When a divorce occurs and minor children are involved child support is a very important matter that needs to be properly planned and configured. Under Florida law both parents are required to contribute towards the support of their children. It is most important to think of what is necessary to insure that the children will be safe and comfortable and secure in the home(s) that they will now be residing in.
Child support consists of a monthly monetary payment from one parent to the other intended to assist the other parent with the essential living expenses of the children. The basic amount of this dollar figure is calculated by determining the after tax incomes of both parties adding them together and the calculating each parent’s percentage. A chart is then referenced (that is enacted by our legislature) to determine what the support level should be based upon the total family income. For example if, based upon the total family income, the support level is $1,000.00 per month and one parent’s income is 70% of the total family income that parent would pay $700.00 (70% of 1000) per month in basic child support to the other parent. Adjustments are then made based upon the number of overnight timesharing each parent has, for health insurance for the children as well as necessary day care or after school care.
Even though there exists this “formula” for calculation child support there is still plenty of room for “lawyering” and advocating for a divorce client. For example the judge may deviate from the amount of basic support by 5% for any reason and by a factor of greater that 5% based upon a written justification. Understand that the higher the income figures used the higher the child support. Sometimes the higher earning spouse will try to minimize his or her income in an illegitimate attempt to cause that parent’s child support obligation to be lower. Further it is important to know what the definition of “income “is for child support purposes. For example sometimes a parent has a benefit from his or her employer that does not appear as a dollar figure on a pay stub. Perhaps a company car is provided; car insurance; a gas allowance; payment of cell phone expense; meal reimbursement and other benefits. These are considered “in-kind” benefits. The dollar value of these benefits may be able to be added to that parent’s income for child support purposes. Sometimes parents are already separated during the divorce proceedings and living with family or even a new boyfriend/girlfriend. To the extent the living expenses of that parent is reduced or “paid for” by someone else the dollar figure of that payment may be considered “income” for child support purposes. It is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law expert to advise you regarding the child support aspect of your case.