How Child Support Is Determined in Florida

Every state handles divorces a little differently. In the state of Florida, the courts create what is called a parenting plan. A parenting plan encompasses all of the critical components of co-parenting and custody, including visitation and shared custody time, child support amounts and other special considerations like the division of holiday time.

If your divorce is contentious and you and your former spouse can't reach an agreement about custody, the courts will be the ones making all the final decisions about visitation and child support, which can feel very disempowering.

In some situations, where you and your former spouse can agree to compromise through guided mediation, you can have a more active role in the creation of your parenting plan. You and your former spouse can agree on a specific amount of child support and visitation and custody arrangements. Even if you choose to go through mediation, but especially if your divorce is contentious, you need to work with an experienced Florida family law and divorce attorney. Your attorney can protect your interests during a difficult divorce or during mediation as well.

Florida uses a calculator to determine support amounts

Typically, the state uses a formula to determine child support amounts. This formula takes several factors into consideration, including the income of both parents, special needs in regard to health care and medical issues, and the costs associated with childcare if both parents are working. The state of Florida has established a basic chart that looks at the cost of living for proper care of a child, depending on the net income of both parents. That net income will not include any welfare or government assistance, but it will include all forms of income, including investment income, to ensure it is as fair as possible.

In families with one child and a minimum income of $800 per month, the expected child support will be $190 in typical circumstances. The courts can change that based on special needs. In cases where you and your former spouse choose to go to mediation, you may agree on a level of support that is higher or lower than the state recommended amount. You can also set specific rules about holidays, weekends and summer vacation. If you cannot reach an agreement, the courts will create a parenting plan with specific visitation and child support requirements that you will have to follow.

An attorney protects your interests in divorce

Sometimes, an initial child support order is wrong because your former spouse didn't provide accurate information to the courts. In these cases, your attorney can help you request an adjustment. When it comes to finalizing your divorce, whether you are going through the courts or mediation, an experienced Florida divorce attorney can advocate on your behalf and work for the best possible outcome when it comes to child support and custody.