Child Support and Divorce

After a divorce, parents must still support their children financially. One step in the divorce process is to calculate if any child support is due from one parent to another.  There are many factors that affect and influence a judge’s decision.  Here is some general information to consider in planning for this.

Responsibility to Support Children After a Divorce

Parents have a legal responsibility to support their children according to the child’s needs and each parents income. In the state of Florida, the legislature has enacted a set of guidelines that the courts use in order to determine child support obligations of each parent.  The guidelines are a set of formula’s based on the circumstances of each parent.  Although you can estimate child support at anytime during a divorce, a parenting plan outlining time-sharing between the parents will need to be determined before making final calculations of child support.

Child Support Factors to Consider During Divorce

Some of the primary factors that affect the child support calculation after divorce are the number of overnights the child(ren) spend with each parent, income of each parent, health insurance costs and child care expenses.  There are of course many other factors that can affect the calculation and judges do have discretion to deviate from the statutory guidelines in some cases.

Other factors you should consider about child support during divorce:

  • What are the actual costs involved in raising your children including day care, health insurance, activities, special needs?
  • Will there be temporary support paid during the process of divorce?
  • Will child support begin retroactive to the date of filing the divorce or will it start at a different time (for example at a separation date)?
  • How often support will be paid (ie, weekly, monthly, etc)?
  • How will support be paid (voluntary payment, income deduction, etc)?
  • Who will support be paid to (direct to other parent, Florida Disbursement Unit, etc)?
  • Is you or your spouses income sporadic or irregular?
  • Is one or both of you self-employed?
  • Do one of you have undocumented income (such as tips, side jobs, or cash receipts) or inflated expenses that mask true wages?
  • Is one party voluntarily unemployed or underemployed?
  • What happens if a child support payment is late or not made at all?
  • Do one of you receive other income such as disability, military benefits, pension, or fringe benefits paid by employer?
  • Who will get to claim the child(ren) as deductions on income taxes?
  • Will there be any alimony awarded in the divorce case?  If so, for how long?
  • Are there other child(ren) to support outside of this marriage?
  • Will one or both of you be eligible for child tax credits on your income taxes?  Who will benefit from those?
  • What happens if there are changes to the factors used to calculate initially calculate child support? For example, you or your spouse change career’s or lose a job, or you receive a salary increase?   What about a change in or time sharing between you and your spouse?  What if one or both of you get re-married?
  • How old are your children and how will their financial needs change as they get older?  What happens when they turn 18; will support stop?  Are parents expected to contribute to college or other expenses when they become adults?

Child Support Guidelines Worksheet

Because interpreting the statutes can be complicated, the Courts in Florida have adopted a worksheet used to help parents, lawyers and judges calculate what each parent should financially contribute (child support guidelines worksheet Form 12.902(e)). This worksheet takes you step by step through the basic calculation of child support obligations. However, judges do have some discretion to deviate from the worksheet due to circumstances of one or both parties or special needs of the child(ren).

A Caution About Child Support and Time-Sharing

Keep in mind that child support and time-sharing with the children are separate issues. It is not proper to withhold court ordered time-sharing of a child because child support has not been paid.

Get Experienced Advice About Divorce and Child Support Calculations

Although child support may initially appear simple to calculate, it can sometimes become complex depending upon the facts of the case especially during divorce. If you would like advice in calculating child support, please contact us to set a consultation. In order to provide you with an accurate calculation, you will need to discuss your matter in detail with one of our attorneys who can then provide you with estimated support calculations and advice on how to proceed in your situation.