Child Support

How is child-support determined in Florida?

Child support in Florida is determined by the Florida child-support guidelines. The court can in a divorce or a paternity proceeding order either or both of the parents to pay child support in accordance with the guidelines. The guidelines serve to standardize the determination of the amount of support. The amount of support that must be paid is determined by using both parents net incomes allowing for the number of minor children that the parties have together. In addition to the guidelines amount of support the law requires that a portion of daycare expense and health insurance is added to the support determination. The amount of child support is also affected by the time sharing percentages of the parents. As the amount of time sharing of the paying parent exceeds 20% of the total time sharing the child support is reduced for the payer. Additionally, each parent must pay for uncovered medical expenses in proportion to each parent’s net income.  The court is permitted to deviate from the guidelines by up to 5% for good cause. Parents who do not have health benefits for their children can apply year-round for affordable health care benefits through Healthy Kids and Kidcare.

Termination of child support

Child support must be paid until the child turns 18, dies or becomes Self supporting. However support can be obtained until the child's 19th birthday if the child is going to be graduating from high school by his 19th birthday. It is important to note that where there are two or more children and one of the children turns 18 child-support is not automatically terminated for the child that attained majority. It is necessary to file a petition for modification of child support so that child support can be recalculated taking into consideration the child that has attained the age of majority.

Retroactive child-support

In an initial determination of support the court has discretion to award support retroactive to the date when the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child. The court can award retroactive support from the period of separation up to 24 months preceding the filing of the dissolution of marriage or paternity  action.

Enforcement of child support

The payer of child support is entitled to a deduction from his or her income should he or she have children from a prior marriage and is paying court ordered child support. In the event the payer of support fails to pay it when due, the recipient of the support can obtain a court order by filing a motion for contempt. A parent cannot avoid the duty to pay support by voluntarily being unemployed or underemployed. A court may impute income to a parent who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In the event of voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the Employment potential and probable earnings level of the parent is based upon all of the following:

  • His or her recent work history.
  • Occupational qualifications.
  • Prevailing earnings level in the community.

If you are contemplating a divorce or are involved in a paternity case it is important that you have sound legal advice concerning proper calculation of child support. Please contact divorce and family law attorney Stephen J. Press for a free initial consultation.