Parents must legally care for their children. When parents are divorced or co-parenting, child support ensures parents jointly help their children financially with everyday expenses. In Florida, child support cannot be waived and is granted in nearly all divorce or paternity cases when children under 18 are in the home. Who pays child support depends on several factors, which we discuss below.
How much time your child spends with you determines how much child support you must pay. The non-custodial parent often pays child support to the parent who spends the majority of time with the children, referred to as the primary custodial parent. Primary custody is when a child spends at least 80% of their time with one parent. Child support payments will be adjusted if the other parent spends at least 73 nights with the child (which would be more than 20% of overnights in a year). Child support is required in nearly all time-splitting scenarios, even when parents share 50/50 custody. In these cases, the parent who earns more income usually pays child support to the lesser-earning parent.
Parental Net Income
Along with how much time a child spends with each parent, net income is the next most important factor in determining how child support is calculated. Florida’s Child Support Guidelines dictate standard, minimum child support amounts based on your and your ex-spouse’s combined income and the number of children in your home. You’ll need to provide financial documentation to ensure accuracy of income amounts. Types of income that are considered include:
- Wages & salaries
- Disability payments
- Unemployment benefits
- Self-employment income
- Social security payments
Number of Children
Florida Statute 61.30(6) specifies the minimum amount of child support required based on both parents’ combined monthly income and the number of dependent children. Those earning higher income with more dependents will pay more child support than those with low monthly income and one child. For example, parents who make a combined monthly income of $4,000 will pay a minimum of $828 per month for one child and $2,119 for six children. This payment amount is then split between the parents based on the other factors. One parent will then be ordered to pay their share of child support to the other.
If you and the other parent have already agreed to share some of the costs of raising your children, it may decrease the amount you owe in child support. For instance, you could have discussed who pays for medical insurance for the children or who pays daycare costs. These costs will be factored into the share of child support you may owe.
Situations like raising a child with special needs will be considered in determining the required child support. While the state’s child support guidelines provide minimum child support payments based on income, you can request more child support based on factors like medical care and the child’s accustomed standard of living.
Child Support and Custody Lawyer in Cocoa
Creating child custody and support arrangements is one of the most stressful parts of divorce proceedings. Don’t leave it up to chance. Have an experienced family lawyer like Kathleen Davies of the Davies Law Firm on your side. Contact our office or call 855-688-4713 for a free consultation to discuss your case.