Written by attorney Tami Lane Augen

The Effect of Timesharing on Child Support in Florida

In January 2011, the Florida Legislature made some significant changes to Chapter 61 which will impact child support calculations. One important change involves the method for calculating child support when one parent spends a significant amount of time with the minor child or minor children of the relationship. Previously, the law provided that the non-majority timesharing parent received the benefit of what is known as the "gross-up method" when he or she enjoyed at least 40% of the overnights with the minor child. The effect of timesharing on child support under the prior version of the law, therefore, was minimal. Now, the law provides for use of the gross-up method when the non-majority timesharing parent spends at least 20% of the overnights with the minor child or children of the relationship. Theoretically, this is to allow the child support to follow where the child is and allow each parent to have sufficient funds to provide for the child when he or she is in the Mother or Father's care. Under this version of the statute, there may be a significant effect of timesharing on child support. By way of example, let's say that the parties' have one child; Mother earns $50,000.00 per year and is entitled to claim the child as her dependent for tax purposes; Father also earns $50,000.00 per year. Father's child support obligation due to Mother would have been approximately $576.00 per month. Under the new child support guidelines, if the Father has timesharing where he spends approximately 25% of the overnights with their minor child, his child support obligation would go to approximately $418.00 per month. However, when the Father is able to enjoy a timesharing schedule whereby time is spent approximately every other weekend, one additional night per week, and dividing holidays, the child support obligation becomes approximately $192.00 per month. And, once the Father is enjoying almost equal timesharing with the parties' minor child, the child support obligation is reduced even more (i.e. at 40% of the overnights, child support is approximately $147.00; at 45% of the overnights, child support is approximately $60.00; and at 48% of the overnights, the child support obligation virtually disappears). While this example does not account for any health insurance for the minor child or for child care or aftercare, clearly, the basic obligation is significantly effected by the statutory change. Clearly, the legislative changes to the child support statute provide an opportunity for both parents to have sufficient funds with which to support the minor child or children when he or she is able to enjoy timesharing. While this may benefit the non-majority timesharing parent financially, the majority timesharing parent may feel the financial pinch of receiving less child support than he or she may have received under the prior version of this law. Consequently, the effect of timesharing on child support will depend on the amount of time exercised by the non-majority timesharing parent. If you are going through a divorce (also called a dissolution of marriage), a paternity case, or a child support modification case and have any questions regarding the effect of timesharing on child support or any other issue, please feel free to contact The Law Offices of Tami L. Augen, P.A.. copyright 2011 Tami L. Augen

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