The first thing you need to know about child support is that you cannot waive it. The State of Florida views child support as your child’s or children’s rights. Even if you get creative and decide that you want to figure this out between you and your ex to keep the court out of it, you cannot waive child support.
Ok, fine. I can’t get out of it; how is it figured out? Unlike alimony, child support is based on a formula. Your lawyer or the court will plug in the numbers and viola, there is the child support.
Like our Florida child support calculator, the formula used by the State of Florida to calculate child support requires a number of variables, including:
There are a few more factors that may apply to individual situations. However, these are the ones that apply in every situation.
Net income is not your “salary.” Rather, net income is the amount you bring home minus the allowable deductions. These deductions include things like:
Depending on your individual situation, these deductions can make very large impacts on your net income utilized in the calculation of child support.
The numerical figures that go into the formula are all subject to interpretation, which is why the mandatory disclosure paperwork and your financial affidavit are so important. You want to be the party that’s right. You want to have all of your paperwork together so that when your lawyer or the court looks at the numbers, there isn’t much wiggle room. Why? Not only does it matter for the billable hours your lawyer will have to put into it (and charge you for), but it matters to the judge.
A judge can deviate from the child support guidelines by 5% up or down without having to make a written finding.
Time-sharing is a significant factor in child support payments; specifically, how many overnights you and your child(ren) have together. For example, you pick up your child from school on Friday and bring them to your ex’s on Sunday evening at bedtime. Even though you spent the entire meaningful time together, you only had two overnights. If you dropped off your child at school Monday morning, you would have 3 overnights. In the second example, you probably had the same “meaningful” time together, but the calculation would be different.
What does this mean in reality? If you have more overnights, you (more than likely) have less child support to pay. This, of course, doesn’t mean that if you’re the breadwinner and you still have more overnights (e.g., 4/3) you won’t have to pay child support, it just means it will likely be reduced from what it could be if you had less.
A piece of free advice: Do not say you want more overnights simply because of child support.
Remember that you have a child and ultimately the child would rather be with you or your ex than be ignored or with a babysitter. You have to consider your situation and lifestyle. Be realistic with yourself. If you demand equal time-sharing because you don’t want to pay child support, but then never actually participate in the time-sharing, your ex can modify the time-sharing and the support obligation anyway.
Child support can be modified with substantial changes in certain circumstances. For example, if you or your ex gets a better job, if the child stops going to a school that needs to be paid for, if you or your ex don’t participate in time-sharing over a substantial period of time, etc., you may be able to have the child support obligations modified.
Ultimately, you need an attorney to help you navigate the figures that go into the formula for child support because a deviation in those figures can impact the money coming out of your pocket every month. You work hard for your money and you don’t want the court or your ex inflating your figures. We’re here to help you and protect you and your money. Call us today at 386-222-6677 to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced Florida child support lawyer.