The Basics of Child Support in Florida

A stressful and high-emotion divorce in Florida becomes even more complicated when children are involved. Florida is one of many states in the country that takes the well-being of children extremely seriously, and courts require child support in the vast majority of cases to ensure the child’s needs are taken care of.

If you are embroiled in a divorce involving children in St. Petersburg, you can’t risk making a single mistake that can affect the rest of your child’s life.

At The Bardine Law Firm, our principal attorney Johnny Bardine has worked tirelessly for over a decade representing the best interests of his clients in contested divorces. Contact us today at (727) 605-7078 or through our website to learn how legal representation in your divorce can safeguard the interests of you and your children.

Why Is Child Support Needed?

The stated goal of child support is to ensure that children with separated parents are cared for just as well as children from a two-parent household. If you recently became the custodial parent of your child or have cared for your child alone since the beginning of divorce proceedings, you are acutely aware of the difficulties of raising a child on a single income.

Child support helps pay for some of the following things, depending on the arrangement of the parents:

Medical Bills – Florida may require parents to enroll children in employer-based health insurance as part of their child support obligations. Additional child support payments can go towards out-of-pocket expenses and unexpected medical bills.

Household Necessities – Child support helps alleviate some of the financial burden associated with raising a child – food and grocery costs, clothes, and shelter.

Education and Extracurriculars – Child support benefits may include payments towards education-related costs, and this total will increase if both parents mutually decide to send their children to a private school or enroll them in additional tutoring services. Beneficial activities for the child’s development, like music lessons, sports teams, and school clubs, may also be included.

How is Child Support Calculated?

Child support payments vary wildly from situation to situation, which is why having a Florida family law attorney by your side during the entire process is crucial. Even if someone pays child support for two kids, their monthly payments might be lower than someone with only one child, depending on their income, parenting agreement, and timesharing/custody arrangement.

Florida child support calculations start by determining the gross income of both parents. You can find detailed information regarding what counts as income in Florida statutes, but the most relevant sources of income are:

  • Salary or wages
  • Business income and bonuses
  • Settlements
  • Benefits from Social security, disabilities, and government programs
  • Interest and dividends

Along with income sources, you can submit income exemptions that lower the overall gross income. These exemptions can be equally complicated, and attorneys can help you determine which ones apply. 

When both parents submit financial information and a total income is understood, the next step is looking at the Florida Child Support Guidelines to determine the monthly obligation. To read this table, find the combined monthly available income – both parents’ incomes combined – and follow the chart sideways depending on the number of children. As an example, a combined monthly income of 5000 dollars for two children equates to a child support obligation of 1551 dollars.

This dollar amount, however, does not mean one parent pays another the full obligation. Many factors determine the monthly payment required of one parent, primarily the amount of income they contribute to the combined income total. In a world where both parents have equal custody and expense sharing, contributing 75 percent of the total income leaves a parent 75 percent responsible for child support financial obligations. 

How A Family Law Attorney Can Help

Calculating child support is one thing; modifying an existing arrangement or attempting to enforce child support requirements on an uncooperative former partner is another beast entirely. Ultimately, child support should benefit your child’s life, not cause unnecessary drama and stress. When you hire a family law attorney specializing in child support, you help give your child the best chance at a life unburdened by financial stress and parental feuds. Our attorneys are experienced negotiators and client advocates who want nothing more than to create a favorable outcome for you.

Contact A St. Petersburg Family Law Attorney Today

Whether you are a parent who needs to adjust their existing child support agreement or someone unsure of what lies ahead in their divorce, reach out to The Bardine Law Firm today. Johnny Bardine has represented hundreds of clients in the St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay area undergoing struggles like yours. You can contact us anytime through our website or by calling (727) 605-7078.

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