Jacksonville Child Support Lawyers
Child Support in Florida
Florida’s child custody and support rules are often flexible in order to allow each family to create the situation that supports the best interests of the child or children. Often, parents may share custody more or less equally. When custody is not equally shared, however, child support payments may be necessary to ensure both parents are contributing to the child’s needs.
Child support payments are intended to help care for the child by providing the funds necessary for food, clothes, school supplies, medical care, and other needs. Although child support is a financial issue, separating it from the significant emotional toll of the divorce process can be difficult. If you need help negotiating child support, please don’t hesitate to contact the Florida family law attorneys at Farah & Farah by calling (800) 533-3555.
How Florida Courts Determine Child Support
In Florida, most child support decisions are based on the state’s child support guidelines, which provide ranges and rules for setting the amount of child support in any given case. The guidelines are based on the income of the parents, which includes amounts like:
- salaries and wages;
- bonuses, commissions, allowances, tips, and overtime;
- business income from self-employment, contracting, closely-held corporations, and similar entities or activities;
- disability, workers’ compensation, and/or unemployment benefits;
- pension, retirement, or annuity payments, including Social Security retirement;
- spousal support or alimony;
- income from interest, dividends, rental income, royalties, trusts, estates, or other property or investments; and
- reimbursed expenses or in-kind payments that reduce living expenses, such as free rent or reimbursed utility bills.
Certain expenses are deducted from the total income calculation to arrive at a “net income.” Once a net income amount is calculated, the amount is compared to Florida’s chart for calculating child support and an amount is set based on the number of children to be supported.
Courts are allowed to deviate slightly from the guidelines, but the change must be based on a consideration of “all relevant factors.” These include the child’s age, needs, standard of living, and station in life, as well the financial resources available to each parent. Some of the factors that allow courts to deviate from the child support guidelines include:
- extraordinary medical expenses, including expenses for dental work, educational support, or psychological needs;
- independent income the child has, not including SSI income;
- payment for support of a parent who needs help;
- changes in either parent’s income due to seasonal work;
- the age of the child and the needs of older children;
- special needs like those related to disability, if the household income has typically met those needs – child support payments may be increased so those needs can continue to be met, even if this pushes the support amount above the amount set by the guidelines;
- the total assets available to both parents and the child; and
- the amount of time the child spends with each parent according to the parents’ parenting plan.
Help with Child Support in Florida
Calculating child support and getting the court to agree to your support and custody arrangement isn’t always easy. At Farah & Farah, our Jacksonville child support lawyers can help you determine whether and how much child support should be paid, and we can also represent your interests in front of the court. For a free consultation, contact us at (904) 263-4610 today.