Divorce is one of the most difficult things that one can go through. It can push one’s mental and emotional strength to their limits. These times can be especially difficult when you have children with your soon-to-be ex.
You want the best for your children, and part of giving them this is being able to adequately provide for them financially. You may have questions regarding child support in Florida. This guide answers some of the top questions about child support so you can focus on your family and ease your stress about your financial future.
1. How Is Child Support Calculated in Florida?
The dissolution of your marriage does not automatically end your rights and responsibilities as a parent. In Florida, there are two types of custody: legal and physical.
If both you and your ex are awarded legal custody, this will mean you both will have full parental rights over the child. You must both agree on significant decisions that will affect their well-being and future, such as the child’s schooling, medical treatment, and other life decisions.
Physical custody gives primary custody of the child to one of the parents. If one parent is given physical custody of the child, the divorce settlement should include a schedule that provides ample time for the child to spend with the non-custodial parent.
The non-custodial parent will also need to pay child support. The state of Florida uses the Income Shares Model to calculate the amount of money that each parent must pay for child support. The courts estimate the amount of money they would spend on the child if the family were intact and living as a household. This amount is divided between the former spouses based on their individual incomes.
2. What Can Child Support Be Used For?
Child support payments must be used to support the welfare, education, safety, and material well-being of the child. Florida courts take a very strict line on this and act strongly against any parent who uses such money to finance their lifestyle at the expense of their child.
Child support payments will go to the custodial parent in order to allow them to financially support the child Aside from bills and expenses related to health care, schooling, and transportation, your ex must have the flexibility to assess the immediate needs of your child and spend the money that you provide on them.
However, if you suspect that they are misusing the funds, you have the right to seek a family law attorney and initiate a court investigation into the matter.
3. What If My Ex and I Share Custody?
If the divorce settlement includes a shared custody arrangement, you may still need to pay child support. In many instances, a shared custody arrangement gives each parent at least some time with the child (i.e. weekends or every other weekend).
If you see and care for your child as much as your ex, then you will be able to assess their needs and fulfill them yourself. However, if you earn a considerably larger income than your ex, you will still need to pay them child support. Such payments are based on income and the demands of the child, not necessarily the custody arrangement.
4. Is It Too Late to File for Child Support?
You can file for child support at any time before the child turns 18. And even at the latter age, it is possible to file for support to help put the child through college. It is also possible to get the original child support order modified. If your marriage ended when the child was very young, the ensuing years may include changes that justifies a request for more money.
If you have primary custody of your child and your former spouse’s income increases significantly as your child gets older, you could be entitled to more child support on behalf of your child. You can file to increase the amount of money you receive for your monthly child support payments. You can also file to get the original order modified if you later discover a source of wealth or income that your ex did not disclose during the divorce.
5. What Happens If My Spouse Stops Paying for Child Support?
The state of Florida takes child support enforcement very seriously. If your ex stops paying child support, you should speak to your family law attorney. They will, in turn, inform the court and initiate an investigation into the delinquency. You can rest assured that your ex will not get away with such negligence. Florida judges have the right to garnish wages and to put liens on homes to enforce child support orders.
Your ex cannot get out of paying child support by quitting their job or refusing to look for another one if they have been laid off. If the court finds out that either parent is engaging in such behavior, they will impute the income.
This means the court will hold the parent responsible for paying child support regardless of the fact that they are without work. The longer the non-earning parent refuses to work the larger the bill for child support they could potentially receive.
Why You Need a Lawyer
You should not go into child custody and child support negotiations without legal counsel. It is important for you to get the money you need to give your child an adequate life. A child support lawyer can provide you with insight and advice to get what you need in order to properly care for your family.
If you are going through a divorce and you have children, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced Coconut Creek attorney. We will fight for your rights and those of your family so you can focus on moving forward.
Contact The Law Offices of Jonny Kousa at (954) 626-8071 for a free consultation to discuss your case.