Fort Lauderdale Child Support Attorney
Calculating child support payments and determining the amount of support you may be entitled to receive—or obligated to pay—can be difficult without the assistance of a lawyer who understands the Florida child support system. At Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., we help clients determine support amounts accurately and efficiently in order achieve a fair support arrangement that meets the needs of children and parents. Contact our experienced Fort Lauderdale child support attorney for more information.
Child Support Guidelines in Florida
In Florida, child support amounts are based on a comprehensive guideline chart that takes into account the net income of the parents and the total number of children. These guidelines are used the first time child support is ordered by a court and each time the support amount changes. They are also used to review a support order if a parent requests a modification. The guidelines consider:
- The income and earning capacity of each parent
- The child’s health care and child care costs
- The standard needs for the child based on the child’s age and the parents’ income
Under new Florida child support laws, support amounts may also be lower or higher depending on how many overnights a child has with each parent during a year. In all situations where the parent with fewer overnights has the child overnight 20% or more of the time, a tiered structure modifies the calculation of child support to account for the time spent with each parent. For example, if the parent with whom the child has fewer overnights has 80 nights a year, or just over 21%, he or she qualifies for reduced payments.
Child support determinations may also be made by the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR), usually in cases involving unmarried parents, paternity, modifications and/or nonpayment. The DOR may handle support issues through an administrative proceeding or file a case in court. If your case involves the DOR, we can help you request services, represent you in hearings, or perform any other tasks necessary to achieve your goals.
Refusal or Inability to Pay Support
When a parent who is ordered to pay child support and who is awarded time-sharing or visitation rights fails to pay support, the parent with whom the child primarily resides may not refuse to honor the other parent’s time-sharing rights. Likewise, if the parent with whom the child primarily lives refuses to honor the other parent’s time-sharing rights that does not mean the other parent can stop paying any ordered child support. In these cases, parents may seek child support enforcement from the state.
Florida Child Support Laws
Changes to child support laws can significantly affect how much support a parent is entitled to receive or obligated to pay after a divorce, custody or paternity action. Here, we explain some of the new Florida child support laws.
Overnights & Reduced Child Support Payments
Under new Florida child support laws, a parent qualifies for reduced child support payments if he or she has the child overnight 20% or more of the time. In those cases, a tiered structure modifies the calculation of support to account for the time spent with each parent. Previously, the parent with fewer overnights had to have at least 40% of overnights in order to obtain an adjustment.
“Aging Out” of Child Support
If you have multiple children, you must explain exactly how and when the child support changes as each child “ages out” of eligibility for support. Child support generally ends when a child turns 18 years old unless you specify otherwise. This change makes any reductions automatic, thus reducing the need for filing modification petitions.
Reasonable Cost of Child Health Insurance
The cost of child health insurance is one of the factors courts and the Department of Revenue (DOR) consider when ordering child support. There is now a clear definition of “reasonable cost” of child health insurance, which provides that insurance premiums that cost more than 5% of a parent’s gross income are unreasonably costly.
Unreasonable cost is the only reason you can avoid buying health insurance for your children in a Florida divorce. A parent earning $50,000 per year must pay child health insurance premiums up to $207 per month. Credit is given for this insurance payment on the child support worksheet. Before this definition was added, reasonable cost was up to the judge; now there is a statewide standard.
Voluntary Unemployment or Underemployment
This change makes it more difficult for parents to decrease income levels intentionally in an effort to pay less in child support. The new law creates a presumption that a voluntarily unemployed, underemployed or nonparticipating parent’s “imputed” (assumed) income level is equivalent to the median income of full-time workers. Child support will be based on this amount, regardless of the amount of the parent’s actual income.
Contact Our Experienced Fort Lauderdale Child Support Attorneys Today
If you are facing divorce and have children, child support will be an important part of your divorce agreement. For more information, please contact Fort Lauderdale child support attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to schedule a consultation. From our offices in Fort Lauderdale, we serve clients in Boca Raton and throughout Broward County.