Archive: March 2012

March 22, 2012

How Does Child Support Affect My Taxes?

Article By: William Dorsey
Contact Us With Your Divorce and Custody Law Questions.

We often get the question, “How does child support affect my taxes?,“ in our Tampa family law office; and, we’re happy to answer it.

2 Main Child Support Tax Issue

There are 2 main support federal income tax issues regarding child support:

  1. Taxability and deductibility of child support payments
  2. Claiming the child as a dependent and getting the child tax credit

Child Support Payments:  Taxability and Deductibility

Child support payments are neutral to the IRS, meaning that the payer does not receive a deduction and the payee does not need to pay taxes.  You do not need to reference any child support payments on your IRS Form 1040.

Distinction Between Child Support and Alimony

For tax matters, it’s very important that your divorce and custody agreements distinguish between child support and alimony.  Why?

There can be a huge difference in the amount of federal income taxes you are required to pay.

Child support is not taxable and not tax deductible.

Alimony is taxable and is tax deductible.  Alimony is taxable to the recipient and tax deductible to the payer.

Be sure you fully understand the income tax consequences of any child support, marital, or alimony settlement agreement before you sign.

Which Parent Claims Child as a Dependent and Gets Child Tax Credit?

Being able to claim a child (or children) as a dependent can provide significant deductions and child tax credits on your federal income tax return.

  • The general rule is that you must provide 50% or more of a child’s support to claim the child on your income tax return.
  • Often, a legal agreement is created dictating how the child is to be claimed on tax returns.  The IRS allows such an agreement if you follow their rules.


For example, some parents may split the deductions.

  • If there is one child, each parent takes the applicable deduction and child tax credit every other year.
  • If there is more than one child, the deductions and credits can be split between the parents.
  • The IRS Form 8332, signed by the custodial parent, must be attached to the noncustodial parent’s income tax return to allocate the deduction and child tax credit to him or her.
  • If legally separated or divorced, both parents cannot claim the same child as a dependent.  In other words, the same child cannot be claimed more than once on an income tax return.

Where to Get Help with Child Custody Questions in Florida

Our Jacksonville law and child custody lawyers understand how to help you in both divorce and child custody matters.  We are happy to answer your child custody questions such as the one we’ve discussed in this article, “How does child support affect my taxes?”

Contact Us With Your Child Custody Law Questions.


March 19, 2012

Community Involvement – Hubbard House

 Hubbard House - caring handsHubbard House is the only certified domestic violence center serving Duval and Baker counties.

35 years ago, Hubbard House opened its doors of their very first shelter. They were a leader in the woman’s movement and in developing services focused on gender violence. Since then, Hubbard House has grown to offer services not only for women, but also for children and men affected by domestic violence. They have remained a leader in the field and have received both state and national recognition for their efforts.

Hubbard House mission is “Every Relationship Violence-Free”.

They focus on accomplishing three main objectives:

  • Safety for victims and their children
  • Empower victims
  • Social change through education and advocacy

They also reach out to the community to educate youth and professionals in related fields to raise awareness in Duval and Baker counties. The staff and volunteers at Hubbard House serve on numerous committees and task forces that aim to change the community response to domestic violence.

Hubbard House services include:

  • Emergency Shelter
  • Outreach Center
  • Children’s Services
  • Batterers’ Intervention
  • Training & Education and more

You can learn more about them on the Hubbard House Services page.

There are many ways you can support Hubbard House, from donating slightly used goods, your time, services or money. If you’d like to learn about how you can get involved, find more information on the Hubbard House “How to Help” page.

Hubbard House also has fund raising and awareness raising events throughout the year. Get more information to walk or get involved with the next Hubbard House event – their 3rd Annual Setting the Pace for Peace Domestic Violence Awareness Walk on March 31st.


TO CONTACT the Hubbard House Hotline, over the phone, 24-hours a day, Call 904-354-3114


You can Connect and Share Hubbard House information on Twitter and on Facebook.


*This information has been provided by the organization itself, and is not an endorsement or constitute legal advice by the Dorsey Law Firm.

March 7, 2012

How Old Must a Child Be to Decide which Parent to Live With?

Article By: William Dorsey
Contact Us With Your Divorce and Custody Law Questions.


Jacksonville Family Law Attorney Dispels Child Custody Myth:

As Jacksonville family law attorneys, we find that our clients often believe a pervasive myth regarding children’s age and choosing which parent they want to live with.

 Have you fallen prey to this myth?

MYTH:  At age 12 and older, children can determine which parent they wish to live with, during a contested Florida custody case.

