Child support consists of those payments made by a parent to support a child (or children) during and after a separation or divorce. Several variables contribute to determining required child support, but the amount mainly depends on parental income and how much time a child spends with each parent.
The best situation is if the divorcing couple can work out child support in an amicable manner. When this is not feasible, the courts will decide on their behalf.
Child support payments are legal and binding agreements. Payments can be made directly between parents, but many choose to make arrangements through a state agency to avoid disputes regarding payments. In some cases, payments are made through wage garnishment.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Child support payments are designed to provide financial security for the children of divorce, and payments are structured in the best interest of those children. Child support typically covers food, clothing, shelter, education, transportation, and medical bills, although other costs may be appropriate. Unless other arrangements are made, child support is paid until the age of maturity for each child. This may be 18 but can be 21 or older if the child has special needs or educational requirements.
If a court orders child support and an individual does not pay, it is considered a serious legal offense. Courts may choose to enforce the child support order in several different ways. In some cases, failing to make child support payments could result in jail time, the garnishment of a tax refund, or even property seizure.
Changes in Financial Situation: If an obligated parent suffers job loss or illness – or has another significant life event that makes payment difficult – they can petition the court for a modification.
Who Gets Child Support Payments in a Divorce?
Orders for child support and custody arrangements are typically established during the divorce process. The parent who performs daily care for the children is the custodial parent. The parent who does not have day-to-day responsibility for the children is called the non-custodial parent.
One of the most contested areas of divorce is the amount of child support the non-custodial parent will have to pay. However, although the state provides guidelines for calculating this payment, the court typically has broad discretion as to the final amount.
Child support payments are based on various factors, including the income and expenses of each parent and the amount of time they expect to spend with their children. Payments are made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.
According to the guidelines provided by the Florida legislature, a child support payment is based on the parent’s combined monthly net income. However, further calculations consider the child’s health insurance, medical costs, and daycare expenses. Generally, the more time a parent spends with the child, the less child support that parent will be required to pay.
The Court will consider pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns to determine each parent’s income. Each parent will also file a financial affidavit which gives a monthly account of their income and expenses.
Divorce is an emotional time, and fighting over money is often one of the most distressing aspects of the process. It is essential to keep in mind that this process represents taking care of the children and providing them with the financial stability they need.
If you are facing divorce and need professional guidance and assistance, call family law attorney Richard V. Ellis. From divorce and settlements to bankruptcy and assistance with financial matters, we have helped thousands in the Sarasota area.