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Child Support

Florida Statute 61.30 contains the child support guidelines used to calculate a non-custodial parent's child support obligation. Child support is calculated by using the parents' net monthly incomes. A judge can deviate from statutory guideline amount by considering the following factors:

  1. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.
  2. Independent income of the child, but not including supplemental security income (ssi) monies.
  3. The payment of support for a parent which regularly has been paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
  4. Seasonal variations of incomes or expenses.
  5. The child's age, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
  6. The child's special needs.
  7. Total available assets.
  8. The impact of the I.R.S. child dependency exemption - The court may order the custodial parent to execute a waiver of the exemption.
  9. If support guidelines requires a person to pay more than 55% of his/her gross income for child support.
  10. If a child spends more than 40 percent of the overnights with the noncustodial parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the custodial parent; or the refusal of the noncustodial parent to become involved in the activities of the child.
  11. Any other adjustment needed to achieve equity, such as requiring one spouse to pay existing martial debt or expense.

Both the custodial and non-custodial parent should have child support paid through the State of Florida Disbursement Unit ("SFDU"). The SFDU is a free escrow account of child support payments and maintains a free accounting of all child support. Its address and phone is: State of Florida Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 8500, Tallahassee, FL 32314-8500 (877-769-0251).

Florida Statute 743.02 provides that child support must be paid until a child reaches marries, is legally emancipated (i.e., fully self supporting), reaches the 18 years of age, or is 18 years old in high school and reasonably expects to graduate before his or her 19th birthday. A non-custodial parent would be responsible to pay child support for an adult child if the child is mentally or physically ill and the illness prevents the child from being self-supportive. There is no legal requirement in Florida to contribute toward a child's college education.

If you are the non-custodial parent of more than one child, the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage should "allocate" your child support amount (that is, should itemize your child support obligation for each child). If child support is allocated, upon the oldest child "emancipating" (turning 18 years of age, marrying, etc.), the Child Support Division of the Clerk of the Circuit Court will automatically terminate the support obligation for that child. If child support is not allocated, the noncustodial parent would be required to file a new lawsuit - a Supplemental Petition to Modify Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Needless to say, the latter procedure is more costly and time consuming.

Similar to alimony, child support can be awarded on a temporary basis (that is, while a divorce lawsuit is ongoing) and on a permanent basis (from a divorce final judgment into the future). Temporary child support is awarded by a judge at a hearing granting a motion for temporary child support. At trial, a judge can make an award of temporary child support "retroactive" back to the date of filing the divorce lawsuit or back to the date of the parties' separation (but not longer than two years before the date of filing).

Per Florida Statute 61.30(12), if a former spouse paying child support has a child(ren) of another relationship after the entry of a divorce final judgment, the child support amount generally cannot be lowered because of the new child(ren). However, if the former spouse receiving child support files a lawsuit to modify (increase) child support: (a) The former spouse paying support can raise the existence of his/her subsequent children, (b) The opposing attorney, though, can inquire into the income of the former paying spouse's new spouse or significant other, and (c) If the former paying spouse has a second job which helps support his/her new child(ren), a court may disregard this additional income in an upward modification lawsuit.

Contact Pinellas County Divorce Attorney Richard C. Griesinger today!

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