In Florida, both parents have a statutory obligation to support their minor children. When parents separate or divorce, the Court calculates the amount of support to be paid using the Florida Child Support Guidelines. To determine child support pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines, the court examines each parent’s monthly income, daycare costs for the minor children, health insurance costs for the minor children, the amount of overnight time-sharing with the minor children, and several other factors, to arrive at a presumptive amount to be paid. This resulting amount is what is generally ordered by the Court; however, the Court may deviate upwards or downwards depending on various factors. In the event that a parent is unemployed or underemployed, the Court may impute income to that parent based on his employment potential and probable earning capacity, or sometimes just based on the current rate of minimum wage. It is possible, however, for the Court to refuse to impute income to a party if the Court finds it necessary for that party to stay home with the minor children.
In many timesharing (custody) arrangements, one parent has the children the majority of the time, and the other parent pays child support. If, however, the parent paying child support has the children for more than 20% of the overnights in a given year, that parent’s child support obligation may be substantially reduced. If the parents share time with the children equally, then the amount of child support paid may be reduced even further, or may be zero, depending on the difference in the parents’ incomes and the other factors noted above.
Even if both parents are in full agreement that no child support should be paid, Florida Courts are generally unwilling to accept this agreement between the parents if the Child Support Guidelines mandate that an amount is to be paid. This is because child support is actually the children’s right to receive, and it is for the benefit of the minor children, not the parents. It cannot be waived by the parents. Typically, child support is paid for each minor child until that child reaches the age of eighteen, or if the child is still in high school at age eighteen, then until graduation from high school.
If you would like to look at the Child Support Guidelines statute in its entirety, please go to Florida Statute Section 61.30.
At The Women’s Law Group, we understand that custody and child support can be delicate issues, and we work diligently and efficiently to make sure that your children are awarded the amount of support that the law requires. Please contact us here at The Women’s Law Group if you have questions regarding child support for your children.