Experienced Child Support Lawyers in Tampa, Brandon, Valrico and all of Hillsborough County
Child support in Florida is governed by Florida Statute §61.13. In general, child support is a dual obligation imposed on both parents by the state. Imami v. Imami, 584 So2d 596 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). Typically, the parent with the most time-sharing is the parent who receives monetary support while the parent with a minority of the time-sharing pays the support. However, if one parent has a substantially higher income or time-sharing is relatively equal, the child support will be adjusted to reflect this. Furthermore, if neither parent has custody of the child, both parent may be required to pay support to a third-party caring for the child.
Child support in Florida will terminate upon the child reaching 18, or 19 if the child has not yet graduated high school, if the child becomes emancipated, or if the child dies. There is no obligation to support a child after the reach the age of majority; however, the termination of an ongoing obligation does not terminate obligations to pay arrearages or retroactive support. Fla. Stat. §61.14(9). It therefore stands to follow that there is no obligation to pay for college tuition or college expenses for a child who has reached the age of majority. In some instances, child support can extend past the age of majority if the child has a physical or mental disability. Fla. Stat. §743.07(2). This incapacity must exist prior to the child turning 18 and is determined by fact-finding.
While child support is typically paid to the parent, the right to receive child support is actually the right of the child. Florida has a strong public policy to require parents to financially support their children. It is a common misconception that child support can be waived. Since child support is the right of the child, a parent cannot waive or acquiesce to nonpayment. Armour v. Allen, 377 So. 2d 798, 799-800 (Fla. 1st DCA 1979).
Child Support usually includes a basic monthly obligation, health care coverage and child care costs. The amount of the basic monthly obligation is determined based on the combined net monthly incomes of both parents and the number of children involved.The Florida child support guidelines worksheet uses this figure to assign a minimum monthly support amount. The amount of support for each parent is determined based on their percentage of the combined income. Each order of support must also contain a provision for healthcare coverage if said coverage is reasonably available. (emphasis added) (Fla. Stat. §61.13(1)(b)). The court will apportion the cost of the coverage including any non-covered medical, dental and prescription expenses on a percentage basis.
Prior to January 1, 2011, if the parent paying support spends a substantial amount of time with the child equal to or greater than 40 percent, they are entitled to a reduction in their monthly support obligation. Fla. Stat. §61.30(11)(b)(1-8). This is called the "gross up method" of calculation. The 40 percent threshold must be calculated based on which parent has custody of the child overnight. Therefore, if parent A takes care of the child all day morning through evening but the child sleeps at parent B's house, the 40 percent threshold is not reached and parent A will not receive a reduction in child support. On or after January 1, 2011, the statutory child support obligation is reduced if a parent has 20% or more timesharing of the child. This applies to new cases filed after January 1st and cases which are subject to modification.
In dissolution or paternity proceedings, child support guidelines must be filed with the court before the judge will enter Final Judgment in the case. Failure to file the guidelines is grounds for reversal. McKenzie v. Dept. of Revenue, 981 So. 2d 1289 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008). Once an order for support has been entered, it can be modified upon a substantial change in circumstances. Changes in income, time-sharing, employment and benefits are all reasons to modify the existing support obligation. A modification is only warranted if the difference in the support amount would be at least 15 percent or $50.00 per month. See Fla. Stat. §61.30(1)(b).
If no initial child support determination has been made, a court has the discretion to award support retroactively. Typically, the court can impose an obligation from the time the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child; however, the retroactive award cannot exceed a period of 2 years. Vong v. Chassang, 981 So. 2d 1262 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008). Therefore, it is sometimes a good idea to make an effort to contribute to the support of your child prior to any order being entered.
Child support calculations can be complicated for the average person to compute. Child support is also complicated by judicial decisions and frequent updates and changes to the statutes. If your case involves child support, contact an attorney in your area to make sure the correct amount is calculated.
If you have questions regarding divorce, family law, adoption, name changes or bankruptcy, as well as foreclosure defense, contact the law firm of All Family Law Group, P.A. We provide a free initial consultation, accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express, and charge reasonable and competitive rates. Furthermore, to assist you we have a team of attorneys and legal staff committed to providing to you the best representation possible.
Our office is conveniently located in the Riverview/Brandon area on Highway 301 South directly off of Interstate 75, near the intersection of Bloomingdale Avenue and in Hyde Park on West Bay Street near the entrance/exit to the Crosstown Expressway. Contact our firm by e-mail or call 866-719-1674, 813-902-3903 . We will respond at our earliest opportunity.
We serve all of Hillsborough County, Florida, including Tampa, Riverview, Brandon, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach, Valrico, Thonotosassa, Sun City Center, Mango, Plant City, Ruskin, Carolwood, Lithia, Temple Terrace, Wimauma, and MacDill Air Force Base.By Lynette Silon-Laguna