If you do not know the legislation concerning child support in Florida, then child support judgments handed down by judges can be puzzling. Sometimes, a father of four kids might wind up paying less than a dad of two, which may result in parents feeling frustrated and wronged after the court orders child support at an amount they did not anticipate.
The best protection against being caught off guard is to operate with a trusted child support lawyer in Florida who knows the applicable statutes as well as the processes involved in determining child support. For parents that wish to educate themselves regarding this procedure, we have compiled some basic advice which should help you understand the standards which Florida family law enforcement utilizes to establish child support.
The Florida Legislation that Determine Child Support
Child support in Florida is mainly based on two variables: the parents’ income and the amount of children involved in the case. There are additional factors that the court might consider when making a determination for child support, such as health insurance costs in addition to non-covered medical expenses such as copays and prescriptions.
This model tries to make sure that parents, as soon as they split, continue to devote the identical proportion of income to their kids they would have spent if they’d remained together. To achieve this, the court figures what both parents could spend on the child (or children) in the event the family were intact and living together under a single roof. They then divide this sum between the parents according to their earnings to ascertain each parent’s obligation.
Florida family law courts follow Florida Statutes when figuring out child support obligations. The judge does have discretion to change the amount due about 5% above or below the guidelines, and they’re able to alter the amount even farther should they submit a written finding that explains the difference and why it is suitable for the situation at hand.
The practice of establishing child support in Florida is made up of three big steps: examining both parents’ income, consulting with the Florida child support guidelines to compute a base sum forf child support, and factoring in different expenses to compute the final figure.
Income with Fiscal Affidavits
During the divorce procedure, both parties must complete and file financial affidavits that detail their earnings and expenses. Parties using a gross income of $50,000 or less may complete a shorter, simplified variant, while spouses that have $50,000 or more in gross income should complete the extended version. After establishing gross earnings, they can deduct certain costs and expenses to determine yearly net income.
- Federal, state, and local taxation
- Federal insurance contributions or self-employment taxation
- Medical Insurance obligations (excluding what is spent on any policy for the kids )
- Mandatory union dues and retirement obligations
- Court-ordered child support for other children
- Spousal support, either by a previous divorce or as dictated by the court for the present divorce proceedings
When the court has each party’s earnings, it adds the two incomes together and consults the nation’s child support guidelines to ascertain the total amount of child support based on that income and number of kids. The court then assigns a portion of the general child support responsibility to each parent according to their earnings.
As stated previously, income isn’t the only element which determines child support; a few other expenses, such as education, health care premiums, and child care costs, can play a part in child support calculations. After setting the parties’ net incomes, the general support amount, along with the proportions of the general amount that both parents are liable for, the court will take any other qualified expense and increase the general support accordingly. Every parent will continue to be accountable for their portion of the general sum, as determined in the last step.
In some instances, parents might work out a mutually beneficial agreement about support expenses. As an example, if a parent’s occupation provides a quality healthcare policy while another’s employer has onsite day care, the parents might agree that one parent will be accountable for healthcare and another will bear the responsibility of day care, instead of splitting both expenses. The parents should notify the court about this agreement and get approval prior to moving ahead with it.
To dissuade parents from intentionally becoming underemployed (for instance, by reducing their hours or quitting their job), Florida law permits the court to presume (or “impute”) a particular income for the portion of an unemployed or underemployed parent. Basically, the court will treat that individual like they have a fulltime income for child care purposes, even when they are working less than fulltime or not functioning in any way.
The court may only do this when the parent’s unemployment or underemployment is voluntary rather than due to conditions outside their control.
Is It Feasible to Change Child Support in Florida?
Florida law allows modification of child support, but the court will only consider a change if one of the parents demonstrates a “considerable and continuing change in circumstance.” Examples of these modifications may include a spouse losing her or his job, changing careers with a substantial gap between jobs, or getting a significant promotion in their career. Changes in parenting patterns – for instance, a parent not honoring time commitments with the kids may also be grounds for alteration.
It is important for you to understand; however, the court will not automatically change a child support decision simply because you have undergone a substantial change in lifestyle. Filing a request for modification may be a costly process which requires a substantial amount of paperwork and time. It’s always best to work with a knowledgeable family law attorney if you are planning to modify child support.
Steven Winig is a highly qualified Family Law Attorney in West Palm Beach, FL. with nearly 40 years of experience.