Child Support

Child support is a fundamental right of the children in a dissolving marriage or a paternity action under Florida law. It is the financial responsibility of both parents to continue to support the child. As with property division and child custody, there is a lot of potential for dispute when it comes to child support in Florida. A competent Florida divorce attorney like Stephen H. Butter can help you navigate this area of a divorce or paternity proceeding.

Child support orders contain provisions for the child’s needs, such as education, day care, special needs, and health insurance. Relevant factors considered by the judge include the age of the child, his station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and payment ability of each parent. Florida courts use the child support guidelines chart to calculate child support payments. This means that both incomes are used in the calculation according to the Florida Child Support Statute §61.30 in addition to the special needs of the child.

Do custody arrangements affect child support duties?

When one parent assumes full legal and physical custody of the child, the other parent is required to fulfill his child support requirement by paying the custodial parent. The custodial parent is already fulfilling his or her obligation by taking full custody of the child. Joint custody considers both parents’ incomes and the amount of time each spends with the child to determine the proper financial obligation for each parent.

How does the court calculate my child support responsibility?

As mentioned above, the Florida child support statute considers the incomes of both parents to calculate the amount of child support. The statute looks at all sources of income for each parent and deducts mandatory expenses like income tax, social security, and health care. The court is allowed to deviate within 5% of the guidelines for any reason, and even more than 5% for legally sufficient reasons.

What if I change jobs and earn less?

The state of Florida takes child support matters very seriously and Florida courts do not take kindly to those who seek ways to mitigate or eliminate their obligation to their children. Child support payments are required. The court may impute income for the parent based on prior earnings. Whether you leave your current job for a lesser paying one or to go back to school, you will still be responsible for the original child support payment unless it is modified by the court. The child’s current needs take priority over your career plans.

Do I stop paying child support when the child turns 18?

Age isn’t the only factor that determines when you stop paying child support. If you pay for multiple children, you are required to file a request to terminate the child support every time each one turns 18. Sometimes, if your child is 18 or older but still in high school, you may have to continue paying child support until he or she graduates. Children with disabilities may need child support past the time they become of legal age.

When you have pertinent questions about child support laws in Florida, attorney Stephen H. Butter is your top source for answers. With over 50 years’ experience practicing family law in Miami, he can help you understand all the guidelines and come up with an estimate of how much you can expect to pay. Call him at (305) 333-7159 for a free consultation today.