Understanding Your Rights and Child Support Laws
Child support is most often compelled by a court order that designates the specific amount of money one parent must pay each month for a child’s healthcare, food, housing and educational needs. Child support can create many issues, including one parent feeling that the amount isn’t sufficient, another parent feeling that the amount is excessive, or even one parent pursuing legal action because the other parent is not making timely payments.
In most instances, one parent is ordered to pay child support, and each state has its own formula to determine the amount of support owed. But if you are facing a child support order, you should seek the services of an experienced family law attorney to ensure that all your rights are protected.
How Florida Courts Determine Child Support Payments
Every state has a specific formula that judges must adhere to when they are determining child support payments that a parent must pay. In Florida, Statute 61.30 is the legal standard that judges use to make their decision.
This statute lists a mathematical formula that takes into account the income that each parent earns, the total costs of child-care, healthcare expenses (including insurance), and the overnight time-sharing of both parents.
Florida courts also stipulate that any judge who orders child support payments that exceed five percent of legal guidelines file a written explanation as to why the amount was more than the standard.
Prior to making a child support ruling, Florida family court judges will typically analyze factors that include:
- Child’s age
- Special needs that the child may require
- Assets of both parents
- Whether child support guidelines cause parent to pay more than 55 percent of his/her income
- Existing shared-time arrangement (how many overnights does child spend with non-custodial parent?)
Modifying Child Support Payments
There may arise situations in which you may need to modify a child support payment due to circumstances that have changed in your life. For example, if you lose a high-paying job, and you are either unemployed or find a job that pays less, you can petition the court to modify the child support payment based on these new factors. It’s important to remember that the parent receiving child support can also ask the court to modify child support payments, if circumstances such as a child’s health issue increase monthly expenses.
The law in Florida requires you to prove “substantial change of circumstances” when it comes to filing a modification for child support, and those circumstances must be involuntary.
Some circumstances that a court may consider include:
- Change in cost of health insurance
- Job loss, sudden illness
- Decrease in child’s care expenses (i.e., no longer attending private school)
- Job promotion which increases income
Florida law requires that judges only approve of child support payment modifications if the new amount represents at least a 15 percent decrease or increase from the existing payment amounts or $50, whichever is greater.
Getting Help with Child Support
Child support issues can be complex and difficult to navigate without the help of a family lawyer. If you are trying to petition a family court for a child support modification, please call the law firm of Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. at 561-655-8844 for a personal legal consultation with Attorney Cheshire. We are experienced in handling these claims and can help you obtain the best results.