The court will always place the needs of the children first in the scheme of considering divorce. There are so many issues to be considered: Parenting Plans and Co-parenting plans, blended families, Parenting Plans, needs of children, impact on relationships, child abuse, paternity, grand-parents’ rights, just to name a few.
Remember that unless you are able to come up with a plan during mediation, the court will exercise its’ power and create one.
The principles in The Florida Statutes Chapter 61 establish the public policy of the State of Florida in the creation of the child support guidelines. These principles are:
- Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child.
- The guidelines schedule is based on the parent’s combined net income estimated to have been allocated to the child as if the parents and children were living in an intact household.
- The guidelines encourage fair and efficient settlement of support issues between parents and minimizes the need for litigation.
Child support is calculated using a prescribed formula (outlined in Section 61.30 of the Florida Statutes). At mediation we will use this formula (which considers each parent’s net income and the projected number of overnights the children will stay with each parent) and the guidelines chart to calculate child support. In addition, I will ask you to consider the additional economic needs of your children (things like clothing, school supplies, and gifts to others), the cost of your children’s health insurance, uninsured/unreimbursed medical dental costs for your children, and the cost of work-related child-care. In order to correctly calculate child support, you should remember the following:
- A parents’ net incomes are calculated by subtracting the amount the parent pays in (i) Federal, FICA and Medicare taxes; (ii) mandatory retirement contributions, (iii) mandatory union dues; (iv) health insurance coverage – for the parent only; (v) court ordered child support from prior cases; and (vi) alimony, from the parent’s gross income.
- If you have no income you may agree to an estimated income. Likewise, the court can give you (impute) an estimated income. And, the court may also impute income for perks, cash sales and/or tips. Section 61.30.2 of the Florida Statutes addresses imputed income for the purposes of calculating child support.
- The substantial shared parenting method is used when the child(ren) spend at least 20% (73 or more overnights per year) of their overnights with each parent. A parent’s failure to regularly exercise the court-ordered or agreed time-sharing schedule can result in the modification of a child support award. And, such a modification may be retroactive to the date that the “noncustodial” parent first failed to regularly exercise the court-ordered or agreed time-sharing schedule.
- The court may adjust or modify child support at any point in time. So, as circumstances change either parent may return to court and request a modification of child support. The criteria the court uses to make this decision are outlined in Florida Statute 61.30(11).
Feel free to Contact Rich Smukler with any questions (or) to schedule a complimentary zoom or telephonic meeting.