Many people are under the misconception that child support must be paid throughout college or until a child turns 21. While this is true in other states, in Florida, child support terminates when a child turns 18. However, if the child is still in high school with a reasonable expectation of graduating on time, then child support will continue until the child turns 19. There is no law in Florida obligating either parent to pay for the child’s college education, although the parties to a Florida divorce or custody case can always agree to do this.
A few exceptions apply. If the child becomes incapacitated or disabled and remains as a dependent, child support will more than likely continue. On the other hand, if a child becomes emancipated or joins the armed forces, child support will cease at that time.
When there is more than one child involved, child support must be recalculated when the child support ceases as to one of the children.
There are several factors that can be considered in determining child support. The basic factors that must be considered are how many children there are belonging to the parties in the case, the time-sharing arrangements as to each child, whether child care costs or medical insurance is being provided (in which case the party paying for child care or health insurance would get a credit) and the income of the parties. These factors represent what is included in Florida’s Child Support Guidelines.
An upward or downward departure from the Child Support Guidelines (meaning a request to pay less in child support than the Guidelines specify and a request for the other party to pay more child support than the Guidelines specify) may be requested and awarded by Florida law in special circumstances, such as when a child has a disability or when a parent has a pre-existing child. To determine if your case would qualify for an upward or downward departure from the Child Support Guidelines, you should contact an experienced Tampa child support attorney.