This is one of the most frequently asked questions by individuals involved in a divorce or paternity action. There is both a long and short answer to the question. The short answer is that the Florida Statutes provide a guideline amount for child support. Most attorneys and all judges use a program which they input specific facts about each parent: gross income; amount (if any) that each parent pays for their own health insurance; amount (if any) that each parent pays for the child(ren)’s health insurance; amount of any daycare expenses, who will claim the dependency exemption(s) for the chil(ren); and any mandatory dues or retirement payments made. The program also takes into consideration the timesharing plan of the parties. Once all of this information is entered, the program provides a presumptive child support amount.
The longer answer involves special circumstances. The Court must also consider various factors which include, but are not limited to: the age of the child(ren); any special medical considerations; timesharing expenses (if one parent needs to travel a long distance); financial status and ability of each parent; the standard of living previously established; and any other factor that would be in the best interest of the child.
The Court has the ability to deviate plus or minus five percent (5%) from the presumptive guidelines amount without making any findings. Any other deviation must be supported by factual findings.
Additionally, the Court has the ability to order retroactive child support to the date of filing, the date of separation up to twenty-four (24) months. So, it is important for anyone involved in a divorce or paternity action to begin paying child support as soon as possible to avoid the accrual of large arrearages. If the Court does assess arrearages, there will usually be an additional twenty percent (20%) of the ongoing child support amount added to the monthly payment until all arrearages are paid in full.
Sam R. Assini is a member of the Florida Bar, practicing Family Law in Lee County, Florida. His firm’s focus is on Men’s Rights, aggressively representing the interests of husbands and fathers involved in divorce and other family law matters. He can be reached at (239) 829-0166, www.4themen.com. View his Divorce Magazine Profile.