Tampa Child Support Attorney
Trusted Representation to Protect Your Children
Every family situation is different when it comes to child support after a divorce. Obviously, the division of custody plays a major part in how much child support one parent will be required to pay to the other. The child’s future and well-being are the most important issues in determining the proper amount of child support to be paid. The courts do not view it as a burden or a punishment, but as support for your child’s life and happiness. At Givens Givens Sparks, we understand how complicated divorce can be when children are involved. Our Tampa child custody attorneys are ready to help you come up with a plan that helps you and your children.
What You Need to Know About Child Support
The Florida Child Support Guidelines and the explanatory text accompanying
them are found at Florida Statutes (F.S.) 61.30. In addition, many child
support issues are addressed in F.S. 61.13. Both sections of Chapter 61
must be consulted in the overall consideration of child support.
The obligation to pay child support arises from the common law principles of providing the necessities of life to one's dependents. Both parents are responsible for their child’s care. The payment of child support is intended to meet children's needs. The question is not "How much must I pay my former spouse for child support?", but rather “How much should I pay to my children?".
The guidelines must be consulted as a starting point for child support calculations, but there are a multitude of reasons to adjust upward or downward. Further, several regular, recurring children's expenses are not included in the basic child support calculation, such as: after-school care, day care, private school costs, the cost of summer camps, the more expensive extracurricular activities, etc.
The most meaningful adjustments of guidelines for child support are for timesharing reasons. If the non-custodial parent has the children for two overnights every other weekend, there may be no reason to adjust support. At the other end of the spectrum, a non-custodial parent who has the children more than forty percent (40%) of the overnights per month is entitled to a substantial adjustment in child support. (The new statute, F.S. 61.30(11)(b), governs it.) The underlying assumption is sound: a non-custodial parent with forty percent (40%) of the overnights will already be paying for forty percent (40%) of food, entertainment, transportation, etc., for the children.
In rotating custody cases, there may be no child support payment due at all, because the total expenses of child rearing are already being shared. The same result may occur in split custody arrangements, where one child primarily resides with mother and the other child with father. The child support guideline calculation however, must still be made to assure and confirm the validity of the "no child support" plan.
Additionally, Florida Statute 61.30 directs that the Court may depart plus or minus 5 percent from the guideline amount, after considering all relevant factors, including the needs of the child or children, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent. The Court’s ability to order the payment of child support in an amount which varies more than 5 percent from such guideline amount can only be done upon a written finding explaining why ordering payment of such guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate.
It is also important to note that a parent’s child support obligation is modifiable. The child support guidelines under Florida Statute 61.30 provide for a modification of one’s child support obligation when a substantial change in circumstances has occurred in the payor’s ability to pay the child support amount. Before the court may find that the guidelines provide a substantial change in circumstances there must be a difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines of at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater.