Child Support Lawyers
Child Support in Florida
How Is Child Support Calculated?
In Florida, the amount of child support paid from one parent to the other is calculated by using “child support guidelines” that have been determined by the legislature and set forth in the Florida statutes. Child support calculations are vital to making sure the child is properly supported. These guidelines determine a minimum amount of support paid using a calculation involving the amount of overnights the child has with each parent and the relative incomes of each parent. While it sounds simple, child support is frequently calculated incorrectly, even by family law attorneys. Our attorneys take the time to work with the client to make sure our calculations are correct and that our clients are paying or receiving the correct amount.
One of the biggest issues to setting appropriate child support is determining the actual income of each party. Income is very broadly defined to include nearly all monies received by a party. Under Florida child support laws, the definition of “income” includes:
- salary or wages
- business income
- disability and social security benefits
- other monies
Child support calculation may be simple or it can be extremely complex. For example, a small business owner may not have filed taxes for many years or may deduct expenses for business purposes that are not deductible for purposes of determining income. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney to help you decipher the proper income of each party before calculating support.
Not only can the court consider all of the aforementioned as income, the court can impute income to a party. This means that the court can calculate child support guidelines by using income figures for a party based on what they could earn in lieu of what they actually earn. An example of this is when a party voluntarily quits a job for a lower paying job or is fired from a job for misconduct. Generally, a court will calculate the child support using the income for what that person could or recently was making. There are several exceptions to this rule and the imputation can be very complicated, so it is important that you use an experienced attorney to argue for or against imputation of income.
Child Support Deviations
When necessary, our attorneys may take further action by seeking a deviation from the regular child support amounts. The court is authorized to deviate upwards or downwards from child support guidelines by 5 percent without any written reason. Specifically, Section 61.30, Florida Statutes states:
“The trier of fact may order payment of child support which varies, plus or minus 5 percent, from the guideline amount, after considering all relevant factors, including the needs of the child or children, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent."
This means that the court can easily find that an amount that is within 5 percent of the guideline amount is the appropriate amount to be paid in a case.
Deviations of more than 5 percent from child support guidelines require the court to make more specific findings and in general, are much less common than deviations that are within 5 percent of the child support guideline. Specifically, the law states that “[t]he trier of fact may order payment of child support in an amount which varies more than 5 percent from such guideline amount only upon a written finding explaining why ordering payment of such guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate.” 61.30(1)(a), Florida Statutes.
Deviations to guidelines for child support amounts are relatively rare in practice. When they are sought, Florida law provides the court with criteria to determine whether child support should be increased or decreased. For example, a deviation may occur based on extraordinary medical expenses or the special needs of a child. Sometimes the court may consider factors specific to the parents such as seasonal variation in one or both parties’ incomes or the total available assets of the parents.
Other than the factors specifically identified in Florida law permitting a deviation, the final factor allows for “any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result.” This is what is commonly referred to as a “catch all” meaning that if the court wished to do so, it could look at any fact necessary to award a fair amount of child support.
Contact Experienced Family Law & Divorce Lawyers
When seeking to establish support, it is vital that you consult with attorneys who have the experience and knowledge to set the correct amount of support for your child or to persuasively argue your case to the judge. If appropriate, our family lawyers can aggressively pursue a deviation in support to fit your unique circumstances. Contact one of our attorneys at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates to discuss your child support case today.
Florida Child Support FAQs
The proper development and wellbeing of children are always a priority during divorce cases. Child support is a financial and legal mechanism that allows a child’s needs to be afforded, despite separation or divorce. If you are interested in finding out more information about Florida Child Support, child support lawyers at Silverman, Mack & Associates can provide you with beneficial information.
How is child support defined?
Child support is a type of payment that is ordered by a judge in order to ensure that a child's needs are met after divorce. Only one parent is required to pay child support. This parent is usually the noncustodial parent.
If I do not need additional funds to raise my child, can I deny child support?
A judge will carefully weigh several economic and noneconomic factors of your family to determine if child support is necessary. So, if a judge decides that child support is suitable, then you will receive child support. Because child support is a court order provision, you may not refuse, reject or deny child support.
You may, however, wish to speak to divorce lawyers in Gainesville, FL about your concerns during divorce so that you may obtain assistance early on. There are collaborative approaches to divorce and divorce issues that you may seek with your spouse that will allow you to compromise and reach an agreement collectively.
Will the court require me to pay child support?
It is possible. Visit our family law firm in Gainesville, FL for a case evaluation. While we cannot predict with accuracy if you will be charged with child support, we can consider the factors of your case to determine if child support is likely.
Once you are assigned to pay child support as a parent, you are legally obligated to keep up with payments. Failure to pay child support in a timely manner may result in additional fees, license suspension, and in some cases, jail time.
How much are child support payments?
We cannot predict how much your child support payments will be. However, it may be beneficial to speak with our Gainesville divorce attorneys for a case evaluation. While we may not be able to predict the exact amount that you may be required to pay, we can use the factors of your case to estimate a payment range so that you may know what to expect.
Who makes the decision of whether child support is necessary?
During divorce, the judge in authority will determine if child support is necessary.
If you opt for an alternative route to divorce, you can work with your spouse to determine a plan for caring for the needs of your children. Then, you can have the plan reviewed and approved by a judge or other third-party figure in authority.
What do courts consider when calculating child support?
When calculating child support, the needs of the children involved are most significant. Courts may look beyond the traditional needs (clothing, food) and adjust payments to support a child's extracurricular activities, traveling fees, and even college costs in some instances. Furthermore, courts will consider the parent’s actual ability to pay and financial status.
Is it possible to modify child support?
Yes. It is possible to gain a child support modification, but you will need reasons for doing so and proof to support your reasoning. Most courts approve changes in child support if there is a significant change in a parent’s financial status. In other cases, child support may be increased if a child's needs become more expensive.
For more information on Florida child support, visit Silverman, Mack & Associates for advice and legal insight.