Florida Statutes, 61.13 addresses the issue of child support. It is the law in Florida just as every state addresses it in their own version of their statute. What most people do not know is that there is actually a formula that we have been provided to calculate child support that is also part of the Florida Statute. We generally call the formula the Florida Child Support Guidelines or CSG for short. Within the Child Support Guidelines Formula we are asked to consider a few core items of information including how many children, the parties income, the child care expenses, the cost of health insurance and the cost of other expenditures.
The number of overnights is as much a fact of life as it is a heated debate. The Child Support Guidelines Formula directly considers the number of overnights the children spend with each parent. Logically it stands to reason that children cost money to care for and the more time a parent has with each child the more money that particular parent pays to support the children. This not only is a fact of life but it is also a primary consideration utilized by the child support guidelines.
The debate associated with this component is the argument and motivation that the parties have to fight over the amount of overnights. As you can imagine, there certainly is no incentive for either party to agree to less overnights with the children and likewise there is every incentive for both parties to fight for more overnights with the children…regardless of what is best for the children. This caveat is an unfortunate side effect of the link the guidelines creates between the number of overnights and the amount of the child support obligation that is created.
The Melendez Law Office encourages parties to do the right thing and focus on an appropriate schedule to share children without considering the child support obligation and then to be considerate when calculating the support obligation for each other. This means the paying party should be considerate of the needs of the recipient and the recipient should be considerate of the paying parent.
Easy…Income is used for child support. But then why is there so much written in the statute. The answer is that it can be complex actually and a more thorough understanding of the definition of income can be found in Florida Statutes 61.30 Child support Guidelines. The list of things that are commonly included as income for the purposes of computation of child support includes the following:
- Salary or wages.
- Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
- Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
- Disability benefits.
- All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements.
- Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation.
- Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
- Social security benefits.
- Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
- Interest and dividends.
- Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
- Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
- Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
- Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.
Child Care Expenses
The costs of child care is also a consideration that can be used in the child support calculation in the Florida child Support Guidelines. Florida Statutes 61.30 states that child care costs incurred due to employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income of current employment of either parent shall be added to the basic obligation. After the child care costs are added, any moneys prepaid by a parent for child care costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children. Child care costs may not exceed the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source.
The requirement of health insurance can be found in Florida Statutes 61.13. The statutes requires that each order of support shall contain a provision for health insurance for the minor child when health insurance is reasonable in cost and accessible to the child. This cost can be used in the Child Support Guidelines and added to the total obligation or the parents can choose to pay directly to the insurance provider and leave the cost of the insurance out of the child support guidelines. In both sets of scenarios, the requirement that the parties maintain health insurance is almost always included in the child support order.
Other Considerations and What it Means to be Considerate
Child support by law is an obligation. The non payment of a child support obligation can lead to many problems for individuals. The negotiation of child support is something that more people should consider. Child support is not intended to give one party a free ride from working or from rising to their full potential. It is not after all spousal support otherwise known as alimony. It is however an important obligation designed to provide the parents with the requisite funds to support the children upon separation and or divorce.
What most people unfortunately are not told is that there is leeway in the creation of a support obligation. If parties are encouraged to be considerate of each other, most likely they will understand that their children should come first. This principle, if upheld, can have huge positive impacts on everything going forward. To be considerate allows individuals to come to the table and to plan a schedule that makes sense for the children. In the overnights section of this article, the struggle of overnights in relation to the amount of the support obligation was brought to light. this struggle can be minimized or extinguished completely if the couple can focus on the best interest of the children in the parenting plan.
At the end of the day, the attorney’s should be able to help the couple plan a parenting plan schedule that is best for the children. Part of the conversation can also be, what will it take to come up with an appropriate amount of child support based upon everything else that can be considered under the statute? The answer to how much child support should I receive should be more directly linked to how much peace should I wish for and what do I need to support the children during my time. After considering everything the other parent contributes, there most likely will be a number that is reasonable and agreeable that provides both parties with a feeling they are doing the right thing. Learning to make the total picture work for as long as possible may be the key to finding the answer to this question.
A word about location. It doesn’t really matter where in Florida your case takes place. The Melendez Law Office practices in Tampa, Plant City, Hillsborough county, Pasco County including New Port Richey and Dade City and Pinellas County including Clearwater and St. Petersburg. It is important to know that the Florida Child Support Guidelines operate the same way in all of these court houses whether you have a Tampa Divorce, Hillsborough Divorce, Pasco Divorce or a Pinellas divorce.
Options to Resolve Child Support
Child support is often just one component to an over all case. Knowing this, parties commonly find themselves overwhelmed with the issues of their case, whether it is a divorce case, a paternity case or a post judgment modification case. No matter what type of case, there is overwhelming research that concludes that litigation is destructive to parties and children over the other avenues to resolve matters. People have by far experienced positive outcomes by resolving their cases through the collaborative process, through mediation or even with the assistance of a parenting coordinator. Through these alternative forms of resolution, the professionals involved are fully equipped to handle your child support questions.