Parents of minor children are obligated by Florida law to provide financial support for the children. This obligation is the right of the child and cannot be waived by either parent.
Child support is calculated according to child support guidelines set forth in the Florida statutes and take into consideration both parents’ income, the cost of daycare, if any, and the cost incurred to maintain health insurance for the benefit of the children. The Court can also consider the amount of time each parent spends with the children.
Child support can be ordered by the Court as part of a divorce action or a paternity action, in situations where the parents of the child(ren) have never been married.
Modification of Child Support
Modification of child support means to either increase or decrease the amount of support a minor child receives. Florida law authorizes the court to modify child support payments when the financial ability of either party changes or the child who is the beneficiary of an agreement or order reaches majority (typically the age of 18, unless the child is still in high school and expected to graduate before the age of 19).
Florida law sets forth three grounds for modification of child support: (1) when modification is found necessary by the court and is in the best interest of the child; (2) when the child reaches majority; and (3) when there is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties. The party seeking modification must prove that there has been a substantial change of circumstances and must show that this change is significant, material, involuntary and permanent in nature. Substantial change may be either the child’s needs or a parent’s income. Once the court finds that there has been a substantial change, the court must consider all of the statutory factors in recalculating the child support obligation.
If health insurance is reasonably available, a parent will be required to maintain the same for the children’s benefit, as well as life insurance on the parent obligated to pay child support.
If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or under employed, the Court has the ability to impute that parent with income based upon the parent’s recent work history, occupational qualifications and the typical earnings in the community. Keep in mind that the Court can also refuse to impute income to a parent if it is necessary for that parent to stay home with the children.
A parent cannot withhold child support, even if the other parent refuses contact with the children.
Please note that each case differs due to the parties’ specific incomes and circumstances. You should not base your expectations regarding child support on your friends’ or family members’ cases.