HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT DETERMINED?
Child Support is a statutory requirement in the state of Florida. The legislature has given lawyers and judges a formula to calculate what it is supposed to be in each circumstance. It is based on a number of factors, including: each parent’s historical income, health insurance costs, day care costs for the child(ren), and the number of overnights each parent has in the Parenting Plan. Based on the combined net income of the two parents and the number of children they have in common, there is a table in the statutes that tells us the basic financial need of “X” children in that income bracket. That basic child support need is then distributed between the parties in order to make sure that each parent is contributing to the child(ren)’s support in proportion to what share of the total family income they earn. The child support calculation basically tells us what income shifting has to take place from one parent to the other to balance that equation and make sure that neither parent is paying more or less than their allotted portion of the child(ren)’s care, based on this percentage.
WHY IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED THIS WAY?
The theory behind child support is that the parent who does not maintain the child(ren)’s primary residence should be subsidizing the parent who does, in order to make sure that the parent who is pulling the weight of housing the child(ren) the majority of the time can pay the child(ren)’s housing, clothing, utilities, etc. In most cases, it’s not a 50/50 proposition. It does not fairly balance the financial equities to say “well, you take care of them when you have them and I’ll take care of them when I have them” except in the most rare circumstance. It is based on each parent’s proportional share of the total income they earn. In its simplest iteration, if the parent who earns less has the child(ren) more of the time, they are entitled to a subsidy from the other parent to balance that proportional share of the child(ren)’s care.
WHAT IF I EXERCISE SUBSTANTIAL TIME WITH MY CHILD?
In recent years, with more and more parents exercising substantial time with their child or children, the “every other weekend” parent has become an isolated exception. If a family’s parenting plan reflects a “substantial” time-sharing schedule for both parents (at least 20% of the overnights for the non-majority parent), both parents are assumed to be maintaining homes that provide the above-stated amenities a good portion of the time. In that case, a child’s basic needs are no longer just proportionately distributed based on percentage of income each parent earns relative to the total income of the family (though that’s still part of it). The child’s basic need in each household goes up because the child is in each household more of the time; the formula therefore instructs legal practitioners to take the child’s basic need and multiply it by 150% (“gross” it up). However, the majority parent does not realize a higher amount of child support because the child’s overall need across two households goes up. The formula now also adjusts the child support payment by the non-majority parent downward for each overnight he/she exercises.
Sound complicated? It is. Since the advent of more and more substantial time-sharing schedule variations, there are many variables that can adjust a child support number wildly in one direction or the other. Majority parents offer less overnights in settlement negotiations because they know a more traditional schedule makes their child support number go up. Uninvolved parents pursue substantial time-sharing schedules because they know it makes their child support number go down. Parents who are uninformed about the law accept every other weekend and a higher child support number because they fail to realize how much the legal landscape has changed and they don’t realize they have a choice to fight for more time with their child.
WHY CHOOSE THE LAWYERS OF SASSO & GUERRERO?
The lawyers are Sasso & Guerrero are familiar with all these maneuvers and they are prepared to litigate fiercely to demonstrate to the judge who is being truthful about wanting more time, versus wanting to pay less child support, and who is manipulating the court to keep the children away from an involved parent just to capture a higher financial reward. If you just want someone to calculate child support so you can reach a settlement, please consult with one of our lawyers to talk about what a time-sharing schedule can and should look like before using an online calculator. You should neither offer a generous schedule to a parent who has historically not exercised time nor should you short-change how much time you allot yourself with your children because you feel the other parent won’t agree. Time with your children, as well as proper financial support from the other parent, is worth fighting for!