How to Calculate Child Support
A family law attorney can help you figure out if you should be paying or receiving child support. Once you become a parent, you are financially responsible for your child’s basic necessities. This applies to both biological and adopted children. When both parents are living under one roof with their child, Florida law presumes that both parents are contributing monetarily to the child’s needs. This situation changes when both parents begin to live separately, whether through a divorce or a boyfriend/girlfriend breakup.
Florida’s child support law uses a mathematical formula to calculate the amount needed to maintain the child. The parents cannot simply agree upon an amount and pay it; they must follow Florida law. Even though child support belongs to the child, the parent that is paying sends it to the other parent, or the state’s child support disbursement unit, on behalf of the child, and not to the child directly. The child support guidelines, which is laid out in Florida Statutes section 61.30 (6) tells lawyers, parties, and pro se litigants the amount that is due to the child, based on the combined monthly net income of both parents.
Besides income, there are other factors that the courts rely on in its calculation. These are:
- Timesharing (the amount of overnights the child spends with each parent);
- Child care costs;
- Premiums for the child’s health insurance; and
- Non-covered medical, dental and prescription medication costs;
The court then puts all of these numbers into the child support guidelines worksheet to figure out if any of the parents have to pay child support to the other. Sometimes there is financial liability from one parent to the other. Other times, the number is zero.
Modification and Termination
If you already have a child support court order and there has been changes in your or the other parent’s income, the cost of child care, or health insurance, you may be able to get the amount modified by the court. Modification can go upwards or downwards. Attorney, Cheryl Fletcher has assisted many parents who need to lower their financial obligation or increase the amount for child maintenance. She has also represented parents who are entitled to more child support because the other parent is making significantly more that they were at the time the court entered the original order.
Most financial obligations for a child end automatically on their 18th birthday; however, if the child is still in high school and is on track to graduate, the obligation may continue until the child is 19. In some circumstances, if the child has severe medical issues, financial responsibility can continue past 19 years old.
How a Family Law Attorney Can Help You?
Attorney Fletcher has been representing moms and dads with child maintenance issues since 2015. She strongly believes that parents should support their children but should pay only what is due. If you have a child support case, whether a new case or modification to an existing case, we are available to hear your situation and assist you with it. You may reach us at 561-507-5772.
Child Support FAQs
As soon as both parents are not living under the same roof with the child, child support starts accruing. However, when you and the other parent are getting along, sharing custody, taking care of the child’s basic needs, and jointly making decisions about the child, there is no urgency to go to court to get a formal calculation. It is your right but many parents do not start exercising this right until there is a breakdown in the relationship between themselves and the other parent.
Child support does not have to be taken out of your paycheck. You can pay the other parent directly and both parents would have to keep an accounting of the payments.
If your ex stops paying, you can turn the case over to the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Program and the government can help you collect any arrears and future payments. The state will pay you only from what it has collected.
Child support payments are to be used to provide for the child. Food, shelter, clothing, school supplies and entertainment are some of the things that a child would need in order to survive. You do not have to keep a ledger on how the money is being spent.
No. Fathers do not always have to pay child maintenance after a divorce. In fact, mothers sometimes have to make payments to fathers.
Usually, a loss or gain in income is the reason to modify child support. The amount can go upward or downward. As long as the change would be at least $50 or 15%, per month, whichever is greater, child support can be modified. Other factors that can change the amount of child support are child care expenses, the cost of health insurance, the number of overnights the child is actually spending with each parent and disability of either parent.
Yes you can. If the court ordered you to pay and you have fallen behind, you are violating the court order. This is contempt of court and if a judge finds that your disobedience is willful, you can be taken into custody. If you truly are without the means to pay, for example, you lost your job and you do not have any assets, then it is highly unlikely that you are deliberately flouting the court order. There is a “purge” amount towards the arrears that you can pay to keep yourself out of jail.
Yes. You may be able to obtain a modification if there are significant change in circumstances. A support determination could be adjusted based on an increase or decrease in income, such as losing a job, getting a new job with different page or retirement.