This is a question that I am confronted with may times in my practice. And just as much as I hear ” How much child support should I be paying?” I hear” How much child support should I be receiving?”
What may people don’t understand is that there is actually a formula that has been developed by the Florida Supreme Court. Fortunately this formula greatly simplifies the process of calculating child support for many people engaged in both dissolution of marriage cases and Paternity cases, both of which involve the determination of timesharing and child support. The easy answer it that the child support number will always be determined on a case by case basis.
Factors that Influence Child Support
A more in-depth analysis however will include the factors used to compute the formula. The primary factors include:
- the number of overnights that the child or children will be spending with each parent,
- the combined income of both parents
- the individual incomes of each parent
- the cost of health insurance for the parents as well as for the minor child and the cost if any of child care of the child or children.
Though these are the primary factors that are considered, there are other considerations that can be used including whether a parent is paying for child support for a child of a different relationship, whether the parent is paying alimony to the other parent and whether either or both parents are disabled and receive disability benefits for themselves and or the minor child/children.
Additionally there can be tax considerations that are utilized in the calculation including the filing status of the parties, whether the status is single, married-jointly, married-separate or head of household.
Florida Statutes also allows the parties to consider in the calculation of child support whether one or both of the parties claim the child or children as a dependent, how many exemptions are being claimed, and whether either or both parties take the earned income credit for the child or children.
Though the above description of considerations summarizes the most frequently used applications to the statutory formula, it is not exhaustive and a more detailed instruction can be found in Florida Statutes Ch. 61.13, Support of Children; Parenting and Timesharing; powers of court.
For further information about child support, see Florida Statutes ch. 61.13 http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.13.html
Best Interest Of Children
Quoting the first section of the statute, “In a proceeding under this chapter, the court may at any time order either or both parents who owe a duty of support to a child to pay support to the other parent or, in the case of both parents, to a third party who has custody in accordance with the child support guidelines schedule in s. 61.30.”
The legislature and the Court System favors the support of children and has consistently held that the support of children is in accordance with the best interest of children.
Unfortunately many people get caught up in the emotional component of their case whether it is a paternity suit or a dissolution of marriage or divorce case and they forget to consider what is best for their children.
Due to the fact that the legislature has directly linked the amount of child support to the number of overnights that the parents receive with the minor child or children, it is quite common for parents to fight over timesharing or how many overnights the child or children will spend with each parent due to the fact that the overnights directly effect the amount of money they will either receive or pay.
For further information on what is considered the best interest of the minor child(ren), please see Fl. Statute 61.13(3) http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.13.html
Considering the most progressive practices in family law and cases where the circumstances are such that the parties have the wherewithal to put their children first and ahead of their own personal interests, parents can make intelligent and sensible decisions together.
Our current legal system is an old one. Allowing parties to be left alone without giving them the new information and the new tools to help them accomplish a good and “best interest of the children” result, parties will struggle and fight, ultimately leaving their children at risk of conflict and at risk of a reduction in resources. The progressive thought is, the more people fight, the less there will be to provide.
The Melendez Law Office encourages parents to embrace the Collaborative Law Practice that is available. It really does not take a rocket scientist to compute child support, especially when good parents spend their talent and resources on coming up with the best plan for their children.
If parents are lucky enough to be given the power and tools of the Collaborative Law Process, the question of how much child support should be paid will result in a natural answer.
Remember to ask about Collaborative Law. Embrace the best and most progressive process to handle your family law case.
The brand new statute on collaborative law can be found under Florida Statutes, 61.55-58.
Further resources on Collaborative law can be found on the Next Generation Divorce Website