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As of January 1, 2011, Florida law requires a departure from standard child support in all instances where the parent with fewer overnights has the child overnight 20 percent or more of the time. Under the old law, such an adjustment was a possibility. However, the parent with fewer overnights overall had to have at least 40 percent of the overnights to qualify. Now, when a child is with the payor parent for more than 20 percent of the time overnight, a tiered structure modifies the calculation of child support to account for time spent with that parent.
The New Formula
The new law incorporates a formula based on the following:
1. Calculate the amount of support obligation apportioned to each parent without including day care and health insurance costs in the calculation and multiply the amount by 1.5. 2. Calculate the percentage of overnight stays the child spends with each parent. 3. Multiply each parent’s support obligation as calculated in subparagraph 1. by the percentage of the other parent’s overnight stays with the child as calculated in subparagraph 2. 4. The difference between the amounts calculated in subparagraph 3. shall be the monetary transfer necessary between the parents for the care of the child, subject to an adjustment for day care and health insurance expenses. 5. Calculate the net amounts owed by each parent for the expenses incurred for day care and health insurance coverage for the child. 6. Adjust the support obligation owed by each parent pursuant to subparagraph 4. by crediting or debiting the amount calculated in subparagraph 5. This amount represents the child support which must be exchanged between the parents. 7. The court may deviate from the child support amount calculated pursuant to subparagraph 6. based upon the deviation factors in paragraph (a), as well as the obligee parent’s low income and ability to maintain the basic necessities of the home for the child, the likelihood that either parent will actually exercise the time-sharing schedule set forth in the parenting plan granted by the court, and whether all of the children are exercising the same time-sharing schedule. 8. For purposes of adjusting any award of child support under this paragraph, “substantial amount of time" means that a parent exercises time-sharing at least 20% of the overnights of the year. How Does the New Formula Impact Child Support?
Suppose a father has his two children every other weekend for 3 overnights and additional time during the summer and holidays, a "standard" schedule used in many Florida jurisdictions. That would add up to around 115 overnights a year, or just over 30%. Under the old law, this parent would not have qualified for a modification of support payments. However, by reducing the requirement from 40% to 20%, parents will now be able to meet the threshold, resulting in significantly reduced support.
Here is a quick example of how this new substantial time formula will affect the child support payments using the above example of 115 days of overnight stays if the father has a net income of $5,000 a month and the mother has a net income of $2,500 a month. For the simplicity of formulating the example, we are not going to add additional financial responsiblity of insurance, medical or child care. The total basic monthly obligation for the father is $1303.15 prior to the the substantial time adjustment. After using the new formula, the father would have an obligation of $1029.56. As illustrated, the child support is reduced by $275.58 or 21%. If you have questions on how this law may affect your child support obligation, you should consider contacting a Family Law attorney to to discuss your specific circumstances.