What is child support? Child support is money paid from one party to the other in order to provide for the financial needs of their children.
Child support is determined by statutory guidelines. Child support in Florida is based on the number of children involved, the number of nights the children sleep at one parent’s house versus the other parent, each parent’s income, the cost of medical insurance and medical expenses for the children, and the cost of child care. Based on those factors, the statutory guidelines are used to determine the child support amount.
“Garbage in, garbage out.” There’s an old computer phrase: “Garbage in, garbage out.” And that’s how it works when calculating child support in Florida. You see, if one of the factors used in the guidelines (the number of nights the children sleep at one parent’s house versus the other parent, each parent’s income, the cost of medical insurance and medical expenses for the children, or the cost of child care) is changed, then the child support amount is usually changed. A lot of people know this, and that is why it is critical for you to maximize the time you receive with your children as part of the Parenting Plan. That’s obvious for one reason: you want as much time with your children as possible. But there is also a less widely known reason: The Magic Number.
The Magic Number for child support is 73 overnights. Seventy-three overnights a year is 20% of the year, and if the party paying child support has 73 or more overnights per year then the number of overnights becomes relevant in calculating child support. The more overnights that person has, the less support they will be paying. Conversely, if you are receiving child support, then generally more overnights you have, then you will receive more child support.
What is Income? You’d think that is an easy question to answer, but the law is never easy. What does or does not count as income for child support purposes can be complicated. For example, are the following sources of income counted: Bonuses? Welfare? Gifts? Alimony? Child support received for another child? That’s why you should consult with Mr. Radeline, a Board Certified Family Law Attorney.
What is imputed income? The Court can impute income if someone is capable of working, or capable of earning more, and they voluntarily are not doing so. Have you heard of someone quitting their job at the start of the divorce case to avoid child support? It is not an urban legend, and that does happen. There is a way to combat that, but it is complicated and almost always involves the use of an expert witness.
How to win the child support part of the same case can be totally different in one judge’s courtroom from another judge’s courtroom. This is because judges handle issues such as imputation of income very differently. This is a huge financial event in your life, whether you will be receiving or paying child support. You should have a Board Certified family law expert on your side to help guide you through the process. Call us today so we can assist you.
If your ex stops paying child support as ordered by the judge, they can be held in contempt of court. You can go back to court and have them ordered to pay you the correct amount of support, pay back what they owe you, pay you interest on the past due amount, and reimburse your court costs and legal fees. If they refuse to comply, the judge has many options available, including fining them or putting them in jail until they comply.
After your case is over, child support can sometimes be modified. Sometimes the paying spouse suffers a job loss, and needs to have support decreased. Sometimes the receiving spouse can show they are entitled to an increased child support award.
If you can’t keep paying your child support, then you should proactively move to modify the support amount right away. If you simply stop paying (or pay less than you should) then your ex is going to take you back to court. You could be jailed, you could have to pay interest on the past-due amount, and you most likely will have to pay your ex’s legal fees. But by proactively seeking a modification, you show the judge that you are trying to be responsible. More importantly, you cannot modify child support retroactively. What that means is that the farthest you can generally go backward in time for a modification is the filing date of your modification papers. So, if you lose your job, you should be filing papers immediately. Call us now to discuss this.