do, there is no one to go to court and seek contempt citations for non-conformity with a plan. It just works out.

So these things are really just in case. That said:

It is probably a good idea to begin with the court guidelines in the state (when there is no agreement) as a benchmark for calculating. You can see those here:

The same goes for a holiday schedule. It is the default; it can always be revisited -- but it is good to have a basic agreement that takes precedence if there is a dispute later, so there is a base line expectation.

Again, I wish you and your family a smooth transition!
This page has both a table and a calculator available.

The agreement can contain a mandatory review, if the parent's so desire, at whatever interval. If a year is agreeable, that can work. That means one parent can go to court to enforce the review if the other parent refuses -- and if there is a change in income, could give one parent more legal ammo to get the original order changed by the court. This is always available as a filing for changed circumstances but this formalizes a process and keeps litigation issues in check to some degree.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am still not clear as to where on the parenting plan we disclose the child support information?


or is it a seperate form that needs to be filled out and turned into the court?


Once these forms are complete and turned in how long before we know if it is approved?


and is there any other court visits or hearings that need to be attended after approval?


I was reviewing the child support table info and it states "underemployed" . what exacatly does this mean?


That means not working full time and making very low wages -- often due to a job loss or disability.

But more important to your project is the child support worksheet, which can find here:\

This is used if child support is being requested as part of a court order. The parenting plan does not require it, but if one wants a court order to set a basis, then this is the form to use. Again, it is only helpful if there's a need to go to court to enforce payments. If everyone is in agreement on some other formula, and the kids are being taken care of, then the court won't intervene unless asked.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Okay, so what i understand is that there is no need to have a court order for child support unless we are not in agreement. Would it be okay to have a notorized letter stating our agreement?


or would i still need to submit to the court ?


Because what i am understanding is that it is not necessary if we can agree.


question 3/4/5 are regarding the parenting plan. could you readdress the anwers to this please

Hi Again. Sorry for the delay. Just back from a long lunch break.

(1) Not exactly. A court will impose the state guidelines on child support as a baseline. Parents can deviate as long as there's agreement (and not neglect that someone else might report). If problems develop, and the parents no longer agree, the court ordered terms will then come into play -- and changes to them, in a dispute, will need court approval.

(2) Notarization: one can notarize anything. But the question is one of legal significance. All notarization does is provide clearer proof than a signed contract that the person signing it is actually the person he or she says. It is an anti-fraud measure -- nothing more. Your local court clerk can tell you what documents need to be either notarized or signed before a deputy clerk before submission to the court. But,ultimately, a court order will take precedence over an agreement that has not been approved by a court and turned into a court order.

(3) Can you tell me what you mean by 3,4,5? As things are not numbered, I'm not sure what it is I need to clarify. Thanks!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

could you clarify these 2 questions from the prior post. (down below)


Once these forms are complete and turned in how long before we know if it is approved?




and is there any other court visits or hearings that need to be attended after approval?


so, we should submit child support through the court; however we are able to deviate from this amount if we both agree?


the link you just sent me concerning the child support form is not working. could you check please.


is there any other form that is available for child support or is it just one standard form ?


i will have additional questions once i can see the form you linked. Thank you

(1) Timing for judicial review of form: I do not know. It depends on the court. The clerk with whom the document is filed can tell you the estimated time before it is reviewed by the judge. (2) Additional actions related to form: It depends on what is in the forms. This is also a question for the clerk of the particular court where the paperwork is filed. He or she will know exactly what happens on average in that court.
(3) Link for form:

(4) this is the form, if you choose to not submit any thing non-formulaic. Here
s a link to a self-help page for the Florida Courts that have some additional resources. But anything complicated is best submitted with a lawyer's help to ensure its right. Self-representation can only go so far.

If I am not online should you require anything additional on this subject, please know that I will respond -- just not immediately.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

under #3 the link says it is no longer available, with error on page . Is there another link you can provide for the form.


do you know if once the parental agreement is approved, do we need to go to a meeting with the court or do they just send you a letter etc.?


also regarding filing claim for my son on taxes. Is it necessary to split years with the father if he is not financially able to uphold the required amount of child support on a monthly basis? i let him claim our son for 2012, he used it for his rent, bills, etc.. since his pay was not covering all of his financial obligations.

I am not sure why the link does not work for you. I've checked it and it works. Is it possibly your browser is not set up to download PDF files? If you have another browser installed, it might work better.

You can also try this RTF file as an alternate:

As for procedural issues, I would contact the clerk in your local district court at which the papers are filed. He or she will best situated to answer procedural questions as there can be variations court by court (and sometimes judge by judge).

Unfortunately tax law is highly specialized field -- most practictioners having an extra year of law school in training. It is, therefore, not under the family law category. There are tax law experts available if you'd like to post the tax question as a new item under taxes.

The only thing I can say with any assurance is that only one divorced parent can claim the child tax deduction and any child tax credits.
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