Child Custody, Support and Visitation
The Law Firm of Steven W. Bowden provides comprehensive legal representation in all matters relating to child custody, support, and visitation.
For over 30 years, Steven Bowden has helped families resolve emotional disputes regarding time-sharing, living arrangements, and financial maintenance. When it comes to dividing parental duties after a divorce, Steven Bowden helps parents set aside personal differences in the best interests of the child. His office serves clients in Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, and Okaloosa County.
Recent Law Changes
New divorce laws in Florida went into effect Oct. 1, 2010. House Bill 907, signed by Governor Crist June 3, 2010, made significant changes to the child support laws in Florida.
The new law requires child support orders to specifically state when support will end and the amounts that need to be paid. In cases involving multiple children, child support orders will now provide a complete breakdown to include the amount of child support required for each child and the date the responsibility will end. This change is significant.
Under previous law, parents were required to file a petition to modify the amount of support given once a child turns 18 or graduates from high school. Such petitions can be expensive. Under the new law, the predetermined date and amounts aim to eliminate stress and additional costs. Children receiving child support in Florida will typically receive support until they reach the age of 18 or graduate high school. The law states, however, that if a person does not graduate by the age of 18, the responsibility for support will end on his or her 19th birthday. In child support cases involving children with disabilities, child support may be extended.
How Much Child Support Will You Have to Pay?
Another change in Florida divorce law that affects child support is the formula in which child support amounts are calculated. Previously, when a parent who does not have custody of thie child has the child for more than 146 nights out of the year, they will fall into what is called a modified child support formula, making their payments much less. Under new law, the number of nights considered to be significant dropped to 73. This change is designed to ensure a child receives the financial support he/she needs no matter how his/her time is split between parents.
The new law also allows the court to calculate what a parent should be earning in income. This addition to the law aims at preventing parents from being voluntarily unemployed or underemployed in an attempt to avoid paying the full amount of child support. This statute works by assuming anyone can make at least minimum wage on a full-time basis. If a parent has earned more than minimum wage in the last five years, the court can estimate his/her earning capacity based on his/her education and/or qualifications.
Under new divorce law in Florida, the courts can also factor in income tax deductions after child support is paid and received. Calculations can now account for personal and dependency exemptions, earned income credits and other tax credits. The new bill has made adjustments to the way child support is calculated for parents with a combined income of more than $10,000 as well. A divorce lawyer can explain how the new law affects your specific situation.
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