Divorce can be tough for anyone, but if you have children, you may face additional issues. Florida couples in the process of divorcing often have questions about how child support works.
The concept of child support has its roots in the legal principle that parents must support their children. For this reason, courts generally approach the allocation of child support based on how much each parent would spend on supporting the children if they were still together.
The Florida Child Support Guidelines provide a framework for support calculations. Each parent must present a list of income sources and amounts; these may include wages, benefits and passive income. Then they deduct certain enumerated types of expenses. The court then uses the two net income amounts and the number of children to calculate the appropriate amount and assign a percentage to each spouse.
Ensuring proper support
Courts do have some discretion to modify how they apply the Guidelines in each particular case. One of the priorities courts consider is making sure to allocate necessary expenses such as education, health care and child care between the spouses. Sometimes, it can make more sense to divide by expense type rather than splitting each expense down the middle. If parents want to work out such an agreement, they must get the court's permission to do so.
Child support belongs to children, not parents
Courts will generally not approve an agreement that deprives the child of appropriate support. While some parents think of child support as something the court makes them pay to the other parent, in reality, they owe the support to the child. Tax law reflects this principle, providing that the parent paying the support cannot count it as a deduction while the one receiving it on behalf of the child does not count it as taxable income.
Courts will also take into account custody arrangements that affect how much each parent spends on the child. If the child spends substantially more time living with one parent, the other may have to pay support.
A knowledgeable Florida attorney can help you understand how child support may work in your case and help you get a fair result.