TRUTH:  Only at age 18 can an individual choose where or with whom he or she lives.

Weighing the Child’s Wishes

While the Florida courts do consider the child’s wishes, they are absolutely not determinative.  The courts weigh many factors as required by law and the child’s expressed wishes are only one factor out of several.


  • The older and more mature the child, the more the courts weigh the child’s wishes.
  • The more “reasonable” the child’s wishes, the more weight they have.

2 Tests the Florida Courts Uses when Awarding Custody

1.    Best Interests of the Child

You’ve likely heard this phrase before:

The court considers “the best interests of the child,” when determining which parent the child lives with in a contested custody case.

Best interests” means what the courts think it means, but the court does consider the following:

The established lifestyle of each parents, including, but not limited to

  • The child’s exposure to second hand smoke.
  • The parent’s work schedule and availability.
  • The willingness of the parent to allow child to communicate with other parent.
  • The parent’s living situation.

The established lifestyle of the child.

  • The health (mental and physical) of each parent and the child.
  • The age and gender of the child.
  • Whether there is any history of child abuse.
  • The established relationship with the child.
  • The ability to nurture the child and provide guidance.
  • The ability to provide for emotional and physical needs of the child.
  • The quality of schools available.
  • The child’s living situation preference.

If these factors make it clear which parent should be awarded custody, the court makes its decision accordingly.

2.    Stability for the Child

If the above analysis doesn’t yield a clear answer, the courts use a  “stability” consideration; and, the test is:

Which parent will provide the most stable environment?

  • When determining the most stable environment for young children, the preference is for custody to remain with the primary caretaker.
  • When determining the most stable environment for older children, the preference is for custody to be granted to the parent who can maintain the child’s established lifestyle (home, school, religious, and community factors.)

A Terminology Note:  Timesharing (no More “Custody”)

While we use the term, “custody,” in this article because our clients do; however, Florida no longer uses the term “primary custody” anymore.  The terms “majority timesharing” and “parental responsibility” are used instead.  We point this out so that you better understand the current family law terminology and how it applies to your life.

William Dorsey Rel=Author Tag

Contact Us For Your Custody Consultation.


March 2, 2012

Community Involvement – JDRF North Florida

Dorsey Law Firm is  committed to supporting all of those involved with the improvement of our community.

Each month we will be hi-lighting a local non profit, organization or business. We hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit more about these gems and feel free to share the information with your network. We’d also like to know of your suggestions of organizations you see doing good in our community.

There are tons of non-profit organizations in Jacksonville. One that we see very active in the community, creating events as well as spreading awareness and education is The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) North Florida.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) North Florida

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) North Florida - Greatest Walk on EarthThe JDRF goal is “to ensure that scientists have the continued funding they need in order to progress research to a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications, and to ensure that every newly diagnosed child / family living with type 1 has the resources they need to live a healthy, happy and controlled lifestyle.” They strive to reach their goals as well as build a supportive community in North Florida through a variety of programs and events.

Walk to Cure Diabetes

The 2012 Walk to Cure Diabetes on March 24 will be at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. This year’s Walk theme is “The Greatest Walk on Earth”. Check out the  Family Team Resources or  Corporate Team Resources to learn how to get started, to fundraise for your team and to find more information on their t-shirt contest.

The Walk is designed to raise money for the JDRF as the mission of the Foundation to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications through the support of research. There are so many ways to get involved. You can join a team and walk, you can create a team, sponsor the event with your business or just donate to a team. Find out more info at the JDRF Walk homepage.

Kids School Program

The Kids School Program brings parents, educators and students together to rally the support of area schools through their own Kids to Cure Diabetes program.

The program empowers and demonstrates to students that even as children, they can have an impact on others lives. A few of the options are for schools to conduct a school mini-walk, hold Mini-Fundraisers, or sell Paper Sneakers.

If you’d like to get your school involved in their Kids to Cure Diabetes program, please contact JDRF’s North Florida Chapter (904) 739-2101 email


Volunteers are always needed and welcomed. Tasks are varied, but all are important as each task performed by a volunteer frees up staff time so they can do the important stuff like write grants, organize an event, write a letter to a donor or speak with a parent of a newly-diagnosed child. JDRF North Florida volunteers can help in the office or at events. If you’d like to learn more or get involved, call (904) 739-2101 or email

You can keep up with JDRF by connecting on Twitter @JDRFNorthFlorida and on Facebook.

*This information has been provided by the organization itself, and is not an endorsement or constitute legal advice by the Dorsey Law Firm.

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