Each state’s child support guidelines dictate the amount of child support each parent is legally responsible for providing each month. Florida’s child support guidelines require minimum payments of child support based on need and incomes. Minimum child support obligations can be adjusted in the noncustodial parent’s favor if the parent spends a significant amount of time with their children during the year.
Florida courts must use the state’s child support guidelines to calculate the child support each parent must provide. Although Florida’s family law judges can deviate from the guideline amounts, judges must provide written justification for any deviation – downward or upward. Justifiable reasons to deviate from the presumptive guideline amounts include special circumstances such as special medication or specialty doctors for a medically needy child.
The basic child support obligations within the state’s guidelines are determined by calculating the number of dependents between the spouses, each spouse’s income, childcare costs and medical costs. One spouse paying for the child’s health insurance will receive a deduction in the parent’s combined monthly income contribution or credit. Florida courts will also consider the number of overnight visits that each parent spends with their children on an annual basis.
If the noncustodial parent has overnight visitation with their children for more than one-fifth of the year, then the guidelines allow the parent to receive a credit for the extra visitation. Florida’s child support guidelines allow parents to deduct mandatory union dues, court-ordered support payments for any other children from another relationship that one spouse actually pays, court-ordered alimony to a spouse from a previous marriage and tax payments. Florida courts will not include the amount of some government assistance benefits in the total gross income amount but will include disability benefits, social security benefits, worker’s compensation and unemployment benefits.
The minimum payment amount is the guideline amount after all of the deductions and credits are calculated. In 2010, the guideline amounts for the state require a minimum payment award of $1,939 monthly for parents with gross incomes of $5,000 and three children. Thus, the minimum presumptive child support amount that the noncustodial parent will pay is $1,939 for all three children.
When parents do not pay their minimum court-ordered child support payments, they may be held in contempt of court for violating a binding court order. Additionally, parents can request Florida’s Department of Revenue to pursue collection proceedings against the nonpaying parent by filing liens against the parent’s property, levying bank accounts or withholding tax refunds.
Since laws can frequently change, you should not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.