Florida Child Support Attorney
A Florida child support attorney must know the ins and outs of all child support laws in Florida to be able to properly help you. Steven D. Miller, P.A. has helped thousands of people with these laws over the years and thoroughly understands them. Child support is the amount of money the Florida legislature says it takes to raise a child based upon the combined incomes of BOTH parents and certain child related expenses. Each parent is responsible for a percentage of the amount based upon each parent’s percentage of the combined income. So, if wife makes $4,000 per month and husband makes $6,000 the combined income is $10,000 and husband would be responsible for 60% of the required child support. Keep in mind; this is a quick example and by no means an accurate calculation of child support.
Child support is not a negotiation. In other words, parents cannot agree on a child support amount and think that it will be approved. Child support is a right that belongs to the child, as all children need the support of both parents. A common complaint from the parent paying child support is that the receiving parent does not use the money for the actual support of the child; instead, the parent is going out to dinner, movies or Disney World. Can you compel that parent to give you an accounting as to how the money is spent? Generally no. The court is not going to micromanage how the child support payment is spent. It is presumed that the money, in some way, is being used to support the child – they need to eat, be entertained and continue being kids. On the other hand, if the money is being spent to support a drug habit or lavish trips when the kids are living in squalor like conditions, by all means let the court know about it. Short of that type of situation, the receiving parent can essentially do as they see fit with the money.
Calculating Child Support for a Florida Divorce
Child support calculations are uniform throughout Florida. To correctly calculate Florida child support you need to know the following information.
- The number of children being considered for child support.
- The net monthly income for each parent.
- Childcare costs paid by each parent (usually just your daycare amount, after school care and babysitting, if necessary on account of employment, job search or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income or current income.
- Health Insurance payments made by each parent.
- Dental/Vision insurance payments made by each parent.
- Other support obligation, if any, of each parent. This must be a support obligation imposed by court order that is actually being paid.
Child support is determined by a formula according to the Florida Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines will take the net monthly income (after taxes) of each party, as well as the number of children, their age, the cost of childcare, and the cost of health insurance into consideration. Child support is non-taxable to the recipient spouse and is not tax deductible for the paying spouse. Child support is modifiable based upon a material change in circumstances.
Every petition for child support or for modification of child support shall be accompanied by a Florida family law financial affidavit which shows the party’s income, allowable deductions, and must be served at the same time that the complaint is served. The other party must also file an affidavit that shows the party’s income and allowable deductions.
Child support enforcement is essential to the well being of our children. When there are children involved, that is the court’s primary concern. Remember, it does not matter whether your divorce is going to be uncontested or one of those “let’s fight” contested divorce cases; either way, child support is going to be calculated in accordance with the guidelines. Under certain circumstances, you can ask the court to deviate from the guidelines if there is a compelling reason. Child support lawyers must help to protect our most precious asset – children.
How Long is Child Support Paid?
Usually until emancipation which is when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates high school (whichever is later). If the child is 18 and is in high school, child support continues until the child graduates from high school as long as there is a reasonable expectation that graduation will occur before their 19th birthday.
Can the Court Deviate from the Child Support Guidelines?
Yes, but it is not likely. The guidelines are presumed to be correct and applicable to all parties. However, sometimes there are circumstances that may warrant a deviation form the guidelines; for example: a child having special needs, extraordinary medical expenses, extraordinary travel or child-related expenses, etc.
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.
“GROSS UP” Method to Compute Child Support
The number of nights each parent has the children is a factor in calculating support. The parenting plan specifically asks the number of nights each parent will have the children. If the “non-majority” of time parent has the children at least 20% of the overnights (73 nights per year) that parent’s obligation will decrease as the number of nights goes up over 73.
Many times, the paying parent only wants a lot of overnights in order to avoid payment of more child support. Sometimes, the other spouse agrees knowing full well that their spouse has no intention of following the plan in order to facilitate a resolution of the entire matter. With the right evidence, that situation can be rectified after the divorce. If you are the receiving spouse in this situation, make sure to keep detailed records on a calendar about when the paying parent takes the child. Generally speaking, 4-6 months to go before seeking a modification under these circumstances.
Can Child Support Orders Ever be Modified in Florida?
Yes, if a material and permanent change in circumstances has occurred; and the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines must 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.
If there has been a substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances you may file a petition for modification of child support, alimony or parenting plan. Financial change is the driving factor in seeking a modification of child support or alimony.
Temporary Child Support or Time sharing Orders in a Florida Divorce
If you need financial support or help with time sharing (i.e., visitation) issues before the divorce is finalized, you can ask the Florida divorce judge to order, on a temporary basis, child support, alimony or custody. Court should always be your last resort though. Why? Because it costs a lot of money, takes a lot of time and a person you don’t know is going to make financial and emotional decisions for you and your family. Sometimes, but not often, there is no alternative. However, with a little hard work, most issues can be resolved without the “helping” hand of a Florida divorce judge.
“When it’s time to leave . . . Call Steve.” It’s a smart, smart thing to do.”