Child Support

The purpose of an order for child support is to provide financial support for a child or children. Parents have a legal obligation to support their minor children under the age of 18 and sometimes beyond that if the child attends college. In court cases where child support is an issue, such as in divorce, annulment or separation, or in a custody or support action between unmarried parties, the court has authority to enter orders directing parents to support their children.

A precondition for an award of child support is that the child is in need of maintenance. The determination of the proper support award is a multipart process and depends on a variety of factors. Guidelines have been developed and implemented in each state of the United States. Guidelines are intended to provide some predictability and uniformity in child support determinations. Consideration of the guidelines is mandatory in child support determinations and it is a rebuttable presumption that the amount awarded is appropriate.

How Do The Courts Determine Child Support Amounts?

It is possible however, to receive a higher award than the guidelines would indicate. If the guidelines amount presumption is to be overcome there must be a specific finding on the record that the guidelines would be inequitable and inappropriate in the circumstances. There are a number of variables that raise potential disagreements regarding support so that the application of the guidelines is not always a clear mechanical computation, that can be recognized by the attorney. Disagreements may occur with regard to the amount of the parties’ gross income, for example in a case of self-employment or items to be deducted in arriving at net income figures.

Child support has three components; a periodic payment often commensurate with when wages are paid, a contribution to out of pocket medical and health expenses, and employment or educationally-related child care expenses. There are exceptions to every rule and child support is no different. The criteria for deviating from the presumptive support amounts vary based on special circumstances, such as shared parenting arrangements. Consultation should be had with a qualified attorney or mediator to determine how any unique issues may impact your case.

Florida Law On Child Support

Under Florida law, at the time of divorce the court may enter an order called an Educational Support Order that would provide for and assign financial responsibility for your child’s attendance of up to four academic years at an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for the purpose of attaining a bachelors or other undergraduate degree or vocational instruction. You can chose at the time of divorce whether the court will retain the power to rule over the question of college finances and financial obligations in the event that you can’t resolve the issues between the parties. There are limits however, the court’s order cannot extend beyond the child’s 23rd birthday and the cost is capped at the University of Connecticut rate for a full time in-state student at the time the child is matriculating. There are various other costs included, such as books and medical insurance.