As your firm, we will help you with every aspect of the child support process. The Orlando Family Firm is a full service law firm with significant experience in handling child support cases both through private cases or through the Department of Revenue.
A common question many family law clients have is “how much child support can I expect to receive after my divorce or custody proceeding is completed?” The answer lies in the Florida Statutes, Section 61.30, the full text of Florida’s law can be found here. To help you understand what you can expect when child support is an issue, the basic elements are summarized below or setup a consultation to discuss your personal situation with a child support lawyer.
Child Support Guidelines
Section 61.30 contains “Florida’s Child Support Guidelines.” The legislature established these guidelines for judges and attorneys to determine child support. If a child support award deviates from these guidelines by more than 5%, a judge is required to make specific written findings supporting the deviation. Such circumstances are rare; the guidelines will most likely be an accurate estimate of what you can expect to receive.
The main factors in calculating guidelines will be:
- The number of children
- The net incomes of both parties
- The daycare expenses expected
- The cost of health insurance for the minor children
- Any extraordinary expenses for the minor children
Using this information, the Court will calculate your guideline child support to be paid or received, depending on your case.
Please feel free to use this free child support calculator to get an estimate of the child support you may be obligated to pay or entitled to receive. Remember, this calculator is for estimate purposes only and is based upon the Florida Guidelines. Your child support may be higher or lower, depending on the circumstances of your particular case.
On January 1st, 2011, some important changes will take place regarding how child support is calculated.
- The first major change has to do with the imputation of income to a parent who is either (1) voluntarily unemployed or underemployed; (2) does not participate in the child support proceeding; or (3) does not provide adequate financial disclosure. Typically in the past, the Court would impute minimum wage income to this parent absent extraordinary circumstances. The new statute, however, creates a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census. Although the statute is unclear as to which specific report to reference, our research has revealed that this creates a presumption that a parent is earning $41,000.00 per year.
IF YOU DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN A CHILD SUPPORT PROCEEDING AFTER JANUARY 1st, 2011, THE COURT WILL IMPUTE APPROXIMATELY $41,000.00 PER YOU IN INCOME TO YOU, RESULTING IN AN EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT BEING ENTERED AGAINST YOU.
The statute, however, provides guidance as to how to rebut this presumption. In order for the court to impute income at an amount other than the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census, the court must make specific findings of fact consistent with the requirements of this paragraph. The party seeking to impute income has the burden to present competent, substantial evidence that:
a. The unemployment or underemployment is voluntary; and
b. Identifies the amount and source of the imputed income, through evidence of income from available employment for which the party is suitably qualified by education, experience, current licensure, or geographic location, with due consideration being given to the parties’ time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.
Except as set forth in above, income may not be imputed based upon:
a. Income records that are more than 5 years old at the time of the hearing or trial at which imputation is sought; or
b. Income at a level that a party has never earned in the past, unless recently degreed, licensed, certified, relicensed, or recertified and thus qualified for, subject to geographic location, with due consideration of the parties’ existing time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.
2. The second major change is that the guidelines will no longer discount child care expenses (daycare and/or aftercare) by 25% as previously done. These expenses will factor into the guidelines on a dollar for dollar basis.
3. The third major change is that the Court is now required to factor the tax consequences of dependency exemptions, dependent care tax credit and earned income credit in determining child support.
4. The fourth major change is that a parent who exercises 20% of overnights with the child and/or children will now be entitled to a reduction in child support. The previous number of 40% required a parent to have 146 overnights. The new percentage only requires 73 overnights. This can usually be accomplished with an every other weekend and one weeknight schedule.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support Cases
Q. I can not satisfy my monthly bills with my child support obligation, will the Court reduce my child support?
A. Inability to meet your monthly bills will not provide grounds for the Court to reduce your child support obligation. As detailed above, child support is a computerized calculation which only takes into account certain figures as set forth in the statute. There is no “ability to pay” requirement in calculating child support. One of the main reasons that child support can be high is when a parent is paying a large amount of money per month in daycare expenses. Oftentimes, there are better solutions to caring for your child than using a daycare provider which are more effective financially for both parties.
Q. Can my wages be garnished to pay my child support?
A. Yes. In most cases, the Court will enter an Income Deduction Order which will be sent directly to your employer. Your employer then has the obligation to withhold your child support from your paycheck and remit those monies to the State of Florida for disbursement.
Q. I was served with a Motion for Contempt, can I be put in jail for not paying child support?
A. Yes. A Motion for Contempt essentially asks the Court to force you to pay a lump sum amount towards your back child support or for the Court to order you to go to jail for up to 179 days. Motions for Contempt can be defended, however. In order for a party to prevail on a Motion for Contempt, that party has to prove to the Court that the non-paying party has the “present ability to pay” child support. This ensures that the Court only sanctions people who truly can pay their child support, but who just choose not to do so. If the moving party can not prove that the non-paying party has the present ability to pay, the Court can not hold the non-paying party in contempt.