PEACE is a common acronym used within Family Law. It stands for Parenting Plan, Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Child Support, and finally Everything Else. This is a helpful order to think of when determining the circumstances of a dissolution of marriage.
P – Parenting Plan: Those who are parents of a minor child, are required to develop a parenting plan when divorce or separation has become evident. Florida Family Court’s belief is“in the best interests of the child” With that being said, the goal is that minor children will continue to be raised by both parents. Parents will put in writing their plan for parental time sharing which will include a number of overnights with the child for each parent, the place and times. Where the child will spend holidays and special occasions such as birthdays will be decided. Concerns including, but not limited to, where will pick-up and drop-off take place for overnights, how will parents and parent/child communication take place, who will care for the child should one or the other parent or both parents not be able to take their usual overnight time, travel stipulations, claiming tax child credits, and life and health insurance. Additionally, whenever there are decisions to be made concerning medical, educational, religious, or discipline regarding the child, both parents must discuss and agree on the outcome. The judge will review the parenting plan to be sure it is a reasonable and fair plan in the best interest of the child.
E– Equitable Distribution: Florida is an equitable, not equal distribution state. This means all property, real or personal, and debts which have been acquired during the marriage or put into joint ownership will be divided fairly. Many couples are able to do this in a mediation, required in most Florida jurisdictions before the setting of a court date. If the mediation fails and a judge hears the case, he or she, after hearing the evidence of value, cause, and need will decide how marital assets and debts will be equitably distributed.
A- Alimony: In Florida, there are six types of alimony which can be awarded to either party seeking a dissolution of marriage. Temporary alimony is for the duration of the case, only. Permanent, lump sum, bridge-the-gap, durational, and rehabilitative alimony can be decided by the couple in a pre or post-nuptial contract, by the parties at a successful mediation or by a judge.
C – Child Support: All minor children in Florida are entitled to be cared for by their parents. This, of course,takes money as well as time. Depending on the income and needed expenses of each parent the court, or parents in successful mediation, will determine if each parent has the financial ability to do their part in financially supporting their minor child. There is a Child Support Guideline Worksheet the couple fills out which factors in a number of considerations including income, necessary expenses, care of special needs child, and number and ages of minor children, and amount of parental time sharing.
E– Everything Else: Each case has its own individual characteristics which need to be decided during a successful mediation or by a judge. Examples could be if a spouse wants to leave the area following the dissolution and there are minor children involved, taking back a former name, sharing costs of college education for a child, or allowing grandparents to have substantial time with the minor children.