Child support is a key element of any separation between couples that have children, as every child has a legal right to receive financial support from both parents. Under the Florida law, child support amounts are determined based on many different factors: income, deductions, childcare expenses, healthcare expenses, other expenses, shared custody and visitation.
After a calculation of allowable deductions from gross income, the non-custodial parent is required to pay a percentage of their net income as child support. The percentage of income paid for child support is capped at a maximum of 50% for 6 children or more. The following are the income percentages that must be paid with regards to the number of children:
• 1 child – 20%
• 2 children – 28%
• 3 children – 32%
• 4 children – 40%
• 5 children – 45%
• 6 children – 50%
Though the law is explicit regarding how child support is calculated, there are factors that can make this issue more challenging such as facts that may permit an upward or downward deviation from the guidelines.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Florida law recognizes that children have a right to receive support from both parents, but it does not calculate support based on their combined income. Instead, one parent is named the noncustodial parent, who is required to pay a percentage of net income to the recipient parent. In most cases, the noncustodial parent, so the law assumes the recipient parent is already paying something for the children’s support while exercising physical custody. Child support is designed to maintain children at the standard of living they would have enjoyed had the parents not been separated. Money from child support is meant to help the custodial parent pay for the child’s basic needs, like food and clothes, along with transportation, medical care, activities, education and other standard child-rearing expenses.
Florida uses a precise mathematical calculation for basic child support. However, the court has the discretion to order the non-custodial to pay additional amounts for lifestyle expenses, including:
• Private school tuition
• College savings, tuition and living expenses
• Enrichment activities (sports, travel teams, the arts, summer camp, etc.)
A court also considers the specific children in question. For example, if a child has special needs, the court may order additional payments for associated expenses.
How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?
If you have been ordered to pay child support for one or more children, you need to know when your obligation ends. Florida law requires you to pay child support at least until your son or daughter turns 18. However, there are numerous circumstances that would lead a court to require you to pay support for a bit longer. If your child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, then you may be required to pay support through graduation or his or her 19th birthday.
Your child support obligation can go on longer if your child has a mental or physical disability. You may be required to pay support for a child with disabilities through a certain age until a certain educational goal is achieved, and possibly indefinitely.
Preparing for College Expenses
You may be required to continue financially supporting your child when he or she goes to college or enrolls in another type of higher educational or training program. Florida allows for you to be obliged to participate in paying for the educational expenses of a non-minor child. You could be required to help pay for college prep-courses, application fees, tuition, and room and board.
However, there is no automatic duty to contribute toward your child’s college expenses. The other parent must petition the court to require you to do so. However, the court will look at a variety of factors, including your financial situation and your child’s ability to pay for school him- or herself, before making a decision.
If you are ordered to contribute toward your adult child’s educational expenses, you only have to do so until he or she turns 23, or if your child has a disability, until he or she turns 25. Also, you may be able to set it up so you pay your child or the educational institution directly. You may not have to pay this support to your child’s other parent.
Asking for Child Support to End
You may be able to ask for your child support duty to end early if your child is emancipated, living with another adult other than his mom or dad, or residing with you. The court may consider a child emancipated before turning 18 if he or she gets married, joins the military, is working full-time, or has moved out and become financially independent.
If you are aware of these circumstances and believe paying your child’s other parent support should no longer be necessary, contact me today to discuss returning to court for a modification of your child support obligation. If your child has moved in with you full time, you may be able to ask the other parent for support instead.
Contact us for Help Today
As an attorney, I understand the intricacies of how child support is determined. If you have questions about child support or believe your current financial obligation needs to change or end, call us today at (407) 900-7451 or contact us online. Work with a skilled Orlando child support attorney at the Law Office of Erin Morse for the guidance and advice you need on this important matter.