Florida Child Support Laws
Child support in Florida is calculated according to a formula set out in Florida Statutes. The Florida Child Support Guidelines, which is how these laws are usually referred to, apply in any divorce with children or in a paternity case. Both parents have the obligation to pay child support. But usually, only one parent usually pays it to the other because in most cases one parent makes more than the other and/or the timesharing is not equal.
The Florida Child Support Guidelines sets an amount by using the income of both parents and the number of night each will spend with the child. Because it is rare that both parents will make the same amount money and will also spend the nights equally, most calculations result in one parent having to pay some amount.
The Statute(Section 61.30) has a list of the types of income used, as well as the allowable deductions from that income, in calculating the child support obligation. It also provides a table indicating the basic support according to the number of children and net income of both parties.
Child support is a right granted to the children. So, even though you may be paying it to a former husband or wife (or a mother or father in a paternity case), you are really paying it for the benefit of your children. The law doesn’t let you avoid child support or use it as a tool to negotiate in, for example, a divorce case. The question, then, is not whether a parent will pay child support; the question is how much child support will be paid and how (monthly, weekly, etc.); and whether you can reduce your child support in some situations.
The support is initially set in the original divorce case or paternity case. Once a permanent amount of support has been set, it can be increased or decreased by filing a petition with the court to modify the child support obligation. You can have the court consider whether child support should be lowered or raised at any time if there has been a change in the income of either of the parents or a change in the needs of the child since the child support amount was first set, and if that change has been permanent. Generally speaking, the needs of children increase as they grow up.
Usually, Florida child support ends when the child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school. There are exceptions to this rule, set out in the Statute.
The amount set by Florida Child Support Guidelines includes a a basic obligation; the cost of caring for children (day care or after-care) and cost of health insurance for them.
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