Divorcing or separating parents of minor children may have many issues to address. Child custody, visitation, and the logistics of co-parenting in separate residences can cost parents time and money when litigated through the courts.
The amount of child support owed, however, is one common issue separating or divorcing parents have that has been established through the legislature, eliminating the need for litigation. The statutory guidelines ensure that each child is provided for sufficiently, while enacting severe penalties for those who fail to meet their financial responsibilities.
Florida’s child support guidelines were enacted as a baseline to determine the standard amount of child support owed by the noncustodial parent. Simply put, having statutory child support guidelines protects the interest of the children and prevents congestion of the courts by keeping each set of parents from having to litigate child support amounts. Florida uses the standard “Income Shares Model,” which attempts to calculate how much money would have been spent on raising a child if both parents would have stayed together. Using this standard—based on net income of both parents and the number of children being supported—is both effective and efficient.
In some circumstances, however, the standard child support amount is inappropriate or unduly burdensome. For instance, if the child requires costly medical care or one parent becomes disabled, the court may decide to deviate from the standard guidelines.
Generally, the court can choose to deviate from the standard guideline amount by increasing or decreasing the payment owed by five percent. To determine whether an alternate amount of child support is appropriate, the court will consider all relevant factors including, but not limited to:
Since receiving support is the right of the child and not of the parents, the statutory child support guideline amounts can’t be waived or modified without the court. To establish a different initial amount of support or to modify an existing order, one party must file a motion with the court.
In some cases, the court may choose to deviate from the standard support guidelines by more than five percent if one party submits in writing reasons that the deviation is necessary.
While Florida courts do not allow parents to reach an agreement regarding child support payments outside the court system, other common issues such as custody and visitation—formally known in Florida as parental responsibility and parental time-sharing—can be. With the help of an experienced Florida family law attorney, you can save time and money by reaching an agreement about custody and visitation outside the court system.
At Makofka & Makofka, we understand how difficult a separation or divorce can be. That’s why we work tirelessly to help Jacksonville residents find parental time-sharing and parental responsibility solutions that work for their unique circumstances. For more information on our services or to schedule your free initial consultation, contact our office today at (904) 355-2700.