What You Need To Know About Calculating Child Support In Florida
Regardless of your familial situation, separation is no simple affair. Unfortunately though, when there are children caught in the crossfire thing can become more complicated and stressful. As such, as a parent, it is your duty to ensure that, in spite of the turmoil in your own relationship, you continue to provide your child with a good degree of certainty, love and care. Often, in order to provide that, it usually involves a monetary arrangement between parents.
The idea of calculating child support may seem like an arduous task to confront, especially in the midst of a relationship breakdown, but it is a necessary one. In the state of Florida, there is an established set of guidelines that work to determine the amount you are obligated to pay.
The Basic Principles
Governed under the Florida Statute §61.13, child support is a mandatory obligation that is imposed on both parents. In most cases, the parent with custody will receive support from the other parent. However, this dynamic changes if one of the parents has a significantly higher income or the time shared between parents is almost equal. If neither parent is granted custody of the child, each parent will still be required to pay support to a third-party who is caring for the child.
Typically, child support is paid to the parent, but the funds paid remain the right of the child. As a result, a parent cannot attempt to waive their obligation to pay. According to Florida law, a parent is legally required to support their children until they turn 18. However, a parent may still be required to provide support after this time if the child has not completed high school or lives with a disability.
What Is Included In Child Support?
To ensure that a certain level of care is provided, child support covers the basic needs of a child. This means that the support amount should ensure that a child receives food, shelter and clothing. Not only this, child support can also cover education, sport and other expenses such as health insurance. In Florida, each court order must include a provision for health insurance. Essentially, if health insurance cover is both reasonably priced and available, this expense will become an obligation.
Completing a Financial Affidavit
In a divorce proceeding where child support is an issue, all parties involved must provide a financial affidavit. This affidavit details income, assets and the liabilities of each party. Once completed, the affidavit is filed with the court and must subsequently be served to the other party.
There are two separate types of affidavit that can be applied in this situation. But, the gross income of each individual party will ultimately determine which form is used. Each form contains instructions that outline which types of income are included in the affidavit and what deductions can be claimed as a result. As such, the affidavit will begin with a ‘gross income’ calculation; an amount that includes the primary forms of earned and unearned income. In this case, the types of income can include salary, bonuses or commission, pension, compensation for unemployment, disability benefits and more.
Once the gross income is calculated, each party can deduct some expenses to reach their individual net income figure. The list of allowed deductions includes things such as federal, state and local tax deductions, health insurance premiums, social security payments and spousal support. The resulting amount will form the gross income for each party. Subsequently, the two figures from each party are added together to create a combined net income.
Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
In Florida, the actual amount of child support is determined through a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. This worksheet uses the combined monthly income of the parties as well as the number of children involved. Using the chart contained within the worksheet, the combined net income figure is matched with the number of children to determine a presumptive amount.
In Tampa, completing a Child Support Worksheet is an essential step when determining the amount of child support that is owed. As such, if you are unsure of the other party’s income, you should wait until they have submitted their financial affidavit before submitting the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. However, if for instance, you were seeking child support from your child’s mother and you’re unsure of any specific implications to your unique case, a good Tampa divorce lawyer for men should be able to advise you about this.
The Child Support Calculation
Although there are many points to consider and the courts will ultimately determine how much should be paid and by who, there are online child support calculators that will help you get a good idea of an amount. At their most basic level, they take into consideration, the gross income of the mother and father, the number of children, the number of days the children have in each parent’s care, the cost of child care and the cost of health insurance.
In some special circumstances, there may be a reason for a parent to request an amount that differs from the guideline amount; this is referred to as a deviation. If a parent requests a deviation, Florida courts will require an additional form entitled a Motion to Deviate from Child Support Guidelines. This request may be accepted if for instance, the child has special needs, medical needs or any other substantial expense.
While the court will consult with the Child Support Guidelines, the court will ultimately make adjustments to ensure that the result is just. If you have any questions, you can also consult a divorce attorney for help.