Navigating a divorce can be confusing enough, but when there are children involved, you may find that you’re completely overwhelmed with questions, concerns, and maybe even fears. That’s completely understandable — and it’s also why so many people consult with divorce lawyers, even when you’re filing uncontested divorce forms. If you are currently going through a divorce in Florida and share children with your partner, you should know a bit more about how child support responsibilities are determined.
Below you’ll find the answers to some of the more common questions divorce lawyers are asked about child custody in Florida.
How are child support costs typically determined?
Legally, both parents are obligated to provide financial support for their children. The state of Florida uses what’s known as an ‘Income Shares Model’ to determine how much each parent will owe. This model uses the net income of both parents and factors in expenses like health insurance premiums, daycare costs, and other issues. Essentially, the court tries to estimate how much the parents would have spent on their children if they had remained married and divides that amount by each of the parents’ incomes. This number may change if a child spends less overnight time with a given parent, as the court takes into consideration how much a parent will need to spend on food, clothing, and shelter. In addition, retroactive child support costs may apply to compensate for the time the parents spent apart, without a custody and/or support agreement in place, especially if no support payments have been made by one of the parties during their separation.
What circumstances might release me from child support obligations?
Typically, you’ll have to pay child support until your child reaches legal age although if they have special needs, this may not apply). You may be released from your requirement if your child is on active military duty, if your rights and responsibilities are terminated, or if your child has been declared emancipated by a court of law. In addition, if you are a stepparent and have not legally adopted the child, you are not required to pay child support.
Do I still have to pay support if I’m not allowed to (or choose not to) see my children?
Yes, you do. Child support and time-sharing are 2 separate issues. You must pay child support regardless of whether you are able to see your child. This is typically a problem that can be addressed early in your case, so it’s important for you to see an attorney as soon as possible.
What happens if a parent simply refuses to work to avoid making payments?
This is simply not allowed under the law. A parent who is obligated to make support payments can’t avoid doing so just by refusing to hold a job. That said, if one parent has lost their job and is making a concerted effort to find another without success, that parent can file for a modification to reduce their monthly payment requirement. If you or your co-parent has found yourself in such a situation, you would do well to ask a family lawyer about the best course of action.
Unfortunately, most divorces are anything but straightforward. Even if you and your former spouse agree on most things, you may still need a divorce lawyer to hammer out the details and make sure everyone’s rights are protected. Have more questions about paying child support in Florida? Contact a reputable divorce lawyer today.