Firefighters and Family Law in Florida

March 9, 2021

Family law in Florida is essentially very similar no matter what industry or profession the parents or parties are in. However, firefighters have a unique set of issues that need to be addressed when dealing with a paternity or divorce case or child support.

We're going to talk about some of those today in this week’s blog post.

To get a quick summary, watch our video Firefighters And Family Law In Florida!

One of the subjects I want to talk about, which I believe is the most important subject, is timesharing. Firefighters have a particular work schedule they operate under, called the "Kelly Schedule,” where they operate under 24-hour work cycles with a cycle off and a cycle on or some variant of that.

Typically, firefighters do not work the nine to five schedule many other industries may have. This poses a complicated set of circumstances when creating a time sharing schedule with their child and the other parent. Both parents will have to work together to create a specific schedule that allows timesharing with their kids while also fulfilling work obligations. If this is a matter that goes before the court, it is important to show proper evidence of the type of schedule the firefighter has and their availability.

Another unique issue that happens within firefighter families is dealing with retirement and pension benefits. Firefighters and other agencies, such as police officers, military professionals, or government employees, have a unique set of retirement and pension benefits, which can vary depending on their agency, whether it's local, city, or state.

For firefighters, the equitable distribution of their pension and retirement benefits is subject to change based on their marriage length. That being said, dealing with the evaluation of how those benefits will be distributed can be complicated.

Another subject that factors in the distribution of retirement benefits is the “Survivorship Benefit Plan,” where the surviving spouse may be entitled to the service member’s pension after the service member passes away. This information can also be challenging to obtain as these organizations are sometimes serviced through third parties.

Another subject that plays into the difficulty of family law for firefighters is their overtime. Firefighters tend to accumulate a lot of overtime at work. Whether voluntary or not, this can be calculated as part of their child support obligation if it counts as extra income.

Firefighters have their own unique set of issues, and they need to be dealt with carefully. If you or someone you know is a firefighter, and they're experiencing family law issues, feel free to contact our office!