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In Florida, each parent is obligated to provide financial support for his/her/their minor child(ren).
Contrary to common belief, the obligation does not rest automatically with 'mom' or 'dad.' Rather, the Court will calculate the amount of child support each parent owes based upon a complicated mathematical formula.
The formula takes into account several factors and then calculates an amount each parent is required to pay to the other parent on a monthly basis. These amounts will be reflected in the child support exhibits prepared by Eric.
(1) Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child.
As part of the mediation process, and to calculate a child support obligation, Eric will ask each parent to complete an income/expense form to determine their gross monthly income (such as paycheck, self-employment business income, pensions, etc.) and then their net monthly income (after deducting common payroll expenses such as Federal withholding taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, and certain mandatory payroll deductions). The sum of the gross income less the deductions is known as that parent's monthly Net Income amount.
During the mediation process, Eric will assist the parents to determine an appropriate and fair Time-Sharing schedule of time each parent will spend with the child(ren) each year. Based upon the total number of overnight periods the parents have agreed to in the schedule, the number is used in the State-approved formula to determine the respective percentage of time between the parents. For example, if the parent's share time with the child(ren) on a pure 50-50 split, them each parent's respective percentage used in the formula will be 50%. Likewise, if mom has 280 overnights and dad has 85 overnights, the respective percentages used would be 77% and 23%.
Once the respective percentage of overnight periods and the respective monthly net income amounts are entered into the formula, the resulting calculation will determine the amount, if any, that the mother owes to the father and the amount, if any, that the father owes to the mother. Remember, each parent will likely owe the other parent a certain amount of money as their own child support obligation (unless a parent earn $0.00 per month or has a total number of overnights with the child(ren) equalling 365).
In Step 3, the formula calculated each parent's independent monthly obligation of child support owed to the other parent. In this final Step 4, Eric will calculate the net amount of child support owed. In theory, mom is required to make a monthly payment to dad in an amount equal to mom's monthly child support (if any). Similarly, dad is required to make a monthly payment to mom in an amount equal to dad's monthly child support (if any). To avoid the inconvenience of having each parent write a check or otherwise make payment each month to the other parent, a net monthly amount is calculated based upon subtracting the smaller monthly child support amount from the larger monthly amount. This net amount is the actual payment made by one parent to the other parent.
Parents sometimes desire that neither should be obligated to pay child support. They just want to share time with the child. However, the judges and State of Florida focus on the best interest and needs of the child, which is where a child support obligation comes into play. Therefore, unless you are able to convince a judge to deviate from the required child support and reduce it to zero, it is generally not considered an issue in divorce that can be waived.
Section 61.30(1)(a), F.S., provides: "The trier of fact may order payment of child support in an amount which varies more than 5 percent from such guideline amount only upon a written finding explaining why ordering payment of such guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate." Upon filing for the divorce, the parent will need to make an additional filing to request the deviation.
Generally speaking, imputed income is an amount used by the court to impute income "... to an unemployed or underemployed parent if such unemployment or underemployment is found by the court to be voluntary on that parent’s part, absent a finding of fact by the court of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control." Section 61.30(2)(b), F.S.
Most commonly, one parent pays their monthly child support obligation directly to the other parent (e.g., cash, check, money order, online transfer, etc.). However, sometimes a parent may want the monthly payment made directly to the Florida Department of Revenue. In such case, the payment will then be disbursed by the Department of Revenue to the receiving parent.