Child support in Florida is the financial obligation aimed to provide a fair and consistent means of sharing the costs of raising a child between separated parents. There’s a Collaborative Law process that offers an alternative way to address child support matters. This approach emphasizes cooperation, open communication, and prioritizing your child’s well-being. In this post, we’ll take you through the fundamentals of child support in Florida and the benefits of pursuing child support solutions through the Collaborative Process.
CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT
In Florida, you’ll find child support guidelines laid out in Florida Statutes §61.30. You’ll notice that the calculation takes into account key factors like your income and your partner’s income, the number of children involved, and the time each of you spends with them. It’s essential to understand that the state utilizes a specific formula incorporating these elements to calculate the exact amount of child support owed. Though you may deviate from these calculations under certain circumstances, the child support guidelines determine the default amount you can expect to pay or be paid.
CONSIDERING YOUR INCOMES
Remember, both your incomes play a pivotal role in calculating child support. It’s worth noting that not all types of income are straightforward (for example, income from a private business). Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that if either of you is voluntarily unemployed or not fully utilizing your earning capacity, income may be attributed to you based on your potential earning capacity.
The amount of time a parent has with the child (known as “time-sharing”) is a crucial factor as well. The more overnights you have, the more it could potentially influence the child support you’re obligated to pay or receive. By assessing overnights, you can determine the percentage of time each parent has with the child.
In addition to time-sharing, the child support guidelines may take into account other expenses, like childcare, health insurance costs, and uncovered medical costs.
And while child support covers fundamental needs such as housing, food, and clothing, there are other financial considerations, too. Costs related to your child’s extracurricular activities, uniforms, summer camp, and/or religious upbringing, may need to be shared between you and your partner. Remember, these extra costs are in addition to your regular child support obligation.
MODIFYING CHILD SUPPORT
Life is full of changes, and your financial situation can evolve too. If there’s a significant shift in either your or your partner’s financial circumstances, or if your child’s needs change substantially, you have the right to request a modification to your child support.
COLLABORATIVE APPROACH TO CHILD SUPPORT
The Collaborative model (also known as Collaborative Law, Collaborative Divorce, Collaborative Practice, or the Collaborative Process) is a method of resolving disputes without going to court. The main idea is to encourage you and your partner to work together to find mutually beneficial solutions. In this process, you will have an attorney and your spouse will have a separate, independent attorney, both of whom are prohibited from engaging in the trial work that tends to increase costs and aggravation. Additional support can be added, as needed.
BENEFITS OF COLLABORATIVE LAW FOR CHILD SUPPORT
1. Child-Centered Approach: Collaborative Practice ensures that your child’s well-being remains the top priority. Both you and your co-parent are actively involved in making decisions that will shape your child’s future.
2. Maintaining Relationships: By avoiding hostile court battles, the Collaborative Process helps preserve a more amicable relationship between you and your co-parent, reducing the impact on the child.
3. Flexible Solutions: Collaborative agreements can be more flexible and personalized compared to court-mandated decisions. This allows both of you to create an arrangement that suits your family’s unique needs.
4. Efficiency: Collaborative Law often saves time and money compared to traditional legal proceedings, reducing emotional stress for all parties involved.
In conclusion, the Collaborative Law Process offers a positive and cooperative way to address child support. Navigating the intricacies of child support calculations in Florida involves understanding your unique situation. To ensure that you’re well-informed and that your child’s best interests are safeguarded, please considering consulting with us, so you can make informed decisions for your family’s future.
Britney Penaherrera is a Collaborative Lawyer and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator. She has been selected to participate in the Leadership Institute of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.