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Child Support Lawyers in Orlando Helping Clients Navigate a New Reality

Every parent knows that raising a child is expensive. In fact, it’s one of the most significant expenses you’ll face in your life. When parents divorce, it can be difficult to continue supporting a child and all that they need on only one income. Child support is a way of ensuring that both parents are invested in financially supporting the children. Child support is one of the most contentious and misunderstood topics in family law, but it’s actually quite a bit simpler and easier to understand than you may think.

Child support can have a significant impact on your finances — whether you’re the party paying or receiving. Knowing how to calculate your expected child support amount and how long child support lasts can help you plan for the future. Get your child support questions answered when you call The Law Office of Erin Morse.

When Is Child Support Ordered?

Child support can be ordered anytime a child’s parents are no longer living together and supporting the child together. Child support is a factor in any divorce or legal separation. It will be automatically included as a term of the divorce, but it’s possible for both parties to agree not to exchange support. However, the judge must also agree, and this will depend on whether they believe no support is in the best interests of the children.

Child support can also be ordered if the parents were never married. This is common if the parents break up or after paternity has been established as part of a custody case. In these situations, it can take longer for child support to be determined and start being paid because the courts first have to determine paternity and custody before child support can be factored in.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Florida?

Every state has a different way of calculating child support. In Florida, child support is based on a formula that takes into consideration both parents’ incomes and how much it costs to support a child in this state. The general child support formula is to add both parents’ gross incomes together. This amount is then compared to a chart that states how much it costs to raise a child on that level of income. In general, the higher the combined income, the more it costs to raise the child due to the standard of living.

The amount on the chat is then split between the parents according to their percentage of the total income. For example, if parent A makes $40,000, parent B makes $60,000, and the cost to support the child is $10,000, parent A would be responsible for $4,000 and parent B would be responsible for $6,000. This amount is then divided into monthly child support payments.

Does a Paternity Test Have to Be Conducted for Child Support?

Paternity has to be established for child support to be awarded, but this doesn’t always mean a paternity test. For example, any children born during the marriage are assumed to be the biological children of the husband. If a child is born outside marriage, there are a few different potential scenarios.

If the father is claiming paternity, both parents can fill out a document called an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This is different from a birth certificate — which is not enough to legally establish paternity. If this document is filed, no paternity test is needed to establish child support. Without a marriage or an Acknowledgement of Paternity, the courts are likely to require a paternity test before establishing custody or child support.

Can Child Support Be Avoided With Shared Parenting?

Many parents believe that having shared parenting is a way to get out of having to pay child support. The thought process behind this makes sense. If both parents are spending roughly equal time with the children, they are also probably spending roughly equal money supporting them. However, the courts don’t necessarily look at it like this. While it’s possible for both parties to agree not to pay or receive child support, shared parenting isn’t a guarantee that child support won’t be a factor.

When Are Child Support Orders Modified?

Child support orders can be modified any time it’s in the best interests of the children or there is a significant change in financial circumstances for either parent. For example, if one parent loses their job or is incarcerated, it makes sense that the child support amount may have to be lowered based on lack of income. However, you can’t just quit your job to get out of paying child support. In this case, the courts can impute income based on your earning potential.

Child support orders are regularly reviewed every few years in Florida — although one or both parents may have to request this — to ensure that the support amount is still reflective of the children’s needs. For example, if child support was based on one parent paying for daycare but the child is now in public school, child support could be lowered.

If you’re dealing with child support after a divorce or breakup, talking with a family law attorney can help you understand what to expect and how it could affect your finances. At The Law Office of Erin Morse, we’re here to represent you whether you’re fighting to enforce a child support order or need to request a modification because of a change in financial circumstances.

Call 407-900-7451 to speak with a member of our team who can tell you more about how our firm works and how we can help.