Florida Family Law and Child Support
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When it comes to Florida child support – every parent is responsible for paying child support according to a detailed formula. These child support guidelines hold married and unmarried (or divorced) parents responsible for contributing to the financial support and well being of their child.
How Much Child Support Do I Have to Pay in Florida?
Child support payments are calculated using a specific formula. The gross income of each parent is added together, and certain deductions, such as union dues and taxes, are taken out. This amount is then divided between the number of children the parents have together to establish an amount payable for child support.
Other adjustments can then be added for items such as daycare and routine medical care. This new amount is then divided according to the monthly amount the paying parent makes.
Can Florida Child Support Guidelines Be Changed?
Once the amount is calculated, it is difficult to avoid being required to pay it. The court can only adjust the guidelines amount by 5%, plus or minus, however, child support payments can not exceed 55% of one’s monthly income. Child support payments can be modified when there is a “substantial change in circumstances” – such as if a parent’s income has increased or decreased by 15% or more.
Also, child support payments in Florida (rarely) may not be applied or may be changed if the child has sufficient income as the beneficiary of a trust. In these cases, the courts must justify these instances in writing – otherwise, the regular child support guidelines apply in determining how much to pay in child support.
What if I Spend More Time with My Child?
If a parent spends more than 40% of the overnights with a child (not 38 or 39%), the amount of child support will be reduced but some will still be owed. If you agree to spend a certain amount of time with the child but do not – your child support obligation may be increased by the court.
How Long Are Child Support Payments Due in Florida?
Child support payment obligations continue until the child is emancipated. This can happen when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school (assuming they make normal progress in school) – whichever is later. It can also occur if the child dies or marries. Unless agreed to by the parent, Florida courts cannot require child support payments to be made past this time, nor can they require the parent to pay for a child’s college education.
Collecting on Back Child Support Payments Due
The right to child support belongs to the child – not the parent. Even if an agreement is drafted where the parent tries to waive child support it will be deemed unenforceable by the courts. A parent cannot waive child support payments.
Even if a parent fails or neglects to collect child support over several months or years, they have the right to go to court and seek an award of back child support payments (unless there are some unusual circumstances). The amount of back child support payments are called “arrearages” and the judgment will be placed against the parent who owes the back child support. The parent who pays the arrearages will be given the chance to pay over a period of time.
Collecting on Delinquent or Missed Child Support Payments
Parents who miss child support payments may be held in contempt of court and will be ordered to pay. If extreme circumstances cause a parent to have no income whatsoever through no fault of their own, the court may provide an abatement – or a stop – to child support payments. However, this is extremely rare.
Child Support and Paternity Issues
If you have a child outside of marriage and the father’s name is not on the birth certificate, paternity must be established through a court proceeding before child support obligations will be initiated. If the father’s name is on the birth certificate, that person is presumed to be the child’s father for child support payment purposes.
Seeking the Help of a Qualified Child Support Attorney in Florida
Each parent is responsible for supporting their child financially. However, there are a wide varieties of formulas, modification options and other challenges which should be carefully navigated along with supportive legal counsel. One of the child’s parents may be facing extreme circumstances and need an abatement or a modification of child support, or they may wish to limit their liability in paying child support due to unforeseen issues beyond their control. While you may love and want to support your child as much as possible, there is certainly no harm done in seeking competent legal advice with regards to child support in Florida.
To learn more or discuss family law, divorce law or child support issues with a knowledgeable attorney in Sarasota, call the law offices of Kirk Pinkerton today at 1-941-364-2400.