Tampa Child Support Attorneys
Experienced Tampa child support attorneys serving Riverview, Brandon and all of Hillsborough County
In Florida, child support is a right belonging to the child, and parents cannot contract it away, nor can the parent’s acquiescence to non-payment of fit. If you are going through a divorce or have a child outside of marriage and have concerns regarding child support, the Tampa child support attorneys of All Family Law Group can provide experienced legal help to advise you on the law. Our child support attorneys and legal assistants gather information regarding your income and other statutory factors to determine your child support obligation, if any. We work with both the mother and the father to resolve child support issues. Click here for additional information on child support.
The Florida Child Support Guidelines
The Florida child support guidelines largely dictate the amount of the support obligation, if any. Specifically, the information provided by you and your spouse in your financial affidavits and other sources will determine your net income. The net income of both parties is inserted into the child support guidelines worksheet, and the calculations of child support are part of a formula including the number of minor children and the overnights each parent spends with the children per year. Also, included in the guidelines is the cost of the health and dental insurance premium paid on behalf of the child, as well as childcare expenses. Your income and the amount of time sharing you have with your child influences whether you will pay child support to the other parent. Beginning January 1, 2011, the statutory child support obligation is reduced if a parent has 20% or more timesharing of the child. Prior to this revision, a substantial amount of time for child support determination purposes was 40% of the time. This applies to new cases filed after January 1st and cases which are subject to modification.
Are you facing a possible child support obligation or are you in need of child support? It is in your best interest to obtain experienced legal help to assist you in resolving your child support issues. Call 813-321-3421 or e-mail the Tampa child support attorneys at the law firm of All Family Law Group to start your free initial consultation.
Florida Child Support Basics
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.
Unequal Distribution of Assets in Divorce as Child Support
An unequal distribution of assets may result in a divorce if one of the parents is at risk for not paying his or her share of temporary child support. For example, that parent is willingly either not employed or underemployed, has a proven track record of not paying temporary child support and/or is not truthful or not cooperative in providing his or her financial disclosure. Furthermore, if a parent has pending criminal charges and is likely to be convicted, then the judge may award an unequal distribution of assets to the other parent, as the incarcerated parent cannot pay child support.
Modification and Enforcement of Child Support
In addition to resolving your initial child support goals, we may be able to modify or enforce post-judgment child support issues. If a final judgment was not obtained in Hillsborough County, then it may be possible to file it and domesticate it in Hillsborough County. To modify a child support order, there must be a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances in either parent’s income since the original order was granted. A substantial change occurs when either parent’s income has decreased or increased, so that the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the new obligation amount, pursuant to the Florida Guidelines, has changed by at least 15%, or $50.00, whichever is the greater of the two. Furthermore, if the parent who is obligated to pay child support does not do so, or is behind in his or her child support payments, then a motion can be filed for contempt. After January 1, 2011, child support can be modified to comply with the new 20% substantial timesharing rule (see Update above.)
Contact the Tampa Child Support Attorneys of All Family Law Group
If you have questions regarding child support contact the law firm of All Family Law Group for a free initial consultation. Contact our Tampa child support attorneys by email or call 813-321-3421. We will get back with you at our earliest opportunity!