Florida Child Support Law Overview & Issues
Florida child support law has significantly changed in regard to custody and child support. No longer is there a designation of a primary and a secondary parent. Both parents are “custodial” unless the judge specifically orders sole physical custody to one parent. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, both parents will have shared parental responsibility in making the major decisions in the life of their minor child or children. Beginning January 1, 2011, a contact schedule that provides 20 percent or more of the overnights with one parent can qualify as enough contact to justify using the child support calculation that was formerly used when one parent had 40 per cent or more of the overnights with the child or children. The amount of reimbursement of child care expenses paid has been increased by 25%. If you are the payor of child support, you may want to find out if the new changes justify a decrease in the amount of child support that you are paying. If you are receiving child support, you may want to consider what you can do to reduce the risk of having your child support lowered. If you are considering filing for a dissolution of marriage or a paternity action, you will want to know how a contact schedule will affect the amount of child support ordered, although the most important factor to consider in developing a contact and parenting schedule is “what is in the best interest of the child or children.” Contact us to address your specific situation.
Some frequently asked questions on child support:
Question: If there is no longer a primary parent in Florida, how is it determined who pays child support to whom?
Answer: Every new case has to have a parenting plan and contact schedule submitted with the final judgment. The contact schedule will determine who pays child support to whom and will be based on how many overnights the children spend each year with each parent.
Question: How is the amount of child support determined.
Answer: Child support is still calculated by the statutory formula. There can be a variance of 5% above or below the guideline amount without court approval. The parties can agree to any amount, but if it varies outside the 5%, the judge has the right to order an amount within the guideline range, based on the statutory formula.
Note that net amounts of income are not necessarily what a person takes home from his or her paycheck. One has to begin with gross income and deduct what the statutes allow to get a correct net income, and that also means using the correct tax deduction designations. The correct net incomes of each party should be on the financial affidavits filed with the court, but people can make honest errors on these that need to be adjusted for actual tax filing status, for example.
Question: If someone has been overpaying child support, will they get a refund?
Answer: If a modification to child support lowers a person’s child support and there is a surplus, an order needs to be entered to direct the payor’s employer to adjust the amount of income deduction if an income deduction order is in effect, or the payor can do the adjustment by paying less into the system if there is no income deduction order.
Question: If someone has paid more child support than shows in the Clerk’s records, what can be done to correct that problem?
Answer: Obtain a court order directing the Clerk to adjust the child support orders to reflect the actual amount paid.
For modification of child support, see Changes to Judgments, Orders, and Agreements
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