– Child Support –
A Family Lawyer at Eric Boles Law Firm helps you to obtain accurate to establishing child support in Florida considering all relevant factors
In legal separation and dissolution proceedings, as well as in post-judgment matters, disputes often arise over the amount of child support payable by one parent to the other. Florida has adopted statutory guidelines for determining child support and a full understanding of them is necessary to ensure that the amount of child support reflects the true income and expenses of the parents.
At the Eric Boles Law Firm in Tampa, Florida we meticulously work on behalf of you to obtain accurate information to ensure that the amount of child support is an accurate reflection of the incomes of the parties to protect the best interests of the children for whom the support is ordered. We will counsel you as to the factors that affect the amount of child support payable, and gather all the financial information necessary to ensure that a child support order is entered which properly applies the child support guidelines within the particular circumstances of your case.
Establishing Child Support in Florida
Child support is a major issue when filing for divorce with dependent minor children. Determining child support can be overwhelming but thankfully, there isn’t as much room for the back and forth argument that you often find in other Family Law issues, because the awards for child support are largely controlled by your net income and Federal guidelines.
Florida Statute 61.13 establishes that both parents have a duty to support their children regardless of whether they are married or living with their children. This means that courts can award child support when parents are unmarried, married and seeking divorce, or married and not seeking divorce.
Determining the Amount of Support
Child support in Florida, in most cases, is determined using a formula contained in the state laws. The formula takes many factors into consideration to determine which parent pays child support and how much they pay. The primary considerations are:
- The number of children common to both parents
- The number of overnight stays the children have with each parent
- The financial needs of the children, including child care costs, medical expenses, and health insurance costs
- The net income of each parent
When One Parent Has Primary Physical Custody
For instances where one parent has primary physical custody and the other parent has visitation consisting of less than 20% of overnights (less than 73 overnights per year) Florida follows the income shares model in determining the support award.
The Florida Courts have provided a child support guidelines worksheet to help aid in the process. This worksheet should be filled out with your attorney as part of the discovery phase when filing for divorce.
Adjusting the Total Minimum Child Support Award
The Florida child support guidelines are the part of the child support laws which establishes the amount of child support to be paid. Your child support law firm may consider asking the court to deviate more than 5% from child support calculator results if there is a good faith basis to do so.
Child support modification is warranted if there has been a permanent change in circumstances and the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines shall be at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater, before the court may find that the guidelines provide a substantial change in circumstances.
Calculation of the child support guidelines amount is primarily by the following:
- Combined net monthly income of the parents
- Income includes pretty much all sources of income
- The court may “impute” income under certain circumstances
- Daycare expenses
- Health insurance expenses
- Non-covered medical expenses
The court may adjust the total minimum child maintenance award, or either or both parents’ share of the total minimum child support award, based upon the following child support guidelines deviation factors:
- Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.
- Independent income of the child, not to include moneys received by a child from supplemental security income.
- The payment of support for a parent which has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
- Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses.
- The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
- Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the presumptive amount established by the guidelines.
- Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child.
- The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption. The court may order a parent to execute a waiver of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption if the paying parent is current in support payments.
- An application of the child support guidelines schedule that requires a person to pay another person more than 55 percent of his or her gross income for a child support obligation for current support resulting from a single support order.
- The particular parenting plan, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 20 percent of the overnights, with one parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent; or the refusal of a parent to become involved in the activities of the child – GROSS UP METHOD.
The Time Frame for Support
Typically, courts award temporary and permanent support. Temporary support is awarded while the divorce is still pending, and provides child support before a court enters a permanent order for support.
Permanent support is awarded after the divorce is final. Generally speaking, Florida law requires parents to support their children until they are 18 years old or until graduation from high school if the child is expected to graduate before turning 19. Support could end before the age of 18 if the child becomes self-supporting, gets married, or joins the military. In some instances, like when a child has special needs that prevents him from supporting himself, the court may require child support beyond the age of 18.
Enforcement of Child Support
When one parent fails to make required child support payments, there are several options available for enforcement of a child support award. A court may hold the parent in contempt, suspend the parent’s driver’s license, or place a lien on the parent’s property. The court may also empower the Florida Department of Revenue to take action by seizing the parent’s bank account.
Additionally, when timely child support payments are not made, the court may make a judgment that allows interest to accrue on overdue payments. Child support payments are also enforceable at any time, even after a child reaches 18, because there is no statute of limitations on enforcement.
If you have not received child support payments that your children are entitled to, or believe that you may have difficulty making a child support payment, you should talk to a lawyer to determine what options are available to you.
If a noncustodial parent is working, the law requires that the employer deduct support payments from the parent’s paycheck. The income deduction order follows the noncustodial parent to each job in any state. It is the noncustodial parent’s responsibility to inform the Child Support Enforcement Program and the court each time he or she changes jobs.
Modification of Child Support
Child support is modifiable. The rules governing child support modification are found in Florida Statute 61.14. A modification may be sought by either spouse.
In order to obtain a modification of permanent child support, the parent seeking a modification must show a substantial change of circumstances in either a party’s ability to pay, the child’s needs, or a change in the time-sharing schedule that raises it above or below the threshold for substantial shared parenting.
Generally, a modification can only be effective as of the date of filing of the action for modification. Therefore, any arrears that accrued due to non-payment of child support after the loss of a job but before the modification action was filed will remain due and owing. However, there is one exception to the general rule that child support cannot be modified retroactively. If child support was established based upon both parents exercising substantial time-sharing with the minor child or children and one parent stops exercising that time sharing, child support may be modified retroactively to the date when that parent stopped exercising his or her time-sharing.
Contact a Florida Family Lawyer experienced in Child Support
If you do need any help in establishing child support, a Family Lawyer at Eric Boles Law Firm in Tampa, Florida is more than happy to guide you through the process. If you are seeking an increase in child support payments, or you need to decrease your child support obligation because of a job loss, disability, or other substantial change in circumstances, we can protect your rights. For a free consultation with an experienced Family Lawyer contact the Eric Boles Law Firm by completing the contact form (click here) or call (813) 933-7700. Our Family Law Attorneys have extensive experience in cases involving child support and child support modification.