Child custody in Florida is primarily focused on what is in the best interest of the child. Both parents are required to complete a parenting course when they are seeking a divorce. State laws encourage shared parenting and primary custody may be awarded to the parent who is more likely to allow contact between the children and the non-custodial parent. Florida laws allow for rotating custody where the children spend equal amounts of time with both parents.
Calculating Child Support
Calculating child support can be one of the most contentious issues the divorcing couple may face. Determining who gets primary custody and who must pay child support can result in a long drawn out battle between the spouses. When making a determination of how much child support is required, the state will take the following into account:
- How much each spouse earns in take home pay, which is their net income after certain allowable deductions, such as retirement payments, union dues or a previous order for child or spousal support from previous marriage.
- The number of children from the marriage
- What percentage of time the children will spend with each parent
After combining the net income of both parents, the amounts required to pay for the children’s healthcare and daycare costs will be subtracted.
Lowering Support Amount
Only a court order can modify the amount of child support, however, payments can be reduced or increased if there is a change is either parent’s circumstances. If either spouse’s income has markedly increased or decreased, the child support amount may be modified. The court may raise or lower the amount by up to 5%. Some valid reasons for lowering child support can include:
- The parent paying support may have financial responsibility for other children who were not living with him or her after the support order was executed
- Variations in the parent’s incomes due to seasonal work
- Temporary economic or medical hardship of the non-custodial parent
- If the non-custodial parent has been spending more time with the children and paying for additional expenses
- The income of the custodial parent has significantly increased
If the parent paying support loses their job or is forced to take a lesser paying job, the court may consider this as a valid reason for lowering their support payments. However, if circumstances change again and the non-custodial parent is doing well financially, the ex-spouse can file a petition with the court to increase support.
Advice From a Family Law Attorney
After the divorce has been finalized and child support obligations are in place, many people have questions that come routinely come up. Some want to know if missing a scheduled visitation will affect their right to visit their children in the future. Anytime you have legal questions, it’s best to get professional advice from a lawyer who specializes in family law.