As one might imagine, another major area of dispute is child support. This area is governed by the Florida child support statute. The parties cannot just pick a number that’s acceptable to them for child support. The amount must be calculated pursuant to the statute. Courts can award temporary child support immediately after a Court case is filed. (The Court can make Florida child support retroactive to date of parties separation to a maximum of 24 months prior to filing date.) That amount will have to be paid until circumstances change or until the final divorce hearing when permanent support will be ordered. Failure to pay child support can lead among other things to a finding of contempt/jail and loss of drivers’ license or other licenses. (although the court can grant a “work” permit so that the errant party can drive for business purposes)
Further, if a party is unemployed or underemployed and fails to pay court ordered support, the judge can order the party to seek employment and enter a job training or work program. Also, Florida child support can be withheld from the paying party’s paycheck or the party can be ordered to pay the money to Support Enforcement who will distribute it to the other party. If the party fails to pay Support Enforcement, one of their staff can testify that the payment was not made; instead of the party having to come to Court with an attorney.
In this state we have Florida child support guidelines. Generally speaking, the parents’ combined net income is used in the statutory formula to determine the amount of child support, after considering the number of children involved and how much time each parent will spend with the children. The paying party’s part is calculated in proportion to the other parent’s income. (i.e. if the total amount of child support owed is $1,000.00 per month and the paying parent makes 60% of the parties’ combined net income, that parent will pay $600.00 per month). Also, child care (day care) expenses are added onto the basic guideline amount: as is health insurance and health care costs unless they have been ordered separately paid on a percentage basis.
The child support guidelines have gone a long way towards eliminating Court battles over child support but disputes still arise. One spouse may claim that the other has more income than is being reported, or a spouse may claim that the other is capable of earning more than they do. A Court can deviate from the guidelines amount by plus or minus 5% for any reason, and even more than that for legally sufficient reasons. Examples of when a deviation from the child support guidelines can occur are when each parent spends a “substantial” amount of time with the children or when a parent spends a “significant” period of time with the children, or conversely, when a parent does not spend much time with the children. There is also the question of whether the existence of “subsequent” children (i.e. children living with a parent who were born or adopted after the support obligation arose) is justification to deviate from the child support guidelines. Here’s a worksheet to calculate Florida child support.