Child Support Lawyer
Judges are bound by the current version of the Florida Child Support Guidelines to calculate a child support obligation and payment. When child support is an issue in a court case, parents are required to file and exchange financial affidavits verifying individual income and expenses, and then complete a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. The basic child support obligation is based on the number of children, the parenting plan and the parents’ combined net incomes—gross income minus allowable deductions.
Gross income includes most types of earned or unearned income. Common examples are wages, commissions, self-employment income, bonuses, alimony, dividend or interest income, rent, worker’s compensation or unemployment insurance benefits, and pension or retirement benefits. Allowable deductions include such things as income tax payments, certain health insurance premiums, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement payments (i.e. teachers or other professions participating in the Florida Retirement System), social security and medicare payments, alimony payments, and court-ordered child support payments for children from other relationships.
The monthly cost of health care for the children, including health insurance premiums and non-covered medical, dental and prescription medication costs, as well as the cost of monthly child care either parent requires to be able to work, will be added to the basic support obligation. Responsibility for these items is divided between the parents based on their respective incomes without adjustment for parenting time, regardless of whether you are using the basic method or the gross up method.
If a parent refuses to participate in a child support hearing or doesn’t produce adequate information regarding income and finances at the hearing, the court will automatically impute income to the parent, unless it finds that the parent needs to stay home with the child (because the child is a young infant or is disabled, for example). If there is no proof of the actual income the parent would be able to earn, the court will apply a rebuttable presumption that the income would be equivalent to the median income of a year-round full-time worker according to reports of the United States Census Bureau.
Modification and Termination
Once a court has made an initial child support order, a parent who wants to modify (change) the order must show a substantial and ongoing change in circumstances. Some examples of changes that might justify modification would be one parent getting a much higher paying job or a parent making a permanent change in the number of days/nights per week that each of them spends with a child. Generally, Florida courts won’t consider a modification unless the difference between an existing award and the amount determined by a new analysis and application of the current guidelines would be at least 15%, or at least $50, whichever amount is greater.
Using the Florida Department of Revenue
The DOR’s support program is available to help children get the financial support they need when it is not received from one or both parents. Grandparents or other relatives caring for a child is able to use this service as well. Services are even available if a parent lives in another state or country.
Some of the services performed by DOR are as follows:
- Locate parents and assets
- Establish paternity
- Establish and modify child support orders
- Monitor and take action to help parents comply with child support orders
- Receive and distribute child support payments
Keep in mind however, that DOR cannot assist with parenting plans.
For a full look at the child support statute, refer to §61.30 Florida Statutes.