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Child Support FAQ

Posted on : July 3, 2010

 

  • How is child support calculated? Child support is calculated based on a formula established by the Florida Legislature in Florida Statute Section 61.30 (called child support guidelines).  The first factor that must be established is how many overnight visits each parent has with the child(ren) and how many children you have with the other parent.  Both parents’ net incomes are taken into account and the statute establishes a dollar amount that is needed to raise the number of children you have based on how much money both parents make (this dollar amount is called the “need”).  Each parent pays a percentage of that dollar amount based on how much money he/she makes compared to the other parent.  To determine this percentage, each parent’s net income is divided by both parents’ combined net income.  Health insurance and child care for the child(ren) are also taken into account in calculating child support.  To view a child support calculator which would provide an estimate as to how much child support you’d have to pay, please visit http://www.alllaw.com/calculators/Childsupport/Florida/.  The judge has the authority to increase or decrease child support in the amount of 5% based on several factors.  However, if the judge increases or decreases the child support amount by greater than 5% , which is only done in extreme cases, the judge must make a written explanation as to why the increase or decrease from the child support guidelines is appropriate.

 

  • How does the custody arrangement affect child support? Child support is based on how many overnight visits each parents has with the child(ren).  If a parent has 40% of overnight visits with the child(ren), then that parent’s child support obligation is lowered.  This is called Substantial Shared Parenting.  The theory behind this is that both parents are almost equally contributing to the support of the child(ren) by purchasing food, buying clothes and other items for the child(ren), etc.  Please note that this law is about to change.  For more information on the upcoming change, please consult an experienced family law attorney that stays up-to-date on changes made to the law.

 

  • Does the parent receiving child support have to provide an accounting as to how the child support is being spent? No.  Child support includes things such as food and clothes for the child(ren) and assistance with other expenses the parent has in raising child(ren), such as providing a clean and stable home, toys, books and other such items.  Even using the child support towards rent/mortgage payments is acceptable because the custodial parent has the obligation of providing a home for the child(ren).

 

  • How long do I have to pay child support? Child support is required to be paid until the minor child reaches the age of 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs last, but no later than the age of 19.  There are, however, extenuating circumstances in which a judge may order parents to pay child support longer.  The most frequent example of this is if a child becomes disabled.  Parents are not obligated to pay college expenses for children, unless the parties agree to do so.  Child support may also terminate earlier than the age of 18 if the child becomes emancipated, joins the military or gets married.

 

  • Do I have to contribute to my child’s college expenses? No.  In the state of Florida, parents will not be ordered to contribute to their child(ren)’s college expenses, however the parents can agree to do so.  If both parents agree to contribute to their child(ren)’s college expenses and the agreement is reduced to writing as part of a settlement agreement, then it can be enforced.

 

  • How is health insurance and child care factored into child support calculations? A parent providing health insurance or for the child(ren) receives a credit for the monthly premium payments.  If the parent obligated to pay the child support is providing the insurance, then their child support obligation will be reduced.  If the parent receiving the child support pays the child(ren)’s health insurance, he/she will be entitled to receive more child support.  If both parents provide health insurance for the child(ren), then both parents may receive a credit.  Likewise, the parent paying the child(ren)’s child care expenses will receive a credit for such payments, however this credit is calculated a bit differently than the health insurance credit.

 

  • I’ve remarried or I’m living with another person.  Does his/her income affect the amount I have to pay in child support? No.  Only the child(ren)’s parent’s income is used in calculating child support.  The income of the parent’s new spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend is not considered in calculating child support

 

  • My child’s other parent isn’t working.  How can I get child support from him/her? If a parent isn’t working, unless that parent is disabled, usually the court will impute minimum wage to that parent, meaning that the court will assume that parent is making at least minimum wage and then calculate the child support guidelines using that number as that parent’s income.

 

  • Can child support be waived if both parents agree to do so? No.  Child support is considered to be income for the purpose of the child and the custodial parent of the child does not have the right to waive child support.  Child support guidelines must be calculated in every case, even if the parents have equal timesharing with the child(ren), and child support must be paid accordingly.

 

  • How is child support calculated if one child is living with me and another child is living with the other parent? This is a complicated question for which you should contact an experienced family law attorney that handles child support issues.

 

  • What if I lose my job or my income increases or decreases and I can’t pay the child support ordered by the judge? In the event of involuntary unemployment or involuntary decrease in pay, that parent may go back to court to have the child support modified.  The parent with the decreased income must be prepared to explain to the judge everything he/she has done to attempt to find comparable employment making the original salary.

 

  • When and how can child support be modified? Child support can be modified (either increased or decreased) upon the showing of a “substantial change in circumstances”.  However, the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the child support guidelines must be at least 15% or $50, whichever amount is greater, before the court may find that the child support guidelines provide a substantial change in circumstances.

 

  • I was served with an Administrative Order or a Complaint for child support by the Florida Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement.  What do I do? Whenever you are served with a Summons and a Complaint or Administrative Order, a response has to be timely filed in order to participate in the case, which you obviously want to do.  You need to contact a child support attorney in the event this occurs.

 

  • What’s the maximum amount of child support I could be required to pay? The court may adjust the child support amount or a parent’s share of the child support amount when application of the child support guidelines requires a parent to pay the other parent more than 55% of his/her gross income for child support.

 

  • Can child support be ordered retroactively? In an initial case (such as a paternity case or a divorce case), the Court can order retroactive child support up to 24 months preceding the filing of the petition.  Retroactive child support is a complicated issue in which the court may consider several mitigation factors so it is best to contact an experienced attorney regarding retroactive child support issues.

In a modification case, child support can be adjusted retroactively to the date the petition for modification is filed.

  • I’m not receiving child support as ordered by the judge.  What are my remedies? The proper remedy would be to file a Motion for Contempt.  This is an in depth procedure for which you would want to contact an experienced family law attorney.  To be found in contempt, a person must be willfully violating a court order.  The parent that has been ordered to pay child support but fails to do so can be ordered to pay back child support (called an arrearage) with interest, reimbursement for the other parent’s attorney’s fees for bringing a contempt motion, a lump sum amount (called a purge amount), or any other sanctions the judge feels is appropriate.

 

  • Can child support be deducted from the parent’s paycheck? Yes.  Upon an order of the judge or the agreement of the parties, child support can be deducted from the paycheck of the person required to pay child support.  This is done through an Income Deduction Order which must be signed by the judge.

 

  • How often is child support paid? Child support can be paid as frequently or infrequently as the parents agree.  However, if the parents cannot agree, usually the judge will order child support to be paid once per month on in accordance with the pay cycle of the parent responsible for paying child support.  For example, if the parent ordered to pay child support gets paid every two weeks (which is called bi-weekly), then child support will be paid bi-weekly.  The judge has great latitude in determining how child support will be paid.

 

  • I get income that is non-taxable.  Is this considered income for calculating child support? Usually, yes.  Income for calculating child support includes salary, bonuses, business income, dividends, disability benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment compensation, pension and retirement benefits, social security benefits, alimony, rental income, reimbursed expenses or “in kind” payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses (such as car allowances, food stamps, or BAH received by parents that are in the military), gains derived from dealings in property and other income received on a monthly basis.

 

Child Support Attorney Tampa

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