Child Support

Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney Assisting Pembroke Pines Residents

Under Florida law, each parent has a fundamental obligation to provide financial support for his or her minor children. While it is important that the parent receiving child support is awarded a sufficient amount to care for the children, it is also important that the person obligated to pay support be ordered to do so in an amount that his or her income reasonably allows. Child support is not meant to be a monetary windfall or a punishment. Family law lawyer Lynnette A. Ensign is available to advise Pembroke Pines residents about what the law requires. She can protect your interests if you are trying to establish, defend against, or modify child support.

Determining Child Support in Florida

How child support is calculated varies by state. Florida calculates it by estimating the amount of support that would have been available to a child if the mother, father, and child were living in the same household. That estimated amount is divided proportionally between the parents according to each parent’s income. For example, a father who has a higher income than the mother would be responsible for the greater portion of the child support obligation. Florida Statutes Annotated, Chapter 61.30 sets out guidelines for determining a presumptive award of support based on the parents’ combined net income. Acceptable deductions from gross income to establish the net income for each parent include taxes, health insurance premiums, mandatory union dues, court ordered support for other children that is actually paid, spousal support from a previous marriage that is being paid, and mandatory retirement payments. Public assistance is excluded from gross income.

Monthly income will be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent if the court finds that the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary. In that event, the court can consider the parent’s employment and earning potential, given his or her recent work history, qualifications, and the prevailing wages in the community, if known.

A judge may order payment of child support above or below the guideline amount after considering the following factors: the needs of the child, the age of the child, his or her station in life, the standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent. Additionally, an adjustment may be made to account for:

  • Extraordinary medical, educational, or dental expenses;
  • Independent income of the child;
  • The custodial parent receiving both alimony and child support;
  • Seasonal variations in a parent’s income;
  • The terms of any shared parental arrangement;
  • Special needs of the family; or
  • Any other reason that the court deems important in setting an equitable child support amount.

A parent may petition for a modification of an existing child support order if he or she can show that a material change in circumstances has occurred. The change in circumstances generally must be involuntary. A parent who quits his or her job may not be able to obtain a modification. A change in circumstances that could justify a decrease in child support is a loss of income for the parent paying support, an increase in the income of the parent receiving support, or a decrease in expenses for the child. Conversely, an increase in the child’s expenses, the paying parent making more money, or the receiving parent making less money may cause the child support amount to increase.

A male can petition the court to terminate child support when newly discovered evidence suggests that he is not the father of the child named in the support order. The duty to pay child support is not suspended while the petition is pending, absent a showing of good cause. The statute that applies to petitions to terminate a child support obligation does not permit recovery of child support previously paid.

Seek Legal Guidance in Plantation When Dissolving a Marriage

Whether you are requesting child support, defending a child support action against you, seeking a modification, or petitioning for termination of a support order, divorce attorney Lynnette A. Ensign can help residents of Plantation and the surrounding area pursue a result that they can live with based on their specific circumstances. We serve clients in Sunrise, Davie, West Palm Beach, and other cities in Broward and Dade Counties. Call the Law Office of Lynnette A. Ensign today at (954) 760-7659 or contact us via our online form.