Florida Child Support Guidelines
Child support is a court-ordered obligation of the financial support for the care, maintenance, training, and education of a child. See Florida Statute 61.30.
Child support is the responsibility of every parent, regardless of whether the two parents are married, divorced, or single. Both parents are technically paying child support typically, although just one payment is made by one parent. Under Florida child support law, parents are not able to waive child support obligations although some Courts do allow the parties to deviate from the guidelines if the amount is "de minimis" or an amount below $50. Parents of a minor child have a legal and moral duty to support and maintain their child and Judges do not take lightly when a parent does not provide for the child.
The amount of child support will be based on Florida’s Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines provide the amount of support to be paid for each specific case and is typically determined by your attorney by using a family law software program. The final amount of ongoing child support is based primarily on the parents’ income, number of overnights with the children, health insurance for the children and parents, as well as the daycare costs for the children.
Retroactive or "Back Owed" Child Support In Florida
In Florida, a parent has the right to seek retroactive ("back-owed") child support. Generally, retroactive child support will date back to when the parents stopped residing together in the same home. Regardless of when the parents stopped living together, the period for retroactive child support in Florida cannot exceed 24 months.
It is important to note that a parent’s failure to regularly exercise the time-sharing schedule set forth in the parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties not caused by the other parent may also be deemed a substantial change of circumstances for purposes of modifying the child support award. A modification pursuant to this paragraph is retroactive to the date the noncustodial parent first failed to regularly exercise the court-ordered or agreed time-sharing schedule.
The amount of child support will be paid based primarily on the Florida Child Support Guidelines. In retroactive child support cases, this can be very difficult because the parent’s income may have fluctuated during the period child support should have been paid. For instance, if the parent’s income varied weekly, the court may have to make individual determinations for each week during the 24 months. Most clients do not understand the time involved in accurately determining the amount of retroactive support, so it is important you gather as much information as possible for the attorney to be able to prepare an accurate analysis.
All payments made by the parent owing support throughout the retroactive period can be considered as a credit towards retroactive support owed, but you have to prove the amounts were paid. This means if you were considering paying child support in cash to the other parent, DON'T, and make sure you pay by check or some other form of cash application to receive your proper credit. Additionally, the Court must consider allowing a payment plan for the total amount of retroactive child support and will not require a party pay a large lump sum. Instead, retroactive support will typically be added to the monthly payment of future child support and it will be paid until the support is paid in full.
Modifying Child Support In Florida
Many folks believe child support cannot be modified. Once established, many believe it is set in stone. This is not the case--if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, child support may be modified. The judge will only be concerned with changes that occurred after the initial child support case. Issues that arose prior to the initial case will usually not be considered for modifications.
If a parent has encountered an increase or decrease in income, support may be modified. Generally, there will need to be at least a 15% or $50 change in income to qualify as a substantial change. Keep in mind, even if you had a decrease in income that does not automatically mean support payments will decrease. For instance, the opposing party may have also had a reduction in income, and that decrease may be more significant. Thus, it is recommended to discuss all the facts of the case with an attorney before filing for a modification. A thorough review will likely be necessary to develop a successful plan to lower child support.
Parents Residing in Other States
When parents live in different states, it can create jurisdictional issues with the Court regarding the enforcement of child support payments. If the case is not filed correctly, the court may not have jurisdiction (authority) to enforce the support. Therefore, it is important to reference the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) for further information concerning the jurisdiction of the Court, or contact your local Department of Revenue office. While the Department of Revenue typically has a number of cases to contend with, they can be a great resource for you to determine if Florida has jurisdiction and whether a private attorney is needed.
For more information, you may contact Brusca Law at 407-501-6564 for a free consultation. Knowing your rights is half the battle, understanding the law regarding child support in Florida requires the help of a family lawyer. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation to learn more about your rights and the law.